Smart grids – impact from an Internet and Telecoms perspective ..

I spoke at the LTE world summit in Amsterdam and see my blog : The holy cow of net neutrality: Should Operators be the only ones feeling guilty about net neutrality and are we confusing net neutrality with tiered pricing? at LTE world summit in Amsterdam

Tomorrow, I am spealing in Brussels at the 2nd Annual Internet of Things Europe 2010 – A Roadmap for Europe

We have an interesting panel on The consumer ecosystem- how will IoT re-invent our lives? and I am looking forward to the discussion especially AlertMe – a company I am tracking with some interest

Session 2: The consumer ecosystem- how will IoT re-invent our lives?

In terms of the consumer perspective, how will IOT empower citizens experience and individual’s capabilities? How will end user trust and personal experience drive the evolution of technological and application trends and architectures for the IOT? How could these new technologies affect our lives and well-being? How will ‘green as a driver’ affect IOT? What emerging innovations, technologies and market trends are being seen and are likely to emerge in the future?

10:40 – 10:55


Jim Morrish, Principal Analyst, Analysys Mason

10:55 – 12:00

Panel Discussion

Dr Thorsten Staake, Associate Director , Auto-ID Labs

Lorna Goulden , Creative Director, Philips Design

Ajit Jaokar, CEO, Futuretext

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, CEO and Co-Founder, Tinker

Pilgrim Beart, Director and Co-founder, AlertMe

The discussion below is from my talk at the session at Amsterdam but it also applies to the IOT discussion in Brussels. It explores Smart Grids from the perspective of the Internet and Telecoms players

Any comments welcome

Note I have a PhD / research interest in this topic. See The role of the Internet in future energy networks: Decentralization of Energy networks and insights for Smart Grids from Peer to Peer and Ubiquitous computing. Email me at ajit.jaokar at if you have some ideas for collaboration


We use the term ‘LTE’ loosely to mean next generation access networks.

There are three players – Web(Google, Microsoft); Telco; Energy

They have differing investment cycles: Years(web), Decade(telcos), DecadeS(Power)

Federal funding, Customer awareness and Green agenda are the main drivers to Smart Grids

A smart grid starts with a ‘smart meter’ which is capable of two way communications and lets the user and provider manage electricity consumption in a more granular way. If the customer’s power consumption can be captured in a granular manner, the provider can offer specials/ discounts to the customer. The added potential of smart grids arises from knowing data trends and also extend power management to other devices. These synergies fit well into LTE and home gateways and this explains Verizon’s emphasis on iPv6

Having said that, communication need not be directly with the energy company. It can be to the web via broadband which can be interesting

The Internet converts hierarchies into networks. It also tends to convert systems into platforms. This means, innovation is driven at the edge of the network and not the core.

Thus, when Power and Internet combine along with Telecoms, we have a disruptive scenario

We have the same old question: Who owns the relationship to the customer, who owns the metadata from the customer etc

Things get more interesting when we extend the network to the home devices. What gets wired(heating first), who controls the devices?(utility/ customer)


Verizon has a security focus(protecting data over the network), IP enabling metes(IPv6), partnership with smart meter maker Itron’s radio mesh communications.

AT&T takes a similar approach with partnership with SmartSynch and KORE Telematics .

Cellular networks could be a more common choice for utilities to carry information from smart meters or collection points back to their control rooms, (Dave Mohler, chief technology officer for Duke Energy.).

Initially, smart meters only help utilities cut the cost of sending workers out to check the meter but when integrated to home networks, customers can control devices like air conditioners, dryers, freezers and other appliances to curb consumption.

Broadband stimulus grants are tied to net neutrality rules, which means networks have to allow users to connect any device to the network. But this also leads to a huge opportunity because now Telecoms can extend their reach into the Smart Grid through MTM (machine to machine) applications which will generate a much higher number of network connections. These may have less ARPU (i.e. average revenue per user) but a greater number of actual connections with no need to subsidise devices. Hence, they could be profitable.

Co-operation is essential. “Ultimately, I think it would be great to see utilities and telecom providers cooperate to leverage exiting broadband and cellular networks to offer some sort of energy management service,” said Ben Schuman, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “But that would require an unprecedented degree of cooperation.”

Web systems like Microsoft Hohm – and Google Power meter:

- Designed to help track your home energy consumption through the Web

- In some cases(hohm), can make savings recommendations.

- Analyze actual energy consumption data from your energy provider

- Hohm will integrate with “Smart Plugs” that will enable detailed usage information about specific appliances, and the ability to control them remotely. “smart plugs,” are a sort of smart power strip which would be used with electronic devices.

- Business models could be information broker/ contextual advertising

- Google Powermeter works with AlertMe Energy kit which enables them to access their energy consumption data on Powermeter, (conceptually like Google Analytics). Alternatively, consumers can utilise Powermeter their energy provider has an existing partnership with Google.

- Home energy services are an example of the “Internet of things”


Notes: Originally these were taken from many sources and were designed as notes for my talk. If I have missed a source, please email me at ajit.jaokar at and I will link to it

The holy cow of net neutrality: Should Operators be the only ones feeling guilty about net neutrality and are we confusing net neutrality with tiered pricing?

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This could be an interesting and controversial blog ..

It elaborates a question I asked at the LTE world summit event in Amsterdam where I was an analyst / speaker. BTW, The Informa LTE world summit event is fast becoming a must attend event in the Telco space globally. It brings the Operator community together but also the rest of the ecosystem thinking about the ‘Beyond 3G’ vision. And it was a great event!

I asked this question in the panel session Open Networks and Net Neutrality – Does it Prevent Operators from Developing a Subscriber Centric Pricing and Service Strategy?.

The panelists were: Kim Kyllesbech Larsen, EVP Technology Service & International Network Economics,T-Mobile International, The Netherlands; Jonathan Morgan, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Starent Networks, USA(now Cisco), Dimitris Mavrakis, Senior Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media, UK, John Yeomans, Director, First Capital, UK and Jean Claude Perrin – Vice President of LTE at Gemalto

Essentially, my question was: Should Operators be the only people feeling guilty about net neutrality? and by extension – are we confusing tiered pricing with net neutrality?

Below is an extended version of my argument elaborating the question ..

The concept of Net Neutrality for Telecoms cannot be viewed in isolation ..

According to wikipedia: Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions by Internet Service Providers or governments on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as communication that unreasonably degrades other traffic.

For most people, this is a valid definition ..

However, putting this in content, Net neutrality originates in context of the Web/Internet. And today, ironically we find that the Web players are violating the net neutrality principles.

Here are some examples:

If Twitter is a platform, then Twitter should be agnostic of services i.e. in a purest sense, Twitter should let OTHERS create services on its platform and should itself focus on creating the ideal/agnostic platform. However, we find that increasingly Twitter is getting into the services game – for instance in its acquisition of Tweetie. NY times says(and I agree)

Twitter, which has flourished thanks to tools built by outside developers, is taking more of those tools under its own wing. In a move that is sure to rattle its developers, Twitter has agreed to acquire Atebits, the start-up that makes the Tweetie apps for using Twitter on Mac computers and iPhones. The acquisition price was not disclosed. This signals a new strategy, as Twitter makes its first foray into providing a mobile and desktop client itself. On Friday, Twitter also announced that it helped Research In Motion build an official Twitter app for BlackBerrys.

Also consider the Facebook-Zynga episode(Zynga is makers of Farmville based on Facebook ) and Zynga almost came close to leaving Facebook and now the two have a five year truce. The issue centers around Face book credits(facebook’s currency) which FB wanted to push upon the developers(of which Zynga is one). Gigaom says ..

By way of background, though Facebook and Zynga have had a mutually beneficial co-dependent relationship for the last couple years, it’s gotten ugly lately. Facebook wants to push forward with its own standardized currency — Facebook credits — within applications on its platform. It sprung this on app developers at a particularly bad time, just after reducing functionality for them to notify their users, resulting in significant active usage drops. And worse, Facebook is taking a 30 percent cut of all credits, just like Apple does on its iPhone platform, but without justifying such a large share by adding new functionality or marketing beyond what it’s long given away for free. App developers were particularly concerned that Facebook would, as it fully rolls out the credits program, require them to use it exclusively and disallow cheaper options like PayPal.

Commercially, the key observation is: while the innovators and early adopters might care two hoots about using an “official app”, it is the next wave of people that are the low-hanging fruit.

So, we see that the NET players are violating the net neutrality principles ..

Now, what are the implications for Telecoms?

1) By net neutrality principles, any device should be able to connect to the network. The network should not discriminate against a specific device or a service

2) However, in my view, that does not rule out tiered pricing. If we start with the proposition that the cellular network is not free i.e. it has value and if we agree to the idea that the network should not discriminate against a SPECIFIC application, then there is nothing which says that a network can have tiered pricing for ALL applications provided it is transparent to the customer. In other words, the idea of net neutrality needs to be separated from tiered pricing and this works as long as specific applications are not blocked and there is transparency for the customer

3) What could this mean in a wider context for Telecoms? Consider that any device can attach to the network. That’s fine. But now, suppose the Operator sells a camera with a priceplan. The camera allows you to take video and pictures and upload them on ‘one click’ to the network. To do this of course, we need the network to be used. So, there needs to be a ‘policy management function’ on the camera which provides the network services for a fee. That may well be the SIM card but conceptually, such a policy management function could exist. Note that this is not to say that ALL cameras should have a SIM card. It is saying that the NETWORK OPERATOR could get in the business of selling connected cameras. Conceptually, this is the same as what Twitter and Facebook are doing

4) There are other ways of course to handle the whole issue of data deluge which is also related to the whole subject. Example – Fixed line demise: Could we be wrong after all?

5) One could argue that the net neutrality argument strictly applies to the packet level and not always to the service layer. This would put DPI (Deep packet inspection) under net neutrality scrutiny and that’s a valid argument

I had to leave the conference after this session so could not stay much longer for other questions but someone asked me outside what Operator I worked for :) They don’t read my blog(OpenGardens) obviously. But seriously, its exactly BECAUSE I talk of OpenGardens that I can see both sides of the issue that I could raise the question

To conclude:

1) Net neutrality is a word which comes with too much baggage. Perhaps it is time to create a new term and to reframe the discussion. At the LTE conference, Dean Bubley mentioned ‘Happy Pipes’ instead of ‘Dumb Pipes’. That overcomes the dichotomy of ‘Over the top’ vs. ‘Under the ground’. I posted this same idea in 2006 when I said that Pipes are so Mobile Web 1.0 … because in a user generated content world, there is no ‘un pipe’

2) If viewed in a wider context, then no one really is ‘net neutral’ including many of the Web players like Facebook and Twitter

3) Transparency is the key .. as is customer acceptance. Today, when people talk of moving away from fixed rate pricing .. they forget the options (non use by the customer – as many Telecoms services like MMS will testify). Nothing will work unless we get the customer on our side!

In either case, a debate is valid and I think we are mixing two things: confusing net neutrality with tiered pricing and maybe they need to be separated.

Comments welcome

Image source: Rick London/Joel Coughlin

Google – Admob: Congratulations on the deal

Google – Admob: Congratulations on the deal

I have been vocal in my support for this deal since I believe that it truly helps innovation and it is progressive for the industry as a whole

Beware the horse buggy carriage owners’ view on innovation: Why the FTC should approve the Google – Admob deal

What is the industry and customer perception of Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson

I get a lot of questions, comments etc about the strategy of Nokia, Apple and RIM and often Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson are overlooked(Moto is still in flux in my view)

Hence, I wonder what is the perception of Samsung, LG and SE in the industry and the marketplace?


a) What is the profile of people who buy these phones in EU and North America

b) What is the industry view of these players

c) What is the positioning in the near future

d) Are they targetting specific segments?

e) Are they changing segments from what they targetted before(like RIM moving from enterprise to consumer)

f) What is the impact of their respective platforms(ex Android, BADA etc)


1) I see a clear desire of Samsung to be industry leaders.

2) I see Samsung and LG focussing on the new category of customers which are above the featurephone but with smartphone like features

3) SE – no idea!

what do you think?



Scientists create artificial life – congratulations to Craig Venter and team

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Scientists create artificial life.

Congratulations to Craig Venter and his team. I have long been a fan of Craig Venter and his biography is an inspiration!

Dr Venter likened the advance to making new software for the cell.

The researchers copied an existing bacterial genome. They sequenced its genetic code and then used “synthesis machines” to chemically construct a copy.

Dr Venter told BBC News: “We’ve now been able to take our synthetic chromosome and transplant it into a recipient cell – a different organism.

“As soon as this new software goes into the cell, the cell reads [it] and converts into the species specified in that genetic code.”

The new bacteria replicated over a billion times, producing copies that contained and were controlled by the constructed, synthetic DNA.

“This is the first time any synthetic DNA has been in complete control of a cell,” said Dr Venter.

Dr Venter and his colleagues hope eventually to design and build new bacteria that will perform useful functions.

“I think they’re going to potentially create a new industrial revolution,” he said.

“If we can really get cells to do the production that we want, they could help wean us off oil and reverse some of the damage to the environment by capturing carbon dioxide.”

Carnival of the mobilists No 224 – My post gets post of the week

I always like the intellectual quality of the Carnival of the mobilists. It is especially nice to get the post of the week even more so with some great insights from Peggy, AJ, CEO and Chetan

So, here is the link for carnival of the mobilists No 224 at the fonecast blog

By the way, fonecast is a great service. I am following it now

Speaking at the LTE world summit in Amsterdam ..

Speaking at the LTE world summit in Amsterdam .. As usual, a good event with lots to learn. If you are here, can meet

RIP Dio ..

Dio - sabbath years.jpg

RIP Dio aka Ronnie James. Image from the Black Sabbath lineup with Dio as lead singer. History and image source at guitarmasterclass. A sad loss to the rock industry!

Beware the horse buggy carriage owners’ view on innovation: Why the FTC should approve the Google – Admob deal

ford edison firestone.jpg

Here is a question:

Supposing in the early 1900s (when Henry Ford and others created the automobile industry), you went to the horse buggy carriage owners and asked them their views on ‘innovation’

What would they say?

Better fodder for their horses(will make the horse run faster and would get their customers to their destination quicker); Better carriages; even more humane treatment for the horses ..

BUT .. what would they NOT say? More automobiles ..

Why not?

Because that innovation(automobiles) is outside their field of reference and indeed a very threat to their existence.

Fast forward a century later ..

The Googles and the Apples of the world are the real innovators.

Yet, the mindset of the horse buggy owners prevails ..

The telecoms industry is full of vendors and consultants who are geared towards maintaining the status quo at the expense of the customer and of innovation. When viewed in this perspective, as many analysts have pointed out – the Google – Admob deal is good for the industry since the presence of a strong second player(Apple) demonstrates the vibrancy of the industry.

Mobile advertising is a nascent industry and there are plenty of mobile networks to go around and as moconews says Despite Google and Apple throwing millions of dollars at the market, this year eMarketer estimates that mobile advertising revenues in the U.S. will not even come close to breaking $1 billion. For this market to finally take off, it needs leadership, and enough scale to spur confidence in the advertising and publishing industries.

There are many players like Millennial Media, Greystripe and Jumptap and even relatively smaller / non USA player like Opera have acquired an ad network

So, competition exists

I agree with Ryan Radia of Forbes

The case against Google is a prime example of this fallacy in action. We know consumers have benefited tremendously from Google’s innovations in search and other digital markets, yet these benefits come largely in the form of qualitatively superior products, rather than incremental price reductions. Antitrust proceedings simply cannot gauge the impact of these innovations on consumer welfare. Government intervention would harm the very consumer interests the FTC is supposed to protect.

And the most important thing is – let us not forget the spirit of the pioneers, the entrepreneurs, the capitalists and the disruptors like Henry Ford.

Let us accept innovation from outside the traditional domains and recognize that these players are the foundation of new industries and wealth.

Blocking the Google – Admob deal will be a victory for the horse buggy types the expense of the consumer and innovation ..

Image: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone from the wikipedia entry for henry ford

Disclaimer: I have no commercial relationships with either Google or Admob. However, with a blog like OpenGardens, I am intellectually biased towards Open systems and benefits to the customer

Carnival of the mobilists no 223 at mobyaffiliates

This weeks carnival of the mobilists was at the mobyaffiliates blog. Carnival of the mobilists no 223 at mobyaffiliates James does a great job as usual