Mobile Sands

November 20, 2010

Applications for white space spectrum?

Filed under: LTE, Metro Wi-Fi, New business models, white space, Wi-Fi — AJ @ 5:14 pm

The search for what to do with white space spectrum is on.

Cambridge Consultants, a radio consulting company in UK, identified three promising applications: in-home video distribution, municipal wireless, and rural broadband. Scores of companies have tried to address these three markets but with limited commercial success. There are solutions for in-home video distribution using Wireless HD, WHDI, 802.11n and UWB –  and many of them commercially available. Several companies build outdoor WiFi gear for municipal deployments. Broadband can be provided in rural areas with a wide range of mature wireless technologies (EVDO, UMTS, LTE, WiMAX etc.) running in both licensed and unlicensed bands. Licensed spectrum is dirt cheap in rural areas. All this raises the question – is there enough demand for these applications and is  new technology needed to address them?

According to Ruckus, a company that builds WiFi gear with beam forming antennas, “white space will be ideal for creating “urban overlays” to higher-speed microcell Wi-Fi and macrocell LTE networks… perfect for offloading low bit rate “chatter” traffic, such as application notifications (email, presence lists, etc. generated by handheld wireless devices) from high speed cellular or Wi-Fi networks”. Though an interesting application, it is doubtful that carriers will add a new radio into their handsets to offload low bit rate chatter. The incremental cost of adding WiFi to a handset had to fall below $10 before carriers starting making it a standard feature in their smartphone lineups.

Brough Turner, founder of a a 802.11n based ISP called netBlazr and former CTO/founder of NMS communications, points out that white space spectrum being “beachfront” spectrum is based on 20th century technology, not physics. Brough, in other blog posts and presentations at industry forums, has argued that large amounts of spectrum at higher frequencies is significantly more valuable for offering broadband and connectivity than few 6 MHz channels in lower frequency bands.

Of course, those who have commercially viable ideas on what to do in this spectrum are not advertising them on the Internet.  I was recently reading the history of ISM bands on the website of Michael Marcus and at George Mason’s Internet Economy Project. It is notable that both WiFi and Bluetooth, poster child applications for ISM bands took off more than 15 years after this spectrum was opened up for unlicensed use. Spread spectrum, the technology that folks at FCC believed would be deployed in ISM bands was replaced by OFDM. None of the companies that were pioneers in the ISM band are in business today.  Plus, not all unlicensed spectrum creates billion dollar markets. Unlicensed PCS (UPCS), a 20 MHz band what was offered for unlicensed use in 1995, has no application to date. Still, in these relatively early days, it is better for all us to stay optimistic about the possibilities and keep our thinking hats on!

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September 27, 2010

White Space Spectrum Becomes Available With Simplified Rules

Filed under: Uncategorized, white space — Tags: , , — AJ @ 12:33 am

White Spaces Officially Available for Unlicensed Use

On 9/23/2010, the FCC officially made unused TV channels (so called “white space” spectrum) available for unlicensed use and resolved several open technical and legal issues. Most importantly, in its Second Memorandum Opinion and Order, it eliminated the requirement that TV bands devices that incorporate geo-location and database access must also include sensing technology. This is a big change that simplifies the development of devices that use this spectrum.

The FCC had first voted to approve unlicensed use of white spaces in Nov 2008 and issued a “Notice of Proposed Rule Making”. This started a a consultation process that culminated in last week’s order. The Nov 2008 required unlicensed TV Band Devices (TVBDs) to not only incorporate geo-location and access a FCC-mandated database but also to include sensing technology to detect TV transmitters and wireless microphones. Fixed unlicensed white space devices (li.e. base stations) had to do spectrum sensing with a 10m high omni-directional antenna! These rules effectively made the spectrum useless for both – providing broadband access or local area networking (see posts from last year). Though I am skeptical of the FCC’s “Super Wi-Fi” claims, I do think the revised rules make the spectrum more interesting for both these applications.

TV Band Devices and a TV Band Database

The FCC order defines two kinds of TV band devices: Mode I (or personal/portable) and Mode II (fixed), and a TV bands database. Mode II (fixed) devices must either have geo-location capability (50 m accuracy) or be professionally installed. In both case, these devices report their location to a TV bands database and get a list of permissible channel on which these devices and the Mode I devices connected to them can operate. Mode I devices operate on channels provided by Mode II devices.

Simple White Space Network

Several companies, including Google, are interested in building a TV Bands Database. This database would contain information on channels used by protected services by geographical location. Details of this database are still being worked out and the FCC has to select database providers. The FCC does leave the door open for personal/portable devices that have spectrum sensing capability. Such devices can work without a Mode I device to form, say, a mesh network, and it will be interesting to see how companies that have done considerable amount of research in cognitive radios will react.

Not Much White Space Spectrum in Major Metro Areas

Still, the real barrier to the development of commercial white space devices is the availability of white space spectrum. FCC rules still bar the use of Mode II devices in both channels occupied by TV broadcasters and in adjacent channels. As a result, there are often just one or two 6 MHz channels available for Mode II devices in major metro areas. Mode I devices are allowed to operate in adjacent channels if the transmit power is less than 40 mw.

Spectrum Bridge, one of the companies that want to provide a TV band database, offers a free online service www.showmywhitespace.com that allows one to check the channels available for white space spectrum.

Super Wi-Fi. Really?

It is still not clear to me how white space spectrum will unleash super Wi-Fi. Compared to a Wi-Fi router, a TV band wireless router will have to share 6 MHz of spectrum with other similar routers in major metro areas and will require an in-building GPS receiver. Still, lots of other applications may be possible, and any tie-in with Wi-Fi helps in promoting new unlicensed band technologies (remember WiMAX?)!

February 2, 2010

Billing for Mobile Connected Devices

Filed under: 3G, LTE — Tags: , , , , — AJ @ 4:40 am

Imagine if every home appliance you own required its own electricity subscription, and the price of a light bulb included lifetime electricity usage!

Well, that is how mobile broadband connectivity is being priced today for “connected devices” ranging from tablet computers to electronic book readers. Apple iPad owners need to pay an additional $14.99/month to access AT&T’s 3G network even if they have unlimited data plan with AT&T. And Sprint 3G subscribers need to pay for the data charge bundled with their eBook purchases from Amazon, just like everybody else.

When Edison first started selling electricity to consumers in 1882, he priced it by the light bulb. At that time, the primary application of electricity was illumination. Edison promoted electric lamps as “the sun’s only rival” and often subsidized them. Tied to each light bulb was an unlimited usage plan.  Sounds familiar? It took another ten years before Chicago Edison Company (led by Samuel Insull) started charging for electricity consumed. Insull grew Chicago Edison into one of the largest utilities in America, and the pricing model he pioneered opened the doors led to a proliferation of electricity-consuming appliances, driving decades of rapid growth for the electricity business.

To get similar growth in the mobile broadband business, carriers need to offer plans that cover all devices owned by a single person (or family), and then, charge for bandwidth consumed. An AT&T subscriber who buys an iPad should be able to add it to her existing 3G plan and do the same when she buys a new PlasticLogic e-Reader or Isabella’s VIZIT photo frame. Not only will this make connected devices more affordable and palatable to consumers, it will increase make consumers more loyal to the wireless operators they chose.

Metered pricing is essential for such “converged” pricing to work. Today’s “unlimited” usage plans are often tied to particular devices and are  based on the premise that the device and how it is typically used will limit actual usage to a manageable amount. A typical user of an email device like Blackberry uses just 30-40 MB of data per month. iPhone users use thrice as much data but still, it is not a lot. All this changes when you have dozens of devices connected to the wireless network, soaking up bandwidth all the time.

Carriers are definitely thinking about metered billing, especially as they look at introducing connected devices.   Verizon’s CTO Dick Lynch talked about this topic in an interview with Washington Post last month, and said that metered billing is essential for both, reducing network congestion and to enable “open devices”. The move towards the pricing model that made utilities successful is on.

September 7, 2009

Innovative MiFi Drives Growth at Novatel

Filed under: 3G — Tags: , , , — AJ @ 2:12 am

Novatel’s MiFi “intelligent mobile hotspot” is a shining example of how innovation makes all the difference in a tough environment. Novatel’s core product – 3G data cards – has faced tremendous price competition, especially in the European market.  Novatel’s primary supplier, Qualcomm, is attacking Novatel’s embedded module business with its Gobi chipset. Companies comparable to Novatel have either seen sequential decline in revenue and margins (Belgium-based Option) or have resorted to mergers (Sierra & Wavecom) for growth.  Novatel probably had some insights on how users were struggling to make data cards work in “3G routers” and used these insights to create a fast-growing new product category.

According to Novatel’s Q2’09 earnings release, it has received over $100M of MiFi orders within two months of launch. As a result, it managed to grow revenue by 20% compared to Q1’09 and maintain at it approximately the same level as 12-months ago.  Further, despite losing a large embedded module customer to Qualcomm, Novatel is guiding higher for rest of the year.

Now that Novatel has created the “intelligent mobile hotspot” category, it has the difficult task of defending it. Huawei announced a MiFi-rival in February and demonstrated it at CommunicAsia in June. Clearwire offers a similar product for WiMAX. In another 6 months, there will be many other competitors on the market. Still Novatel has done several things right that may be important insights for people in similar markets:

1. It created a catchy name, “MiFi”, and convinced all its operator customers to use it.  As a result, Novatel now owns the name of the product category.
2. It launched the product in markets where it has stronger customer relationships and pricing (North American CDMA) but was prepared to quickly follow-up with products for the HSPA market.
3. It left headroom for new applications (internal or third-party) on its processor. The product ships with a few applications (like “Auto-VPN”) and there is potential for more in the future.

Novatel however needs to vigorously defend its product name. 3UK just launched Huawei’s mobile hotspot product and calls the service “MiFi”, insisting that 3UK owns the “MiFi” name in UK. I have no reason to doubt 3UK, but it looks like Novatel needs to  invest in trademarking MiFi in as many countries as possible.

Novatel’s has launched a developer program (prominiently displayed on its website) but this program will not bear fruit unless Novatel actively seeks out development partners that bring meaningful value to its target end-user base.  Apple, for instance, is rumored to had a “hundred-person” business development team targeted at the gaming industry before it launched iPhone. Novatel, of course, does not need a team like that that but it shouldn’t wait for the developers to show up on their own either.

Overall,  an interesting case study in creating innovative hardware products in the wireless business and defending them from fast followers.

September 6, 2009

Watchphones!

Filed under: Uncategorized — AJ @ 5:16 pm

For the last few months, I have not paid much attention to handset hardware innovations, working under the assumption that it is all about software and applications. So I was taken by surprise this morning when I read that at least four companies – LG, Samsung, Hyundai and RIM – have announced plans to launch watchphones and there is at least one blog, www.thewatchphones.com, dedicated to this topic. And the first of these watchphones, LG’s GD910, hit the market last week.  See review on www.stuff.tv.

The idea of a “wrist telephone” has been around since the 1946 when it first appeared in the Dick Tracy comic strip. Here is a link to a 1973 Washington Post photograph that shows a mock-up of such a phone being discussed by a group of people.  Now, for 500 GBP and a two-year contract, you can finally have one! Watchphones with small displays and no QWERTY keyboards are the exactly the opposite of smartphones. I can’t imagine giving up my Blackberry, but once watchphones make it the sub-$100 range, I can imagine having one as a “second” phone;  for occasions when I want to stay in touch but do not want to carry my relatively bulky Blackberry in its holster.

August 8, 2009

How Unlimited Voice at $50 or Less May Change Everything

Unlimited Nationwide Voice – Now for $50 or Less

18 months ago, on Feb 07, 2008 Sprint became the first major US carrier to launch an unlimited voice & data plan – for $119.99/month.  Verizon responded within 12 days with a $99.99/month unlimited voice planAT&T  immediately matched it & so did T-Mobile.  On Feb 28, 2008 Sprint lowered the price of its $119.99/month “Simply Everything Plan” to $99.99/month and few days later launched a $89.99/month unlimited voice plan.  Carriers called their offering revolutionary and there was talk of a price war.

In January 2009, Sprint’s Boost Mobile subsidiary launched a $50/month prepaid unlimited voice, text, PTT and data plan. Boost uses Sprint’s iDEN network and Sprint probably offered this plan because there was lot of spare capacity on its iDEN network after several quarters of steep subscriber losses. Within 8 weeks of launching this plan, Boost signed up 764,000 new prepaid subscribers – growth that took everyone in the industry by surprise. It was a game changing event. Boost, of course, is not the first unlimited flat-rate voice service. Both, MetroPCS and Leap Wireless, have been offering unlimited voice for $50/month for years. But Boost is the first one to offer unlimited flat rate on a nationwide network.  Virgin Mobile (a Sprint MVNO) announced a $50/month voice + data plan in April. Though Verizon initially criticized Sprint for halving the price for unlimited voice, it started testing an unlimited plan of its own called StraightTalk with MVNO partner Tracfone (an America Movil subsidiary) in June.

Carriers Use MVNOs and Subsidiaries to Offer Lower Rates

Unlike unlimited voice plans offered by major carriers in 2008, this year’s unlimited plans are being offered through MVNOs or subsidiaries. These MVNOs or subsidiaries use prepaid billing, offer a smaller range of handsets, do not require long-term contracts and do not offer any handset subsidies  High-end smartphones like Blackberry and Palm Pre are not part of the handsets offered by the MVNO, and customers may not get certain features they get on the main network.  Consumer now have a choice – they can go with the expensive “full-service” brand (Sprint, Verizon) or with the “discount” brand (Boost, Tracfone).

Service providers in other industries have tried such strategies in the past – often with limited success. This was the idea behind “Ted from United” and “Song from Delta”. Just like MetroPCS and Leap Wireless were offering unlimited voice service before Sprint and Verizon jumped in, Southwest and Jetblue were offering low-cost airfares before Ted and Song. With Ted and Song,  United and Delta tried to emulate Southwest and Jetblue’s cost structures by using single a class of planes (Airbus A320s for United and Boeing 757 for Delta), charging for in-flight snacks, and paying lower salaries to crews. They tried to differentiate against Southwest and Jetblue by using their national networks and frequent flyer programs. However, by doing so, they could not maintain sufficient differentiation between the discount and full-service versions.   Customers earned the same frequent flyer miles whether they flew Ted or United and were able to use the entire network of the full-service airline. Yes,  there were no first class cabins, but most customers did not care. By 2008, both Delta and United had discarded the sub-brands, and today United and Delta operate more or less like discount carriers.

What’s Next?

Though Ted and Song did not survive, they did help convince United & Delta that majority of consumers really don’t care about their “full-service” offerings; that it is better to charge a lower fare and sell snack boxes on board than to charge more and bundle-in meals. It also forced many carriers to simplify their fleets and re-negotiate labor contracts. The airline business was changed forever and Ted and Song were the harbinger of these changes.

Unlimited nationwide voice offered at half-the-price of comparable services, but through a prepaid, subidy-free, business model qualifies to be a similar disruptive innovation. And its impact is likely to be far-reaching. For instance, it may:

  1. End the current, handset subsidy-based business model
  2. Move from postpaid per-minute billing to prepaid flat-rate billing
  3. Change the set of must-have services. Integration with facebook may become more important than three-way calling.

Such far reaching changes will affect everyone in the wireless value chain – from handset vendors to network equipment suppliers.

  1. If handset subsidies go away, it will force handset vendors to compete on the basis of their brands and cost structures rather than carrier relationships.
  2. As ARPUs fall, operators will push equipment vendors to lower network cap-ex and op-ex, creating opportunities for some and eliminating the business of others.
  3. Change in must-have services will allow technology suppliers to make a stronger case for technologies like VoIP over EVDO/HSPA/LTE or femtocells that offer lower-cost but may notalways offer services parity.

Change is in the air. And though it may not benefit everyone in the industry, it will keep the engine of innovation humming.

    June 8, 2009

    Visiting the Sprint Store to See Palm Pre

    Filed under: Smartphones — Tags: , , — AJ @ 1:03 pm

    I was among the legions of smartphone enthusiasts who walked into Sprint stores this weekend. The Pre was, as expected, sold out by mid-saturday. I tried a trial unit and I must say, I was not disappointed!

    All the cool features that Palm has been touting in its advertising – from multi-touch to the ability to run multiple applications – were there and worked really well.  I really liked the keyboard. It was much better than typing on the iPhone’s screen and felt more responsive than QWERTY keyboards I have used on Blackberry and Motorola Q. Though Palm does not have an large App store, the device comes pre-loaded with several great apps like Pandora, facebook, Google maps, and youtube – all of which worked nicely when I tried them. And the browser renders multimedia-heavy pages beautifully (I tried www.lonelyplanet.com).

    Bloomberg estimates that a total of 150,000 Pres were sold this weekend. According to salesperson at the store I visited in Boston, they were allocated 60 devices, and were sold out by 11 AM on saturday. They were expecting 40 more devices on Monday and a similar number on Tuesday. I am 61st on the waiting list at this store and was told to expect a call on Tuesday evening.

    While I was waiting for my turn to try out the Pre, I noticed Sprint’s Airave femtocell (displayed in a glass box near checkout) and asked the salesperson what it was and if I needed one. She replied that it was router that expanded wireless coverage but no one who lives in Boston really needs one; maybe in certain high-rises or in far-out suburbs. After taking a dig at T-Mobile’s coverage in the city, she calmly reassured me that “since Sprint uses the same technology as Verizon, our network is as good as theirs.” Ingenius!

    June 6, 2009

    Smartphones may Herald the Golden Age of Internet Radio

    Though Internet Radio has been around since the mid-nineties, it has not seriously challenged good-old FM radio (“Network radio”) in the same way that Internet video (YouTube, hulu and others) have challenged Network/Cable TV.  The reason – over 60% of radio listening is done “on-the-go”. And of the 40% of radio listening that is done at home, most is done while doing other things around the house – not when the listener is on her PC.  Well,  3G-capable smartphones change all this.  

    Pandora, NPR, Y!Music and more

    Pandora, the web-based service that let users create their own radio station, is the #1 free music application on Apple’s App Store, and is ranked #20 among all free apps.  Other personalized streaming audio apps on the iPhone include Slacker and CBS-owned Last.Fm.

    Interestingly, network radio has been quick to enter the smartphone radio market.  NPR makes 300 of its stations available through the Public Radio Tuner app, ranked #5 among all free music apps.  Clear Channel, the largest owner of FM radio stations in the US makes some of its channels available through iHeartRadio.  Many CBS stations can be heard via AOLRadio.  Yahoo! Music launched an iPhone version of their service few months ago, and one can listen to thousands of radio stations from around the world using apps like Radio, ooTunesRadio, allRadio and WunderRadio.  

    Many Internet Radio apps are quickly making their way to other smartphone platforms as well.  Slacker offers a Blackberry App. Pandora has been available on Blackberry, Windows and over 50 feature phones for a while but it recently made a  conscious choice to focus on Palm Pre as its second major smartphone platform. As a result, Pandora comes pre-installed on the Pre.  Mumbai-based Geodesic is focusing on Blackberry and Symbian phones instead with its Mundu Radio application.

    Unlike mobile video, carriers are not blocking Internet radio

    Wireless carriers are not blocking Internet radio applications because its bandwidth requirements are in line with 3G.  Internet radio stations use streaming rates between from 28.8 kbps to 128 kbps, speeds that can be easily supported even over moderately loaded 3G networks.   Someone who commutes for 2 hours/day for 22 days a month and listens to Pandora at 128 kbps would download around 250 MB of data – not a very large amount, and definitely within the data caps imposed by most 3G providers.  

    Time for 3G carriers to challenge Satellite Radio

    The main value proposition of satellite radio has been that one can listen to hundreds of radio stations, without the hassle of searching for the right one when crossing over from one metro area to another. Well, now a listener can do exactly that and much more with Internet radio on her mobile phone. She can listen to thousands of radio stations from around the globe or even better, listen to a station completely personalized to her tastes.  And do all this without paying anything over and above the price of the a 3G data plan.  

    Though 3G carriers are not actively promoting Internet radioon phones  and challenging satellite radio, they should, and make a play for the dollars that are going to Sirius/XM today.  Sirius/XM charges $9.99 – 19.99 for its multiple radio station services and had 18.6M subscribers at the end of Q1’2009.  If these 18.6M subscribers were convinced that they could get the same selection of radio stations (or even better – personalized radio stations!) on their 3G phones – in addition to email, web and more – it would be easy for them to sign up for a $30/month plan.

    May 27, 2009

    Nokia’s Ovi Store – A Very Strange Launch

    Filed under: App Store, Ovi — Tags: , — AJ @ 3:51 am

    Nokia launched its Ovi store on May 26th 2009, but it do so in a very strange way.  

    Despite setting expectations three weeks ago that the Ovi store would have over 20,000 ” items” (i.e applications + multimedia content), Nokia launched the store with little over 1,000 “items”.  Where did the other 19,000 “items” disappear?  Further, rather than launching the store with an enthusiastic endorsement from a major non-US operator, an area where Nokia has consistently claimed strength, Nokia decided to do a press release with AT&T; a press release in which AT&T Mobility”s CMO says that the carrier will offer the Ovi store to consumers in late 2009 because, “AT&T has a reputation for providing the most customer choice.”  

    I browsed through store.ovi.com to see what is available there.  Once I selected my phone as “Any Phone”, 1365 items showed up.  Of these items, only 619 (45%) are applications, while the rest are MP3, videos, ringtones and wallpapers.  And as many other bloggers have pointed out all day, applications like facebook are missing. In fact, it is very likely that Palm Pre will have more marquee applications than the Ovi store will when it is launched on June 6th.  And Pre will definitely not be missing out on facebook.  Maybe someday we will know why Nokia felt compelled to rush out with this launch.

    May 15, 2009

    On MIT NextLab and Mobile Ventures for the Next Billion Consumers

    Filed under: Mobile Apps, Netbooks, New business models, Smartphones — AJ @ 7:16 pm

    Yesterday, I attended the “finals” of MIT NextLab, a social entrepreneurship class that aims to “launch mobile ventures for the next billion consumers”. It was heart-warming to see how ubiquitous connectivity (via SMS) and low-cost mobile computing devices (smart phones) can be used to make a huge difference in the lives of poor people in developing countries. Still, the premise that somehow these socially beneficial projects could be turned into self-sustaining ventures without expanding the addressable market seemed a stretch.

    MIT NextLab and the Next Billion Network Project

    The NextLab course is offered as part of the Next Billion Network (NBN) initiative at MIT Media Lab. NBN’s goal is to encourage grass-roots level development using cell phones in developing countries. The program was founded by Telmex’s Jhonaton Rotberg little over two years ago. Telmex, its mobile arm America Movil, Nokia and Bank of America are the primary sponsors of the activity.

     Like most good entrepreneurial ventures (or successful IT projects), NextLab projects start with the end-customer. Each student team is paired with a NGO, corporation or some other representative group in a developing country who has a problem that needs to be solved. Projects are typically designed for a 1-year team period, encompassing two semesters, and MIT’s winter and summer breaks. At least one project started in this class (MoCa) has continued for almost two years, while few others have been taken over by local partners or are stand-alone ventures.

     Videos of this year’s projects are worth checking out. These projects address problems like making healthcare accessible in remote rural areas (MoCa), enabling people without bank accounts to do basic financial transactions (Dinube), making the life of truckers in Colombia easier (Hammock),  creating an even-playing field for small farmers in Mexico (Zaca), fighting crime in large cities via crowdsourcing (Civirep), and spreading adult literacy in India (CelEdu).

     Freemium Model for Social Enterprises?

     Most student teams claimed that they could somehow create a business by selling to the customers they are currently working with.  Though laudable, in my opinion,  it is very difficult to build businesses that cater ONLY to people who have very little or no money. Proponents of creating such businesses argue that they can make up for low gross margin per customer through scale. Alternatively, social ventures try to sell to governments or well-financed NGOs.  However, but for a few exceptions like Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, success stories are tough to find.  

    Take the One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) initiative as an example (also, see Wikipedia link). OLPC was launched in January 2005 at the World Economic Forum with a singular focus of bringing a $100 laptop to the poorest children in the world and with a business model of selling these machines to governments and NGOs. It was not until late 2007, when the original business plan was not working out, that OLPC (half-heartedly) decided to sell its machines in the US via its “give-one-get-one” program. By then it was too late. OLPC’s XO was never designed with US consumers in mind and most consumers who got one were disappointed. By mid-2008, netbooks stormed the market and there were few takers for XO. But this does not mean that model of leveraging technology developed for the poorest to meet needs in more affluent markets is flawed.

    One way to create viable ventures would be to gain scale by selling to poor customers in developing markets but earn profits by catering to more affluent customers in developing and developed markets. Such a business model would be similar to the freemium (free + premium) model used by many Web2.0 companies.

    One company that is following such a model is AssuredLabor. This company started as NextLab project in the fall of 2007 with a local partner in Brazil, and that is where they built their prototype. In mid-2008, the team decided to turn the project into a stand-alone venture, with Boston as their first pilot market in the US.  Technology commercialized and developed here could be applied back in Brazil as well as other developing countries.

    Many current NextLab projects hold similar potential. Hammock’s SMS-based logistics management system may be useful for small delivery companies in developed markets. CelEdu’s mobile games could be used to teach foreign languages. MoCa could play a role in connecting clinics in rural America to hospitals in larger cities. And, at the same time, these ventures could keep on providing technology to their NGO partners in the developing world at affordable prices.

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