All posts by agahtan

About agahtan

Alan Gahtan is a Toronto-based computer, information technology and e-commerce lawyer who loves technology.

Cell Phones and Recycled Phone Numbers

Whenever someone set up new phone service, whether wireline or wireless, there as always the possibility of being given a recycled number. On the old PSTN, phone companies usually held disconnected numbers for about 3 months before putting them back into service. This meant that a new customer that was allocated that number would receive periodic calls intended for the former owner. This is much more of a problem when cell phones are concerned because a call would be more likely to be intrusive and/or could be chargeable to the recipient. However, these days, the bigger problem is that the former user of the number may have signed up with various services to receive SMS messages and/or MMS messages, both of which are typically chargeable to the recipients, and being automated, are much more difficult to stop. So when comparing between various options, don’t just look at the phone features and the plan features offered by the wireless operator. Fijnd out how likely you are to receive a recycled number, what their policy is to change numbers and what features they may have to block incoming SMS and MMS messages. However, if you intend to actively exchange SMS and MMS messages, then simply having blocking capabilities is not enough. Getting a virgin phone number is what’s necessary.

Excess bandwidth fees – Bell Canada

I’ve noticed that Bell Canada has recently lowered its bandwidth caps on some of its high speed internet plans. I’m not sure when this happened but do recall that the higher end plans, which now have bandwidth caps of 30 GB per month, were up at around 100 GB last time I looked (perhaps a year ago?). Bell does state that the cap “applies to new clients without a term agreement; $1.00/additional GB, rounded up to the next GB of up to $30/month”. So they may have grandfathered existing customers, or at least the ones that had signed up for a term plan. See this chart to compare the various plans offered. While this seems like a high limit, it would not be hard to reach it for households who use IPTV services or who have kids running bit torrent.

Vonage subsidy is substantial

I was looking through a Circuit City flyer this morning and see that Vonage offers a US$175 subsidy to new subscribers. And that’s not just in equipment subsidies but actually includes a significant cash back component (which could be up to US$135 in cash to top of free equipment). There’s also a free month of service thrown in (US$24.99). Throw in some cash for the reseller and it looks like Vonage is spending $200-250 to acquire each new subscriber. Assuming its profit margin on its service if 50%, it would still take almost 2 years to recoup the acquisition cost. Wow.

Wi-fi in Santa Monica, Not

I’ve seen businesses, particular food establishments, offer wi-fi as a means of differentiating themselves from their competition or to stay competitive with their competition. However, on a recent visit to Bagel Nosh in Santa Monica, California, I noticed a sign that read “wifi free zone”. Since they did not appear to have any usable signals within their establishment, I assume the notice meant “wifi-free zone” rather than “wifi free-zone”. In other words, they were purporting to offer a place to sit and drink a coffee without being bothered by other customers typing away on their laptops. Well, except those that have high speed broadband service from their cellular provider. And why pick on wifi. Cellphone users can be much more of an annoyance. So is this just a gimmick?

Linksys WIP 330 voip wifi handset

I was recently looking at acquiring a Linksys WIP 330 voip wi-fi handset. As far as I know, its the only voip wi-fi handset that has a built-in web browser that can be used to authenticate through public hotspots that require users to accept a click through agreement. So for example, if someone wanted to use any of the free public wi-fi facilities in Burbank, West Hollywood, Santa Monica or similar cities, or wanted to use a paid public wi-fi network such as T-mobile’s, then this is currently the only way to go.
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Knowledge Management Concerns

An edited version of the following was recently published in Law Times:

Bits & Bytes: Potential problems with knowledge management systems

Articles are frequently written about knowledge management or document management systems to highlight their advantages. I won’t bore you with yet another. Instead, I thought I would review some of the potential liability concerns surrounding their implementation and use.
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