We all worry about internet privacy.  Who could be eavesdropping upon you at that free hotspot café you so love?  Giggling at your personal Facebook posts – or more seriously – spying upon your business plans?

Privacy in the “Internet of Things” age is a complex and growing concern.  You may recall the famous case of Hackers taking control of a moving vehicle via the vehicle’s entertainment system – honking the horn, controlling the stereo, switching on the wipers and ultimately turning the vehicle off entirely!!

Scary stuff…   But on a less dramatic scale what protection may we expect from our devices and suppliers?  And what is the legal framework that this is based upon?

An IoT ‘Technology Aware’ Conceptual Framework for Privacy

It has been suggested that four modes of regulation be applied in cyberspace.  Namely:

  • Law – which includes prohibitions and sanctions for online defamation and copyright infringement.
  • Social Norms – which may involve a user ensuring the behavior of their avatar conforms to the community expectations in an online world eg:
  • Markets – Which regulates the price paid for access to the internet and access to information on the internet, and,
  • Architecture – which is the code, hardware or software that shapes the appearance of cyberspace.

Broadly, these concepts are what is already applied in the real world.

Spying through a keyhole (privacy compromised)


Further to the above, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), recommends that Agencies and Organisations work together to ensure that individuals are ‘empowered’ with the ‘requisite knowledge of how to protect their privacy’.

What does that mean?  In short, Industries will develop their own “Privacy Code”, for approval by the Privacy Commissioner.  And once that code has been approved, it is binding upon the organisations that have agreed to be bound by it.

That seems simple enough.  So how might these principles be applied to some of our more innovative technologies?

Location Detection Technologies

These days, location detection technologies such as GPS are included as a standard feature on many new mobile phones.  Location detection technologies provide ‘real time’ information on the position of the device and consequently the user of the device.  Furthermore, they can provide details as to the physical movements of an individual.  As such they have the potential to impact heavily upon an individual’s privacy.  The issue has been addressed by the European Union Directive on privacy and electronic communications.

Centrally the Directive provides that:

  • Location data must be anonymised before processing (unless consent has been provided by the user of the service).
  • Service providers must notify users, before consent,
    • As to the type of information to be processed,
    • The purpose and duration of location data processing, and,
    • Whether the data will be transmitted to a third party for the purposes of providing ‘value added services’.
  • Users’ must be given the opportunity to withdraw consent at anytime, and,
  • Processing of location data is restricted to that which is necessary for the purposes of providing the value added service.

Smart Cards and Privacy

The use of Smart Cards – particularly in the financial world – has potentially far reaching privacy concerns.  Obviously, the cards are linked to individuals for transacting purposes.   What this means is that the individual may ‘lose’ the ability to transact anonymously.  The ALRC warns that widespread use of Smart cards could enable the collection and storage of vast amounts of information about the activities of an individual.  By way of example they could:

“generate records of the date, time and location of all movements on public and private transport systems, along with details of all goods purchased, telephone use, car parking, attendance at the cinema, and any other activities paid for by smart cards”.

Potentially, this information could be used to generate highly detailed profiles of the user to market goods or services to them. Or of the possibility of unscrupulous government agencies seeking to capitalise upon, and/or abuse such information to the detriment of the individual.

Also of concern are smart card schemes that are used by numerous agencies or organisations.  Notably, they may lack a central data controller.  This means it is ‘unclear who is accountable for the use, disclosure, accuracy and security of personal information collected by the system’.

It should also be noted that “Function Creep” – (i.e. as technology improves more and more information is collected) – and the security of the smart card data pathways have been raised as privacy concerns.

Governments have moved to protect the privacy rights of individuals.  For example in 2004 the Council for Europe stated that the collection of personal information via a smart card system be for a “legitimate and specific purpose”.  They also require that suppliers offer an, ‘appropriate level of security given:

  • The state of the technology
  • The data stored on the card, and,
  • The security risks.’

Similarly, the Australian Government insists that Smart card systems include data protection clauses in agreements with third parties about the supply of smart cards.  Suppliers are also required to perform “Privacy Impact Assessments”, during the design of Smart Card systems.  And to ‘produce comprehensive privacy policy statements’ and to revise these statements ‘whenever a third party adds additional functionality to an existing smart card deployment’.

In conclusion, one can only assume that ignoring those long and wordy legal looking Terms and Conditions, with the ‘tick box’ at the bottom, is done so at the peril of your own privacy.

Do you worry about your privacy on the Net?

Thief stealing data from a smart phone (privacy compromised) 


Sales forecasting for new telecommunications products

Telecommunications sales forecasting….can be tricky.

Many executives and entrepreneurs are apprehensive about forecasting for entirely new communications technologies.  (There is just no historical data to rely upon).

Make a wrong decision here and it could cost you your, profit margin, your job or even your entire business.

This article will reveal a forecasting model that has stood the test of time.  To give you the best possible chance of accurately forecasting sales for your new telecommunications products.

Product Lifecycle approach to Telecommunications Sales Forecasting

Given that there is no “historical” sales data to rely upon, how can we scientifically forecast sales?  Well, we can go to established theory – The Product Life-cycle.

  • Introduction Phase: Usually characterized by slow growth.  Possibly due to –
  1. Smaller advertising budgets
  2. Poor distribution channels
  3. Poor/no sales training for frontline salespeople
  4. Pent up market demand (or lack thereof)
  • Growth: The period of fastest uptake by the market.
  • Maturity: The point of market saturation i.e.  when everyone who wants your product has bought it…  (The total market for your product).
  • Decline: As sales drop-off

The above three phases give rise to the famous squiggly “S-shaped” curve we are familiar with from our first year Marketing.

The Product Lifecycle

It is a useful starting framework but how do we get some real numbers out of this “without historical data”?

The Three things you must know about New Tech Telecommunications Sales Forecasting

  1. The Maximum Saturation point: The time in the future when you estimate everyone who wants your product has made a purchase.  And the total lifetime number of units to be sold.  (I.E.  Years and Units).
  2. The Inflection Point of the Product: The time when the product is selling its fastest.  After this the sales rate begins to taper off and we enter the second part of the characteristic “S-curve”.  The inflection point is the point in time where you expect half the total lifetime sales of your product to be made.
  3. The Delay Factor: Or the amount of time you expect your product to languish in the “Introduction Phase”.

The Product Lifecycle Formula

From the above, you simply plug your variables into the following formula, and it will produce for you the estimated units sold for each month of your Product Life Cycle.

New Product  Forecast  =                                 S


1  +  B e^-aT


S =  Long run saturation level of the new product

T =  Time Index (1,2,3…..)

a =  Delay Factor (0-1)

I =  Inflection Point  ( the point where 1/2 of the saturation point is reached)

B =  e^Ia

It produces the signature “S-shaped” Curve of the Product Life Cycle.  (As below).

Telecommunications New Product Lifecycle Sales Forecast


So there you have it!

As stressful as sales forecasting for new-tech is, the consequences of doing it in a haphazard fashion are even worse.  When you consider what is at risk, a clear and methodical method of sales forecasting is a must.

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After over 20 years in the fields of finance and sales – having seen thousands of Start-ups – I recommend this Simple 3 Step process.


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Happy birthday Nikola Tesla – The Lightening Man

Born 10 July 1856 Nikola Tesla is celebrating his 160th Birthday today.

Nikola Tesla American Inventor

So why is this important?

Well little Nicki was a genius.   Nikola Tesla  (who had an “eidetic memory”) and could perform Integral Calculus in his head….and,

…was a master of electricity.

(Well you know AC man…)

Alternating Current – Little Niki invented it.  In addition to being the first name of the greatest Rock’n’Roll band in history (AC/DC) – is what powers the modern world.  Tesla’s design for the AC Induction Motor and Transformer set the seen for modern power generation and distribution.


Oh, by the way he also is arguably the father of modern radio – (ahead of Marconi).

Together with :

  • Mechanical and Electrical Oscillators
  • Electrical Discharge Tubes
  • Early X-Ray technologies. (see below)


  • Vertical take off and Landing Aircraft (VTOL)
  • Tesla’s “Earthquake Machine”
  • Tesla’s famous “Death Ray” – capable of destroying enemy aircraft at 200 miles!! – was conceived but never built. And,
  • The first ever Radio Controlled Model Boat. (just for fun)

He produced artificial lightening, with discharges consisting of millions of volts and up to 135 feet long.  Thunder from the released energy was heard 15 miles away in Cripple Creek, Colarado.  People walking along the street observed sparks jumping between their feet and the ground. Sparks sprang from water line taps when touched. Light bulbs within 100 feet of the lab glowed even when turned off. Horses in a livery stable bolted from their stalls after receiving shocks through their metal shoes. Butterflies were electrified, swirling in circles with blue halos of “St. Elmos Fire” around their wings.

An intellectual powerhouse Tesla contributed so much to the way we live our lives today!

I wonder, what would the world look like if we only had DC electricity?





Angle of Arrival (AOA)

Uses an array of large antennas at the cell site to measure the angle of the incoming control signal from the handset. A minimum of two cell sites is required to determine location, and no handset modifications are needed. However, this solution requires capital expenditures by the carrier, particularly in remote areas. AOA accuracy is negatively impacted by line-of-sight obstacles and distance from the base station and may not function well in an urban environment.


Assisted GPS

By shifting much of the processing burden from the handset to the network, A-GPS helps to overcome some of the drawbacks of pure GPS such as cost, power consumption, speed to determine location, and the line-of-sight requirement. Additionally, the network keeps track of location so that when satellites are obstructed, a good estimate of location can be obtained based on the last reading. A-GPS is not costly (~$20) from a handset perspective but requires additional investment in the network, Location can usually be ascertained in about 5 seconds and A-GPS accuracy is considered the highest.


Authentication Center (AuC)

Database that keeps the authentication register of all subscribers. The mobile handset contains a key that must be authorized by the AuC for the handset to gain access to the network.


Average Revenue per User(ARPU)

Refers to the average monthly bill per subscriber.



Breadth of the frequency used. Analogous to a water pipe, in which a larger diameter allows more water to be moved. Therefore, a 30-MHz wireless license to much more valuable, in terms of capacity and throughput, than a 15- or 10-MHz license.


Cell of Origin (COO)

System currently used to comply with Phase 1 E-911 requirements. This technology tells which cell a caller is occupying, but offers no greater resolution. Cell location can generally be ascertained in about 3 seconds. The accuracy of COO is determined by the teledensity of the area, with accuracy proportional to the number of cell sites, or size of the cell. This solution requires no alteration  to the network or to the handsets, but is insufficient for emergency services.


Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)

Spread-spectrum approach to digital transmission. This method of transmission assigns unique codes to each transmission and then transmits over the entire spectrum. The mobile phone is instructed to decipher only a particular code in order to receive the designated transmission. The assignment of separate codes allows multiple users to share the same air spare. CDMA increases capacity 8-20 times vs. analog cellular and also has greater capacity than TDMA.


Enhanced Cell ID (E-CID)

A software-based solution that determines location by comparing the list, or table, of cell sites available to the handset. Once the available cell sites are known (this is constantly updated), location can be calculated based on the intersections of the overlapping cells. This system works best in areas with many cell sites, the location can be determined within about 100 meters (250 meters in rural areas). A key advantage of E-CID is that the line of sight is not required. Currently, this system only works with GSM networks. Because E-CID requires only slight modification to the SIM card in the handset and a proprietary network server it is regarded as a relatively low-cost and nondisruptive solution for GSM operators.


Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)

An evolutionary path to 3G services for GSM and TDMA operators. It represents a merger of GSM and TDM A standards and builds on the GPRS air interface and networks. EDGE is a data-only upgrade and supports packet data at speeds up to 384 kbps. EDGE is able to achieve increased data transmission speeds trough a change in its modulation scheme, from GMSK to 8 PSK. Then upgrade to EDGE in relatively expensive and requires that carriers replace the transceivers (radio antennas) at every cells site. According to Commonwealth Associates, this scan cost as much as 60% of the original network cost.


Enhanced Observed Time Difference (E-OTD)

Operates under the same principles as TDOA (measuring the time it takes to receive a signal), but in reverse. This signals a received from at least three base stations, whose locations are known,  and location is calculated by the handset. E-OTD utilizes the existing capabilities of the GSM protocol as is relatively straightforward to apply to these networks. E-OTD is a more costly and complex solution to deploy TDOA because of the handset software upgrades and location measurement units (reference beacons), but it yields much better location information. Location measurement units are distributed throughout the network, with about one unit for every four cell sites. Time keeping is of the utmost importance, and system time is usually kept by an atomic clock. E-OTD can usually provide location information accurate to 50-125 meters within 5 seconds. However, this system can be susceptible to distortion in urban areas.


Global Positioning System(GPS)

A world-wide radio navigation system comprised of 24 satellites and ground stations sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. The systems measures the longitude, latitude, and elevation of the receiver. Triangulation is used to determine location.  This is accomplished by measuring the time it takes to communicate with 3 satellites. A fourth measurement is taken to ensure that the timing is the pseudorandom codes is synchronized. Because time is critical in the calculation of location, an atomic clock is used. This means that location cannot be determined if the user is inside a building, in an urban canyon, or under a heavy canopy of trees. To communicate with the satellites and to perform the complex calculations, GPS takes the most time of the location technologies to determine location, requiring 10-60 seconds.


Home Location Register (HLR)

Centralized database that stores information on all subscribers. The HLR also maintains location information about the subscriber.


Packet Switching

A packet-switched system transmits data in packets that are reassembled by the receiver, rather than by establishing a dedicated connection. This is the same method used by the Internet. Packet switching allows for an “always on” connection and a vast increase in capacity, since a dedicated circuit contains more bandwidth than is consumed by a voice call. Packet switching is a critical enabler for most of the data services currently being contemplated, and it allows for the “push” of information to the customer. Packet switched systems such as GPRS were being piloted in Europe in late 2000.


Subscriber Information

Removable cards that enable mobile users to customize their headsets and access to the services of carriers outside their home region. By inserting an SIM card into an appropriate mobile phone for a region, international travelers can access services from other operators. SIM cards can also contain personal information such as address books, phone numbers, and calendars. They can store account or credit card numbers securely and transfer them from phone to phone, thus enabling m-commerce.



Refers to the ability to transmit signals at a specific frequency and the bandwidth of the frequency.


Time Distance of Arrival (TDOA)

Uses at least three base stations to measure to compare the arrival time of the control signal from a mobile handset on order to calculate location. To accurately determine location, strict synchronization of the base stations is required. Synchronization is such a critical issue, that an atomic clock is used in each base station. This solution may be attractive to CDMA network, which are already synchronized, versus GSM network, which may be asynchronous. TDOA requires line of sight to determine location. This can present problems in rural areas, where three cell sites cannot be accessed simultaneously, and in urban canyons, where multipath reflection can be a problem. TDOA is also less accurate than E-OTD, Cell-ID, or GPS, and can take up to 10 seconds to determine location. TDOA antennas are less expense and easier to deploy than  AOA antennas, and TDOA does not require and handset modifications. However, TDOA is still regarded as a fairly expensive location solution.


Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)

Utilizes a scheme in which the transmission channel is broken into six time slots. Three of the time slots are used to carry information and three of the time slots are unused in order to minimize interference or noise. Work is currently being done to increase the number of time slots and thus capacity. TDMA increases capacity 3 to 5 times that of analog cellular.


Visitor Location Register (VLR)

Database that keeps a record of all mobile subscribers currently active in a particular MSC. The handset routinely sends signals to the VLR to alert the system to its presence. The VLR forwards this information back to the HLR so that calls can be properly routed to the handset.


Wireless Application Service Providers (WASPs)

Companies that host or provision applications in a wireless environment. This is a relatively new industry with new firms entering at a rapid pace. As a new industry, the boundaries are not well defined, and clear winners have not yet emerged. The services offered by firms in this market space include wireless web hosting, wireless web translation, information provision, mobile middleware, and enterprise-application hosting. These services are generally managed from a central location or network operation center.