Travel Tip: Take an Ethernet Cable

I’m currently staying at an upmarket European hotel. Internet is free, but only if you have an Ethernet cable and can plug in. If you want Wi-Fi, the cost is a hefty 17 euros ($24) per 24 hours. Fortunately, I read James Kendrick’s “What’s In Your Bag” post before leaving home, which prompted me to stash a network cable in my bag. This cable will save me $50 over the two days that I’m staying here.

It’s always worth taking a network cable if you’re staying in an unfamiliar hotel because it might have expensive Wi-Fi, poor Wi-Fi reception in your room, or no Wi-Fi at all. This cable took a little room in my bag, but I’m very glad I packed it.

Share your travel tips in the comments.

Firewire Over Ethernet? Maybe If We Ask Loudly Enough

Clearly, Apple’s decision to leave out FireWire ports on the MacBook line has ruffled some feathers. For their part, Apple claims to have left it out to save the $0.25 per port licensing fee attached to including the hardware, which, when considered on the scale of a massive production run, does amount to significant savings. Of course, they recoup some of that amount as royalties, since they are a FireWire patent holder, and therefore a member of the 1394 Trade Association. Which has led some to claim that the decision to axe FireWire was not a cost-saving measure, but instead a profit-boosting one, by forcing consumers who need FW to scale up to a MacBook Pro.
Since Macs support internet and disk sharing over FireWire, it’s only natural to consider the possibility of running FireWire in a similar manner over Ethernet, allowing users to to perhaps plug their video cameras or audio peripherals into older Macs to perform large transfers if they have one, or into specially designed FireWire-to-Ethernet cables or adapters.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to run FireWire over Ethernet using current standards (IEEE 1394/a/b). According to ZDNet, FireWire has more in common with SATA or SCSI which is “dumb” (point-to-point), than Ethernet, which is “smart” (co-ax cable was its “dumb” predecessor).
A new standard in the process of being developed, IEEE 1394c, would allow FireWire to run over cat5 twisted pair cables (Ethernet), at speeds of up to 800Mbps. Implementing IEEE 1394c would require support from Apple via an adapter or changes onboard. Since it’s ultimately still in Apple’s hands, demand from irate consumers will have to outweigh any financial benefit they stand to lose from giving users a cheaper option than upgrading to the Macbook Pro. If the IEEE 1394c standard is passed in time, the speculation is that Apple could include FireWire over Ethernet support with Snow Leopard.
Would this move restore your faith in Cupertino, FireWire faithful, or is it too little, too late?

Nortel Exits Optical, End of an Era

For those of us who’ve been following the rise of optical networks, today will go down as a red-letter day for the industry. Nortel (s NT), whose name has long been synonymous with optical networking gear, has announced it will sell off its Metro Ethernet Networks (optical and 40G) business, as a way to shore up rest of the company and focus on 4G and related technologies.

The news of the divestiture of the optical unit came along with news of lower revenues for the third quarter of 2008. Nortel blamed a slowdown in capital spending at the carriers for this revenue shortfall. Sprint and Verizon are two key customers of Nortel. The optical networking unit may have come under pressure because of British Telecom which has been retweaking their capital spending as well. Read More about Nortel Exits Optical, End of an Era

Nokia Siemens Networks Buys Atrica

[qi:069] Ethernet’s growing importance as part of the carrier networks, especially in newer telecom economies such as India and China, is one of the main reasons why Nokia Siemens Networks is acquiring privately held Atrica, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based equipment maker. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atrica counts Orange Business Services, KVH and Optimum LightPath among its 40-odd customers. The deal set to close by the end of 2007 is part of my ongoing thesis that there is little or no room for mid tier-telecom equipment makers, even if they are part of a fast-growing sector such as carrier Ethernet.

Matisse Networks and Qosera are two new startups looking to capture the carrier Ethernet opportunity. Atrica had raised a total of $134 million in funding from Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, BellSouth Corp., SBC Communications, 3Com Corporation, and Intel Capital among others.