Social, Mobile & Broadband

Top of Mind

Social, Mobile & Broadband

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  October 15, 2012

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

You’ve no doubt heard about a little company by the name of Facebook (News - Alert). The company and its storied leader, Mark Zuckerberg, will go down in the annals of digital communications as creating what has become known as social media.

Now, social is expanding in new directions. Not only are organizations figuring out how they can leverage social media to drive better customer service, build code, enable internal efficiencies, and expand brainstorming, social now is also allowing select customers to share broadband connections.

As reported by The Verge, a start up called Karma recently launched a wireless service that outfits subscribers with a $69 hotspot that anyone else with the appropriate account on Facebook can use as if it’s a public Wi-Fi access point. “Users pay $14 per gigabyte of data they use, with no monthly fee or minimums,” The Verge reports. “The twist is that Karma makes your hotspot into an open Wi-Fi network. When a new user joins, they are taken to a personalized page about the owner of the hotspot. Strangers can then sign in with their Facebook account and get 100MB of free browsing. For every user who does that, the owner of Karma gets 100MB of free data credited to his account.”

Karma’s leadership says its service is to mobile data as Dropbox is to storage and Google (News - Alert) is to e-mail. The Karma service, which runs on Clearwire’s WiMAX network in 80 major U.S. cities, is being referred to as social telecom. But it sounds to me more like social broadband, or social mobile. Whatever you call it, it seems to be an idea that’s spreading.

Akil Chomoko (News - Alert), head of product marketing at Volubill, recently told me that the idea of individuals coming together around such services will be more common in the future. In fact, he said, some of the first social telecom services were launched a few years ago in Europe by BT and others under the generic term FON (News - Alert). The services, he noted, let people sign up for service and agree to allow others to connect to their Wi-Fi signals as they pass one another’s homes or offices.

However, he added, Karma is the first service provider doing something along these lines in the U.S. Its service, he said, lets users buy a dongle for immediate personal W-Fi, and others connect to it as long as they like via Facebook.

All this connection sharing means there will be an even greater need for solutions that authenticate users, and otherwise control and regulate broadband connectivity, he said.

Speaking of social media, I wanted to add that this is an area about which I have a particular interest. In fact, TMC recently launched CUSTOMER magazine, a new title (of which I am the editorial lead) that helps organizations understand how to deliver top-drawer customer service in the age of social media and the mobile boom.

As I mention in the inaugural issue of CUSTOMER, social media and internal data are seen as two great ways to better understand customer needs and desires, few companies are able to transform it into customer insight that drives better company strategy, as noted by Kate Leggett, senior analyst at Forrester Research (News - Alert). CUSTOMER magazine was created precisely to assist organizations to meet these challenges head on.

To get a subscription to CUSTOMER magazine, email Shirley Russo at [email protected]. You can also read the magazine online at TMCnet; our September issue will post in early October to

Edited by Brooke Neuman