Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fring launches 4-way video calls and we test it

Last night while recording TheSocialGeeks (head over and subscribe) we talked about the launch of Fring video calling for up to 4 users across device platforms.  Well when all was said and done we went ahead and tested.  Note Wayne Sutton, Jeff (isageek) Smith and Corvida as we hold our first Fring test.

We had two people on HTC EVO devices and two on iPhone.  There was no distinct difference once we were all connected. From talking about it, there was slight UI differences in adding connections.  What you are looking at above is the HTC EVO screenshot. Your own picture is always on the bottom left.

Wifi would be recommended but 3G was used for at least two of TheSocialGeeks.  Audio quality had a distinct echo if you did not wear headsets.  I believe it was Jeff that said it sounded like a bunch of high pitched buzzing bugs with the feedback.  Fring fires up the speaker and mic if no headset is connected so audio feedback was to be expected.  You can easily switch between the front facing and rear facing camera on your device with the second button above.

Now one thing I did not like was the automatic adding of friends based on my local phone book.  Just because they are local contacts does not mean I would want them as Fring contacts.  That should be an option.

Adding users not in the local contacts was simple and flawless if you knew their username. I did not have the chance to add someone that I didn’t know a username and only had a phone number for.  A SMS is then sent to that user inviting them to join Fring.

Keep in mind Fring supports other chat services like Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, AIM.  Voice calls are not supported on AIM and Yahoo, but the hooking of multiple social contacts and layering group video calls makes this a great application for that instant communication when everyone doesn’t have Facetime.

This app will move into the keep stack for a while to see how many people begin using it.

AT&T establishing new DSL & U-verse bandwidth caps

I received a tiny note from AT&T about changes to the terms in service.  Normally I never pay attention.  However, this notice specifically called out DSL service, not just phone.  That caught my attention.

I had to click through about three pages, enter my area code and prefix and then some other click to finally find the page.  I am linking the new AT&T Broadband Usage FAQ article here for easy reference.

They are establishing monthly caps for maximum downloads.  Not speeds, that is per package.  But the amount of data you may download monthly without penalty.

Are there any usage limits for my broadband service?

Yes.  As of May 2, 2011, AT&T’s residential DSL High Speed Internet plans will have a usage allowance of 150 Gigabytes (“GB”) per month, and its residential U-verse High Speed Internet plans will have a usage allowance of 250 Gigabytes (“GB”) per month.  The usage allowance is the amount of data you can send and receive each month.

Why is AT&T implementing a usage allowance?
AT&T has experienced a dramatic increase in the amount of data that is sent and received over its wireline broadband networks.  This dramatic increase is driven primarily by a small fraction of our customers.  In fact, the top 2% of customers use about 20% of the total capacity on our network.

So in essence, you have a few weeks before the new rules go in effect.  I like the idea of tier data usage charges based on that magic 2% of people.

AT&T has launched a new site that allows you to go and see your usage before penalties or notices.  This will become important is you strream or download a lot of content.

If your usage does not show on the site then you are not in danger of breaking the limits, according to the FAQ.  But the listed charges appear to be:

continue your normal usage patterns and pay $10 for each additional 50 GB of data over your monthly allowance

So for my 2% of heavy users on AT&T, I would bookmark that MyUsage site and check for a while, mainly as usage increases.