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Ring! Ring! Hot News, 7th July 2008

In Today’s Issue: OFCOM moves towards BT’s line on fibre; £31,000 phone bill; GTalk for mobile, where’s the talk?; iPhone bank run; pity about the OS security patches, though; cross-platform widgets; Files On Ovi; MTN-Reliance rift; EU offers more 2.6GHz TDD, WiMAX Forum delighted, Ericsson furious; RIM shares dive after profits double; how do you value mobile ads?; GSMA’s funny figures

Big news: OFCOM director Ed Richards spoke to the UK IT trade association, Intellect, in terms that suggest he’s leaning towards offering BT concessions on regulatory pricing in exchange for deployment of fibre in Openreach’s access network. This is an instance of the two-level bargaining process we described here; it looks like BT is still succeeding in monopolising influence on the regulator, but the next step will be to see how this can be made compatible with the existence of a competitive ISP/Altnet market in the UK. Details are to be published in September. Here’s a telling quote:

One thing is certain: the government is very keen that taxpayers don’t shell out to make Britain’s internet infrastructure competitive with more advanced networks in countries such as South Korea and France.

The horror….the horror…

Whatever OFCOM concedes to BT, it surely won’t be anything like some of the pricing people still encounter for mobile data roaming. Marvel at the £31,000 phone bill, to say nothing of the “IT consultant” who downloaded a whole episode of Prison Break on a roaming UMTS link and was surprised when he got a huge bill…

Meanwhile, here’s another case of Voice & Messaging 2.0. Google has developed a browser-based Google Talk implementation for iPhones, which looks likely to dig into iPhoners’ SMS traffic. However, despite the fact that GTalk has basic voice capability and uses standard protocols like XMPP, there’s no voice yet; one wonders what the reason for this is.

O2 UK’s…err…keen iPhone pricing caused the carrier to run out of stock when the 3G Jesus Phone went on sale. No surprise there: consumer surveys in the US show that 55% of those currently after a smartphone want a fruity one.

How many of them realise that the iPhone’s OS is several months behind MacOS X on its security patches? Could be a PR accident waiting to happen.

In a sense, this gets less and less significant; here’s Access offering a widget interface for Windows Mobile phones, as well as its own Linux system. Back at MWC this year, we noted that the LiMo community was already running various Symbian things on top of their Linux system. As Adobe and others develop universal clients, will anyone care what OS is underneath?

Meanwhile, Nokia launches a “GoToMyPC” clone as part of Ovi. Well, that’s nice, but will they let you put scripts or other executables there? Mobility implies you’re not necessarily on line, so one of the major barriers to mobile/desktop integration is the need for some sort of persistent presence on the Net that can act like a POP3 mail server, and transfer your stuff to wherever you are (and not just view a screen remotely). A solution for this with activation energy low enough for everyday users is badly needed.

The MTN-Reliance deal is falling apart, due to the dispute between the brothers who own the founding stake in Reliance Industries. Stand by for more Vodafone rumours.

Two worlds collide; the European Commission, with the assistance of the usual spectrum allocation alphabet soup, has changed the rules regarding the 2.5-2.69 GHz band in Europe to give more space to time-division duplex radio technologies like WiMAX, UMTS TDD, and perhaps LTE. The WiMAX Forum is delighted (and probably OFCOM, which is keen), Ericsson, as befits a vendor focused ruthlessly on UMTS, is furious.

RIM shareholders gave them the bird, after the company only doubled its profits; apparently no-one believes in their new consumer-focused strategy. Neither do we, really; they could be improving their voice features and integration with communications-enabled business processes, rather than trying to get into the ‘shiny’ market just as Sony Ericsson finds it’s drying up.

Open Gardens has some interesting thoughts about how to value mobile advertising opportunities. As is traditional over there, they manage to work IMS in somehow. Not so sure about that…

And finally, the GSMA tells off the EU over regulation. Apparently mobile operator CAPEX has fallen from 13 per cent of revenue in 2005 to 11 per cent today. Well, that’s nearly a whole 0.7% a year!

More seriously, could this possibly have something to do with the fact that voice revenue, coverage, and penetration were still rising in major Western European markets in 2005, and now they’re not simply because there are only so many phones one person can use, there is only so much land to cover, and voice is competing with people who offer it FREE? Perish the thought.

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