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Ring! Ring! Hot News, 13th October 2008

In Today’s Issue: Crunch crunches Chinese corporate creativity; Nextel spinout shaky; Sprint execs “industry’s most overpaid”; WiMAX smartphone leaked; VZW starts charging for bulk SMS delivery; IfByPhone understands your call centre campaign; vendor-pays data is here; RIM’s AppStore for enterprises?; Comcast gets social TV; Vodafone buys more of Vodacom; IBM: still has money; Indian cellsites get fuel cells; MBNL-BT backhaul superdeal; xG shenanigans; yet another security nightmare at DTAG; GSMA without the GSM; mobile filmmaking to fight the Taliban. scary!

This week’s main theme was telcos calling off planned corporate action in the face of the financial crisis; Huawei, like so many other vendors, has been thinking of getting rid of its handsets business, a low-margin job better left to cheap Chinese ODMs…hold on, some of us remember when Huawei was a cheap Chinese ODM. But this week, the sale was put on indefnite hold for fear someone might bid one euro and get it.

Similarly, PCCW’s plan to sell 45% of its core Hong Kong Telecoms unit is on standby for better weather, and the sale of Nextel’s iDEN network is looking shaky. And Sprint executives have been named as the industry’s most overpaid.

The only good news for them is that the first WiMAX smartphone is out and it looks sort of iPhoney, and as everyone knows, large matt black touchscreens make phones indefinably gooder. And perhaps that Verizon has started charging to deliver business-to-customer SMS, so all those Twitter addicts will probably have to churn. This puts VZW in a sort-of two-sided position - they’re charging both the recipients and the senders - but it’s possibly not one we’re very keen on, as it’s almost certain to ruin a lot of new V&M services.

Speaking of which, here’s your new V&M of the week. IfByPhone lets call-centre operators integrate data from their phone system with Google Analytics information from their Web site. Meanwhile, device maker-funded data is here with the latest PocketSurfer, a minimal palmtop which comes with unlimited lifetime data transfer (at GPRS speeds, mark).

Telephony Online’s Telephony 2.0 points us to the possibility of an App Store clone for RIM devices, perhaps with an enterprise focus and payments to developers via carrier billing. Now that’s Telco 2.0, and it’s no surprise our ally Thomas Howe is cited in the story. So is this: Comcast’s new social-network/social recommendation service for its TV programming. It’s intended to compete with Hulu chiefly; perhaps there is hope for the old TV model after all?

There are some people left in the industry with money; Vodafone, for example, which announced a bid to take control of Vodacom. IBM, which announced strong Q3 results despite the general financial anarchy. And Indian telcos, still in raging buildout mode; one just ordered fuel cells to provide back-up power for tens of thousands of cell-sites.

3UK and T-Mobile’s network joint venture, meanwhile, signed a huge backhaul contract with BT to bring its Ethernet wholesale network to their cellsites.

Naturally, you can count on a mysterious Swedish billionaire in Swiss banking in times like this. Johan Bohman is supposedly funding a roll-out of the controversial xG Technology’s xMax system in the US. This comes after their first customer and first OEM both pulled out of the deal; there is wide doubt as to whether the technology actually exists. Which can only be fuelled by the fact Bohman’s company is also a substantial shareholder of xG, so he’s essentially buying the equipment from himself.

There’s a new security crisis at DTAG; it turns out any fool with Internet access and a few details could get read/write privileges on a database of 30 million subscribers. Fascinatingly, T-Mobile’s response to this is to start developing their Identity & Authentication VAS capability; in future, a request to look up a subscriber record will send a randomly generated transaction authorisation number by SMS to that subscriber, which the requester will have to provide in order to open the file.

Brough Turner takes a critical look at the GSMA’s publicity, and specifically its tendency to talk about absolutely anything but GSM. Finally, the GSMA-backed short film project from a couple of years back is resurrected as an anti-Taliban propaganda campaign.

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