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Ring! Ring! Hot News, 24th November, 2008

In Today’s Issue: Internet forecast wars on again; Odlyzko fights the nonsense; experimental high-def YouTube, and how to get it; BT: OFCOM ate my homework; Amazon’s CDN has landed; Telefonica wants a spaceship or two; T-Mobile UK is down; T-Systems blows the German secret service’s cover; VZW peeks at BHO’s CDRs; SearchWiki, another Google web-hoover; Ubuntu for mobiles; Lotus Notes for Nokia; Nokia and Yahoo!; Nokia and TD-SCDMA, possible faster Chinese rollout; HOWTO manage devices OTA in S60; GPS SIMs coming; Qualcomm’s WLAN LBS; CTIA fights for lucrative convict market; Clearwire-Sprint JV signed, shares tank; Indian consolidation coming; T-Mobile USA’s digiframe comes with data but no music; a cautionary tale about age verification.

It’s another round in the Internet traffic forecast wars. The vendors’ side last week published research claiming that a coming exaflood would lead to “Internet brownouts”; as TelecomTV points out, not only did they use identical language to everyone else who’s predicted this over the last 16 years, but just as always, world authority Andrew Odlzkyo disagrees and is probably right (his MINTS project claims that backbone traffic actually fell recently).

The access side is another matter; but then, the DSL operators’ problems aren’t so much that they can’t handle the traffic than that they can’t pay for it. The latest wave of disruption heading for the DSL industry is YouTube’s plan to start offering higher-quality - and therefore much traffic-heavier - versions of its videos. According to Wired, they seem to be real H264-encoded, p720 MP4 streams. Interested? Veteran hacker Jamie Zawinski has instructions on how to try it out before Google actually launches it. Some news sites are suggesting that you’ll be able to download as well as stream the videos - marginally better news for DSL backhaul provisioners.

Nobody has confirmed or denied that, but Firefox users can install this user script and do it anyway.

BT, meanwhile, is blaming OFCOM for slow progress on its fibre-to-the-yet-to-be-determined rollout.

Speaking of things content-delivery, Amazon.com’s Werner Vogels told the Telco 2.0 event they didn’t need to worry about an Amazon telco platform. Don’t play him at cards. Here’s AWS’s brand new cloud-based CDN, Cloudfront. As usual with AWS, it’s all transactions-based pricing, web service APIs, and magic URLs; you pour data into an S3 bucket, call the Cloudfront API to register the location of your data, and they fix their internal workings to send requests for your URL to the topologically-nearest server farm. US and European users can be served up to 10 terabytes of stuff for $170/TB.

It’s a curious paradox that CDN pricing is being driven through the floor, at the same time as CDNing has become absolutely essential for any Web service with serious numbers of users. The service already boasts of integration with EC2 cloud computing, but you have to expect that the integration will probably go further and let EC2ers push their application instances down to the CDN, like Akamai’s Edge Computing service. We’ve said before that CDNing is wonderful because it’s a solution which is native to the Internet, rather than working against it; note also that the list of Amazon CDN locations bears a close comparison to a list of major Internet exchanges.

Telefonica and Vivendi are buying a satellite TV network in Spain. Killer Telco 2.0 quote:
Telef√≥nica has a pay-TV business, Imagenio, which it feeds to clients through its broadband network. Some executives believe Digital Plus’s satellite platform, with 2m subscribers, would complement this.
As Telco 2.0 analyst Keith McMahon so often reminds us, nothing beats satellite for efficient mass video distribution. Imagenio already has an impressive STB capability - is Telefonica planning an integrated satellite broadcast-Internet video solution?

Meanwhile, T-Mobile UK experienced a massive (300 kilosubscriber) outage after a database was corrupted. In ironic contrast, they also leaked the IP address ranges secretly assigned to the German intelligence service. They really need that new vice-president of data protection…

In other spooky news, Verizon Wireless admitted that some of its employees illegally looked up Barack Obama’s call details. CEO Lowell McAdam made a public apology. Google, meanwhile, launched a new function in its core search business which lets users comment on search results - the FT Tech Blog points out that it’s just another source of data.

We don’t know how well LiMo is likely to do now Motorola’s handset operation is concentrating on Google Android, but we do know that Linux on gadgets is still a major story. ARM announced this week that they want to port the very popular Ubuntu distribution to run on their chips, thus making it the fourth mobilinux after OpenMoko, LIPS/LiMo, and Android. Fragmentation? You bet, although UIQ is apparently leaving us.

Nokia, meanwhile, taps into the only IM user base that counts (if you want to make money, that is): the 140 million users of IBM Lotus Notes. They are integrating it with the S60 e-mail client. It’s available for all the N- and E-series (obviously enough) but also for a whole gaggle of recent feature phones. Meanwhile, why doesn’t Nokia buy Yahoo!, we are asked. Perhaps because they’ve got more sense?

But seriously folks. Nokia’s efforts to build its own Web services ecosystem, Ovi, have so far been a bit of a mess. Yahoo! would bring in a lot of interesting stuff - a major suite of cloud services, the so-called Y! OS 1.0, the OneConnect unified messaging platform, FireEagle stalkerware, and a lot of local-search information. There’s not a bad search engine in there too, they say. And, of course, there are ad revenues. In the meantime, the same analyst reckons Nokia might open up the Nokia Maps API, which is certainly a good idea, as the current Google Maps Mobile app doesn’t support any of the wonderful user-generated content functionality of Google Maps itself. In other Nokia news, they are lining up a TD-SCDMA device in order to make the Chinese government happy. Which is handy, because the Chinese government’s economic crisis plan may include a faster 3G rollout.

Still further Nokia news for geeks: here’s a tutorial on using device management under S60.

Sagem’s SIM-making side supports satellite-searching silicon, specifically BlueSky’s GPS-on-SIM technology. On the other hand, Qualcomm is now licensing a WLAN location-based service platform, which basically uses a big database of WLAN hotspots and some data from the WLAN radio itself to position you when you’re somewhere GPS doesn’t work. Like your office, in all probability - or jail. The CTIA is fighting a proposal to use RF jammers to stop convicts phoning - they reckon it’s illegal. They can’t make that much ARPU from jailbirds, can they?

Over in the Telco USSR, the Clearwire-Sprint WiMAX joint venture went through; causing Clearwire stock to drop like a stone. This perhaps isn’t that significant - in a market like today’s, pretty much anything is an excuse to make the stock tank - but they probably fear that Sprint will somehow stick Clearwire with most of the rollout costs, and probably get them involved in some kind of horrible legal dispute.

And the CEO of Bharti Airtel says consolidation is coming in India. He’s not wrong; mobile operators of various sizes and technologies have shot out of the ground, and although they are still in the fast subscriber acquisition phase, the presence of big Indian industrials (like Reliance and Bharti) and Vodafone implies a coming squeeze on small operators.

You’ve heard of Comes With Music; we prefer Comes With Data, like the Amazon Kindle. T-Mobile USA launched a digital picture frame/player gadget with bundled 3G connectivity this week. Telephony Online isn’t convinced.

And Bruce Schneier has a cautionary tale about age verification. Being a trusted steward of customer data requires you to be, ah, trustworthy. And some of your customers may have distinctly untrustworthy plans for your data assets.

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