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Ring! Ring! Hot News, 11th May 2009

We’re back from the 6th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in Nice; and as usual some interesting things came up from the voting at the event. 93% of participants think exploring new business models in these tough economic times is a higher priority than simply cutting costs and defending the legacy business.

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A plurality of Telco 2.0 attendees think the industry has made a good start with its open API programmes - but feel more needs to be done to standardise approaches and to bring commercial thinking to the fore if APIs are going to generate significant value to the Telco industry in the next 3 - 5 years. A significant minority think the existing efforts are inadequate, and almost no-one believes they are sufficient:

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And our participants much prefer being a wholesale enabler than trying to beat Amazon and Apple at their own game of service innovation; but combining better wholesale enablers and better retailing is the best of the lot.

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[Ed. - We’ll feed back more output from the Telco 2.0 brainstorm over the next few weeks. Detailed analysis is reserved for event participants and subscribers of our Executive Briefing service.]

Latest BBC iPlayer numbers are here; that’s 60Gbps of streaming, 15 of download, and 1.5 of mobile at the evening viewing peak. Interesting that the peak is at the same time as the classic TV one, which suggests that iPlayer is substituting for traditional TV, but oddly enough the peak for iPhone viewing is midnight. As Richard Titus, the BBC’s Internet chief, said at Telco 2.0, the viewers have paid for it and they’re going to deliver it…

More content for Hulu; even if it’s British TV, however, you still can’t get it in Britain. Similarly, the BBC’s effort to standardise set-top boxes for integrated TV delivery, Project Canvas, is struggling on; now the big vendors are trying to kibosh it in order to push their own proprietary nonstandards.

In other UK market news, at last a buyer for Tiscali: Carphone Warehouse. This makes CPW the second biggest retail ISP in Britain, which may explain why CEO Charles Dunston is planning to spin off the telecoms operation. Who wants to be the second biggest British DSL operator anyway, what with all that iPlayer hammering the BT Wholesale bills?

Will US satellite TV network DirecTV merge with a telco? It would be a move that opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities for multimodal video distribution, linking Internet/telco specialities with better set-top boxes and satellite broadcast, the cheapest way to deliver video content.

The strategic crisis of telecoms, however, continues. Telephony Online reports that voice revenues are falling even as minutes of use continue to grow, and that although revenues and usage for mobile Internet service are both rising fast, capacity pressure is building.

A symptom, in part, will be the expected nightmare Thursday this week, when BT is expected to announce a wedge of bad news regarding pensions, profits, and jobs, with a huge writedown at BT Global Services expected to take centre stage. As predicted, it’s the NHS IT zombie that’s eaten the company’s brain…

Meanwhile, alternative voice specialists Fring closed another $10m in venture capital. The Register is typically sarcastic, but we’d be interested to know how their national deployment with Mobilkom Austria is coming on…

The first lot of upgrades for Android is about to be pushed to T-Mobile USA Googlephone users; a key feature will be a direct upload client for YouTube. Ideal for, say, filming vicious cops, and an example of why the iPhone is such a receive-focused device. (However cool the Flip might be, it’s trapped without a radio link to the Internet, isn’t it?) In the opposite direction, AT&T announces “Send to Mobile”, a desktop application which sends things to your mobile phone (we thought that was called a USB cable).

AT&T has further acquired a chunk of ex-Alltel spectrum and some rural networks from Verizon Wireless for a mere $2.35bn.

Details about the Palm Pre have been blogged from within Sprint-Nextel. Note that it’s going to support Google Talk IM - that is to say, Google’s XMPP server - natively. But will anyone get the voice capability of Google Talk working on it? And what will Sprint think of that?

In the future, voice will be provided by everybody and will be embedded in everything. Jamie Zawinski said every program expands until it can read mail; we say every program will expand until it can make telephone calls. Sony “might” add telephony to the PSP. And Verizon Wireless is offering a portable, cellular-backhaul WLAN hotspot.

In other device news, the new version of the Amazon Kindle is out and everyone is talking about the possibility of basing a wholesale delivery business for newspapers in it.

Big changes at Telstra after the Australian government’s bold fibre plan; both the chairman and CEO are walking the plank. This may herald a KPN-like decision to cooperate with the fibre deployers rather than clinging to the copper.

We famously love Free.fr, but one of the reasons for their success both with DSL and fibre is the French regulator, ARCEP, and its tough line with France Telecom on access to ducts. Brough Turner demonstrates another way ARCEP rocks - all their spectrum allocations are in a searchable database on the Web.

In other radio news, OFCOM has had a cunning band of techies attach devices to a fleet of salesmen’s cars, in order to map radio spectrum use around Britain. Imagine their surprise when they found a powerful 1GHz signal emanating from the Cumbrian village of Millom; sadly, neither spies nor aliens nor mad scientists emulating Nikola Tesla were behind it, but instead a shopkeeper with a grey-import CCTV system.

And finally, Wind Telecom proudly supports RCS; and although we don’t speak Italian, it looks very much as if it is in fact another name for IMS.

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