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Ring! Ring! Hot News, 15th June, 2009

In Today’s Issue: Sprint sells iDEN assets; US mobile data price wars; value heads for the edge and for key infrastructure; T-Mobile denies Data Thieves of 2009 caper; epic net neutrality row in the UK as politicos play to the whistle on Digital Britain; C&W in fatcat punchup; Australian NBN news shows Telstra and Optus making nice; a hundred flowers blossom, a thousand schools of thought contend, and they all want a broadband stimulus cheque; universal GSM for the poor - the US poor; Telekom Austria looks at separation; Qwest - customers don’t care about speed but do want everything now; Sprint-L(3) tie up to buy up Qwest; Kenya’s submarine cable comes ashore; China Unicom “buys 125,000 Node-Bs”; Qualcomm sees recover; Dell claims to monetise Twitter; dismantle your Palm Pre; Palm hires Apple iPod chief; Nokia coming for Adobe and MS developers; two Nokia howtos; sue your way to popularity; HP mobile social network; pitfalls of the smart grid; Cisco California comms considered costly; analogue switchoff, MediaFLO on the air; Iranian BGP admins working for the clampdown

So it finally happened: Sprint-Nextel is selling a chunk of iDEN assets in the Midwest to settle with one of its many, many angry affiliates. This sounds like an opportunity for someone innovative to make use of the system’s special powers in enterprise Voice 2.0. Meanwhile, price war rages; Sprint again slashed its data tariff this week after Verizon did likewise. With 500MB/month for $40, they’re yet to get close to the sort of prices 3UK offers.

After all, the value is moving to the edge, as a report quoted on David Isenberg’s blog says. Interestingly, it argues that the money will end up with those parties who either provide hyper-specialised edge applications or else with those who control key infrastructure enablers, like wholesale backhaul. (Or customer data; T-Mobile USA, for their part, are vigorously denying last week’s report of a giant data theft, which is a sort of an edge application.)

The big question this week in the UK is whether there is just too much video to fit through the pipes, or whether the Big Expensive Phone Company is doing rather too well at making money from its wholesale backhaul operation. TelecomTV attacks the proposal to tap content providers for cash if they don’t want their traffic throttling; it’s hard to say what is going to happen except for a hell of a row, and that it wasn’t the best time for another BT division to say their capacity problem was “solved”. Very probably, the real motive here is to position BT politically for the home straight of the Digital Britain report; whose author is quitting the government.

Cable & Wireless, for its part, is heading for an epic row with its shareholders over executive pay.

In Australian NBN news, the regulator is arguing that structural separation at Telstra is vital to the success of NBN. Telstra argues that there is no need because it’s wholesale or dark fibre only. Which in itself confirms our view that they are preparing to pull a KPN and make nice with the fibre deployers. Relatedly, Optus is planning to swap its cable network and layer zero footprint for a stake in the NBN. Meanwhile, Wired is amused by the sheer number of interest groups sticking their oar into the US national broadband plan.

One of the least egregious would be this effort to make GSM a universal service, like PSTN service already is.

Telekom Austria is looking seriously at the idea of structurally separating its Austrian fixed network, notably because all the employees are civil servants. They haven’t apparently considered the logical next step…

Qwest, meanwhile, argues that the customer doesn’t care about speed but does want “what they want, when they want it, delivered seamlessly”. Sprint and Level(3) are apparently considering a joint bid for their long distance backbone.

Speaking of long distance, Kenya is about to get its submarine link, as the TEAMS cable backed by Vodafone and France Telecom lands at Mombasa, to be “welcomed” by the president. You’d think it was going to swim up onto the beach all by itself.

And China Unicom is reckoned to be in the market for 125,000 Node-Bs. Those Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson deals sound better and better with every passing day.

Qualcomm has increased its profits guidance for this year, in a sign of returning economic confidence. As TTV points out, being a chip maker means that you are a leading indicator for the whole value chain. Hey, Dell even claims to be making money out of Twitter.

If that has fired you with enthusiasm, why not try dismantling a Palm Pre into its component parts? Here’s how to do it. However rich, smart, and pretty iPhone owners supposedly are, you’ve got to assume that the geek status boost from stripping a Pre will blow them out of the water. Palm, meanwhile, have hired the former head of the Apple iPod division to follow up on their Pre saving throw.

In the Nokiasphere, they are trying to woo Adobe and MS Windows developers. You can now develop for Nokia’s Web Runtime widgetry platform in Adobe’s Creative Suite or MS’s Visual Studio IDEs, ooh, and in a version of the Eclipse open-source IDE too. There’s a nice post here about in-line updates for WRT widgets, and a HOWTO on using Eclipse with Maemo Linux here.

That’s not quite the way to respect data sovereignty; mobile directory firm Connectivity demanded O2 hand over all its customers’ numbers, and sued when they wouldn’t. As O2 rightly point out, people treat mobile numbers as something much closer to plutonium than potatoes. If anyone wants a good idea, why not try one of the anonymous calling services we’ve blogged about in the past? Or you could have a look at this HP research project, which does a social network analysis of your call logs.

Smart grids are widely considered to be a major growth area for Telco 2.0. Of course, hooking the power grid and the Internet together raises some serious security issues; which is one reason why using reasonably trustworthy systems like SMS, USSD, and the SIM is a good idea.

Prices are out for Cisco’s California unicomms/Voice 2.0 products, and it’s fair to say they are aiming at a traditional Cisco big iron, bespoke network strategy.

The first wave of US analogue shutdown is here; Qualcomm’s MediaFLO went on the air as planned. The EFF is celebrating their win; there will be no broadcast flag.

And the Iranian government’s censors and thugs appear, as with most things in the dictatorship line from Iran, to be considerably more subtle than their rivals. Where Burma simply pulled the plug and vanished from the Internet routing table, although they briefly re-appeared for reasons still unknown, and Pakistan accidentally blackholed YouTube for the whole world, Iran has decided to reduce the availability of Internet transit and route its traffic through Turkey. Why Turkey? We don’t know. But Renesys does know what happened.

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