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Telco 2.0 News Review

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TNS (a consumer research company) reckons the mobile industry is about to pull out of the recession, with a burst of growth expected in handsets. (Although, as we described a few weeks ago, will the vendors actually make any money?)

Want a real network-killer application? Try live, streaming unicast video of baseball games, now available as an iPhone app to AT&T customers. This is precisely what broadcast is for; live transmission of high-grade video that millions of viewers watch concurrently. It’s not at all a valid use case for unicast IP; no wonder AT&T are worrying about their data network. Ralph de la Vega reckons 3% of users are getting through 40% of the capacity - but will he dare to have Apple kick Major League Baseball off the App Store? Surely not.

Here’s a problem with sender-pays data; if the job is big enough that payments from the sending party would be significant, it’s probably big enough that the sending party has significant bargaining power, so what happens if it’s enough data to flatten your network? Up the price? But you might end up being The Network With No Baseball. It’s easier to punch filesharers, who rarely have expensive lobbyists. (Bruce Schneier is not keen.)

AT&T’s users, meanwhile, are planning to protest in an original fashion, by trying to use as much bandwidth as possible for an hour - a crowd-sourced denial of service attack.

It’s also telling that, even with applications like that one and (it seems) a willing user base, that nobody’s doing very much with mobile broadcast TV - where’s MediaFLO when you need it? In a related event, the BBC has finally got clearance to proceed with Project Canvas, its proposed platform for integrated video delivery. TalkTalk and Channel 4 have joined the project.

Also, AT&T was this week trying to position itself as a champion of net neutrality in filings to the FCC. Nice try. However, we’re not so sure of this bit of Wired’s report:

But opponents, including the wireless industry and free-market groups, argue that consumer pressure will keep the net open and that written rules will stifle attempts at innovation, such as finding ways to prioritize video calls over less urgent traffic such as photo uploads.
Video calls in UMTS, for the half a dozen people who make them, get a guaranteed bandwidth circuit like voice calls do…while we were in the States recently, we noticed AT&T newspaper ads that boasted “Our 3G network lets you talk and surf at the same time!”, which must be the first time that the distinction between the CS and PS domains in UMTS has been treated as an end-user proposition.

Arch-rivals Verizon Wireless were also in and out of the FCC this week, defending their early termination charges on the grounds they “help the poor”. Chutzpah seems to be a theme this week, what with that and the Iraqi insurgents who tune into unencrypted US video surveillance feeds. Could be a business model - the Drone Channel.

Iliad/Free.fr finally got its 3G licence this week; Le Monde runs the numbers, with a little help from various bank analysts, and reckons it’s a goer if the first 25% population coverage required by the licence comes in under a billion euros. Free itself claims it’s going to pay for the build out of cashflow.

In the US, the first list of projects to be funded under the broadband element of the stimulus plan is out - public middle-mile fibre appears to be a big theme. Come to think of it, that was the secret sauce in much of Iliad’s deployment…

Telstra, meanwhile, is planning to force all its employees to “engage with social media”, and they’re using a truly awful CGI video avatar to do so. You’d think a recently privatised operator facing the creation of a national open access FTTH network would have better things to do than trying to get its call centre staff to Twitter.

Twitter itself was in the news, after an unfortunate case of DNS hijacking sent its users to the “Iranian Cyber Army“‘s doubtless malware-laden Web site instead.

Admob, meanwhile, mined its ad request logs and drew conclusions about the world smartphone market. iPhone growth is spectacular in Japan; the British are the most likely smartphone users to go for Apple; and there’s a truly terrifying chart for Nokia.

AAARGH!

RIM had issues with the One Big Server, which took out their e-mail service across the entirety of North America last week. Their app store also launched a mobile money application, but as it depends on PayPal, which depends in turn on your having a bank account, it’s an incremental gain at best.

And the GSMA has recruited Duran Duran for the next Mobile World Congress. Hey, Telco 2.0 had Feargal Sharkey. Perhaps eComm will get Jello Biafra to headline?

Our friends at Telephony Online have their top business models of 2009 here; M2M, APIs, advertising, and prepaid are all in there. Telco 2.0 associate Dean Bubley also has predictions for 2010 out. Catch him out and he’ll buy you a pint. Perhaps. Science-fiction author Charlie Stross is having a debate on the future of mobile devices; he once wrote a book on a HTC Universal, they say.

And finally, is business school making you incompetent?

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