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Telco 2.0 News Review

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Don’t assume the crisis is over; horrible sales figures from Ericsson were published this week, with fourth-quarter revenues down 13 per cent and profits positively crashing. Another 1,500 jobs are going. However, they did manage to cling on to market share. According to CEO Hans Vestberg, the trouble was concentrated in the emerging markets, where many of their customers were still unable to raise funds for their network deployments. Interestingly, Ericsson’s best performing markets were the US, China, and India - you might think that those three would be enough to support a half decent business, and it’s telling that China and India no longer come under the heading of “emerging markets”.

The Google China crisis escalated, as Hillary Clinton criticised Internet censorship in a major speech and the Chinese demanded to know why Google hadn’t just called the Chinese CERT. Bruce Schneier is arguing that the very existence of lawful-intercept features is a major security risk.

Google, for its part, attacked what its enemy values most - shiny gadgets, deciding to halt the release of two new Androids in China, including its own Nexus One. Speaking of which; IBM announced that there would be a Lotus Notes client for the Google phone, and Android devices more broadly, this year. Hackers gave the device its multi-touch capability back, which had been disabled for reasons not made clear. The Chinese will just have to make do with Lenovo’s new Android device, the LePhone (does it look just a bit like an OpenMoko?).

Meanwhile, Microsoft moved Windows Mobile out of the Entertainment & Devices division and into the Windows division, so whereas in the past Windows Mobile wasn’t in the division responsible for Windows, now their mobile device operating system isn’t in the division responsible for devices. Bureaucracy does its thing. And the new Apple product has moved into the leak phase.

Stand by for some upheaval in the Internet infrastructure; this week, the DNS rootservers are expected to implement part of the plan to deploy DNSSEC, the technology intended to cryptographically sign all DNS records and therefore obviate a wide range of attacks. It’s worth remembering that DNSSEC depends on EDNS, which means that anyone who is filtering DNS messages longer than 512 bytes will break the new implementation. If you’re doing that, you’ll also be unable to make use of ENUM and unable to interoperate with anyone who does….

It was also the week that we hit the last 10 per cent of the IPv4 address space, as the network was released by IANA. It immediately turned out that a number of fancy applications, notably the AnoNet anonymous overlay network and some peer-to-peer radio systems, were squatting in it…

The production version of Netalyzer, a project to detect non-neutral behaviour by ISPs, was launched this week. At the same time, BT announced some details of its planned VDSL service; apparently, it’s going to be called “BT Infinity” and subject to a 20GB download cap, or something like one hour at 40Mbits. Ah well, at least there’s Tor…as long as you remembered to get the urgent security patch.

Alcatel-Lucent launched the world’s most powerful optical switch, the TeraTransport Switch 1870, which lets you switch optical traffic at terabit speeds based on IP and MPLS headers as well as on raw optical technologies like SONET and Layer 2 things like carrier Ethernet. Rich Karpinski has more, including the point that Verizon is in the market for such a beast. Just the ticket if you needed to slurp a whole telco’s worth of traffic into some sinister government data centre; the EFF is appealing after a judge threw out one of the warrantless wiretapping cases.

Alcatel landed one of the first major contracts for Australia’s National Broadband Network, as the supplier of DWDM kit, optical switches, and remote network management services to Nextgen Networks, which has one of the regional NBN contracts.

In the access loop, Brough Turner reckons new technologies will mean that 802.11 will be a serious option for wireless broadband access and a better idea for data traffic than femtocells. He points out that the IEEE802 world has been consistently faster in adopting new radio technology than cellular. A commenter points out that UMTS broadband has won customers from Wi-Fi because, thanks to the USIM card, it just works.

China Telecom and China Unicom are going to share their 3G base stations in Shanghai, 500 of them. You might wonder what China Mobile did wrong; not only do they have to build a TD-SCDMA network, they have to rent all their own cell sites as well…

Etisalat reports that it uses about 73% less energy to serve each one of the 5,000 properties on its FTTH network than it does for comparable properties on copper. And they need a building every 7.5 route miles compared to 2.5 for the copper network.

Vodafone initiated a major push behind its femtocell product, which has been rebranded from the original Vodafone Access Gateway or VAG for short to Vodafone Sure Signal, which is both less unintentionally funny and less boring. Further, they’ve slashed the price from £160 to £50, or £5 a month on contract for a year. Brough Turner reckons they’re only of use for voice; others suggest this is Vodafone’s way of tackling the surge of traffic expected now it has the iPhone.

In voice news, O2 UK suspended new sign-ups to its Mobile Landline service, which lets you add a landline number as an alias to your mobile number, with calls being forwarded without further connection charges. Apparently, the service was actually reselling GoHello’s virtual-PBX, and seeing as their web site has disappeared, you might not be surprised if a service disruption followed.

Telegeography estimates that Skype traffic in minutes of use on-network grew 51% in 2008 and 63% in 2009, compared to 8% annual growth in international voice overall. Skype also commissioned a survey of small businesses, which unsurprisingly showed they love it.

Truphone has begun its new life as an MVNO, with the first two countries in its “Local Anywhere” service being the UK and US. Roaming in the UK, for example, costs 12 US cents a minute, but you pay for this by not having a cheap home operator - although, of course, you can use Truphone VoIP at home. The secret sauce is a SIM with multiple phone numbers, so you’re essentially a local customer of any carrier they’ve got a deal with; hopefully, inbound calls to a Truphone number get routed to the right one.

Google, meanwhile, is testing the native video capabilities of HTML 5 on YouTube. Unfortunately, nothing open-source will play it because they’re still using proprietary codecs. There is also a new playlist feature.

Connected Planet asks an excellent question. What video content really needs to be live, other than sport? Isn’t the live broadcast model actually value destroying for most use cases? A Cox Comms vice president offers some interesting answers. TiVo, Microsoft, and AT&T are suing each other.

Omnifone’s music service will get bundled on Hewlett-Packard computers. The UK government’s data site launches; it’s content, of a sort. There’s a rumour that Apple might switch to Bing as the default search engine on the iPhone. Nokia has decided to make its Ovi Maps and Navigation services available free, and there’s going to be an API as well; Google says the future is local.

In Haiti, guess what the most valuable piece of new technology is? SMS shortcode interoperability. There’s much more detail here and here; Sahana, the open-source disaster management system, is heavily engaged. The NANOG community is helping keep the Haitian NAP on line; Bill Woodcock has sage advice over there.

Mobile operators would do anything for more spectrum, and one operator in the area is pressing for a temporary serve of unused 850MHz AT&T style GSM to cope with two major problems; first, the remaining cell sites have to overlay the ones that were destroyed, secondly, 5,000 aid workers are constantly phoning and also hammering the GPRS data network, not usually a problem in Haiti. Perhaps the least expected form of US aid is now on the scene: DISA’s Defense Spectrum Office.

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