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March 31, 2010

Telco 2.0 goes to Russia

Telco2.0 has teamed up with Bercut, for a Telco2.0 Executive Summit in St Petersburg, Russia, on the 15th April. At this exclusive event, C-level attendees will have the opportunity to review and debate the latest thinking on 2-sided business models, including new Telco2.0 use cases on text-based local mobile search and ad-funded mobile information services.

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March 29, 2010

Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed - don’t forget, just four weeks until the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London, 28th-29th April 2010, book here or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003.]

Is Vodafone going to merge with Verizon? The FT thinks it’s possible, and also expects that Vittorio Colao will soon be able to force Verizon to resume paying dividends from Verizon Wireless after the mobile operation pays off its debts at the end of this year.

Alternative ‘mobile data offload’ business models are one of the things we look at in depth in our new Future Broadband Business Models Strategy Report, and here’s a WiFi offload example. Kineto Wireless has launched a range of apps for Androids, Blackberry, iPhone etc that implement a GAN client using their WiFi radios. If your operator lets you, you can install the client and tunnel all your telecommunication via whatever WiFi happens to be around; this is especially interesting as it enables a new and interesting paradigm for cheap roaming. An operator could ship this client by default, sign up some major WiFi aggregators, and offer really cheap roaming calls and data service.

That would even fix this: Telecom Egypt saw its revenues fall 13% and promptly reacted by having the government ban mobile VoIP. For some reason, fixed is still allowed (we can’t imagine that there are quite that many Egyptians running mobile VoIP clients, surely?) - which is odd as at least half the motivation is also to discourage people from using encryption.

Vodafone UK’s Sure Signal femtocell product was reported to be having “issues”.

Computer Weekly reports that the UK Government’s national cybersecurity centre, CESG, may be preventing a National Broadband Plan-like rollout. A key element in the US National Broadband Plan is pushing really broad broadband connectivity to “anchor institutions” like schools, town halls, libraries, medical centres and such - these are meant to get their own gigabit-class publicly-owned links, which will also be subject to open access requirements.

Obviously, fibre-to-the-school solves quite a lot of the problem of getting fibre-to-the-home - this is going to bring high capacity open-access backhaul to a lot of places where it wasn’t before. It’s also quite similar to the French regions’ investment in open access middle-mile infrastructure that got their broadband roll-out going. But apparently, CESG isn’t keen on public-sector networks being shared with anyone else. Whether this is appropriate for schools and town halls, as opposed to nuclear secrets, is a good question.

Computer Weekly also notes the continuing wave of copper thefts; recently, thieves in Leeds hitched a vehicle to the end of a Virgin Media cable run and dragged hundreds of metres of cable out of the ground. Virgin Media’s infrastructure is, of course, either aluminium co-ax in the access loop or fibre in the backhaul, and therefore of virtually no scrap value. Thieves never seem to appreciate the distinction; hence the prevalence of open cabinets.

David S. Isenberg, meanwhile, has a series of posts on how Verizon struggled to fix his FiOS fibre-optic link:

If Verizon service had a five-nines guarantee, which it doesn’t, they’d owe me 1369.9 YEARS of flawless service to make up for the outage. That’s right, my FIOS would need to run until 3380 A.D. without another problem.

We especially like the bit where the technician pointed a laser into one end of the fibre, and then looked down it from the far end…more seriously, can you spot the CEBP teachable moment?

Brian the Verizon technician came at 5:00 PM today. At about 5:15, John the Verizon service rep called to tell me a technician had been dispatched. It’s a mystery why John couldn’t pick up a (hypothetical) GPS on Brian’s truck, mash up the GPS data with a mapping program and determine without asking me that the truck was in my driveway. But no. I had to tell John the service rep that Brian the technician was already here. He was asking **me** to keep **him** informed.

More here.

It’s been a week for infrastructure news; DTAG has announced that it wants to fibre-up 10% of German homes, 4 million lines, by 2012. Relatedly, the Federal Networks Agency has ruled on the pricing of access to DTAG infrastructure. VDSL wholesale line rental is set at 12 European cents a metre a month, while a slot in a street cabinet will cost €113.94; both of these are significantly less than the carrier’s initial offer.

Caracas gets fibre-to-the-block from cable operator NetUno. What’s the betting the UK will get its fibre after Zimbabwe? That’s being harsh; the deployment is in new-build apartments, rather like BT in Ebbsfleet. Brough Turner warns against exclusive contracts with service providers in just such an environment.

(He’s got a point. In the early 2000s, one of the Telco 2.0 team lived in Vienna, in a brand-new development that had been wired up by a cable operator. Broadband! Pretty impressive for 2001, but not that it did him any good as 486-25 machines struggle with DOCSIS modems. The operator went bust in the spring. This was perhaps not surprising; he didn’t receive a bill from them for six months, and after the bankruptcy he never heard anything more despite repeatedly trying to pay the new owners, UPC Telekabel.)

Al-Noor Ramji exits BT, heads for banking systems company Misys.

GE and Cisco are funding a trial that uses WiMAX as the transport network for a smart grid system. Rather than a telco being the partner for the power company, though, this looks more like a specialist smart grid company with a WiMAX network that might also sell spare bandwidth.

Here’s another Voice 2.0 application; Line2 is a better telephony client for the iPhone, which implements handoff between WLAN and GSM/UMTS and routes your calls via their SIP trunk, offering cheap rates and a variety of additional features (multiple numbers, dynamic routing, visual voicemail). Given that it uses a very similar GUI to the iPhone’s own dialer and voicemail client, the big question is how Apple came to approve it in the first place.

It’s been noted that iPad shipping dates have gone back somewhat, which is being seen as a sign of raging demand for the oversized iPod Touch.

The payback: Google moved Google.cn to Hong Kong, China Unicom knocked Google Search off its lineup of Android devices. Google PR is targeting Microsoft and IBM for continuing to work with Chinese censors; GoDaddy has stopped registering .cn domains.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, cracks down on reporting of the whole affair.

Also, something weird happened with one of the machines that make up i.root-servers.net, one of the Internet’s top level DNS servers. I-root is managed by Netnod, the Swedish national IX, but like most of the rootservers, it’s actually multiple machines distributed around the world for redundancy and served using IP Anycast. One of the machines is hosted by CNNIC in Shanghai; and it started returning wrong IP addresses (in Korea Telecom’s space, oddly enough) for queries like facebook.com - of course, a rootserver shouldn’t ever provide an authoritative DNS record anyway, rather than referring the query to the relevant top-level domain. CNNIC denies having anything to do with it.

It’s possible that Google might be a little un-horrified by China Unicom’s move; they may get ad revenues from Android devices, but it turns that they’re also paying out in revenue-sharing deals with the operators. Phone Scoop lives up to its name and has the full story.

AdMob’s report for February is out; one thing you can do if you serve a lot of mobile ads is sniff which devices are making the requests, and that’s what they’re doing. The breakdown puts the iPhone in the lead with 50% of the total, followed by Android on 22% and growing very fast, and Symbian S60 on 18%. Telco 2.0 recently had the opportunity to meet Psion and Symbian founder David Wood; later that evening, he needed to consult Nokia Maps on an E71. The device hung and eventually crashed hard enough that it needed a hard reset. “Damn you, Red Baron!”

Meanwhile, the Pwn2Own hacker contest demonstrated vulnerabilities in MS Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.6, iPhone OS, and Safari, so iPhone users get two security breaches for the price of one.

Stand by for action on B2B app stores; AT&T is opening a platform for corporate applications, Vodafone already has Application Services (the Newbury genius for titles strikes!! it’s Access Gateway all over again!) Also, PayPal has just finished a developer competition with some interesting ideas. And Electronic Arts wants to engage smartphone developers.

RIM impressed at MWC with their latest round of developer offerings, including a payments service and in-app advertising. They’ve now cloned yet more of O2’s Litmus, offering a membership-only Beta Zone.

TeliaSonera is offering a private-cloud service to its business customers with Cisco.

Orange UK is reviewing its tariffs and they’ve been leaked. However, the segmentation by animals remains - you can be a Raccoon, a Panther, a Dolphin, or a Canary. What about being a rat or a virus? Of course, the real answer to the question “which animal would you be if you could be an animal?” is “you already are an animal”.

Nokia acquires browser maker Novarra, with a view to giving Series 40 mobiles better Web and widgetry capabilities. Apparently there’s a new service offering coming later this year for the vast fleet of cheap Nokias out there - which addresses a point we make in our Nokia vs. Apple note from a couple of weeks ago.

David Burgess continues and eventually completes the saga of Niue’s GSM network.

Secrecy of communications is a basic requirement and important company policy! The UK’s national mapping database is going under Creative Commons licensing as of April 1st. North Koreans take advantage of the overlap between Chinese mobile networks and the border. And finally, this is indeed not how you use Python; our answer is ’ ‘.join(mylist), by the way.

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March 26, 2010

Telepresence-Enabled Virtual Events

As our readers may be aware, Telco 2.0 is investing heavily in virtual events this year, to help disseminate understanding of business model innovation and share examples of best practice across the globe more quickly and in an engaging way. This complements our physical event activity. It’s a wonderful way of communicating and interacting with a mass audience, and great for generating new sales leads.

Our flagship virtual event is Telco 2.0 Best Practice Live! which is broadcast to three timezones on 28-30 June this year. We are also running a Smart Grids Virtual Event next week, part of the UN-supported Sustainability Virtual Summit. Both are free to view.

Below is a useful ‘telepresence-enabled’ virtual roundtable discussion with pioneers in this field describing how virtual events work and their benefits (Bruno Castejon and G2 Events are Telco 2.0’s exclusive partners for our virtual event programme):

More here

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March 25, 2010

New Mobile, Fixed & Wholesale Broadband Business Models

Best Practice Innovation, ‘Telco 2.0’ Opportunities, Forecasts and Future Scenarios

We’ve just published a major new Strategy Report on the future of broadband, including analysis of the latest new ideas in broadband business model innovation, new ‘Telco 2.0’ Opportunities, global forecasts, four future strategic scenarios, and a detailed ‘Use Case’ describing a new Managed Offload ‘Use Case’. The report also covers conclusions and recommendations for Telcos and other Broadband Service providers (BSPs) and their partners

You can see more including an extract, overview and report content, pricing etc., here, plus there’s a taster on the four scenarios we see for broadband market players: ‘Telco 2.0 Player’, ‘Happy Piper’, ‘Device Specialist’, and ‘Government Department’.

The ‘Four Scenarios’ fbbm%20four%20scenarios%20mar%2023%202010.png

Source: Telco 2.0 Analysis

This new report follows on from the original Future Broadband Business Models 2.0 report, and the recent report on the impact of Video on Broadband Business Models.

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March 22, 2010

Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed - ‘Early Bird’ discounts to the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London, 28th-29th April 2010, end this week on March 27th, so book early here or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003.]

Brough Turner brings us a data point about 3G in China; despite having a much smaller share of the overall market, China Unicom has as many 3G subscribers as China Mobile and is growing faster. It probably has something to do with the fact China Unicom got the iPhone - and more importantly, the impact of the Ministry of the Information Industry’s reorganisation of the sector, in which China Mobile had to turn over its UMTS assets to China Unicom and start building a TD-SCDMA network.

This was confirmed by China Mobile CEO Wang Jianzhou, who publicly called for Apple to offer a version of the Jesus Phone with a suitable radio. RIM has already provided a BlackBerry that will work with China Mobile’s new network. On one hand, nobody wants to start making devices that will work in China but not anywhere else; on the other hand, 500 million subscribers is a lot and quantity has a quality all of its own.

Google is about to find out exactly what this means in practice; their pull-out from China is going to start any minute now. Major questions include the fate of Google’s Chinese R&D centre, which is apparently a separate company from the operating company that owns Google.cn. Reuters reports a mixture of unconcern and nationalist rhetoric. Wired runs down the options.

Chart of the week: Data Centre Knowledge, with a little help from Arbor Networks, points out that the percentage of Google’s bandwidth that is accounted for by direct peering has risen from 40% to 60% in the space of a year - a significant shift in the Internet itself. However, it’s fair to say that whatever they’re doing with it, it probably isn’t Google Wave traffic - Hitwise’s traffic data suggests that the initial hype-burst passed off without really selling the Internet public on Wave. Nor is it likely to be anything to do with the Nexus One, of which Google may have sold 135,000 in 74 days.

Nokia is taking an unusual approach to designing a new device - asking the users of Nokia Conversations to do it. Realistically, this is either going to end up looking like an iPhone, or else some sort of nightmarish hybrid - perhaps a squeezy, violet pyramid?

In other shiny gadget news, Sprint is going to launch a WiMAX smartphone at CTIA; it’s made by HTC and will be called the Supersonic. And the Android 2.1 updates are coming.

Things aren’t going well at Palm; the shares fell by 30 per cent after sales of $150 million were posted, roughly half the consensus forecast. Fears for the company’s future have revived; Wired has some suggestions, but nothing that stands out as a big idea.

Apple has called for developers to get cracking on the iPad, but so far the security surrounding the device itself is rather forbidding:

Would-be testers of the tablet-style computer, due to be released Apr. 3, must promise to keep it isolated in a room with blacked-out windows, according to four people familiar with the more than 10-page pact that bars partners from disclosing information about the iPad.

To ensure that it can’t be removed, the iPad must also remain tethered to a fixed object…

It seems, meanwhile, that some iPhone app review sites are demanding money for good reviews. Getjar reckons the world mobile app market will reach $17.5bn by 2012, with the bulk of the growth coming from the arrival of apps on featurephones. An alternative view is that Android is proliferating so fast as a cheap solution that the category will be meaningless.

Qualcomm is feeling like a network operator; they’re planning to bid for BWA spectrum in India and build a network based on the TDD flavour of LTE, better known as the follow-on for TD-SCDMA. They plan to find an Indian partner to run the network and eventually to sell it on. This is unusual for them - MediaFLO, their other network venture, is all about wholesale service for content providers and mobile TV, using their own broadcast radio technology.

Rene Obermann of Deutsche Telekom is doing his best to kill the speculation about merging T-Mobile USA either with regional carriers or even with Sprint, in some sort of nightmare hellbroth of incompatible networks. Connected Planet suggests alternative options, notably the cable operators, who have a chunk of spectrum in the 1700MHz Advanced Wireless Services band - just what T-Mobile needs.

The EU has agreed to let GSM networks on board ships operate as close as 3 miles from shore, but only below decks.

The FCC’s speed measurement and reporting tools have been an early hit for the US National Broadband Plan, with 150,000 users providing measurements so far. The US regulator is moving quickly - the process of re-auctioning the D Block 700MHz band, which is slated for a national public services network, has started with a view to holding the auction this summer. Connected Planet points out that the FCC is planning to get much of the spectrum needed for the Plan from the broadcasting sector.

In the UK, the prime minister is very keen on e-government, and promises “superfast broadband” by 2020, in a speech notably light on anything specific. Again, the comparison with the NBP is painful.

Telco 2.0 - now with added Brough Turner. Here’s a piece of his in TMCNet that argues that Wi-Fi is a natural fit for freemium business models and that managed offload will be a strong competitor with LTE and WiMAX as progressively better chips become available.

It’s possible that DOCSIS 3.0 cable operators will be the first to deliver the NBP’s targets. Speaking of cable, it was the week Viacom sued Google over copyright infringment at YouTube. The Electronic Frontier Foundation doubts the legalities, pointing to the safeharbour provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Whoops - Vodafone in Spain has had to recall 3,000 gadgets after they shipped with the Mariposa virus. The EFF fights on in the warrantless wiretapping case. Niklas Zennström has a VC fund. Connected Planet is dubious that carriers will make money from music. The next instalment of David Burgess’s open-source GSM deployment in Niue. Indian Mobile Monday has a developer conference. Martin Geddes has a chapter in this book.

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March 19, 2010

Telco 2.0 at Open Mobile Summit, 26-27 May, London

Telco 2.0 is delighted to support The Open Mobile Summit, which returns to London this May 26-27th. Very high quality attendees, and a good mix across the ecosystem. This is a high quality and recommended event, focused on how to monetize an open mobile economy. This year’s keynotes include Olaf Swantee SEVP France Telecom, Hakan Dahlstrom President Mobility TeliaSonera, Olivier Baujard CTO Deutsche Telekom, Andrew Gilbert EVP Qualcomm and Alberto Torres EVP Nokia. Telco 2.0’s CEO will be on a panel discussing business models, ‘living with Google’ and the output from our own 9th Exec Brainstorm in 28-29 April.

If you’d like to attend, register with VIP code TELCO2. Discounts end April 14th. You can register here.

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March 18, 2010

Hollywood/Telco 2.0 Brainstorm, 5th May, Santa Monica, California

We’re delighted to announce a very special brainstorm we’re running with senior execs from the major Film and TV studios in Santa Monica, California, and co-located with the excellent Digital Hollywood event. Details of the invitees and the aims are below (see also this PDF). The brainstorm is ‘invitation-only’, but if you’d like to apply to participate, please email us here.

[Ed - For those based in Europe, we are running a slightly less-exclusive ‘Digital Entertainment 2.0’ Summit on 29th April in London, as part of the 9th Telco 2.0 Exec Brainstorm. We will be sharing new ‘use cases’ there too.]

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The 1st International ‘Digital Entertainment 2.0’ Executive Brainstorm - New Telecoms-Enabled Business Models for a Multi-Screen, HD/3D, Mobile World - 5th May 2010, Shutters Hotel, Santa Monica, California, 8.30am-5pm.

Based around a set of new ‘use cases’, the aim of the brainstorm is to define a set of strategic opportunities for the entertainment industry to grow its business worldwide by leveraging telco assets in new ways. Specifically, how to…

  • Protect intellectual property
  • Engage directly with billions of consumers via the mobile channel
  • Increase the methods of monetisation for Film, TV and Gaming content

For Telcos, the aim is to define more creative ways to serve the global entertainment industry:

  • Generate new sources of revenue from the online content market
  • Improve the mobile user experience
  • Complement the Cable, Internet and Apple channels
The brainstorm uses Telco 2.0’s special interactive methods and tools and is by invitation-only for 60-80 senior representatives from the world’s leading film, TV, telco, advertising and technology companies.

Invitees include:

Film/TV:

SVP, Digital Media, ABC; Director of Partnerships, BBC Worldwide; VP Interactive Media, Cablevision; EVP Distribution, Canal+; SVP Corp Devt, CBS; VP Digital Properties, Comcast; SVP, Demand Media; EVP Digital Media, Discovery; SVP, Technology, Disney Channel; CIO, Disney; VP Corp Devt, Endemol; President Pay TV, Fox; President, Digital Media, Fox; CEO, Freemantle; VP Content Partnerships, Hulu; Vice-Chairman, Lionsgate; CEO, Lovefilm; EVP Digital Media, MGM; EVP Emerging Markets, MTV Networks International; SVP Mobile Platforms, NBC Universal; Founder and CEO, Netflix; SVP Interactive Marketing, Paramount; President, Reveille Productions; CEO, Rockmore Media; SVP Digital Media, Showtime; EVP Digital Marketing, Sony; CTO, Televisa; SVP Strategic Planning,
Turner; President International, Universal Pictures; EVP Corp Devt, Virgin Group; SVP Distribution Technology, Warner Bros; VP Corp Devt, Warner Bros; Director Strategic Partnerships, YouTube.

Advertisers:

VP Digital Marketing, Anheuser-Busch; CEO, Deep Focus; President, Experian; VP Advertising, Google; SVP Digital, Ignited; President, Initiative; CEO, GroupM Entertainment Worldwide; CTO, McCann; BCFO, Ticketmaster; VP Marketing, Unilever; Director of Strategy, WPP Digital.

Telco:

EVP Content & Programming, AT&T Entertainment; Group CMO, Bharti Airtel; CEO, BT Vision; Exec Director/VP, China Mobile; Chief Strategy Officer, Clearwire; CTO, Deutsche Telekom; Senior Executive Vice-President, Group
Strategy, Orange Group; Director Product Development, MTS Russia; Business Head TV, Reliance; Chief Strategy Officer, Rogers; Chief Strategy Officer, SingTel; VP Strategy & Innovation, Telecom Italia; Group Strategy Director, Telefonica; EVP Business Development, Telenor Group; CTO, Telstra; SVP Head of TV, TeliaSonera; Chief Strategy
Officer, Telmex; CTO, Telus; CIO, Verizon; VP Digital Media, Verizon Wireless; Director Video Strategy, Vodafone Group.

The brainstorm is ‘invitation-only’. If you’d like to apply to participate, please email us here.

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March 17, 2010

US National Broadband Plan: good in theory…

The FCC has published its National Broadband Plan - you can get it here from the horse’s mouth. We haven’t finished reading the 376 closely printed pages of exhaustive detail quite yet (we’re on page 62), but we do have some initial thoughts about the plan based on what we already knew, what’s in the recommendations, and what we’ve read so far.

In brief, it looks good in theory, but the proof of the pudding will be what the complex US market structure turns it into in practice. In addition, in terms of global impact, we see the National Broadband Plan as another piece of evidence for the Telco 2.0 concept that telecoms is increasingly too important to be left to the telcos. The growing influence of Governments and Regulators on broadband is a major theme in the broaband business models strategy report we’re about to publish, and will be examined in detail at the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London, 28th-29th April 2010.

Ducts, poles, and trenches

The Plan is strong on the holes-in-the-ground aspect of telecoms. It clearly recognises that open access to infrastructure is vital for the upgrade to fibre. Further, it should perhaps be considered a law that open access is appropriate at the level which is most expensive to replace - nobody thinks operators should provide open access to their core routers - and the plan is clear that the important bit is making it possible for new fibre to be attached to existing poles or blown through existing ducts at sensible rates. The FCC intends to review the regulatory settlement in so far as it applies to attachment (American for duct access), special access, the US equivalent of wholesale line rental, and national roaming in mobile.

Specifically, the original text states:

Recommendation 4.7: The FCC should comprehensively review its wholesale competition regulations to develop a coherent and effective framework and take expedited action based on that framework to ensure widespread availability of inputs for broadband services provided to small businesses, mobile providers and enterprise customers…and Recommendation 4.8: The FCC should ensure that special access rates, terms and conditions are just and reasonable.

Get the facts

Another significant element of the plan is data collection and public information. The FCC has initiated the procedure necessary to issue a new regulation forcing telcos/ISPs to provide a wider range of data, and crucially to provide data about actual performance rather than their advertised “up to…” speeds. NIST is mandated to prepare a common technical standard for broadband instrumentation and definitions. It also seems they’re going to require more disclosure of who owns what infrastructure, where, which is a crucial pre-requisite for open access. All the FCC’s data returns will be collated and published on the Web through a new Broadband Data Repository.

This is an important political step - in the run-up to the Plan, data has been a difficult subject, with projects like California’s Broadband Map running into heavy opposition from the incumbent operators. After all, disclosure sheds light on how badly served some places are, leads to requests for attachment and special access from competitors, and also permits unwelcome comparisons of current service with the promises made by the RBOCs to state governments in the 1990s. This is a bitter political issue in many places - for example, Verizon committed to provide 45Mbit/s service to the bulk of New Jersey in exchange for generous tax breaks and regulatory reliefs, which didn’t happen. Sara Wedeman’s awful experience with this is instructive.

Incremental muni-fibre strikes again

As well as the headline goal of 100 million households with 50Mbits uplink and 100Mbits downlink in the next 10 years, Goal 4 is interesting. Goal 4 aims to get 1Gbps or higher connectivity to all “anchor institutions” - that is to say, schools, colleges, medical facilities, libraries, community centres, town halls and the like. This is important in a number of ways - not only does it obviously contribute to the public sector’s own IT goals, but it’s a measure against the digital divide, and it provides an opportunity for quick hits, as much of the land and rights-of-way involved are already in the public hand and the public sector institutions involved can act as a launch customer.

Of course, as the Plan points out, laying Gigabit Ethernet to the local school is a significant step towards laying 100Mbits Ethernet to the pupils’ homes. It’s all quite reminiscent of this talk from a past Telco 2.0 event.

Spectrum

The Plan is surprisingly heavy on the wireless side of the industry, which is in part a recognition that there are a lot of rural and exurban road frontages in the United States and running access loop fibre down all of them is a fairly awe-inspiring project even with access to the existing poles. Of course, as population density drops, although the cost of laying lines goes up, the number of users per MHz of radio spectrum is falling - therefore, there’s a significant zone of opportunity for a combination of selective fibre roll-out (to those anchor institutions, perhaps) and advanced wireless in the access layer.

In order to deliver this, the Plan foresees a truly epic release of radio spectrum - they plan to part with 500MHz of the stuff. There are two rather special proposals here - the plan foresees a sizeable (20MHz contiguous) allocation of spectrum exclusively for unlicensed, open slather usage. This will be the primary usage of the band - rather than permitting the licensed bands to overlap into it, and restricting the unlicensed operators’ transmitter power, the FCC wants to cordon off the unlicensed zone entirely and therefore offer the unlicensed higher power settings. The other is for a national public-service wireless broadband network for the emergency services, and perhaps for other public service goals in so far as there is spectrum over and above the blue light services’ needs.

Paying for it

In order to fund the plan, the FCC leans heavily on spectrum sales as a revenue source. Expect a major string of auctions. Beyond that, it intends to divert the money that currently goes from the Universal Service Fund to subsidise rural voice operators into broadband deployment through a new mechanism (the Connect America Fund). It is also going to review the High Cost element of the USF - intended to give the hardest-to-reach places more subsidy - and to look at how the USF’s revenues are raised, which might imply a Digital Britain-style levy on the urban subscribers.

Some final thoughts

The National Broadband Plan is a credible document. It embodies many of the key principles we’ve identified about the future of broadband - the importance of access to the civil works infrastructure, the importance of wholesale, and the expanded role of the public sector. As usual in the US industry, however, the key element will be how these principles get implemented at run-time, as it were, when the complex and frequently dysfunctional relationship between the various different types of operator, the FCC, the 50 state Public Utilities Commissions, NTIA, and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service actually cut the rules, decisions and precedents that make up the plan’s influence on the ground.

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Free Demo, 23rd March - Telco 2.0 Best Practice Live!

We introduced last month a new service from Telco 2.0: Best Practice Live! the first carefully curated, online, video based, interactive knowledge bank of cutting-edge ‘Telco 2.0’ services, business models and solutions.

This a very powerful marketing tool for companies who want to read 000’s of prospective customers worldwide in a very engaging way.

To help you understand the potential of this new service we have organised a free web-based demo on 23rd March 1.30pm GMT. If you’d like to take part please contact Tim Cook, tim.cook@stlpartners.com, to get your login details, or if you’d like a private demo.

Telco 2.0 Best Practice Live! will run on the 28-30 June 2010 with live broadcasts of case studies to three geographic regions (Americas, EMEA, APAC), as well as being available for six months afterwards online. Sponsors can contribute case studies, testimonials, data sheets and more in multiple formats that (includes video, powerpoint, PDF, more). Every time a download is made of your materials you get a report back of who and when, as well as getting access to the entire attendee list. This is measurable, trackable marketing at its best.

The sponsorship prospectus of Telco 2.0 Best Practice Live! is also now available upon request for interested parties - please contact Tim Cook, tim.cook@stlpartners.com.

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March 15, 2010

Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed: There’s a major session on ‘Living with Google - Where to collaborate, where to compete?’ at the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm, 28-29th April, London]

ABI closes the books on 2009 and concludes that despite the global recession, mobile CAPEX held up well, if you count a 5% dip as “well”; key drivers of this included 243,000 base stations for China, Huawei’s lavish vendor financing, and Verizon Wireless’ LTE supercontract.

Telenor, in its role as Pakistan’s second biggest operator, reckons that we’re heading into the emerging-markets shakeout - they think Pakistan just has too many GSM networks, perhaps because of all that lovely vendor financing. Well, in a sense, they would say that, but it certainly fits with our experience at TelecomFinance. Also, when we included “Buy a bank - they’re going cheap” as an option in the Mobile Money vote at the last Telco 2.0 event, it was meant to be a joke. Telenor Pakistan, though, has done just that, buying into a micro-finance bank and introducing mobile payments for utility bills.

Bizarre twist in the UK’s Digital Economy Bill debate - are the secret services coming out against three strikes? It started with a leak of the BPI’s weekly internal news digest, which contained an odd reference to a survey commissioned by TalkTalk and whether it was funded by MI-5. The Cambridge Computer Lab security blog has more, including the fact that the intelligence community is having talks with the prime minister’s staff about this - it seems that the spies are worried that, if three-strikes provisions come in, essentially everyone will start encrypting all their traffic, and they won’t be able to spy on it. Also, they won’t be able to infer that the presence of encrypted traffic is in itself suspicious.

Who would have guessed that the intelligence services and the record industry would end up on opposite sides of an Internet-freedom debate? Of course, it is possible to see who else is supplying or downloading a file on a P2P network even if encryption is used - so an evil peer attack is possible - but it’s also possible to push your P2P trafffic through something like Tor, or just use Rapidshare instead.

Meanwhile, the German supreme court struck down the EU data-retention directive after a long and bitter campaign.

Which is almost a pity, what with this new stealth product at IBM. Their M2 Insight Engine seems to be a platform for processing really huge data sets, based on the open-source Apache Hadoop system, and you’d think crunching telco subscriber data would be an ideal application. But IBM’s suggested use-cases including something called Computational Journalism

While the row about the Digital Economy Bill rages, the UK is making no progress at all on replacing the copper network. Computer Weekly joins the new Final Third First campaign for universal broadband, making the excellent point that it’s not just the countryside that has problems - BT’s urban residential network is gradually rotting (which is very obvious to at least one Telco 2.0 crew member, whose inner-London ADSL line achieves a spectacular 700kbps downlink). CW also makes the excellent point that no-one is really responsible for the quality of wholesale broadband lines and that it’s quite possible that BT management is living in a fools’ paradise because their metrics don’t cover actual throughput rather than modem line rates.

In tangentially related news, the UK Information Commissioner is trying to get the political parties to activate the legal provisions that could make it possible to send data thieves to prison…unfortunately, one of the parties’ director of communications is a possible candidate for this punishment, so good luck with that!

And OFCOM has moved on the spectrum issue, officially approving the re-use of the GSM900 and PCS bands for 3G, and making a variety of detail changes (increasing the permissible transmitter power for underwater use so long as the transmitter is automatically suppressed when it surfaces…). It seems that a version of the Kip Meek plan will go before parliament before the general election - a tight timescale - with the auctions provisionally scheduled for the summer.

The plan foresees the release of the 800 and 2600MHz bands, with a 180MHz cap on individual holdings of spectrum and a 40MHz cap on individual holdings below 1GHz. 20MHz (in four 5MHz channels) of the 800 band will come with a universal service requirement of 99% population coverage. All the allocations are technology neutral. A key block of contiguous 2.6GHz spectrum - 50MHz worth - is allocated for TDD systems and is going to be fast-tracked, so it’s “gentlemen, start your engines” for the WiMAX vendors. There’s some good news for new entrants - if you can get to 70% population coverage, you have a right to a regulated national roaming agreement for the rest.

One operator that’s interested in more spectrum would be Qualcomm’s FLO wholesale mobile-TV network, which has signed up CNN as a new customer.

A little shot of whisky for sender-pays data: some operators (3UK is mentioned) are apparently thinking of linking priority data service with app stores, so you might (without noticing it) pay for priority access when you buy an app. 3UK is currently throttling down BitTorrent traffic from its dongle fleet on cells that are currently congested only.

Google’s announcement of FTTH demonstration projects has unleashed a frenzy of interest from the broadband-starved. The latest move is that the U.S. Senator and comedian Al Franken (there are plenty of senators who are also clowns, but only Al is doing it on purpose) is going to lobby Google for fibre in two cities in his home state of Minnesota.

Meanwhile, the FCC has released an app that lets you test the quality of mobile data service.

It looks like Apple could have grabbed AdMob for $150 million less than Google eventually spent, had they moved quickly enough to close the deal during the 45-day lockup period. Apparently, Google’s top motivation in buying the mobile-ad specialist was simply to stop Apple getting it.

Here’s a story with an incredibly high buzzword density: a version of Google Reader optimised for the Apple iPad. It has a very clean and rather Apple-like user interface and is implemented entirely in HTML/Javascript (of course, you’re not allowed to use Flash on the ‘pad even if you wanted to for some perverted reason). There’s a whole gallery of mockup newspaper applications on the iPad here.

There’s also a fascinating piece about the thing’s genesis and Fujitsu, the importance of voice control, and the possibilities of Google Android on the netbook/tablet/smartbook platform.

Perhaps the perfect representation of the zeitgeist - an iPhone app for unemployment. iPhone and Android users finding themselves out of work can now do a location-based search for jobs registered with the Jobcentre Plus system, and apply through the Jobcentre call centre.

Sprint is providing wholesale M2M service for pay-as-you-go car insurance. Basically, the idea is that you accept to be monitored whereever you go, and only pay for the miles you actually drive; it’s also a possibility that your premiums might be dynamically adjusted. The only question that remains is why anyone would actually want that - Telco 2.0 was recently offered a quote by a PAYG car insurer that was literally double the best competing price, but we suppose you’ve got to pay for a really spectacular assault on your privacy.

Meanwhile, Californian electricity company PG&E wants to deploy smart meters; the EFF has privacy concerns, and it’s off to the courthouse.

Mobile search usage data - Telemap has published statistics on what its users actually search for, and it turns out that they mainly search for pizza, Chinese takeaways, and coffee. Clearly, we’re still not breaking out of the early-adopter geek market.

Has the app hype peaked? We ask only because someone’s asking if they will “save the world”. They probably do have a point about election monitoring. Meanwhile, Googlephone sales have been revised down yet again. And growth at Twitter appears to have run out of steam.

The management of MySpace are faced with a major challenge, as the network looks more and more like another Friends Reunited; they’ve changed CEO twice this year.

T-Mobile USA announced that it’s joined a cloud platform that aggregates location data from multiple sources under a common API for applications developers, Veriplace, which also includes AT&T and Sprint.

There’s a Nokia N900 up for grabs for the winner of a contest for the best Mozilla Fennec add-on. More here.

And the Electronic Frontier Foundation has the full text of the Apple iPhone developer license agreement - highlights include a clause that bans you from saying anything about the agreement and another one that denies liability for any damages greater than $50. As usual, the gap between Apple’s image and the reality is impressive.

Interesting Voice 2.0 app - Twisted Pair lets you trunk push-to-talk systems over the Internet, so you can do your own PTT on networks that don’t have it and extend your private-mobile-radio network’s PTT service to all your mobile devices. They also deserve some kind of award for the company name…

We were a little nonplussed by the Orange-Barclaycard deal - was there really very much value in what was, after all, basically an Orange-branded Visa card? Here’s something more like it - Barclays is promising to have an Orange-backed NFC product out this year. In other emerging finance news, Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing site for tech startups - rather than hoping to catch a VC player, you put up a project and try to get many users to contribute your funding.

Felix Salmon, however, sounds a note of warning - it’s not usually good news when something that isn’t a bank decides to dabble in a little banking, nor is it often good news when something that isn’t an insurance company tries to write insurance, especially if they aren’t covered by the same regulation that covers banks or insurers.

David Burgess is blogging his OpenBTS deployment on Niue further; there’s a third post here, in which they climb the tower, set up the Asterisk box, and discover a radio environment stranger than they could possibly imagine.

It’s been 25 years since the first .com domain name was registered; and ten years since World Online’s botched flotation rang in the .com crash. The best mobile app ever? And the Internet has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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March 8, 2010

Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

We may be facing a major moment in industry history: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is looking at using the Universal Service Fund (USF) to fund broadband deployment. In the past, the use of the USF has been purely voice-oriented, and has hitherto transferred large sums of money from urban and suburban telecoms users to rural operators.

If this goes ahead, watch out for many operators deciding that it’s time to set an out-of-service date for the PSTN itself - USF subsidies are assessed by PSTN line, and if they start flowing in other ways, there’s not much reason to go entirely cellular or to VoIP.

It could also find very significant sums of money for fibre deployment, and it’s likely to reinforce the paradoxical situation in which some of the tiny rural operators - RLECs - that the USF supports, can offer rather better service than the giant RBOCs that dominate urban and suburban America, and whose subscribers eventually pay for the USF. (That, however, does represent a transfer from the rich to the poor.)

Other regulatory decisions - for example, whether USF money can be used in the cities, and whether the common carrier provisions that apply to voice and wholesale T1/DSL at the moment will survive the end of the PSTN - are going to determine the future shape of the industry. But this one will certainly mean it won’t stay the same.

It’s probably worth remembering the sudden interest by various carriers at MWC in third-party VoIP. Brough Turner, meanwhile, points out that although LTE is designed to be all-IP, with well-known and awful consequences for voice, the first spectrum allocations have turned out to be the FDD ones optimised for…circuit-switched voice.

Some people are unwilling to wait; this US town is threatening to rename itself Google in a bid to get one of their FTTH demonstration projects. Meanwhile, a major round of grants were approved by NTIA, with 14 broadband middle-mile projects getting the green light. A major winner is Level(3)’s project to extend open access backhaul to 47 new POPs, which gets $14 million for six projects.

The UK’s Broadband Stakeholder Group is gearing up for yet another round of consultations at OFCOM, which have a deadline of the 1st of April. (Insert your April Fool joke here.) The specific issue is the special business rates (for readers outside the UK - property taxes) that are applied to fibre runs in Britain - this is both a major added cost of fibre deployment and a barrier to duct-sharing, as the act of blowing fibre through the duct triggers a hike in the rates.

So far, the estimated costs for a national broadband network include taxes based on rough guesses of the cost of laying fibre. The BSG and Computer Weekly are appealing for anyone who can help to lighten their darkness with real data, hoping that the actuals may turn out to be significantly less onerous. OFCOM is also thinking about net neutrality.

And this week’s merger rumour involves Vodafone and 3UK, which would reduce the number of competing radio networks in the UK to two.

In India, meanwhile, BSNL’s famous 93 million line “megatender” is off again after months of on-off. The Central Vigilance Commission, a government anti-corruption taskforce, reckons that it’s impossible for the process to reach a genuinely competitive conclusion - NSN, Alcatel, and ZTE have all been disqualified, which leaves only Ericsson and Huawei, and they’re likely to split the job between them.

Telenor’s chief in Asia has given some clues about their strategy in India (as Unitech Wireless) - he expects to cover about half the market by the summer, to price the service as a premium product, to mostly rely on tower-sharing, and to sit out at least the first rounds of 3G spectrum auctions.

Sprint, meanwhile, is planning another round of the price wars, with a monthly price of $70 for all the data, SMS, and voice you can inhale. 3UK is offering 750 minutes, and all the SMS and data you can use, and a Nokia X6 for £35 a month for two years. Similarly, NTT DoCoMo fights back against Softbank, with…lower prices and dongles.

In devices news, it looks like the first Android devices on AT&T will have Yahoo! configured as the default search engine. It is probably fair to say that Google didn’t envisage this when they started cutting code on a mobile operating system. Tangentially, both Microsoft and Google are buyers of TV ads while being sellers of Web ones. However, as Connected Planet asks, does being the default search engine really count for anything? After all, Google is just a bookmark away, and so many carriers implement so bizarrely the fairly simple concept of “a link to google.com/yahoo.com on the front page” that being a default might even be a net negative.

Android, it turns out, is also the choice of DARPA, the storied boffin-tank funded by the US military that gave us much of the Internet protocols. DARPA is looking at setting up - what else? - an app store as a means of getting new applications into the field quickly. For the first round at least, participants have been told that Android is where it’s at, and that the military is keen on getting lightweight UMTS kit of its own into theatre in order to provide the necessary bandwidth. (Readers may remember Private Mobile Networks.)

In the ultra-light, ultra-low cost networks world, David “OpenBTS” Burgess and Tim “PhoneFromHere” Panton have just been in Niue, where they’ve deployed the first national GSM network powered by OpenBTS and Asterisk. Of course, “national” is a relative term on a tiny Pacific island, but they did have some trouble with spectrum management - a local WLAN operator using the 900MHz band without telling anyone. PMN, you may recall, suggested that their customers wouldn’t have this problem because they had bigger tanks, but that wasn’t really an option.

Microsoft has announced a new gadget, cooperating with Verizon Wireless. Confusingly, “Pink” does not come with MS Windows Phone, but rather the older MS Windows Mobile 6.5.

Apple and Nokia are suing; Apple has also apparently just tried to patent life, the universe, and everything. Your roundup of iPad rumours is here.

A good patent row always tends to lead us towards the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has lately been celebrating 20 years since the case of FBI vs. Steve Jackson Games and its foundation. This week, they handed in a giant petition to the FCC demanding net neutrality.

Perhaps they - or their UK opposite number, could have a go at this? The BBC has just terminated a third-party client for iPlayer on the grounds it does too much caching, which could lead to mixed dancing a copyright violation. That’s arguable, but they seem to be on much shakier ground with this piece of work, in which they barred users of the XBMC open-source Flash replacement.

A boost for MeeGo; Orange has signed up to support the Nokia/Intel mobile Linux platform as a “channel for consumer multimedia”, whatever that may mean.

After the UAE’s efforts to hack the whole national BlackBerry fleet, Saudi Arabia has taken a less flaky but no less authoritarian approach - they’re planning to simply ban the BlackBerry Messenger instant-messaging service, presumably because they can’t snoop on it easily.

The European Union is mad at Poland’s incumbent telco, which is accused of deliberately delaying competing operators’ access to infrastructure. Charter Communications is looking at mobile of some form, perhaps through being a major MVNO customer on Clearwire. A French hypermarket group wants to launch an MVNO in Brazil. Qualcomm’s dual-mode chips find their way into a femtocell. Did the head of Google Europe really mean that the PC will be irrelevant in 3 years?

A report on the suicides at France Telecom is out.

And High Scalability has a must-read interview-cum-meta-feature on Amazon.com.

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March 4, 2010

Register Now for 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm, 28-29 April, London

Detailed information for 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London, complete with on-line registration is now live on the event website.

The Brainstorm will take place at the Grange St Pauls Hotel, London on April 28-29 and features dedicated one day summits on Digital Entertainment 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0, as well as the very latest from Telco 2.0 on the 2-sided business model roadmap.

Check out our last blog on the event agenda and the website for more.

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WAC, Meego, eStore: Three Big Moves in Mobile Platform Consolidation

Three major news items underline the centrality of applications development to the future of the telecoms industry.

The first is the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) - this essentially extends the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) proposal, originated by Vodafone, Softbank, and China Mobile, to a brief who’s who of major world operators, 28 carriers in all. The aim is to establish a common environment for mobile apps development and deployment. By ‘apps’, however, they mostly mean JIL-style Web widgets.

The second is Meego, a merger of Nokia and Intel’s mobile linux efforts, and the third is Ericsson’s eStore.

In short, that’s three major applications platforms who will line up against Google Android, Apple, and RIM at the top of the industry.

We’ll be discussing these in detail with senior representatives from all of these initiatives at the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London on 28-29 April but, in the meantime, to whet your appetite, below is an analysis of what this all means and why it matters?

WAC - Telcos seek their own Appstore

The really good news about WAC is that the project looks set to clean up some of the standardisation proliferation that’s beset the industry. Telco 2.0 spoke to people involved, who seem quite clear that the plan is to eventually filter the alphabet soup into a clear, single structure. JIL, despite being called the Joint Innovation Lab, you may recall, was actually a standard, similar to the Open Mobile Terminal Platform’s BONDI standard, which was intended to provide a single API for access to device functionality across any OMTP-compliant gadgets. Unfortunately, being quite standard is the same thing as not being standard at all.

A bit of history…

At the same time as JIL and BONDI were emerging, the LiMo Foundation’s flavour of mobile Linux was being marketed to operators concerned about the growing power and influence of Apple, RIM, and Google, as we discussed in this Analysts’ Note. LiMo supports BONDI, and as we noted back in February 2009, the JIL operators wanted to support three platforms - Windows, Symbian, and Linux. It now seems that WAC will subsume JIL, and will be compliant with BONDI. And this week, the LiMo Foundation sent WAC a nice letter. Hopefully they won’t need to go all the way to sending a cake.

… and the endgame

The ultimate outcome will see LiMo become the underlying operating system, with BONDI-compliant interfaces to the low level device functions, such as power management, audio/video, multitasking and access to the radio paging channel. On top of this will be a choice for developers between JIL-style widgetry or native Linux development. (For example, if you wanted to scrape the Transport for London Web site and provide a mobile-friendly list of the next buses from your nearest stops, you might do it as a widget; if you wanted to show the current locations of buses on a three-dimensional map, you’d need the full power of native code.) This permits the new community to tap the two biggest developer communities in the world - the Web/JavaScript one, and the Unix/Linux one. WAC is intended to provide a single interface for deploying, marketing, and maintaining applications that came out of this process.

If successful, it might provide the kind of scale that individual operators struggle to offer in comparison with the major global vendors (i.e. Apple, RIM, Nokia, and Samsung), all of whom can offer access to their entire device fleets. In that case, further help to redress the balance between the operators and the vendors, especially Apple and RIM.

Voda seeking unity?

It’s also significant that the Vodafone 360 devices are both LiMo-powered and BONDI-compliant. Vodafone is represented on the board of LiMo Foundation, a founder of JIL, and a founder of WAC; it certainly looks like the world’s biggest operator by revenues is trying to bring about a rapprochement between all three groups. (We noted that something like this might be afoot as long ago as April 2009.)

Meego - big vendor effort for consolidation

From the vendors’ side, the big news was Nokia and Intel agreeing to merge their mobile Linux efforts. Intel has had a version of Linux (Moblin) around for a while without really getting any traction; Nokia has been supporting Maemo Linux for some time and has used it in tablets (N800/810) and in the new N900 flagship phone. These two will now be rolled together into Meego. Any reduction in the number of competing platforms is to be welcomed, of course, but more significantly, this signals a further move on Nokia’s part to shift emphasis from Symbian S60 to Linux in their top-end devices, and to build up their developer community.

It may also mark a renewed effort by Intel to break into mobile, and by Nokia to diversify their sources of silicon. In 2009, Nokia buried the hatchet with Qualcomm, agreeing to develop devices for North America based on their MSM chips . Nokia also agreed to cooperate with Intel on a new mobile platform. Meego is a software project, but it is unlikely for a deal between the world’s biggest manufacturer of semiconductors and the world’s biggest buyer of semiconductors for mobile devices to have no influence on the market for semiconductors.

Qt - an attempt to bridge complexity and devices

Further, Nokia is putting a lot of emphasis on the Qt cross-platform graphical user interface framework. This is used in the KDE graphical desktop for Linux and in many other applications; Nokia acquired its parent company, Trolltech, some time ago. It will be the primary applications framework for Meego, and increasingly for Symbian as well.

The importance of Qt here is that it provides a common GUI and a common developer environment (Qt Creator) across multiple underlying platforms, that’s sufficiently powerful to implement a whole desktop PC user interface and apps suite - it’s available for Symbian as well as Maemo, and even for MS Windows. Meego and Nokia/Qt documentation frequently refers to Qt applications on the desktop and on embedded devices, which seems to suggest that Nokia is keen to see their technology used elsewhere than on mobile devices only. Nokia’s developer activities have been repeatedly hindered by the sheer diversity of their device and software output - this is an effort to bridge over the complexity.

Ericsson joins the AppStore Value chain with eStore

Not to be outdone, Ericsson also made a play for a role in the apps world with the launch of its eStore, a cross channel, cross device app and content store that it is selling as a white label service to telcos as well as content owners. For operators, it provides the opportunity to get an app store up and running in weeks rather than months and is primarily targeted at tier 2 and 3 operators struggling to get into the app and content games. For Ericsson, it embeds the vendor in the app store value chain. Indeed, Ericsson confirmed to Telco 2.0 that developers would receive the standard 70% of revenue split, with Ericsson taking a ‘small percentage’ (it would not be more specific) drawn from operator’s 30% share.

The eStore launched with 30,000 free and paid for apps, offering decent scale from day one. A partnership with Opera Software provides the client framework for web widgets and applications across multiple devices, so as with JIL, apps in this case primarily mean widgets, although the store offers native apps as well. However, the real differentiation for the eStore comes with the thinking Ericsson has put into ensuring a variety of business models could be supported, including pay per download, ad-funded and cross channel service bundles.

For the eStore, Ericsson has built on its SDP to offer payment for apps using the operator’s bill, APIs to network functionality and an ad orchestrator that allows app developers to work with alternative ad-based business models tied in with device functionality. The billing capability is provided via Ericsson’s existing IPX, while access to network functionality, such as location, identity, SMS etc, is delivered through APIs compliant with the GSMA’s OneAPI initiative.

More than Apps, Media too…

A further differentiation is the cross channel proposition. It is not just a mobile app store but a content distribution platform offering IPTV and video content, which could lead to some more interesting cross-channel service bundles.

Summary - More New Flavours competing for a share of the App Pie

So, to sum up, Ericsson’s eStore is providing a white label platform for telcos which gives developers access to revenue-generating network functions, while on the device side we’re seeing the emergence of a couple of large, Linux-based, mobile development environments.

One is carrier-driven, built on LiMo, using a Web/widgetry approach, and using the WAC as its route to market.

Another is vendor-driven, based on Maemo/Meego, using Qt as its apps framework, and primarily using Ovi as its route to market. (They’ve also signed up Orange.) They join Google Android, Apple, and RIM at the top table.

It’s probably worth noting that Samsung is represented in LiMo and that its recently announced Badu apps ecosystem is BONDI-compliant - so that’s the major smartphone vendors covered.

But what about Blackberry and Apple?

An interesting question will be what becomes of BlackBerry OS? There are those who think RIM needs to update it in order to fend off the fate of PalmOS. It will certainly be a difficult decision and one based on whether the OS itself contains significant value and differentiation, enough to warrant the costs of developing it further, or whether RIM’s unique selling points are in the applications layer and in device design. If the latter, we could see RIM opting for one of the mobile Linuxes and concentrating on its own apps framework, competing at the level of JIL, Qt, and Apple’s Cocoa.

As for Apple, it’s a racing certainty that they will insist on keeping their own vertically integrated stack.

[Ed. - Come and contribute to the debate around appstore business models at the 9th Telco 2.0 Exec Brainstorm on 28-29 April in London.]

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Telco 2.0 Strategy Report Out Now: Telco Strategy in the Cloud

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