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Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

Google is in the news yet again, following last week’s article, reporting that DTAG, Telefonica, and France Telecom had a Ed Whitacre moment, complaining that Google wasn’t paying them to reach “their” customers, and that the EU Commissioner had already joined the debate. There’s more below on this plus our usual news round-up.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet done so, please give your views on the threats and opportunities presented by Google here in our short online survey. We’ll be sharing the findings in forthcoming articles and at the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm next week on the 27th-29th April in London (the Brainstorm is definitely ON in case you were wondering).

In a significant announcement last week, EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes promised a consultation on net neutrality by the summer and reminded the national regulators that they already have a European mandate to ensure “‘the ability of end-users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice”.

Kroes’ last assignment was as Competition Commissioner, where she defied suggestions that her conflicts of interest (she was on a galaxy of major European corporate boards at the time, from Alcatel-Lucent to Philips) would render her ineffective, and successfully completed the EU case against Microsoft. Perhaps not someone to pick a fight with, then. She makes it even more clear here.

In other regulatory news, the FCC chairman who ruled that broadband isn’t a telecoms service explains to the Washington Post why he thinks he’s right. He’s now the chairman of an industry lobby called “Broadband for America”; what that means in practice is illuminated by the light of Brough Turner, who compares pricing and performance in Boston and Bucharest. Boston doesn’t do too well.

TCP inventor turned Googler Vint Cerf explains why Google wants to build FTTH networks; it’s all about information, and specifically, learning by doing.

“What does [a fiber network buildout] take technologically, and what does it cost not only to deliver it but to maintain it?” Cerf said. “Our business model isn’t to replicate that all over the world, but to understand it.”

Africa’s new submarine cables are in the process of bringing about seismic change in the telecoms market there; the proportion of Africa’s Internet traffic that goes via satellite has gone from about half to 15%. It might be interesting to know how the breakdown between international backbone and cellular backhaul traffic has changed.

Having led the National Broadband Plan drafting process, Blair Levin moves on from the FCC to the Aspen Institute.

Intel announced a smart-grid hub - a device for monitoring electricity consumption from multiple appliances, and sending them commands, in real time. Did you know there are 10 CPUs in an average wind turbine? You do now.

Here’s a round-up of what happened with the UK’s telecoms legislation. When the bell rang for the election campaign, although the Digital Economy Bill passed, the orders implementing OFCOM’s long-awaited spectrum plan fell. The whole issue is therefore kicked into touch yet again, to be reviewed after the election. Also, the planned landline tax to fund universal broadband was stripped out of the Finance Bill (i.e. the budget) at the last moment; so the universal broadband (well, 2Mbps) plan, which consisted of a tax on copper lines plus open-access 800MHz spectrum, has now become content-free.

British politics was not, in fact, rocked by the Conservatives’ “Call a Friend” iPhone app; the idea was that canvassers would use it to register Tory-leaning voters, who would then presumably be targeted to get out the vote. However, it turns out that it may violate the Data Protection Act, and more interestingly, it’s not so much an application as an HTML form that sends e-mail to callafriend@myconservatives com with the details you enter. Clearly, it’s only a matter of time before this gets spammed into the middle of next week.

Apple, meanwhile, alters the iPhone developer agreement to kibosh third-party ads now that they’ve got their own ad network. More specifically, it allows you to have ads, but forbids third-party ad servers to collect any data - which basically destroys the whole point of a mobile ad network, and would be very difficult for any system to comply with. They have server logs, after all. Wired also has some detail on Twitter’s planned ads here.

Apple, meanwhile, ate humble pie about a political cartoon it barred from the App Store for “satirising public figures”. That didn’t stop veteran tech journalist Victor Keegan from releasing his first iPhone app commercially at the age of 70, the week he retired from The Guardian. The application tells you which poems were written near you in London, using a Google Docs spreadsheet as the data backend to simplify distributing more data.

The Google Android team and the Linux kernel developers are meeting in order to settle their differences, after Android’s code was binned from the kernel project earlier this year. GigaOm reports more signs of Android success, as new devices arrive, some significant app projects hop over to the platform, and Google claims that it makes money on Nexus Ones. (This may only mean that developing a new handset is cheaper than it used to be.) Connected Planet reports on the increasing fleet of old Android devices.

Microsoft announced a pair of new Windows gadgets optimised for messaging and social networking; their target market is described as

“A 20 something living in Brooklyn on your parents’ money while pursuing a career in the arts.”
Don’t they all have iPhones? Either way, anyone considering developing applications for these gadgets should be aware that although it’s a Windows Phone, it doesn’t support Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft’s Flash-like graphic-apps environment. And, of course, it doesn’t support Adobe Flash itself either, or any third party applications.

Connected Planet notes a certain confusion and reminds us that Microsoft’s core product is still called “Office”.

There’s a nice chart on Apple/Google/Microsoft competition here, although it won’t be new to regular readers or Telco 2.0 event delegates.

Stuart Henshall suspects that background applications in iPhone OS 4 may be an important step for mobile VoIP applications. Jamie Zawinski is not pleased with some aspects of iPhone development, or Facebook for that matter.

Verizon Wireless has given a timeframe for LTE launch that is both more specific and later. JK On the Run has a really bad experience with VZW customer services staff.

Marc Andreesen’s social network platform Ning is going “freemium” after discovering the downsides of being free (as in, no money). He promises that the users will be able to suck their data out of the system if they want to leave.

Here’s a surprise: Sony Ericsson makes a profit. Should Nokia buy Palm? We can’t help remembering the crack that whenever a newspaper headline forms a question, the answer is always “no”.

Forum Nokia’s champion of the month is Indian, specialises in location-based services, and mostly codes in Python for S60. The US Securities Exchange Commission, meanwhile, wants some filings to be written in Python.

The United Nations calculates that there are now more mobile phones in India than there are toilets.

And the legendary British tech journalist Guy Kewney has died.

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