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Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

Verizon slows new FiOS deployments, while Google staff are sifting through 1,100 RFPs for their FTTH experimental project. VZ is apparently going to concentrate on filling in the gaps in the current FiOS footprint; discussion elsewhere suggests that the take rate for FiOS has been disappointing, arguably because their strategy for it was based on competing for cable or satellite TV subscribers, with voice and Internet service as a side project. Margins in the TV business haven’t proven to be good enough to let Verizon undercut the TV players.

However, Windstream and Qwest this week applied for funding from the Rural Utilities Service for major broadband projects.

In other US infrastructure news, Brough Turner notes that the idea of structural separation is no longer as controversial as it used to be in the US.

As a result of the National Broadband Plan, the lobbying war is cranking up, with AT&T and Verizon launching rival petitions on spectrum issues and against the idea of declaring broadband a telecommunications service, which would place it within the FCC’s Title II jurisdiction. One of their concerns is the proposed new network that would use a chunk of spectrum allocated for satellite service - it’s clear that you can have both satellites and terrestrial stations, but how much of your network has to be satellite-based before you’re allowed to crack open the MSS spectrum?

Connected Planet reports on the US mobile operators’ efforts to cope with the mobile data capacity crunch - interestingly, one impact of the smartphone boom is that urban cell sectors are now being angled upwards to boost coverage in tall buildings. CP makes the point that, even though AT&T has the advantage of having experienced the problem first, with the iPhone, it’s more heavily dependent on copper backhaul than VZW.

In the UK, the Digital Economy Bill is going into the final stage; with an election called for the 6th of May, remaining parliamentary business is going to be cleared up in the so-called “washup”, where bills can pass quickly if all parties agree. You may recall that, at long last, OFCOM and Telco 2.0 ally Kip Meek had come up with a solution to the complicated spectrum position in the UK, that foresaw a major release of new spectrum, the reservation of some of the 800MHz band for universal service, and a re-shuffle of the GSM bands between the operators. To make it happen, Parliament has to pass a statutory instrument directing OFCOM to act; although it only needs one reading in each house, it looks like it may run out of time, in which case we get to argue over it for another aeon or two while all those iPhones keep hammering away at the networks.

The DEB itself is going into the wash today; a summary of the worst bits is here. There’s clearly scope for a deal over the two pieces of legislation. The regulator, meanwhile, proposed a further round of termination rate cuts and faster number porting, but didn’t back the idea of a Finnish-style central pool of numbers with direct call routing.

A key deadline in the UK’s troubled e-health project was the 31st of March, by which time the Lorenzo system at Morecambe Bay NHS trust was meant to go live. To nobody’s surprise, crunch, bang, thud. As a result, the single biggest contractor on the project, CSC, may be sacked outright. Another key-deliverable - a patient administration system at Kingston Hospital - has finally been delivered. And that was a BT job.

It still seems unlikely that anyone is really swayed in their purchasing decisions by the prospect of simultaneous telephony and data service, but they’re advertising on it in the US. Will Sprint’s latest HTC Android gadget do concurrent voice and data? The answer is “sort of” - it may be able to operate the dialler and the CDMA radio while the WLAN radio is active, but the DO in EV-DO stands for Data Only, so you can have concurrency or mobility but not both.

It’s an Apple product week; they’re claiming to have sold 300,000 iPads, but this actually means “shipped to retailers” rather than sold to end users. The point is also made that, even if the iPad hits the tablet market as hard as it did smartphones, that would be a huge share of…not very much. Everyone is trying to read the tealeaves as to whether this number is good or bad; the Financial Times rounds up the available data.

In wild speculation: will iTunes offer a discount “go legit” option? A survey casts doubt on developer interest in the device. HP promises that their next tablet will be far better. And iPhone 4.0 is coming.

Samsung announced a seven-fold rise in its profits for the first quarter, as demand recovered sharply across its entire product line. Prices of DRAM and other chips, which are a highly volatile commodity market, were up sharply, suggesting that recovering demand is emptying out the supply chain. Samsung intends to increase its stockbuilding in chips sharply this year.

As Google pulled out of China last week, the service went down, but it turned out to be due to a combination of cock-up and censorship - a fix to the search engine meant that the string “gs_rfa” appeared in search requests, and the Great Firewall interpreted this as referring to Radio Free Asia. Wired has a rather good FAQ on the issue, and a rather disappointing one on YouTube’s success.

There’s a new report out on Ghostnet, the semi-official Chinese hackers who spy on the Party’s enemies with dodgy PDF files; the complete document is here and it’s a PDF…

Sony, meanwhile, not content with the infamy that followed the Sony Rootkit scandal, has decided to make life difficult for those people who installed Linux on their PlayStation 3s, which is cheeky as running another operating system through virtualisation was actually a feature. The hacker community (which in this case includes the US Army, whose researchers bought 2,000 of them to build a supercomputer based on their powerful graphical processors) is working on a complete replacement for the Sony firmware. Who can blame them?

Pay for your coffee at Starbucks…with your iPhone, and perhaps for all sorts of other stuff too. It’s an interesting implementation - you send the transaction details, the back-end servers send back a QR code, and you show the QR code to the cashier, who scans it off the screen and checks it against the details they received. And it means Apple is deriving revenue, however thin, from mobile payments.

Citigroup wants to do mobile banking in India, in order to get around restrictions on its branch network and to reduce its credit losses. This suggests they need to get around the restrictions on mobile banking in India to get around the restrictions on ordinary banking…

Bill Ray of The Register reckons that Nokia wants Novarra in order to get a foot in the door of mobile advertising.

VZW has opened the app store it promised last CTIA; it’s also launched the mobile Skype client it promised. It turns out to be rather like the implementation of Skype 3UK offered as part of its X-Series tariff - rather than actually running the Skype protocol, voice is carried as a traditional circuit-switched call to a termination point in VZW’s network that acts as a SkypeIn/SkypeOut number.

Cisco gets to buy Tandberg and its videoconferencing assets, but the European Commission will force it to publish the Telepresence Interoperability Protocol, its proprietary networking standard for telepresence.

There’s now a LinkedIn client for the BlackBerry; it’s like Facebook on an iPhone, for suits!

A US court has ruled that the warrantless wiretapping was, indeed, illegal; specifically, the court denied the validity of the government’s defence based on executive privilege. It’s OK, though, if you’re a British newspaper; it turns out that the News of the World voicemail hack extended to no fewer than 2,978 telephone numbers. And the policeman in charge of the case now has a regular column with the paper.

And finally, meet the watch that comes with a software-development kit.

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