Telco 2.0 News Review
Telco 2.0 Top Stories
- Broadband Connectivity: $10m HSPA software upgrade = twice the iPhones?
- Technology Disruptions: Telstra firsts dual-carrier HSPA
- Strategy & Finance: Indian spectrum auction - first the madness, now the, er, madness…
- Devices: Google: how do you work this OSS thing again?
- Online Video Distribution: Google TV. What else is there to say?
AT&T’s decision to go with further HSPA speed upgrades is causing reactions. Kevin Fitchard of Connected Planet points out that although the $10m software fix doesn’t do anything for the radio stacks in AT&T’s fleet of mobile devices, that might be a feature rather than a bug; in cells where the radio layer is the busy-hour limiting factor, the upgrade from 7.2Mbps HSPA Class 8 to 14.4Mbps HSPA Class 10 represents a doubling of the number of iPhones the network can support, which is good business by anyone’s measure. Of course, it’s no help for the cells where backhaul or core-network signalling is the long pole in the tent, but then, what do you expect for $10m?
Speaking of iPhones and AT&T, they hiked the early-termination fee charged to people who want to quit their 2 year iPhone deals early, so they obviously aren’t that horrified by the traffic costs.
Telstra, for its part, has a very new 3G network, built out by Ericsson in 2006-2007 using some extreme high-power cells to yell across the Great Australian Bugger-All. This may explain both a certain reluctance to spend on LTE and also an interest in going further with HSPA - hence today’s news that they have tested dual-carrier HSPA at 22Mbps on their production network.
On the other hand, there’s Sprint, which is apparently considering building an LTE network as well as a WiMAX network. Couldn’t they perhaps use Flarion for the backhaul? 802.20? IP over carrier-pigeon? More seriously, it looks like the real story here is the end of CDMA on any serious scale; at some point, Sprint is going to do something with the EV-DO network and the spectrum allocation.
It wasn’t a good week for WiMAX; Russian greenfield operator YoTa has decided to build an LTE network after all. Telling detail; YoTa was paraded by Intel at MWC as a pioneer WiMAX operator three months ago.
India’s crazy, crazy spectrum auction is over, and the winner would appear to have been the Government, which trousered some $14.6bn. Unsurprisingly, the most expensive spectrum was that in Mumbai and Delhi; Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, and Reliance forked out and collected. Voda now has a further 2x5MHz of 2100MHz, covering 50% of the population, for some £1.74bn. The two state operators, BSNL and MTNL, already have grants of free spectrum, so the main story from India is likely to be “price war rages” for some time.
Vendors, of course, will be happy; BSNL celebrated the spectrum auction by announcing a tender for 5.5 megasubs’ worth of GSM kit; Huawei was notably not invited to bid. Telefonica announced a further heavy investment in its Brazilian operation.
The FCC has started on the project of finding an additional 300MHz of spectrum, as required by the National Broadband Plan; the first chunk is the 25MHz of the 2.3GHz “Wireless Communications Service” band that has been held up by the concerns of satellite-radio operators. Fixes for their concerns have been issued with the order releasing the 2.3GHz band. The FCC also warned that the mobile market might not be sufficiently competitive.
A huge new dark fibre network is planned in the US - note that it’s optimised for both multi-tenancy of the fibre, and also of the ducts, with many more access ports than usual to provide more options for interconnection.
In the UK, O2 is going to trial LTE in the 800MHz band, which implies that there is still some will to implement the spectrum provisions of the Digital Economy Act. Australia, meanwhile, may have an inspiring plan for ubiquitous broadband, but the government seems to be over keen to decide what will be *on* the network.
Numbers at Vodafone; annual net profits were £8.65bn group-wide, up £5bn from a year before, beating the company’s own guidance. Revenues in the UK, however, are down 4.7% - and it may be worth remembering that two-thirds of Vodafone’s business globally is still made up of voice. World smartphone sales numbers are criticised here, but what is certainly clear is that they’re growing strongly and Androids are going like hot cakes. The latest version of Android is out.
The Googler in charge of Android, Andy Rubin, spoke at Google I/O, their pet conference, and gave some insight into the failure of Nexus One. He denies, not necessarily convincingly, that the carriers refused to play nicely with the direct-to-customer strategy, and complains about the complexity of integrating with telco OSS-BSS provisioning gear.
“Fundamentally, we do a direct-to-consumer distribution business where you’re hooking into these various provisioning systems for all these operators all over the world. It’s a pretty intense undertaking just, literally, hooking into the billing systems that are available in all these operators in all these countries..”
Meanwhile, Google has got into a terrible row after it turned out the Googlecars were logging all the WLAN hotspots they came across as well as taking pictures for Street View. (We carried this story back in April for the simple reason that it broke in the German press and nobody English-speaking reads Handelsblatt.) In an attempt to get ahead of regulators, they started deleting the data, but have now changed their minds…
On the other hand, the FTC cleared the acquisition of AdMob on the grounds that Apple’s iAds were sufficient competition for them. Google vs. Apple is the Valley news theme of the week; Daring Fireball has some interesting thoughts in this line. More concretely, here’s Google TV, a platform for interactive TV applications using Android as the embedded operating system, Flash, and Intel Atom silicon. Informitv has more detail.
HP, meanwhile, wants to use Palm WebOS in “Web-connected printers”. Why…?
Google also open-sourced a video codec this week. It looks like they are concerned that the move to HTML5 native video is running into problems because the preferred video encoding, H.264, is patented and therefore some open-source projects - specifically Mozilla Firefox - can’t use it. Completing the obligatory Google and Apple roundup, the official Google App Engine blog has an interesting discussion of how The Guardian’s increasingly advanced web applications make use of Google technology.
And Foxconn has just had its 10th suicide this year. Chinese fenqing - aggressive, populist hackers - are promising to infiltrate the company and find out who’s to blame.
In other video news, the UK Office of Fair Trading clears Project Canvas for launch, on the grounds that it’s a start-up rather than a merger and therefore can’t be held to be anticompetitive.
E-health in action. Verizon makes nice over a $18,000 phone bill. Nokia issues a detailed user-experience and design framework for Symbian apps. Cisco buys the industrial designers behind the Flip video camera in order to give their Linksys consumer grade kit a touch of Apple. Hey, some people like the ugly blue plastic and big antennas!