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Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 News Review

[Note from the Telco 2.0 Team: 40 new leading-edge online video presentations on ‘Best Practice’ Telco 2.0 strategies, case studies and use cases are now available on demand, including:

- CEO BT Wholesale, CEO Ericsson, and CTO Deutsche Telekom on Strategy;
- MIT, Invention Arts, World Economic Forum on the Data Economy;
- Telecom Italia on Augmented Reality and Entertainment Futures;
- AT&T and Oracle on Cloud Services;
- Telenor and Aricent on M2M;
- Nokia Siemens Networks and Buoungiorno on Customer Management;
- O2, Ericsson and Admob on Mobile Advertising;
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News: Via Rich Karpinski, some numbers are filtering through about 3UK’s peace treaty with Skype. 80% of Skypephone users are new customers, and they show ARPU 20% higher and churn 14% lower than 3’s typical subscriber. Karpinski points out that it’s quite possible that the user base for Skype and like services are “hyper-communicators” who are likely to be heavy users of all your products. There you have it - a strategy to deal with the VoIP wave.

Juniper Research predicts that mobile VoIP traffic will double every year from here to 2015. They point out that some operators are beginning to re-assess their strategy and adjust to this, and that the real threat is shifting voice traffic to WLAN. On the other hand, a minute carried over a £40 Wi-Fi box, the open Internet, and your GAN interface is one that doesn’t need carrying over your transmission network, radio network controllers, and the like.

Apple’s unexpected embrace of video calls has given other vendors a spur to look again at video for communications rather than content. Cisco has announced an interesting new Android-based device - the Cius is a vaguely iPad-like tablet optimised for high-quality videoteleconferences. It should provide 8 hours of battery life, connecting over the full range of WLAN specifications, with cellular capability coming later. If you can sit through 8 hours of video conferencing, you probably deserve a shiny that will be priced “below $1,000”, but presumably the great majority of them will be sold to enterprise IT departments. The device comes with the full set of Cisco’s telepresence/conferencing/collaboration/unicomms applications built in, so no video calls for you, Mr. Telco.

Telepresence has always suffered from the need for fancy hardware to achieve a reasonable user experience - multiple, large, high definition screens, hi-fi surround speakers, high end microphones and multiple, high resolution cameras. This makes it expensive and very, very fixed. Cisco may be onto something by wrapping those capabilities into an integrated high-end mobile device.

At the same time, they’re pushing out more consumer products, notably home-automation devices, and it is rumoured that having acquired the Flip line of video cameras they’re going to add some sort of network capability. Conferencing/video calling? Instant streaming to the Web? Connected Planet speculates that there might even be some sort of Amazon Kindle-like embedded cellular element on the cards - so perhaps an opportunity for a lucky operator there.

How do you go about serving video to the BBC’s user base? Simon Frost, the iPlayer’s technical architect, explains how in an excellent post at the BBC Internet blog. It’s well worth reading, if nothing else, for the point that adding social, recommendation, and other features can be a big increase in complexity and a major challenge for your infrastructure quite apart from the job of pushing out the video streams.

Hulu has announced three more networks’ content in its Hulu Plus service, and Google won its case against Viacom.

In other online video news, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs says the company wants to get out of the business of operating their MediaFLO TV network. Qualcomm originally positioned MediaFLO as a wholesale-only operator, whose roll-out would be part financed by its partners in the content business. More recently, it’s started offering a direct-to-consumer mobile TV service. It now looks like Qualcomm would rather just be selling FLO equipment to operators than being one itself. This shouldn’t be surprising - revenues from the operation are falling and the costs of building it out have been stubbornly high. They are also looking at using the infrastructure as a supplementary data network for heavy Internet content, but so far, there are no takers.

Speaking of home automation and energy, here’s a piece on work at Intel Research into the user anthropology involved. Interestingly, one strategy they are looking at is integrating energy monitoring into communications devices (answering machines), because people use them.

Ars Technica notes that according to the FCC, 13% of US fixed telephone lines are now carrier-VoIP services like Vonage or similar. We note that by definition that takes no account of Skype, Fring, Gizmo, Google Voice and friends…although you might think Cisco have an opportunity there.

Microsoft has terminated its Kin “social phone” two months after launch. New industry hyperblog Voyces (regulars will probably recognise some of the names) says they think there’s an opening for a low-cost social networking device, but surely 3 already did that with INQ?

Engadget has inside-Microsoft gossip about the Kin story - apparently the original plan was to do a low-cost, super-featurephone independent of Windows, using the old Sidekick OS they acquired some time ago, but MS top management insisted on porting it over to Windows CE (which is in any case on the way out).

So far, many operators who have deployed femtocells have asked their subscribers to pay for the privilege of hosting a piece of telco infrastructure. This is not perhaps the most attractive proposition ever dangled afore the public - it’s reminiscent of BT’s Fusion FMC product, which offered the user cheaper outbound calls on Wi-Fi, but charged all incoming calls at mobile rates, so that your friends essentially subsidised your cheaper calls. Softbank is taking a drastically different approach - put a femto in your house, and Softbank will pay for the DSL line. As they’re paying for the connectivity, there won’t be any effort to restrict which Softbank subscribers use your femtocell, so it’s a cunning way of thickening up their coverage.

The Advertising Standards Authority has told off Orange for claiming to have more coverage than they do have, by fiddling with the definitions. As is pointed out here, the real problem is that for some strange reason, there are no publicly accessible maps of UK mobile coverage at useful scale.

As pre-announced, the White House has announced the beginning of National Broadband Plan implementation with the release of 500MHz of new spectrum. There’s also money. Another $800 million for 66 projects has been announced as part of the economic recovery plan.

Having cranked prices on its heaviest data users up, 3UK is now balancing that by slashing prices for lower users. A new tariff offers 1GB of data, plus a truly huge quantity of voice traffic (2,000 minutes), for £25 SIM-only. CEO Kevin Russell has some thoughts about “unlimited”; as he was also in this weekend’s Guardian bashing the other operators over termination rates, we presume there’s some sort of PR drive on. Check out the comments for the tale of the acceptable-use policy that forbade subscribers to make more than 24 hours of calls in any 24 hour period.

Everyone’s having fun with the Apple iPhone 4 radio problems. Nokia explains how to hold one of their phones for best results (i.e. any way you like), Motorola takes out full-page ads. Apple is advertising for antenna designers. Lenovo taunts the beast.

Anssi Vanjöki declares the beginning of Nokia’s fightback on the company blog. Points of note include that it’s official that the N8 will be the last N-series to use Symbian^3 (presumably the only one), but there might well be at least one N-series device on Symbian^4, and there won’t be a Nokia Android. And he’s determined to persuade Symbian Guru back into the fold.

As if to provide ironic contrast, there’s an urgent bug fix out for the Qt SDK. And some N900 users are annoyed about default opt-in to MyNokia, although to be fair they could just turn it off.

Verizon Wireless is refreshing its App Catalog for Qualcomm BREW-based feature phones. AT&T, meanwhile, is also pushing BREW as an apps platform for non-smartphones. There’s going to be an open app store, a suite of network APIs, and a developer sandbox.

Google can remotely install applications to your Android as well as remove them. Eric Schmidt offers a different view of the Nexus One.

Like Android? Like Python? You’ll like this. Google is preparing a new feature that will let you distribute Python apps for Android as the standard .apk package for one-click install.

Least expected acquisition of the year: Alcatel-Lucent buys mashup hub ProgrammableWeb. Check out the interview with PW founders about telco APIs.

Telefonica integrates its Latin America developer communities into O2 Litmus.

Undesirable mobile innovation; 50 people are arrested in Romania for distributing stalkerware applications that let you spy on other people’s phones. The F-Secure blog points out that you still need physical access to the gadget to install it.

After Spotify: MSpot lets you upload your music collection into the cloud and pull it down to a mobile device, shared PC, whatever. It’s basically a streamer application using a cloud storage service as the back-end. You pay a small fee, and they don’t worry about licensing fees as it’s assumed it’s your music.

So how’s that Brazilian Phorm deployment coming on? Not so well. The company lost another $29.7 million this year, and although it charged its sole customer Oi 1.6 million Brazilian reals, none of that was earned by the much-loved DPI system. And the Brazilian Ministry of Justice is after them

The Spanish-Portuguese tussle over Brazilian operator Vivo took another twist. Although a majority of shareholders voted to sell the stake to Telefonica, the Portuguese government invoked its golden share in PT to block the deal. With that, everyone’s off to the European Court of Justice.

Qualcomm says it bought BWA spectrum in India to keep it all from going WiMAX, and to reserve a spot for LTE. Time was, Qualcomm might have done that for one of its own radio technologies, but the standards wars are over. There’s also an interesting chat about augmented reality and Qualcomm here.

Brough Turner is starting up a startup, and it looks like it’s an operator of some sort.

A fine example of Worse Enterprise Voice & Messaging. A ton of data on Spanish mobile Web users and Vodafone. A neat mobile banking app - deposit a cheque in your mobile phone by photographing it. US Government CIO Vivek Kundra on the cloud.

Everyone needs a robot squid.

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