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August 31, 2010

Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories


It’s heeere…Google integrates voice into GMail. At the moment, they’re offering cheap international calls to US customers (which may imply that this shares common infrastructure with Google Voice), although some UK users (including this one) saw a phone icon briefly appear in the GMail window. Wired’s Ryan Singel points out that although Skype is now the biggest phone company by minutes of use, it’s making very thin margins - of course, this goes just as much for Google.

Telephony, in itself, is a software application. Google Voice and Google Talk, importantly, are purely client-server architectures (SS7 and XMPP JINGLE respectively), unlike Skype’s mostly peer-to-peer network, which will have consequences for infrastructure costs and therefore the sort of margins they can tolerate. Not that Google is short of a data centre or two, though. It’s not clear if the new product provides any of the better-telephony features of Voice or whether it’s just another cheap calls play.

But if you really want something innovative from Google, what about Priority Inbox, which uses a Bayesian classifier to learn what you find important and sort your e-mail by relevance? We’ve been using essentially the same logic for years to filter out spam, and if anyone understands the process Google does. This is essentially the opposite of a spam filter. Cool, although you might be a little chary about giving Google operational rather than just advisory responsibilities in your life - that Arthur C. Clarke story about the telephone exchange that becomes sentient and starts quietly adjusting people’s lives by misrouting their calls comes to mind.

(Technical note: If you want similar functionality, but don’t trust Google to turn it off, you might be able to rig it using John Graham-Cumming’s POPFile, a generic e-mail classifier utility. You could create three POPFile buckets for High, Medium, and Low priority, manually sort a few days’ worth of traffic into them, and then let it take over the sorting. If you started to suspect, you could always uninstall it. John’s now working on something similar for huge volumes of enterprise helpdesk Web traffic.)

Would Priority Inbox think spurious patent lawsuits were high or low priority? Good question. It’s probably fair to say that if the nastygram comes from hyper-rich Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen it’s better to take it seriously, even if it is a patent on “Browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data”. The first browser, NCSA Mosaic, was invented in 1992, before Allen’s post-Microsoft project Interval Research….anyway, Google, Apple, Facebook, and some 8 other firms’ lawyers will be chewing over this one this week.

BBC iPlayer users certainly are browsing information represented by audiovisual data, if anyone is. A Freedom of Information Act request reveals that about five times as many people are watching BBC content on Apple iProducts as on Androids, which isn’t actually very surprising as only the very latest (version 2.2 “Froyo”) ‘droids are supported. Still, 230,016 weekly viewers on Apple iOS is a nontrivial user base. Apparently the BBC is worried about non-Flash streaming for “content protection” reasons, which is silly in the light of the free FFMpeg program which will happily record any Flash stream and re-rip it to the format of your choice.

More practically, the application is currently restricted to working over WLAN only. Something of a relief for the mobile packet-pushing department there. Fortunately, LTE is coming; it’s still late and tempting but it’s getting less elusive. Deutsche Telekom this week flipped the big switch on its first LTE site - in fact, Réne Obermann plugged in a pair of pink cables, although the interesting bit is that the spectrum licence requires DTAG to cover Germany’s remaining notspots before they get to deploy it in the cities.

In the US, it looks like MetroPCS will be the first operator to deploy LTE, with the big switch getting thrown in Dallas and Las Vegas in September. Samsung promises that there will be a handset in time, too.

So what about that WiMAX stuff? Intel just bought Infineon’s wireless baseband operation, which makes the current iPhone’s cellular radio among others. It doesn’t sound like they’re full of confidence.

There’s less relief for the packet pushers here; what about a Netflix app for the iPhone? (Their arch-rival, Blockbuster, is in deep trouble.)

We try, we try, but we always end up writing about iPhones. Here’s a story about developing medical apps - for smartphones in general, not just iPhones, but the hook is the iPhone stethoscope app. It’s just gone through the three million download mark. The big problem, though, is getting the thing approved by the medical world - its developer is keen to try a blood oxygen monitor (using the camera, we think) and a mobile ultrasound scanner.

So much for apps that heal. What about apps that KILL? Ones dedicated to war? A Hungarian software house has created an application based on the popular Layar augmented-reality system that implements something very like the US military’s Blue Force Tracker, the system that lets you know where your friends are on the battlefield.

Creating mayhem is easy - it’s order that’s the difficult bit. Having conquered, you may wish to count your new subjects in order to impose your ideology on them more efficiently. Hence, a fascinating article on Brazil’s census, an enormous administrative challenge which is being tackled with 150,000 LG 750GM smartphones and some custom software. The LG 750GM is a Windows Mobile 6.5 device, not perhaps what you might have expected in this context.

So perhaps it isn’t quite as crazy as all that to spend $1bn on the launch of MS Windows Phone. That said, data logging could be achieved with a simple web form, so this may just mean someone had a lot of 750GMs going cheap.

Amazon Kindles, however, are selling like hot cakes, although the company is still being coy about the exact details.

In India, the government has given RIM more time to think about how it can make its service both secure against people the Indian government doesn’t want to hack it and insecure against people the Indian government does want to hack it. The government has further demanded that Skype move its servers into India, which will be the easiest server move in industry history, as Skype is a peer-to-peer protocol.

RIM this week bought an app store to bulk up its App World operation and acquire various bits of back-office technology. Motorola, on the other hand, has bought a mobile apps development shop to add to its collection of Android devs.

Dell is investing in the cloud - specifically, they’re keen on a multi-vendor approach rooted in the PC heritage, as opposed to Cisco’s vision of deep integration between networking and processing hardware or HP’s Matrix system, which consists of nothing but HP kit of every kind. And NEC wants to sell cloud services to China.

AT&T is hoping better self-care will encourage customers to upgrade their U-Verse fibre-to-the-node services. Actually, they’re mostly interested in upgrading their TV bundles. In a tangentially related customer-care story, beware - data roaming may give you a heart attack.

Iliad’s results are out, and they’re good - profits have doubled over the last year from €72m to €171.4m, mostly driven by a successful turnaround of the Alice cable business they acquired in 2008. Operating margins were 38.6%, up from 31%, and the company says that 1,500 staff are working on its mobile network deployment, with Alcatel and NSN as the main contractors. Talks about the troubled national-roaming issue, however, are still not settled.

For its part, NSN is looking for a possible financial investor to buy a slice of vendor cake.

How do major operators fight municipal broadband projects? By having their lobbyists rewrite whole US state laws, that’s how.

Bing for Android! Fraunhofer announces a new videoconferencing standard. The declining standards of spam. Moore’s Law, reports of your death have been exaggerated again. HOWTO spot liars on conference calls. Don’t do experiments on the Internet…please.

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August 27, 2010

Entertainment 2.0: New Sources of Revenue for Telcos?


Telco assets and capabilities could be used much more to help Film, TV and Gaming companies optimize their beleaguered business model. There’s an extract here from our new 38 page Executive Briefing report examining how.

These themes will also be examined and discussed at our Oct 2010 Americas and Nov 2010 EMEA Executive Brainstorms.

Report Extract - Figure 4: Entertainment-specific Business Model Strategy Choices

EB entertainment fig 4.png

Source: Telco 2.0 Initiative
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August 23, 2010

Speakers at Telco 2.0 Events, Autumn 2010


We’re delighted to be signing up some excellent ‘stimulus speakers’ for the upcoming Telco 2.0 events in Los Angeles (27-28 October) and London (9-10 November). Here’s a sample:

· Steve McGaw, SVP Corporate Strategy, AT&T
· Georges Penalver, SEVP, Strategy & Development, Orange Group
· Olivier Baujard, Group CTO, Deutsche Telekom
· Albert Hitchcock, Group CIO, Vodafone
· Sean Williams, Managing Director Retail Strategy, BT
· Stephanie Comfort, Chief Strategy Officer, Qwest Communications
· Frank Boulben, CMO, LightSquared
· Von Wright, VP Consumer Marketing, AT&T Mobility
· Joan Fitzgerald, VP TV, Comscore
· Jennifer Byrne, Director, Business Devt, Verizon Wireless
· Stacey Schulman, SVP Ad Sales Research, Turner Entertainment
· Thomas Fellger, CEO, Iconmobile
· Anthony Rose, CTO, Project Canvas

Watch this space for more announcements…

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Telco 2.0 News Review


Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed:Telco 2.0 is signing up a strong group of ‘stimulus speakers’ for its Autumn events in Los Angeles and London. Details here]

A survey of mobile operators for The Economist says that they expect revenues from apps to pass revenues from voice by 2013. Really? If valid, that’s certainly the most radical prediction we’ve heard in a long time - you might almost consider it a marker of the existence of a bubble in apps. On the other hand, in the US, fixed-line substitution is running at 5% annually, so the prediction might not be so far off in as far as it involves voice revenues falling.

After last week’s disappointing news that the UK’s “fibre tax” is staying, there’s worse - it’s going up for everyone except Virgin Media.

Verizon Wireless is going further in their partnership with Skype - this week sees the arrival of a Skype app for featurephones based on Qualcomm’s BREW platform, which takes mobile VoIP well outside the smartphone sector. Skype-to-Skype calls will be free, international SkypeOut cheap and paid for from Skype credit, and calls to US mobile or landline numbers will follow the existing VZW rate card.

Fring, meanwhile, announced its own clone of SkypeOut.

RIM launched the new version of BlackBerry App World this week - it’s been in beta for a while, but this is rthe commercial kickoff. Key points include a wider range of pricing options (99 cents and $1.99 as well as free or $2.99), and interestingly, a new service called BlackBerry ID that lets you use your BlackBerry account information and authentication across other devices and services. There goes another operator asset.

It’s also being rumoured that RIM is considering spending up to $400m to acquire a mobile ads company and give its (impressive) in-application ads platform a scale boost. Apple’s iAds is said to be having difficulties with some advertisers.

Nokia, meanwhile, acquired a mobile analytics firm, Motally. As if they needed to do any more incredibly careful evaluation… At the same time, they’re scrubbing the Nokia brand off Comes With Music and pulling it into Ovi, because everyone knows what an Ovi is….

More obviously, the price of listing an app on Ovi Store has been cut permanently - it’s now the cheapest of the major app stores.

We mentioned that VZW’s fleet of BREW featurephones are getting Skype. On the same them, here’s a new Nokia - it’s a Series 40 gadget, but it claims to be the only one around to combine a traditional 12-button pad and a touchscreen, and more importantly it brings Nokia Messaging, Ovi Mail, 16GB of removable storage, 3G and WLAN connectivity, and API compatibility with (some) apps written for S60 5th Edition. It’s an example of the progressive up-grading of what used to be considered basic phones towards smartphone standards. (There’s a retrospective of smartphones here, although Nokia people might well object that not everything on the market in 2005 looked like a Palm Pilot.)

Developers will be pleased to know that jQuery, the popular JavaScript application framework, is available for mobile devices, and the user interface screenshots have a pleasantly clean look. If you have a recent web browser, you can do JavaScript, and if you can require jQuery, there’s a lot of things you can do on a featurephone.

Speaking of jQuery, a neat trick (beware - technical!) - need to pack your software libraries in a resource-constrained environment? Why not encode them as a highly compressed PNG graphic file? You can see what jQuery looks like as a picture here, and learn that sadly, cool as the idea may be, it’s not as good as GZip compression.

Relatedly, we’re approaching the 5 billionth end point connected to the Internet. Connect something to the Internet, of course, and you’ve immediately got some interesting problems - when DTAG talks about “Connected Car”, they probably didn’t mean letting random monkeys on the web track the movements of your car or make the warning lights on the dashboard flash in pretty patterns.

Facebook has launched its Yahoo! FireEagle/Google Latitude/Foursquare/whatever clone, Facebook Places, which lets you share your current location with them (and slurps your location from Latitude, Foursquare, Gowalla, or whatever stalkerware service you’re using besides). Actually, it also lets other people share your location with the world at large, Facebook’s advertising data-miners, etc - so you might want to read this EFF guide to how to control disclosure of location data through Facebook.

The EFF has written to Verizon in its capacity as owner of CyberTrust, asking what they make of Etisalat’s drive to get rid of encrypted BlackBerry service - after all, Etisalat is using an SSL certificate authority signed by the Verizon division.

Google TV has run into certain problems, as talks with the major US TV networks didn’t go well. It seems that they don’t like the idea of subscribers being able to see both their subscription/TV offering and the stuff they serve out on the Internet and through firms like Hulu in one place.

Here’s an interesting post mortem on Google Wave from the CEO of Canonical (the firm behind Ubuntu Linux).

In further Google news, what if the cloud wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be? So says Vijay Gill, the Google exec responsible for its vast data-centre infrastructure. More specifically, he argues that once you get past a certain level of capacity-utilisation, owning your own equipment becomes cheaper than buying in cloud services. This is the flip side of Joe Weinman’s argument about cloud computing - it’s still the peak/mean ratio that makes the difference, but in this case, we’re looking at it from the other side of the curve. Interestingly, he also says that after a certain scale is reached, managing the relationship with the cloud provider and administering the system take up as much time as traditional systems administration does….

There’s a fantastic list of Google’s failures here - who remembers Google Web Accelerator, the Opera Mini-like compression proxy that incidentally stopped you from watching Google’s YouTube videos? Not so sure about the conclusion, though. Here’s an interview with Yahoo!’s chief scientist.

Android 2.2 has voice control, which probably sounds more impressive if you don’t remember repeating your girlfriend’s name at a late 90s Samsung device trying to get it to trigger a voice call. Some people are concerned about a drift towards closedness in the Android world.

Foxconn, assembler of iProducts, has launched a campaign of rallies to “raise morale” among the workers after the well-known wave of suicides. (Check out the photo from the rally - it’s the most depressing thing you’ll see all week.) More to the point, after the wave of strikes that followed the wave of suicides, Foxconn has accepted another pay rise.

Here’s a list of 119 iPad apps for IT productivity. Vodafone’s latest mobile-WLAN hotspot has a slot for micro-SD cards - how soon will it come with a little Asterisk server that talks to their GAN interface, automatic VPN encryption, and some collaboration tools, thus making it an instant office?

Orange UK’s data network was down this week. PlayStation 3 hacked.

Brough Turner’s notes from the Community Wireless Networks summit - beware technical! but well worth reading. He also recommends Ben West’s conference blog.

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August 19, 2010

OFCOM Communications Review: The Customer of the Future is Here


OFCOM’s annual Communications Market Review is out (pdf, charts and spreadsheets here), and it is of course packed with chewy data. Taking a first look into the 379 page behemoth, we’ve noticed a couple of interesting points about the industry and the customers of the future, the people who took centre stage in our Serving the Digital Generation strategy report.

Before we get to that, though, here’s a very important chart indeed.

ofcomcmr-spend.png

First point - spending on communications is falling as a share of household income, dropping from a peak in 2005. Further, as you may have noticed if you aren’t leading an extraordinarily sheltered life, this isn’t because household incomes are surging upwards faster than we can devise products to absorb them. Monthly household ARPU in cash terms has fallen 10% since 2005.

The breakdown of this fall is interesting in itself. Spending on fixed Internet service hasn’t changed significantly. Spending on TV has fallen very slightly. Rather more than half of the change has come from the decline of fixed voice, and the rest is accounted for by falling prices in mobile. These trends are not the impact of the Great Recession, either - the second fastest drop in fixed voice was 2005-2006.

ofcomcmr-adoption.png

This classical Bass diffusion model suggests that, if you thought the last couple of years had seen dramatic growth in mobile data traffic and in smartphones, you ain’t seen nothing yet. OFCOM reckons both mobile broadband and smartphones were about to transition from the “early adopters” to the majority adoption phase - aka the rapid growth inflection in the curve - as of Q1 2010. The Bass model typically predicts that the Early and Late Majority groups both account for 34% of total adoption, so 78% of total adopters are excepted to arrive in a period of time only half as long again as it took the 15% or so of early adopters to rock up. Watch out!

Notably, Ofcom still expect a long hard slog before significant fibre deployment - that’s still in the earliest fraction of the innovator segment.

The economic crisis is unlikely to hold up this development very much. Consider this chart…

ofcomcmr-lux.png

As the recession bit, the public valued mobility more. On the other hand, they targeted pay-TV subscriptions and good old steam telephony for their very own emergency cuts package. This, by the way, fits with what we heard from Eircom at Telecom Finance in February.

But what will the customer of the future pipe over our networks? Everyone knows that - an unstoppable tsunami of pirate video, delivered in an unholy alliance with Google and Amazon. Right?

ofcomcmr-textual.png

As this chart shows, the 16-24 year olds may watch more video on their computers than other groups, but it remains a relatively small percentage of user time. In fact, totting up e-mail, social networking, and “other Internet use”, which seems to include the WWW, usenet, etc, you can’t avoid the conclusion that the PC is still a fundamentally textual medium.

In fact, the 16-24 and 25-44 groups consume the least video, as this table shows.

ofcomcmr-textualyouth.png

Actually, being young reduces your video consumption below the national average more than being at work does - “working” as a group averages 35% of their total media time watching video, 16-24s 32%, the lowest single group.

Again, the customer of the future is heavily textual - the 16-24s spend much more time on “text communication”. Interestingly, though, this doesn’t represent a cannibalisation of voice. On average, 5% of all adults’ media time consists of telephony, and the intergroup variance is next to nothing.

Typically, this group is doing something else at the same time; 71% of 16-24s’ media usage is concurrent, while only 12% of 55-and overs is.

ofcomcmr-voice.png

This chart offers a nicer visualisation of those data - note, again, that there is hardly any distinction between groups with regard to voice, which can be read both as an index of its enduring value and also as a consequence of its commodity status. Further, the bars make it very clear that the biggest difference between the customer of the future and the customer of the past is that they don’t watch TV, and even counting in “other video”, they still don’t watch enough YouTube or iPlayer to make up the difference. This importance/attention matrix makes the point clearly. Again, note the enduring importance of voice.

ofcomcmr-voice1.png

It’s been a cliché since the 1960s that we live in a TV society - at the very least, the fact everyone thinks it’s hugely influential must have had important consequences for political and business strategies. To a significant and growing extent, we won’t any more. In that light, it’s no surprise that advertising revenues are stagnant to falling - although it might be a surprise that well over half the OFCOM review is dedicated to TV.

ofcomcmr-tvads.png

On the other hand, the stereotype of the bandwidth hog we alluded to above is right about something.

ofcomcmr-devices.png

50% of the 16-24s are already mobile data users. The data-centric, smartphone environment is the new normal. We will need the extra capacity after all - even if it’s more likely to be signalling capacity, to handle all those instant messaging sessions and the like, rather than raw bandwidth for video-hauling. And by the way, the typical Customer of the Future is a girl - OFCOM’s numbers for the “active online universe” show that the 16-24 and 25-44 cohorts are slightly, but significantly, more likely to be female.

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August 16, 2010

Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

No prizes for guessing the lead this week; the deal-that-wasn’t between Google and Verizon, and the follow-up “seven principles”. The EFF’s opinion is here; Robert Cringely’s take on the original proposal is here. It seems reasonable to think that the original deal was something along the lines of a mammoth CDN contract, taking advantage of the operator’s physical footprint to deploy Google servers close to users.

We’ll be discussing this never-more-important issue at the 10th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in Los Angeles on the 27th and 28th of October, and at the 11th in London on the 8th-10th of November. Key points will include:

  • What are the new business models enabled by prioritisation, traffic shaping and policy management?
  • How important are these business models to the development of Telco 2.0 businesses?
  • What are acceptable use cases for techniques such as DPI and policy management?
  • Are there alternative technology solutions that comply with regulations but offer telcos flexibility?
  • Which models do these support?

The “seven principles” document, however, may be more interesting than the original deal. TelecomTV discusses it here. The most difficult elements for many people to accept will be the notion of services that are “distinguishable in scope and purpose” from yer ordinary Internet access and that are exempt from its regulatory requirements. It’s also telling that the principles exclude mobile (although it is hard to see how, technically, you can prioritise packets over the air interface, which is usually the gating factor).

TTV has further discussion here, making the excellent point that for a document which supposedly encompasses months of negotiation, it’s a tad thin, and also very unlikely to be accepted by the FCC. They argue that the seven principles paper was rushed out in order to spin the original New York Times story and perhaps to set an initial negotiating position with the regulator.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on. Ericsson estimates that mobile data traffic almost tripled over the last 12 months. Interestingly, new data shows that Verizon Wireless smartphone users (i.e. mostly Android) are significantly heavier consumers of data than AT&T (i.e. mostly iPhone). The difference is concentrated among the very heaviest users - VZW has twice as many users over 500MB/month and four times as many over 2GB.

This may be connected with the latest US market share figures. Nielsen’s data for the first half of 2010 is out, and is interesting indeed. New iPhone customers have peaked, in the last quarter of 2010, and are now falling at a remarkably similar rate to both Microsoft Windows Mobile and RIM. The inflection point for iPhone market share is very close indeed to that for Android, which took off dramatically in Q4 2010 and is now in second place. It seems certain that it will overtake RIM early in the third quarter. Everyone else is essentially flat-lining.

Vodafone, meanwhile, pushed out a software update to its HTC Desire fleet, whose users were eagerly awaiting Android 2.2. But it wasn’t Android 2.2 - it was an update to the Vodafone 360 app, which came with a variety of unremovable Vodafone-branded graphics, apps, and bookmarks. User rage followed, and an embarrassing climbdown. Other Vodafone opcos have since delayed the update in order to sort it out.

In related news, the 360-specific LiMo handsets have been cancelled in favour of a pure software experience. At least in part as a result, it seems that LiMo’s responsibilities will be merged into the Linux Foundation, with the higher level issues taken care of within WAC. Speaking of WAC, details and names are here, as well as a promise to have the first beta release of the SDK out in November and a production release by February.

There’s an interesting comparison of Apple vs. Android vs. RIM, and the Apple vs. Microsoft wars here. They conclude that the recent Android surge has a lot to do with telcos - specifically, their vendor relationships, supply chains, and retail footprints. Android’s licensing model has got its devices into the right channels. Unfortunately, it’s also being sued by Oracle over some Java patents.

Meanwhile, Mark Papermaster, the man responsible for the iPhone 4, has taken his coat. After all, it was also the week they hacked the iPhone. To recap; someone discovered a way to “jailbreak” the device from a Web page. It had never been easier to get root access to your iPhone! Then everyone realised just what a bad idea this was - if any Web page could get access to a stock iPhone, with its root password set to “alpine” by default, hackers could do literally anything they liked with them. Only a bug in iOS’s handling of MMS messages prevented the attack spreading over-the-air, as F-Secure Labs pointed out here. F-Secure also has some details of the exploit, which used a deliberately broken font in a PDF file to crash Safari and execute attack code.

Apple has since released an emergency patch. iUsers are strongly advised to get it as soon as possible (the link points to both the official and jailbreak versions). They might also follow these instructions to set a strong root password as a goalkeeper against any attack that gets around Apple’s precautions.

Voyces has an interesting piece on the differences between iOS’s claimed multitasking and RIM’s.

While all this was going on, the Indian government has succeeded in demanding that RIM let it decrypt e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger traffic. Apparently, they now want to go after Google Mail and Skype. RIM could tell the UAE where to get off, but India was a much bigger proposition. The Indian Department of Telecommunications has also announced that operators must support number portability if they want to launch anything new.

Virus warning for Android users. If someone sends you a text message inviting you to install a Russian media player, don’t…

In other security news, the year of GSM hacking goes on, with the demonstration of a new low-cost evil base station attack.

Speaking of Skype, the SEC filing for their float is out, with lots of lovely data. They reckon that 28% of the total Internet user base has a Skype account and the run-rate is $812m a year.

The UK population is to be guaranteed 768Kbps mobile data, or rather 90% of them will be. It’s something, but it’s not the 2Mbps the Digital Economy Bill originally targeted. The good news is that the government looks like pressing on with Kip Meek’s proposals to sort out the 800MHz band, GSM refarming, and the other spectrum issues. Even the issue of those special-events wireless mikes has been tackled (they’re going to be replaced).

Much more significantly, the government has decided not to review business rates on fibre. BT gets to pay business rates (a property tax) on network assets after they go into commercial service; everyone else has to pay them as soon as they’re lit, even if they’re leased from BT. Also, the rates are higher on local-loop than on long distance. Both coalition partners promised to review the so-called “fibre tax” in their manifestos.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile USA have agreed to start a joint venture to launch a mobile-based payments service using NFC, in partnership with the Discover credit card network. Wired has a sceptical take here, pointing to the powerful network effects Visa and Mastercard enjoy from their base of merchants, and also their existing infrastructure. (Recently, Telco 2.0 was in a restaurant in the Italian Alps where the credit card terminal was GPRS-only. According to Katrina the waitress, it “never worked when it’s raining”, so they may well have a point there.)

In the UK, NatWest Bank has pulled out of its joint venture with O2, O2 Money.

KPN has been rummaging in the industry’s dusty toolbox, and has found something that might come in handy - CDMA450! Specifically, they want to use it for M2M applications, which makes sense in that they don’t tend to be heavy on the media, but they do need good building penetration, and this way KPN can save on infrastructure and keep its UMTS spectrum for the smartphones.

Remember Google Wave? You’d better, because they’re shutting it down. It’s not clear if they are going to release the codebase as promised, although they have promised to provide means of “liberating” your content from the system before the plug is pulled. The key problem appears to be that, rather as we thought back in the autumn of 2009, nobody had a clear use case for it.

Nokia, however, has something new and useful out - it’s an improved browser for Series 40 devices that (rather like Opera Mini) runs your data through a compression proxy somewhere within Nokia Ovi in order to speed things up and save on data transfer over-the-air. There’s also a nice account of HOWTO publish apps on Ovi as an individual developer, although it still doesn’t sound great fun.

Telefonica eventually got the deal for Vivo; Free.fr and France Telecom have settled their long-standing disputes. Carphone Warehouse has good Q1 numbers.

A platform for querying the web of Linked Data with SPARQL. Is it a myth that big IT projects fail? Controlling a satellite with your Android phone. The app that wins arguments about climate change. The power of Big Data: the correlates of a good dating profile picture, based on objective criteria. An interview with Martin Geddes. Why you shouldn’t deny you’re a technology company.

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

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