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Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed - a reminder that we’ll be covering Disruptive Strategies, Fibre and ‘Net Neutrality’, Devices, and legitimate forms of Digital Entertainment at the Telco 2.0 Brainstorms: AMERICAS 27-28 October, L.A.; EMEA, London, 9-10 November 2010.]

France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard is interviewed by Le Figaro, and blames the regulator ARCEP for slow fibre deployment, although he does credit Free with having a “real fibre strategy”. He also says that he’s convened a meeting with Vodafone and DTAG about starting a common operating system.

It’s possible that he may mean joining WAC, using LiMo/BONDI, etc. It’s certainly very hard to see what the case for yet another mobile OS is at the moment. However, he also suggested that it could be as little as a common “apps factory”.

The first connections to the Australian National Broadband Network are expected next month as part of a trial of the first roll-out in Tasmania. Telstra will be providing broadband and TV services over the wholesale Ethernet feed from NBN.

In the UK, community fibre builders held a conference to discuss their problems. Notably, although public-sector agencies have pulled their own fibre in some places, once they are connected to it, nobody else can be. It is worth noting that the US National Broadband Plan explicitly specifies that schools, town halls, and the like are priority cases for gigabit-class links, among other things so that munifibre networks can take advantage of their backhaul.

Some of the people involved found that they could lay fibre for £20 a metre, when BT’s official cost of doing so is £120/metre. However, the big problem remains the business rates attached to dark fibre, which the new government has allowed to remain in place. And the new special £20 tax on getting your broadband from someone who isn’t BT.

After years of litigation, the city of Lafayette, Louisiana finally succeeded in asserting its right to build a FTTH network. Now, they’re rubbing it in - users will now get 100Mbps symmetrical service to anywhere. To begin with, the network provided 50Mbps Internet service and a full 100Mbps to destinations within its own coverage. Now the distinction has gone.

The FCC may let educational institutions use their E-Rate subsidy to buy dark fibre.

In other network news, Verizon opens up 20 assorted APIs for developers, including “coarse location” and the intriguing “link-to-buy”. They’ve also formed a partnership with Bug Labs, which makes Linux-based modular devices - the idea is to encourage developers to build not just applications, but hardware to use through Verizon ODI.

Following last week’s deluge of Nokia news, the Nokians are hitting back: Peter-Paul Koch and Tomi Ahonen blast the critics and try to suggest a way forward. And don’t suggest using Android to either of them…

On the other hand, Stephen Elop was greeted in the CEO’s IKEA bunker by the news that the Nokia N8s have been delayed again. It’s hard to say quite what’s going on here - it could be Nokia’s tendency to analysis paralysis biting, or the shadow of the N97. It could also be a manufacturing or supply-chain issue - which would be very bad news, as this is usually their strength.

Meanwhile, there’s been a key hire: Peter Skillman, formerly Palm’s head of user interface design, has been summoned to banish cruft from future MeeGo and Symbian gadgets. Palm was traditionally considered to be one of the very best of the vendors at user interface/user experience design, so this may be a coup.

And there’s a review of the E5 business-optimised smartphone, a successor to the much loved E71. LG, meanwhile, has sacked the CEO.

Chatter continues about a possible deal between Clearwire and T-Mobile USA, under which T-Mobile would buy a stake in the WiMAX operator and get cheaper wholesale rates in return. Alternatively, Clearwire may decide to raise the funds for the next lot of roll-outs from the banks and sell some surplus spectrum. Relatedly, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says they have no intention of applying tiered data pricing at the moment, and Clearwire users are averaging 7GB a month. Meanwhile, Vodacom exits from the South African WiMAX op, iBurst.

LightSquared has apparently secured a large loan, $750 million from UBS, and possibly an investment of $100 million from SK Telecom. Let’s hope it goes better for them than the one in Earthlink.

And based on Germany’s 800 and 2600MHz band auctions, it’s expected that the next UK spectrum auctions won’t start any fires.

Vodafone does it again: Samsung Galaxy S users got what they thought was an update to Android 2.2, but which was in fact a drop of Vodafone-branded software they’re not allowed to remove. This isn’t good execution. Meanwhile, T-Mobile UK pushed out the upgrade but forgot to pick the UK localisation, so the happy users found that everything was suddenly in German.

T-Mobile has recently had trouble with a location-based service. Weed Maps responded to SMS messages with the addresses of providers of medically-licensed marijuana near you, until T-Mobile cut them off.

Vodafone also managed to spill its users’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses to anyone who either knew (or could guess) the other piece of information or could guess the user name. It turned out that people who churned away from them years ago are still affected. A fix has been deployed.

A survey suggests that customers are not particularly moved by numbers of apps, nor are they impressed by stuff operators pre-load on their phones (not surprising, see the Vodafone update story…). On the other hand, Chinese users seem to get through a lot of J2ME applications, if the survey sample is valid.

Appcelerator, makers of a popular IDE for mobile developers, surveyed their users and found that they think Android is “best positioned to power a large number and variety of connected devices in the future”, and are also more interested in Google TV and Android-based tablets than the Apple equivalents. Again, typical caveats apply.

RIM is supposedly about to launch a tablet into the iPad’s face. Orange has launched a £99 Android smartphone with Android 2.1, most of the hardware features you’d expect, and a claimed battery life of 9 days stand by and 4 hours talktime, vastly better than any other ‘droid we’ve heard of. (Here’s the first mobile CPU with more cores than my laptop - apparently you can use it to warm your hands and make a nice hot cup of tea, as long as you don’t go too far from a socket.)

Facebook denies it’s working on its own phone. Bloomberg claims it is, with INQ Mobile. The explanation may just be that the INQ phone is going to be deployed into the North American market. Of course, the main story there this week was the mammoth outage. Zuckerberg speaks here on mobile strategy. Apparently he’s interested in “breadth not depth”.

The hackers who hijacked Comcast’s Web site have been sentenced to prison. The attack was simplicity itself - they posed as employees, got the password for an e-mail account used by their DNS administrators, and changed the DNS record to point at a machine they controlled. They got 18 months - this guy, however got 10 years. Edwin Andres Pena identified open ports inside AT&T’s network and used them to route large quantities of VoIP traffic, which he sold while posing as a genuine SIP carrier.

It was also the week they hacked Twitter - someone succeeded in introducing a snippet of JavaScript code into a link, which was executed when anyone’s mouse passed over it, re-tweeting itself.

Here’s a desk phone powered by Skype - Grandstream used the new SkypeKit SDK to implement most of Skype’s features inside a typical corporate phone form-factor. We can’t help thinking Skype looks trapped in there…

Fring has launched its own FringOut PSTN interconnection.

There’s a fund, paid for by 500 Startups, for anyone with a good idea based on Twilio’s Voice 2.0 API. David Burgess is back from the annual OpenBTS deployment at Burning Man. Photos are here; they recorded 40,000 unique IMSIs and handled 7,000 calls.

O2 is launching a monitoring service for the elderly and otherwise vulnerable - we somehow doubt they’re going to brand it “tag a granny”, though. Pity.

Selling stolen unblocking codes.

Another round in the crypto wars. And more.

Helmet cams.

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