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Telco 2.0 News Review: US & Russian LTE, Vodafone M2M wins


Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed: We’re covering new mobile broadband business models, the impact of LTE, M2M, Cloud Services and much more at our upcoming Brainstorms in the Americas, 5-7 April, EMEA, 11-13 May, and APAC 22-23 June 2011.]

Network-sharing comes to Russia: Russia’s big three GSM operators have agreed to support a common LTE network deployment, to be managed by ex-WiMAX operator Yota.

Elsewhere, Clearwire’s fate is in the balance, as Sprint Nextel claimed that it could have LTE service up by the end of 2011 if it took a decision by the summer. It’s worth remembering that this is less problematic now, as Verizon Wireless has already started interworking between its EV-DO and LTE networks with devices stepping down from the LTE to the CDMA service as required. This obviously strengthens Sprint’s hand in the argument about the wholesale terms of business between them and Clearwire. There’s more here.

In France, Free’s mobile network is finally clear for take-off, with the long delayed national roaming agreement finally signed. Orange gets the job. The agreement kicks in as soon as Free’s own population coverage reaches 25% - which they could probably have a crack at, if the rumours about a femtocell in the Freeboxes are true.

Telecoms.com has a useful article on the spread of small cells - did you know that Cisco Systems now has more base stations deployed in the US than any other vendor? - and the interesting point that operators have begun to notice that software-based access points with key network functions like the RNC distributed to the edge work, and are asking why their macro-cells can’t be more like that. Specifically, why can’t they be cheaper?

Femtocells also had a walk-on part in the fallout from last week’s Vodafone UK outage. It seems that the burglars did indeed break into the data centre, which contained one of their MSCs, and stole a rumoured £500,000 worth of softswitching equipment. Oddly enough, some customers using Vodafone’s Sure Signal femto product claim that their service was unaffected throughout the incident. Well, there’s certainly an argument for a more distributed architecture for you.

In still further Vodafone news, the operator took a step forward with M2M, signing up Hyundai and Bosch to its global telematics services. At this rate, will there be much left for anyone else, at least at the connectivity level?

Are the cable guys beating the Bell heads in the connectivity race? Latest numbers from Leichtman in the US suggest they are, with the cable share of the broadband market growing even as the market itself continues to grow.

The UK government has announced the second wave of bids for rural broadband funding. Unfortunately, none of the first round have made any progress yet…very unlike Bharti’s 3G rollout, which has signed up its first 500,000 subscribers.

Australia’s new regulatory settlement is out.

Meanwhile, AT&T is releasing unexpectedly revealing maps of its “4G” coverage. 4G is defined as HSPA+ with a target speed of 21Mbps, and “usually” with fibre backhaul (it better have fibre to the Node-B, or you’re not going to be getting anything like that…).

They’re also planning to launch a wave of geo-targeted SMS discount offers, advertising a lineup of products including HP, JetBlue, and milk every time a subscriber approaches a participating shop. It is likely that they’re making use of cellular location features. Meanwhile, the bulk SMS provider Clickatell is offering a small business-scaled targeted-messaging service for $25 a month - why haven’t the operators done this yet?

There was some sort of Apple product launch this week. The iPad 2 offers detail improvements and a front-facing camera. Check out the detail improvements here, and consider the question of whether Apple is falling behind on connectivity and, if so, if it matters. Asymco, meanwhile, takes a sceptical look at the numbers for e-book sales through iTunes - it may not be all that great, and certainly not by comparison to Amazon’s Kindle business. Samsung, however, thinks its Galaxy Tab is “inadequate” by comparison.

Did you know you can voice dial a locked iPhone? But you can’t install Opera unless you’re 17.

The upshot: Nielsen’s latest smartphone scoreboard, which puts Apple, Android, and RIM very close together, and very close to splitting the whole market three ways. RIM and Apple were tied on 27% each, with the ‘droids a neck ahead on 29%, leaving pitifully little for anyone else.

Google responded to last week’s discovery of 50-odd items of malware in the Android Market by promising to remote-zap dodgy applications that had already been installed on user devices, and pushing out a security update. Details are at the Google Mobile blog. They also announced a new API to help deal with different screen sizes, resolutions, and the like.

Wired has an interesting chat with the Google engineers responsible for the recent update to their search algorithm that’s intended to screen out content farms. The process is based on ratings provided by panels of users, but the really interesting thing is that Google is now openly saying that its processes involve editorial judgement.

Some Android devs really aren’t happy with Google; RIM’s CMO is leaving.

Despite our longer-term positive hunch, this week brings news of more challenges for the Nokisoft Windowsia alliance. The next version of Windows Phone 7 has been delayed until December 2011, and the hits just keep coming. Another wave of updates for Samsung Omnia devices has failed, although at least this time it didn’t kill the devices. Apparently you need 4GB of free space on the device to install the update, which is more than the Linux installation this post was composed with takes up…or the Windows Vista installation on the other drive.

Also, Microsoft has launched Bing Deals, its version of a coupons site like Groupon (in fact, it’s more of a meta-search engine that slurps them from Groupon as well as other sites). Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually work on WP7 - the application is written in HTML5, and HTML5 support is scheduled for Internet Explorer 9, and IE9 is expected to arrive on mobiles in the WP7 update that’s been delayed until December.

Microsoft has also launched an ‘end of life’ campaign for Internet Explorer 6, one of its biggest-selling products. If that doesn’t work, security expert Brian Krebs has a suggested another way to render IE6 inert - set the homepage to ms-its:%F0:, which will apparently cause it to crash instantly every time it starts.

Yet another HTML5 web-widget app store: this time it’s the Mozilla Foundation, who are aiming to create a purely open source app store. They have a point, after all - the first app store of all was arguably Firefox Add-ons, although no money changes hands there. It provides curated, packaged distribution for third-party applications intended to extend the functionality of a given system - essentially the same service that the mobile app stores do. And they’ve been doing it for quite a while.

Over at Nokia, the debugger for Series 40 has been improved, with an on-device version now being available. Unfortunately, there’s also been a serious case of FAIL at Symbian Signed - users had a window to accept the new terms of service, the system went down, came back up again, and now a significant number of them have lost their data.

Telefonica, having impressed everyone with their Bluevia developer platform and won an award for being IPv6-ready, obviously felt it was time for their voice service to get some attention. As a result, better-telephony player FonYou (you may remember them from Telco 2.0 events in the past) are coming on board. The service launched last week with a Telefonica local brand wrapped around their white-label product.

It looks like Google Voice/Google Talk is going to let you hook SIP networks and devices up to it. Google’s VoIP activities, of course, use their voice extension for XMPP, Jingle. The Michigan Telephone blog will tell you how to configure FreePBX to make use of this, if you’ve got a spare week. On the other hand, SIP pioneer Gizmo5 bites the dust.

Via Russell Bryant’s blog, it looks like there’s a new O’Reilly book coming up on the art of Asterisk.

The Enterprise Connect 2011 conference saw some interesting news from Skype, the daddy of Voice 2.0. Some time this year, you can expect Citrix’s GoToMeeting conferencing product to be integrated with Skype, while their partnership with Avaya is being extended to include video applications. Also, Skype confirms that they’re planning to deploy significant numbers of Skype nodes as infrastructure to back up the network’s reliability.

Here’s an interesting app for you: Thrutu lets you share various kinds of media, notably live-updated maps and contact files, during your phone calls. This is of course rather like the RCS/IMS vision, but you don’t need to wait for your operator to get its skates on. What they’re not making too much of is that this funky mobile-app startup is actually a product from Metaswitch Networks, the deeply serious and telco-y British softswitch and SIP specialist and regular Telco 2.0 attendee.

There’s a lot of potential here - imagine what you could do with this in the way of better call-centre interactions and VRM.

Werner Vogels’ Twitter feed announced this week that Amazon Web Services is now adding more computer power every day than the whole company had in 2000, when it was already a three billion dollar business.

Cloud fans will want to read this fascinating piece on running servers hot, hotter, and hottest in the hunt for data-centre efficiency. But you may find it easier to start by going over to that old server in the corner, the one nobody can say what it’s doing, and turn it off.

Phone Scoop reviews the Samsung Galaxy S II and likes it. Hacking SIM cards. A review of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz, after nine months. It seems to have done pretty well - we like the idea of a post-occupancy review of a mobile rather than the usual unboxing shinyfest.

Sony’s lawyers, meanwhile, are trying to track down everyone who visited the website of the guy who jailbroke the PlayStation 3. On a similar theme, hackers got access to 150 civil servants’ computers in the French Finance Ministry using a spear-phishing attack. Apparently they were after information on the preparations for the French presidency of the G20. Unexpected consequence of the Tunisian revolution: Orange Tunisia gets nationalised. The Chinese government wants everyone in Beijing’s location data - to deal with traffic jams, apparently. Meanwhile, Renesys has details of the Libyan Internet blackout.

Comcast is not going to do an OTT service. DirecTV isn’t going to do any ISP services. And some people won’t get their GMail back. Actually, they will, but only because Google still keeps backups on tape!

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