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Apple turns Bear, Google MVNO, and Facebook F8 - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. It’s our Americas Brainstorm next week, so book now if you haven’t yet for New York (5th-6th October) or London (9th-10th November). Also, our Strategy report on ‘Dealing with the Disruptors’ - Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft/Skype, and Amazon - is rapidly approaching delivery - email contact@telco2.net or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003 for more.]

It’s also iPhone crystal ball time. Everyone’s expecting a launch in a couple of weeks, with incremental improvements, and varying predictions for sales and the fate of the older 3GS and 4 models. Will one or both be run on as a cheaper option? Meanwhile, there are rumours that Wintek in Taiwan is struggling with a manufacturing problem with the touchscreen, although they aren’t the only supplier.

Inevitably, Apple and Samsung are suing each other again. But it looks like macro-economic issues are going to hugely overshadow the spat - Bloomberg has some very worrying news regarding Apple’s orders for iPad 2 parts. Specifically, they’ve cut them by around 25%. Ouch.

Meanwhile, in-app purchases via the App Store were disrupted by an outage, and support for a quad-core ARM processor was discovered in Apple’s XCode developer toolkit.

Elsewhere, Nokia N9s reached South Africa and the company denied that there was any chance of a delay to the Winokias. A Microsoft executive has been terminated for tweeting about the new phone, either because MS imposed an internal blackout on them or because he said it was “only” an 8 out of 10.

MS has also filed a patent on a modular smartphone, an idea that’s been kicking around for years. We remember both the NTT DoCoMo prototype the article mentions and also one from LG. However, it’s rather obvious that the biggest hit in industry history has turned out to be a single, deeply integrated device whose designers evidently try to get as close to a flat, shiny black slab without protrusions or holes as is humanly possible.

From the GSM greatest hits collection, let’s not forget the Motorola RAZR. Moto is apparently thinking of pulling the RAZR brand and look-and-feel out of the nostalgia locker and using them on a new Android.

That said, Google announced this week that Dennis Woodside, its president of the Americas, will be moving to take charge of integrating Motorola Mobility into Google. As a result, ex-Googler Margo Georgiadis quits as COO of Groupon to return to the Googleplex in Woodside’s old job, which to be frank sounds a far sounder proposition than the daily-deal boom.

And yes, this is a Google SIM. It seems that Google has very quietly created an MVNO for its employees in Spain. Meanwhile, hackers discovered how to sneak malware onto an Android without the user doing anything and there’s going to be no patch until the next wave of Android releases to ordinary mortals.

It was Facebook’s devcon this week. Wired Webmonkey covers their feature announcements. Notably, they now want you to drive your online music, video, and whatnot from inside Facebook, and to have everything you look at immediately sync’d to your timeline. On the other end of the tube, they’re offering automated relevance-based filtering of your feed of updates, which you’ll need if it syncs everything all the time. Of course, however you filter the stuff it sends you, it doesn’t affect the stuff Facebook sells to advertisers.

ReadWriteWeb has a concise summary of the new features and a critical take on their significance, arguing that Facebook is becoming too “noisy” and far too greedy for user data. They further argue that Facebook is “the new AOL”.

But if you think Facebook is privacy-invading, it’s as nothing to some of the third-party apps for it, as Wordyard points out. Just why would a newspaper recommendations app need to post to Facebook under your name?

All this stuff needs serious engineering, of course, and High Scalability has an interesting piece on how they do it, notably by load-balancing requests both by geography and by content type. Did you know that your Facebook home page consists of 125 separate GET requests?

Also, did you know that 70% of the top 50 Facebook apps run on Amazon Web Services? Not surprisingly, Amazon Web Services did. They also have some illuminating details of use cases for startups in the cloud, and a fascinating white paper on how Amazon corporate HQ migrated its enormous MS SharePoint installation into their own cloud.

If you’re going to disrupt carrier SMS, you’re going to need some serious Unix chops. It looks like WhatsApp aren’t short of a few, as they proudly announce that they achieved one million concurrent TCP connections on the same machine without anything going bang. As is often the case, intelligent discussion is at HackerNews. It looks like WhatsApp is running FreeBSD servers and using Erlang, a programming language designed specifically for highly concurrent applications, probably in the context of the ejabberd XMPP server. Erlang was, of course, invented at Ericsson for use in big-iron telecoms switching…

Microsoft, meanwhile, invested in more data centres. Early reports about Windows Server 8 suggest that MS has put a lot of effort into optimising for the cloud. But will the boot loader be locked?

Last week, Netflix was in trouble. This week, a milestone - the first time a Hollywood studio (Dreamworks) has chosen to bypass the TV networks and license its content straight to an Internet streamer.

Before your network melts, check out Dan Rayburn’s review of Blue Coat’s latest caching appliance, and also this post of his on integrating transparent caching with a CDN.

YouView today announced a new hire - its CTO is going to be Chris Bramley, formerly of Sky TV.

Is DISH Network, the US satellite TV company, going to integrate with a mobile operator in some way? DISH has a slug of spectrum that’s earmarked for mobile broadband. Mobileheads always love spectrum. TV people are increasingly fascinated by Internet distribution. And ISPs are horrified by the data volumes involved, but nothing pushes bits one-way quite like satellite broadcast. This could be very interesting, especially with quotes like this:

“There are several missing pieces,” Clayton said. “Wireless infrastructure, additional technology capabilities and even distribution are pieces that we’re still working on. Stay tuned.”

This article discusses the emerging field of adding metadata to TV so that social apps, advertisers, or games can interact with it. There’s a European Union research project out there.

Meanwhile, at Broadband World Forum, Dave Burstein points us to Swisscom, who are using 4x4 MIMO WiFi to avoid having to wire customers’ homes for multi-screen video streaming. China Telecom agrees and orders 3 million of them at a $40 price tag.

A major theme at BBWF was boosting DSL capacity through line bonding and other funky options. Alcatel-Lucent promised to ship early next year, for example. Benoit Felten argues that although it’s useful, there’s a risk that those operators who are insistent on sticking to their copper may use it as a way of putting off fibre…again.

The UK FTTH Blog points out that the numbers for British broadband availability in the latest ITU report are wrong - basically, by counting all subscribers who are offered “up to…” 2Mbps as if they received it, it makes the problem disappear!

In the US, six operators proposed a plan to cover more of the country with broadband by using Universal Service Fund money for broadband rather than voice. 730,000 of the additional broadband links would be satellite-based, but a group of satellite providers are objecting - the “ABC plan” would give the RBOCs a right of first refusal, and the satellite operators want to start off on the same footing.

The feds published the Net Neutrality rules in the Federal Register this week, which doesn’t change much immediately due to litigation.

SFR is pushing out Ubiquisys femtocells to its subscribers. They’re sort-of free - you pay €49 up front, and once you plug it in and it registers on their GAN interface, you get a €49 service credit. Meanwhile, Fitch reckons that the launch of Free.fr mobile service will cause a wave of network-sharing in France as competition becomes more intense and the idea of multiple providers per tower gets more normal.

Clearwire is selling more bandwidth - notably to MetroPCS and AT&T, which implies they’re probably deploying LTE for real. PCCW may float its telecoms assets.

Implementing a multi-MVNO strategy in South Africa, with Comverse billing. Egyptian subscribers surge 30%. IPv6 already. Top 3 WLAN vendors: Cisco, Aruba, Motorola.

Meet Weightless, a new radio networking protocol optimised for white-space spectrum, power-saving, and M2M applications. Cambridge Wireless is holding a conference on it this week, but you’ll have to wait for a cancellation as it’s fully booked. When was the last time we invented a network protocol in the UK?

Nasty accident with hackers and VPNs.

Meanwhile, EFF goes after dodgy DNS redirection. The sad thing here is that Telco 2.0 has a router in its office that tried to do the same thing to us, manufactured by a vendor beginning with D that isn’t Dell or Ditech. Clue: turn off “Advanced DNS Service” to rejoin consensus reality. The even sadder thing is that we had to click through a SSL warning to read the eff.org piece.

In China, Sina Weibo shares plummeted as rumours spread that the Chinese Communist Party is preparing a “rectification campaign” directed at the Chinese Internet business. What it might consist of is as yet unknown, but it doesn’t sound good. This comes after last week’s news that senior figures in the security police called on major Chinese Web companies over the summer. However, a journalist with extensive knowledge of the CCP we consulted points out that the fact that the spooks came to them is a sign of official approval and respect.

In India, the Economic Times reports on Airtel’s latest ad campaign and the men behind it.

Pew Research reckons that banks will beat telcos and tech vendors in the mobile payments business. Meanwhile, Google Wallet did a very soft soft launch.

In broader Silicon Valley news, Yahoo! confirmed that it’s up for sale again. Both the CEO and the chairman wrote separately to all employees saying contradictory things. AllThingsD mocks. Mind you, as this The Register piece points out, Yahoo! has some impressive technology and talent.

ATD also has an interesting interview with Meg Whitman in her new job as HP CEO.

We noted that Groupon’s COO was moving back to Google. There have been some other changes there - notably that they no longer count all cash coming in as revenue, but instead take the payouts to retailers into account, which means that their revenue for the last three years is restated down by half.

Who owns LTE patents? Surprisingly, the answer is “LG”, which turns out to be the biggest holder. Less surprisingly, Qualcomm is second.

Ovum warns of falling voice revenues as disruptors bite. OpenBTS’s David Burgess reports back from this year’s Burning Man deployment. A Skype roundup, including the discovery of a truly horrible bug. Tropo is delighted after hackers forked OpenVBX to let you use any carrier rather than only Twilio. Tropo with Django.

An attack on SSL/TLS encryption in the browser. Not good. Texan cops wardriving open WiFi. John Graham-Cumming launches the blog of bad PowerPoint. Seeking a great Linux lappy. The weirdest RIM story ever.

And “Tech City UK” tries to map Telco 2.0’s home in Shoreditch, with hilarious results.

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When was the last time we invented a network protocol in the UK?

Well both PBB-TE (IEEE 802.1Qay-2009) and SPBM (IEEE 802.1aq-2011) were both invented here in the UK.

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