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Skype-Facebook integration, Mobile data surge challenged, and UK fibre furore - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Two bits of news from us - we’re off to the fully booked APAC Executive Brainstorm in Singapore next week, and our strategy report on the Disruptors went down well at the EMEA Brainstorm, about which there will be more published in coming weeks.]

Any investors in UK fibre would be “certifiable”, says the head of NM Rothschild’s telecoms investment desk, and calls for OFCOM to insist on wholesale access to Virgin Media’s cable network. Meanwhile, Computer Weekly compares Andorra Telecom’s FTTH to BT’s DSL service, which has to be the most apples-to-oranges comparison in a while. Benoit Felten is still pressing for muni-fibre. Marco Forzati, via the 3G & 4G Wireless Blog, has attempted to quantify the economic benefits of FTTH in Sweden. As usual, the key variable is take-up in the MDUs the fibre passes. That also gives us an undisputed winner for this week’s Chart of the Week:

DoWeNeedFiber.jpg

She’s a beauty!

Dean Bubley argues that O2 UK’s results mean that the surge in mobile data usage has passed. In comments, alternative explanations such as changes in O2’s data allowances and metrics are suggested and his maths is challenged. The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog puts the official line with presentations from Qualcomm and UMTS Forum showing the traditional traffic/revenue “scissors chart”. And even if the UK might see mobile data overcapacity, it doesn’t mean everywhere will.

O2, meanwhile, is firing up a 1,000 user LTE trial in London, the first LTE with live users in the UK. OFCOM, for its part, is angry about “unlimited” data plans that are actually limited and come with painful overage charges.

It looks like Steve Jobs had a dose of the metro-WiFi enthusiasm so common in the early 2000s, and discussed the idea of building a huge Apple WLAN and perhaps not even giving the iPhone a cellular radio with John Stanton, veteran mobile industry exec and pal of Craig McCaw. Fortunately for Apple, he seems to have cooled Jobs off on the deal.

However, here’s a cunning play with WLAN - we’ve occasionally mentioned that some of the technology changes in VoLTE make it easier to rig up a hybrid MVNO/WLAN operator, using WLAN where available and the wholesale provider’s cellular network where it can’t be avoided. Republic Wireless claims it can give you unlimited mobile service for $19/month, thanks to Devicespace’s fancy WLAN manager app that seeks out hotspots and automatically navigates the splash pages. They estimate 60% of the traffic will get offloaded.

And Renesys reports on Lebanese ISPs’ escape from satellite connectivity after a new Telecom Italia Seabone fibre landed in town.

It’s here - you can now make Skype video calls between Facebook profiles from within Facebook. If that doesn’t quite make sense, put it like this - Skype is providing a whitelabel version of itself to Facebook, so they can have video calls between Facebook users. You do have to import your Facebook contacts into Skype in order to make calls, though. But you don’t as far as we know need to install Skype to receive them, so some version of Skype is running in the browser, although whether it’s a Skype node or a thin client using SIP or something else talking to an otherwise unannounced Skype API isn’t clear. All clear so far?

Dan York is delighted to see that the new features have arrived simultaneously on Windows and Mac OS X. Another new Voice 2.0 startup. Tropo forks OpenVBX for additional openosity. Bidding for calls, like clicks on Google AdWords, with Freespee. Push notifications for HTML5, in the cloud.

Up in the cloud, Microsoft announced this week that it was going to halt development of LINQ to Dryad, their big-data cloud product, in favour of the open-source Hadoop platform, itself a community clone of Google’s MapReduce that eventually outgrew the original. MS plans to port Hadoop to the Windows Azure cloud and also integrate it with their SQL Server database.

Here’s an interview with the founder of VMWare’s CloudFoundry. Via High Scalability, is cloud portability really a good thing? How Google+ works and why there isn’t a public API yet (hint: complicated). Using gossip protocols to monitor the cloud.

Elsewhere in the enterprise, Warren Buffett starts tech investing, by buying a boatload of IBM shares.

China Mobile passed 638 million subscribers, with 3G penetration rising fast (45 million, up by 2.1 million, compared to total net-adds of 5 million). Rival China Telecom, however, reached 120 million subscribers but has a much bigger share of 3G users - 30 million.

There was a dramatic sell-off in Bharti Airtel shares today after Indian police raided the company, investigating alleged corruption around the award of GSM licences back in 2002. The police also visited Vodafone India and the former top civil servant at the Department of Telecoms.

Clearwire is threatening to miss a $237 million debt repayment on the 1st of December. The troubled WiMAX operator has total cash on hand of $698 million, so they could strictly speaking pay the bill, but this would force them to stall further deployments. Part-owner Sprint recently raised $4bn from the money market, but they’re blowing hot and cold about investing any of it in Clearwire. Presumably, Clearwire management is threatening to go bust in the hope of forcing Sprint to fork out or lose their equity in the operation.

Telkom South Africa’s net profits are down 36%, but Telecom Italia expects to outperform the market.

Occupy Flash is trying to get people to uninstall Adobe Flash from their PCs. Apparently there’s also an Occupy HTML trying to resist this, but when did you last have to kill the “HTML plugin” because it went ape and tied up 120% CPU?

Ars Technica has a typically chewy report on the landscape of Web video post-Flash. Interesting fact: Netflix is very keen indeed to move to HTML5 and is contributing to the standards group for adaptive streaming in HTTP video.

Google, meanwhile, wants you to share music into Google +.

Hackers succeeded in reverse-engineering Siri’s network protocol and connecting to the server with a homebrew client, although it’s dependent on spoofing an iPhone’s unique identifier and you bet Apple will notice multiple simultaneous connections from the same device ID. Full details are here, at the horse’s mouth. Ars Technica reviews the iPhone 4S as a camera, compared to other cameras. Smartphones are dancing on portable gaming devices’ graves.

Is it good news for Microsoft and Nokia that app developers’ interest in Windows Phone 7 is unrepresentatively high, compared to Android which after all has 52% of app sales? See the Nokia Lumia 800 being built. Samsung and Android move the smartphone market, and Apple is scoring off RIM in the enterprise.

NFC SIMs, perhaps. Barnes & Noble gets their tablet out one day ahead of Kindle Fire. KDDI sues Mobage. HOWTO get a DVD out of an Apple DVD drive if it won’t eject. An idea that’s too long for Twitter, too short for Google +, and too smart for Facebook. Chinese censors do something weird to SSL. 30 years of CB radio!

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