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Nokia hiccups, Samsung roars, & Amazon disrupting search? - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed: Here’s a 2 minute video from the Silicon Valley brainstorm. It conveys some of the sense of energy and progress that we saw there.

We’ll be sharing more and building on the momentum from the Valley at the EMEA Executive Brainstorm, 12-13 June 2012 in London, with a great agenda in a smart new venue. Make sure you sign up while you can, SF was packed and London is heading the same way fast - please email contact@stlpartners.com for more.]

After a period of decent newsflow for Nokia and a reasonable MWC, the black clouds rolled back in this week. In a statement, the company said it would probably lose money in the first half of 2012 and that its margins in Devices & Services were -3%, although the Smart Devices unit was still getting around 16%.

Nokia sent out representatives to pursue their “smoked by Windows Phone” campaign on the streets, but it probably didn’t help that the first flight of Lumia 900s for the US came with a handy bug that caused them to drop the data connection. A hotfix has been pushed out, or alternatively users can swap the broken devices for new ones.

That can be overstated, of course, as even Apple gets it wrong. iPad 3 users were complaining this week about their devices struggling to maintain a cellular data link.

IntoMobile points out that although the expectations game is well under way, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to make statements about Lumia shipments until Q2 numbers roll around in the summer.

And xda-developers has discovered a hack that lets you reflash the Nokia Lumia 710 with whatever you like. The first attempts seem to have been Android, but it’s going to be tempting to load up the Maemo Linux-based OS from the N9, especially if you’re in one of the markets where Nokia refuses to sell N9s…

There was some good news at the NSN half of Nokia, as they got the contract to build Softbank’s LTE network and also to deploy HSPA+ in their newly refarmed 900MHz spectrum.

Elsewhere, it turns out that Jim Basillie wanted to wholesale RIM’s network services, including its highly optimised VPN, accelerator proxies, BlackBerry Messenger, and device-management features, before being forced out as CEO. Meanwhile, YouMail has stopped further development of its BlackBerry app.

Samsung, of course, is the anti-Nokia. It looks like they pulled ahead as the No.1 vendor by shipments this quarter, and Horace makes the excellent point that where Nokia tried to keep selling “featurephones”, Samsung concentrated on increasing the reach of their smartphone portfolio. Hence, Chart of the Week.


At the top of that portfolio, the Galaxy S III is going to launch on the 3rd of May in London.

NTIA, which was given the responsibility for the middle-mile and public institutions’ aspects of the US Broadband Plan, has a progress report out, and The Voice of Broadband thinks it’s doing remarkably well, with the infrastructure program having rolled out almost three times as much fibre as this year’s target foresaw.

Vodafone-Hutchison Australia weighed in on the Australian National Broadband Network this week, pointing out that it didn’t make sense to treat mobile as an alternative to fibre, when the mobile networks were dependent on the FTTH project to meet the backhaul requirements LTE air interfaces bring with them. Meanwhile, the draft rules for the Aussie digital dividend auction are out.

Brazilian regulator Anatel has published the rules for their forthcoming auction of 2.5GHz and 450MHz, linking the deployment requirements closely to a crammed calendar of football (the Confederations Cup is next year and the World Cup is in 2014).

In France, SFR and Bouygues have been discussing a network-sharing agreement, but have apparently paused the process while both parties talk to the operator of France’s TV broadcasting infrastructure about perhaps using their 7,000 repeater masts instead.

The owner of HKBN, probably the world’s fastest residential ISP, is selling up in order to fund a content-buying spree in their TV operation. The story reveals some interesting data - in the hyper-dense environment of Hong Kong, it cost them only $200 to pass each potential customer, with a total bill of $400m to roll out the whole thing and deliver 1Gbps service. As part of the deal, they get guaranteed wholesale access to the fibre for the next 20 years.

The 3G and 4G Wireless Blog reports that BT’s trial of IEEE802.22 white space broadband is turning out to be a disappointment, and might not even meet the government’s 2Mbps target. At the link, there’s a fascinating presentation on BT’s WLAN network and why whitespace might be worth trying.

As usual, the Blog is a mine of information, with a detailed post on shared spectrum and whitespace initiatives at the IETF, and a great NEC presentation on small cells. Further, Ubiquisys has a presentation on their “smart cell” platform which is quite heavy on the mobile CDN.

Ovum reckons that telecoms revenues have recovered to reach $1.9 trillion in 2011. Dean Bubley points out on twitter that SMS is still a growing product in the US - so you can see why Myriad might want to buy messaging specialist Synchronica.

Now here’s a challenging cable landing station: Al-Faw, Iraq. Bring your mine-sweeping dolphin. Apparently some people think it’s handy as a bypass for Suez, which leads us to the conclusion that even war can be less disruptive than a sufficient concentration of insufficiently attentive seadogs.

T-Mobile USA is going to launch revolutionary business transformation - Carly is getting a leather jacket and a motorbike.

Safaricom and Qualcomm are staging a roadshow around Kenya to promote the possibilities of 3G.

In Telco 2.0 thematic news, the UK’s m-payments joint venture, Project Oscar, is in trouble after the European Commission announced a 90-day antitrust inquiry into it. 3UK is of course delighted. The commission reports back on the 27th of August. The Royal Canadian Mint, meanwhile, has invited developers to try out its MintChip digital cash technology. Canada was of course where Enstream/Zoompass started intercarrier m-payments.

The UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change has reported back on its consultation on the privacy and security aspects of smart meters. This will be one of the world’s biggest M2M networks, and the Department intends to tender for the role of “Data and Communications Company” to run it. Sounds like a telco, really. DECC says that access to the data for third parties must be opt-in only.

Security engineering legend Ross Anderson from the Cambridge University Computer Lab also contributed, making the point that hackers would love to get into such a system and proposing some ideas as to how this could be prevented. Krebs on Security, meanwhile, reports that the US has already seen some smart meter hacks and that one of them uses an optical probe you can buy for $150.

Epic row between Grooveshark and Tunecore. Meet Tomahawk, the app that searches everything for music. Dan Rayburn reviews D-Link’s new streamer and finds it wanting.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has picked another fight with Comcast over net neutrality. Is Microsoft planning some sort of new Xbox Live pricing? And there’s a Google TV hackathon on the 21st of April, just round the corner from Telco 2.0 Towers.

Here’s a good piece on PaaS and the cloud as it relates to developers.

Up in the cloud, Amazon did something disruptive this week. You can now get their A9 search engine as a cloud service via the AWS management console and build your own search over whatever data you like. This bio-informatics startup is using it.

Sergey Brin, meanwhile, yells at mobile apps, government censors, and especially Facebook for closing the Web. (Interestingly, Google + has bowed to the inevitable and started supporting Twitter’s hashtag syntax.)

Of course, Google’s commitment to openness is selective. The epic Google-Oracle patent lawsuit is going to trial, and Ars Technica has an informative rundown on it, as well as a review of the new Aura UI for the Chrome OS. And Google’s plan to create a class of non-voting shares is not at all popular.

So why not turn around and sell Motorola Mobility to Huawei? Rate that one as “wild rumour”, but it wouldn’t be that much more incoherent than a lot of Google moves. Data Center Knowledge has a useful time series of Google CAPEX.

Jeff Bezos writes to the shareholders, an author responds.

Sleeping in your data centre - one for the Real Geeks of Silicon Valley. Zimbabwean software company packages social networking updates as push messages for low-bandwidth networks.

And Turkcell declares war on MTN over their investment in Iran, alleging that they promised to help Iran get the Bomb in exchange for a GSM licence.

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