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Spending - cloud up, tech down; Telefonica 2.0; Deutsche Telekom’s Voice 2.0 - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Join us next at Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November. The Agenda covers the Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in the Middle East and North Africa.)

Gartner reckons that worldwide tech spending has slowed down quite a bit, from growth of 7.9% last year to 3% this year, hardly surprising in a very difficult economic environment. The single biggest chunk of that is the $1.7tn market for telecoms equipment, which is braking from 6% last year to 1.4% this year.

Interestingly, public cloud will be the main growth sector - Gartner expects it to reach $200bn by 2016.

In cloud news, the post-mortems and recriminations from last week’s Amazon failure were in full swing this week. The Voice of Broadband points out that the storm damage to the electricity grid was unusually severe, so much so that even the landline phones were still down a week later (a backhanded testament to telco engineering).

Dimitry Samovsky discusses the outage and points out that because the only way to interact with AWS machines is via the API, the control plane is mission critical whenever there is an outage. As a result, it doesn’t make sense to argue that it’s OK if the control plane is down so long as machines are working in other availability zones, because there’s no way to fail over to them.

Ironically, the AWS Blog posted an interesting discussion of Netflix’s Asgard cloud management and automated deployment tools, including this quotable quote:

If you can’t call APIs to create and manipulate infrastructure components such as servers, networks, and load balancers, then you don’t have a cloud!

And if you’re down, like AWS and Netflix were? Meanwhile, 451 Research reports on AWS’s rollout of its CDN, DNS, and load balancer services to Sydney and provides a good discussion of Amazon CDN in general.

Elsewhere, High Scalability reviews Google’s new Google Compute Engine, its infrastructure-as-a-service cloud computing play. Google sees it as a low-level, highly customisable way of building big computing workflows orchestrated by Google App Engine. More discussion is here on Hacker News.

Telefonica Digital’s CEO Matthew Key says the emblematically Telco 2.0 unit is growing at an annual rate of 20% and is on track to become a €5bn business by 2015. So far, its Wayra start-up arm has invested around €50,000 in each of 140 businesses in 11 countries.

He also announced carrier billing agreements with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and RIM, and the start of a mobile ads business in Brazil. RCR Wireless has more details - it looks like the ad play is a clone of O2 Media in the UK. Of course, a major goal of the Digital unit in the first place was to pick up innovations from their national operating companies and R&D groups and spread them around the company.

It may be worth knowing that the big data analytics firm with the slightly disturbing name, Splunk, is also heading to Brazil.

Telekom Austria this week launched its own startup incubator, based at the corporate HQ in Vienna. The first startup is DefectRadar, which is building a tablet app for architects, engineers, and construction workers to log defects in buildings.

The UK’s PayForIt m-payments alliance will come under the premium-rate regulator PhonePayPlus’s responsibility, OFCOM decides.

Samba Mobile launches an ad-supported mobile broadband service, vaguely like a data-centric version of Blyk’s first incarnation. The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog, meanwhile, discusses 3GPP’s efforts to standardise a sponsored/zero charge data service in LTE. Unpromisingly, the interface between the putative upstream customer who wants to pay and the service provider has been left non-standardised.

Rudolf van der Berg has been out pushing his vision of M2M customers controlling their own SIMs again. Interestingly, at least two major car manufacturers are getting involved. Here are the slides.

Elsewhere, we have M2M LTE for the railways. Note the “Mind of a telecoms executive” slide.

Meanwhile, AOL demonstrated its “micro-data centre”. Essentially, it’s a slice through the racks of a much bigger modular data centre, wrapped in a forkliftable pod and entirely remotely managed. They want to use these to create their own CDN and distributed infrastructure. One or two could live behind each local exchange building or next to a backhaul concentrator.

And here’s Deutsche Telekom’s Voice 2.0 strategy: integrate Tropo.com straight into their network and run the billing on their IT platform.

Finally, here’s an interesting historical overview of the phone call.

Horace Dediu reports that the US market is approaching 50% smartphones, and there is no sign of saturation yet. This gives us our Chart of the Week:


Another take-away from that chart is of course that things are very bad at RIM. Horace reports on the numbers. CEO Thorsten Heins takes questions from the Canadian public after announcing another 5,000 job losses.

Meanwhile, RIM’s mobile device management solution goes to Brazil in an effort to defend the 47% of the Latin American enterprise market they still have. Here’s a Motorola BlackBerry clone.

HTC’s revenues drop 27%.

As we found out at MWC, Telefonica will be the first to launch a Mozilla-powered phone. Mozilla has, in the meantime, decided to rename the project from “Boot to Gecko” to “FirefoxOS”.

The week’s major piece of speculation: will Amazon launch a smartphone? Interestingly, they have recently acquired a 3D mapping startup.

Nokia has a plan B, it says - but it’s not clear what it is. Meanwhile, a group of key Maemo/MeeGo engineers have set out on their own to create a new smartphone.

France Telecom is offering its customers a day’s free communication after a nine-hour outage of their French mobile network for both voice and data. Ironically, it came only a couple of days after the pioneering Minitel viewdata/telematics system was shut down for the last time. Elsewhere, SFR announced another round of job cuts.

Last week, the whole of the Lebanon lost its Internet service after a cable break. More here.

India has announced terms for the do-over of the GSM spectrum auction. Reliance is planning to IPO its submarine cables in Singapore for some $1bn.

RevK at Andrews & Arnold believes he may have secured the first BT Wholesale layer-2 Ethernet connection over the FTTC network, and has plans with regard to the Communications Bill snooping proposals.

Facebook is a carrier - it’s investing in a new trans-Pacific submarine cable, rather like Google did a few years ago. The imperative of controlling your infrastructure is still a powerful one. However, it looks like a major market for Facebook advertising is spam.

Tim O’Reilly argues that “time on site” is a silly idea, especially for Google - nobody wants to be on a Google search page when they could be getting to whatever they were searching for.

Fred “A VC” Wilson lays out 10 criteria that make a good application.

Apple, Microsoft, Intel, and Google revenues, although Horace might have done a better chart. iOS drives usage of all kinds of mobile Web apps, although it looks like Nokia Series 40 does too (see lower chart).

An interesting new device for livestreaming video. YouView launches - sort of. Ars Technica reviews the Google Nexus 7. Excellent flight search engine Kayak is a go for IPO at $100m.

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