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‘Free’ Google Fibre; AT&T apes Apple and Amazon; RoboFacebook - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Join us next at Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover the Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region.)

The UK admits that its target for high speed broadband has been missed and it’s not even 2015 yet. In better news, 2 million lines now get speeds over 25Mbps, 10% of the total. Cable operator Virgin Media is responsible for most of the growth.

The House of Lords communications committee has published an alternative plan, which Analysys Mason has tried to cost out. It is reminiscent of both the US National Broadband Plan and also the French open-access middle mile projects. The bad news is that it would cost more - the good news is that there is some wriggle-room in the existing budget.

On the other hand, the infrastructure stood up to the Olympic Games streaming blitz, as RevK points out (even if the BBC did break out the old test cards at one point).

Meanwhile, Google Fibre is go for launch in Kansas City. There’s a basic free service, and then tiered plans up to 1Gbps symmetric with an extensive line of TV channels (but not ESPN). There’s also some interesting hardware, including a powerful home router and a separate “storage box” - or to put it another way, a Free.fr Revolution setup, not that Google would admit it.

The parallels are even stronger when you look at this GigaOm post, which does notice the similarities, but not all of them.

Elsewhere, it gets ever more obvious that Verizon is getting rid of the copper network, even if it’s going slow on rolling out FiOS further into the woods.

US pay-TV operators had a difficult month, with the cablecos suffering the most. VZ attributes its own subscriber losses to putting up its prices.

EverythingEverywhere saw a bigger loss this quarter, largely due to spending on the network in preparation for their 4G go-it-alone. T-Mobile USA had a bad quarter, blamed on its MVNO and M2M operations not bringing in customers as well as expected. EE just signed up Atmovia, a portal which lets you start an MVNO in 10 minutes (they say).

Hutchison 3 in Austria has given away 20MB of data/day with free SIM cards, in what sounds like either suicide or a desperate bid to persuade the regulator to let them buy Orange Austria. If they get the green light, Tele2 may re-enter with an MVNO.

Meanwhile, both France Telecom and Telefonica reported rather poor Q2 results. And having killed their handset subsidies, Vodafone Spain brought them back.

Telenor wants to auction its stake in Indian operator Uninor as part of the fallout over Indian GSM licences, but the move has been held up in the courts.

Surrounded by all these problems, operators turn to the magic of small cells. A survey for Amdocs suggests that 59% of operators are planning to increase their small cell deployments tenfold. But as this interview points out, the radio planning challenges are serious.

Sprint Nextel, nevertheless, has signed up both Samsung and Alcatel-Lucent for a major small cell deployment, including ALU’s LightRadio technology. Ben Verwaayen, meanwhile, confesses that ALU was too optimistic this year.

Finally, here’s a parliamentary debate from 1895 about a national telecoms policy. Should city councils get licences, should there be a licence for a national private operator, or should the government do it? Should there be a universal service obligation? Even if Sir Arnold Morley thought that “it was no use trying to persuade themselves that the use of telephones could be enjoyed by the large masses of the people in their daily life”, the debate still foresaw everything we argue about to this day.

Glenn Lurie of AT&T is interviewed by Wired about how the operator has learned from Apple and Amazon. Design, simplicity, and quick activation are the major take-home messages, and it’s also interesting that hiding the presence of a telco in the value chain (as with Whispernet) can be surprisingly profitable.

SKT and MetroPCS were the first to cross the start-line for VoLTE this week. MetroPCS, so far, only provides the service to one phone and one market (Dallas), while the SKT deployment is rather more thoroughgoing. Interestingly, a major motivation for MetroPCS is to shift their voice traffic off CDMA circuits and therefore make it possible to refarm the CDMA spectrum for LTE data use.

In other Telco 2.0 themes, here’s a bit of information about the developer features in Deutsche Telekom’s M2M portal. Vodafone is opening a developer centre and it’s inevitably in Shoreditch.

Is there $30bn to fight over in OTT profits?

Telefonica has formed a partnership with Samsung to provide major enterprises with end-to-end mobile solutions. Here’s a group of British M2M companies. And MVNOs have 35.9% of the Dutch market.

Telenor Broadcast has added many more features to their satellite TV distribution platform.

All four US national carriers have joined a committee with Google, ISIS, and Verifone to work on mobile payments. Google Wallet, meanwhile, has become cloudier and added more credit card support, plus the ability to remote-wipe a wallet.

Up in the cloud, meanwhile, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory successfully landed on Mars, and the live stream was served up out of Amazon EC2. AWS has a case study here including the following Chart of the Week.

arch-nasa-jpl-curiosity.png

We think it’s just missing a red dot and the word “Mars” at the other end of the satellite feed.

Meanwhile, Dan Rayburn takes a look at the latest Cisco VNI report and notes that the share of traffic accounted for by video is actually going back a bit, possibly because P2P is making a comeback.

Video can be produced in the cloud as well as delivered from it. Dreamworks is one of the launch customers for HP’s cloud services, using both their private and public cloud as part of a hybrid deployment. Another big boost for OpenStack this week was the launch of the China Open Source Cloud League, which includes huge web portal Sina.com, China’s biggest Linux house, Intel Research, and Jiaotong University.

Joyent, a mobile-centric cloud based on Node.js.

And Microsoft has issued a list of the top 10 best practices on sustainability. The key point, an important one in the whole cloud computing concept, is to be ruthless about utilising capacity fully. This chart, the real Chart of the Week, makes the point.

msft-sustainability-servers.jpg

Dan Rayburn goes after Apple TV hype and fuzzy maths. Popcorn recommended.

Perhaps some people think being able to remote-wipe a wallet is a feature. Read this, and you might not - Wired reporter Mat Honan recounts the experience of hackers social-engineering his Apple ID, getting into all his accounts, and doing a remote-wipe of his laptop to cover their tracks. The exploit started because they found a way of getting Amazon to reveal the last four digits of a credit card number. That let them force a reset of the Apple ID, which permitted them access to his backups and hence to his e-mail, Google, and Twitter accounts (which was what they were after all along)…and also to initiate a remote wipe of his MacBook.

Both Apple and Amazon have taken steps to seal the breach, but it does tend to point-up the nastier possibilities of integrating the cloud into the OS.

Horace has a crack at forecasting iPhone 5 volumes and notes that Apple Store staff aren’t on commission, while somebody in Japan has tried to make one from grey market components.

Samsung, meanwhile, is sticking to low prices as a strategy - but that didn’t work for HTC, whose profits warning shocked the market and started people talking about their new phone lineup as a flop. On the other hand, Samsung is now at 45% of European smartphones.

Google documents released during the Authors’ Guild lawsuit say that they started scanning books explicitly in order to attack Amazon.

In what may be a truly fascinating consequence of the Google/Oracle lawsuit, the judge has ordered all parties to the case to name anyone they’ve paid for favourable comment.

The YouTube app will no longer ship with iPhones. A new Google product: Google Fired. 5,000 jobs go at Motorola Mobility.

Nokia has sold the Qt cross-platform UI framework. They’ve also just alienated a group of key Symbian developers. Here’s a review of Google Now.

80% of one start-up’s clicks on Facebook ads are coming from Internet wildlife, whether by accident or design. They’ve pulled all their advertising from Facebook now, unsurprisingly as they had to pay for all the noise under the cost-per-click model. An interesting Hacker News thread discusses it.

Elsewhere, why isn’t Gordon getting any Facebook ads? Informa’s Telecoms.com points out that Google and Apple have also struggled to derive revenue from mobile ads.

Facebook is now looking at advertising apps in the mobile app’s news feed, based on the apps that are already installed. But do app developers really have a substantial marketing budget? And why would I want apps that are similar to the ones I’ve already installed?

ZDNet has a bit of detail about their data-crunching efforts, but still doesn’t know who’s meant to pay.

In other news: Microsoft has a row with itself about whether to call its new UI “Metro” or just “Windows 8” or something else. They also announced Outlook.com, the successor to Hotmail, and its Metro/Modern/Win8/whatever-based look and feel. HADOPI’s budget has gone. A difficult day at MTN Liberia: accused of being arm-chopping tyrant Charles Taylor’s business. OAuth 2.0 - vampire or zombie? Why Apple laptops feel weird when the power adaptor is connected.

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