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Gold in the 100Mbps Streaming: Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

(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 BBC Internet Blog has a superb series of posts on the challenge of building their Olympic Games web site and delivering the vast volumes of HD streaming video involved to the public. This covers the video-pushing element of the problem - interestingly, the BBC engineers chose to deliver the live feeds exclusively using HTTP streaming with adaptive bitrates, in order to make use of the corporation’s whole web serving and caching capacity, while their Flash streaming infrastructure was used for the on-demand catchup service. The system was first used for last year’s Wimbledon and progressively rolled out to bigger events (such as the football European championships) in order to load-test it. Some more detail is here.

Beyond the video (and of course audio), there was also a massive challenge designing, building, and serving up the Web application, documented here with this week’s undisputed Chart of the Week:


There’s much more here, including the detail that the Beeb’s coders built an application to simulate the entire Olympic Games, just as a test-harness for the web site.

In other TV news, Netflix started its expansion around Europe, turning up service in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Streaming is unlikely to be a problem, but you can expect that the studios will insist on another round of heavy upfront payments.

Meanwhile, AT&T may have decided to give up trying to build its own CDN, and concentrate on reselling either Akamai or Limelight Networks. As part of the deal, AT&T’s digital media group would move to the new partner, but Dan Rayburn thinks the licensed CDN deal with EdgeCast will continue. He also reviews four new smart-TV devices.

Apple may be going to make the new Apple TV, when it lands, more like “the YouView model”. Does that mean late, expensive, and crippled by endless content-provider arguing?

Jason Kilar is leaving Hulu, and the owners are looking at a major strategy change, with the site no longer being the first point of contact for their content. Which does make you wonder what the point of it is…

Finally, the 3G & 4G Wireless Blog reports that Samsung has demonstrated enhanced MBMS (Mobile Broadcast-Multicast Subsystem), but between Zahid, Kym Larsen, and Qualcomm they can’t work out why!

NTT DoCoMo announced this week that it’s reached the mark of 5 million LTE subscribers. Axtel in Mexico upped its FTTH speeds to 150Mbps. Meanwhile, the UK still has neither LTE nor FTTH. Should we start counting the weeks until the LTE mess is sorted out?

Anyway, TalkTalk is an MVNO now.

Australian analysts, who must be truly dedicated, have attempted to estimate how much it costs to maintain the copper infrastructure, and they reckon that the deployment of the NBN’s fibre will save about A$600 million a year.

T-Mobile has a think about LTE quality of service and goes with Diffserv.

The smart meters that ate Philadelphia - or rather, they set it on fire.

Ubiquisys closes another $19m of venture capital.

HP has spun-off the WebOS team into a quasi-startup, Gram…and then they created a new Mobility unit, led by the former head of MeeGo at Nokia, to have another crack at tablets and possibly phones! On the other hand, another tablet project is staying in the PC group. Those wild and crazy guys!

Elsewhere, another of those web-serving to market share exercises reckons things are dire at RIM. However, here comes the shiny: CEO Thorsten Heins is doing a roadshow of major carriers, demonstrating two new phones with the beta of BlackBerry OS 10.

Should they license the OS?

A Finn succeeded in throwing an Olympic javelin distance with an old Nokia phone this week. Ere Karjalainen said he prepared “mostly by drinking”. Well, perhaps he should have waited for the 5th of September, when some sort of joint Nokia/Microsoft announcement is planned, probably the new line of Windows Phones.

Has Microsoft discovered the joys of the subsidised hardware plus bundled services business model? Surface tablets might be surprisingly cheap because MS makes its money on an Office 365 subscription.

iOS hacker demonstrates a massive SMS security hole. The latest Apple vs Samsung action. And HTC Q2 sales are down 24%.

In the cloud this week, we now know what’s up with the new Facebook data centre. Project Sub-Zero, which is rising next to the main data centre, seems to be a massive backup farm. The aim is to radically reduce power consumption without needing to store data on tape.

Just down the road in Prineville, Oregon, Apple is building yet another monster DC, which will take the town over 1 million square feet of datacentre space.

Meanwhile, James Hamilton has a must-read post on Facebook and energy efficiency. Interestingly, Google’s implied server count has stopped growing, implying that their virtualisation, load balancing, and job routing technology - the heart of the cloud - has progressed fast.

After all, they’re the only company that buys its parts direct from Intel’s cloud division. Although the fact that Google builds all its own servers was fairly well known, this is actually the first time either party has put it on record.

And this is interesting. “Dremel” is an internal cloud service at Google that lets you do SQL queries over huge data sets, instantly. While everyone else was still ooh-ing over NoSQL, it’s interesting that both Google and Akamai found it necessary to re-implement the relational query language over their NoSQL data stores.

We blogged about AOL’s micro-data centre, a sealed, lights-out pod designed to be distributed closer to users, a while ago. Now there’s an indoor version with wheels.

Amazon Web Services is working on its channels and customer support. Specifically, having just launched their Amazon Partner Network, they’re starting a “Premier Consulting” tier to reward the most successful partners.

They’ve also added support for Python applications in Elastic Beanstalk and integrated it with their Relational Database Service. This basically makes the EC2 cloud into a giant factory for websites using the popular Django web framework. A detailed how-to is here.

Somebody asked High Scalability for advice, and the comments thread gave it.

And the OpenStack community has named the new members of the board. Note the lack of anyone from the telecoms industry.

China Mobile announced its numbers for H1, with $9.7bn profits on $41bn in revenues. The big news, though, is that even they are feeling the pinch from price wars and OTT competitors in particular.

Just who are those competitors? Essentially, a world of Android apps. This post on the Guardian Apps Blog is focused on fighting the Apple vs Google share wars, but it does make clear that Android is exploding in China.

China Mobile, for its part, is buying into a local startup that’s developing a Siri-like voice assistant. That must be quite a challenge in a language with syntactically-different tones. This comes after Apple fell out with the carrier over licensing Siri.

On the other hand, a wave of bankruptcies has torn through part of the Chinese Web - more than 3,000 Groupon clones have failed this year.

Elsewhere, the judge in Oracle vs. Google’s demand that both parties name the bloggers, journalists, and other opinionators they’re paying has caused a huffy. Both parties deny doing so and accuse the other. Bang their silly heads together, Your Honour.

Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga shares tank as the lockups begin to expire. OnLive is on the edge. Cloudsters Joyent try to back out of their “Lifetime” hosting product.

A crack at estimating OTT revenues. Pirates attempt to stop compulsory phone registration. Orange Jordan down. Adventures with BT support.

20 years of ThinkPads.

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