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October 29, 2012

Windows 8 tablets, with Skype! Cloud-based CDN, Ruckus IPO, Apple Q3s: Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

(Ed - Apply to join us at Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region, and there’s a great line up of top-notch stimulus speakers from Du, Mobily, Etisalat, Singtel, Globe, Qtel, Telecom Indonesia, Google, Amex, Unilever in addition to Telco 2.0 analysts.)

Microsoft Windows 8 is here. AnandTech has a 12-page monster review of the Surface hybrid tablet, while the launch event in China went rather badly after someone disrupted the show and the OS didn’t work well on the PCs as opposed to the tablets. Gizmodo liked the hardware but not the software. Critical comment is here. Ars Technica has another deep dive into the Win8 architecture, a review of its multimedia capabilities, and a visual tour of the GUI.

On the other hand, Cult of Mac reports people queuing outside the shops for the gadgets, a turn-up for the books with regard to Microsoft products.

Nokia has made a start on diffusing Windows Phone into the mass market with the Lumia 510, a Qualcomm Snapdragon-based smartphone priced at $199.

The launch of the Surface gadgets brings with it something new - Skype for Windows 8 is here, and VentureBeat is seriously impressed with the design and integration. Here’s some video:

Voxeo has just launched Ameche, a cloud-based Voice 2.0 platform that’s meant to provide “apps in your calls”. Dan York is impressed. The service runs in Joyent’s node.js cloud, which is interesting when you remember that Telefonica Digital is a Joyent partner. Hence, chart of the week:

NetworkArchitectureFull.png

Meanwhile, Sprint brought back PTT functionality as an app for Android devices, providing PTT between enrolled devices and also with the installed base of Direct Connect users.

Telefonica added TokBok’s video conferencing API to Bluevia this week.

Facebook’s Q3s are out, showing a $59m loss. This isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, as a lot of stock options have to be accounted for, but it’s not the barn-burning business blitz the IPO promised either. 14% of revenue apparently came from mobile users.

The Google was meant to be staging a huge launch this week, but Hurricane Sandy had other ideas. The event will stream here, but part of it had already leaked via Carphone Warehouse’s Web site, which was already advertising the Nexus 4 phone.

Wired rounds up the leaks and notes that Vic Gundotra of Google has been posting beach photos taken with a “Nexus 10” tablet. Meanwhile, history repeated itself as one of the Nexus 4s was accidentally left in a bar, kicking off a race between bloggers and Googlers to retrieve the precious device. Cynics might suggest this happens too often to be chance.

Meanwhile, Google decided to shut down Motorola’s old Chinese R&D centre, and it looks like the result was a hiring bonanza for Lenovo. Rather than set up distributed research centres, the ThinkPad people decided to concentrated on Nanjing and absorb as many of the ex-Moto people as possible.

Is Google’s ad volume actually growing fast enough to outweigh falling CPC numbers? Wordstream reckons so. Note the completely pointless infographic - at least you can copy the numbers off it into a spreadsheet.

The UK’s m-payments JV, Project Oscar, has got a brand and it’s as hipstery as you might have guessed. Interestingly, the carriers behind it are also looking at a different business model, and downplaying the dreaded three letters “NFC”.

In the cloud, here’s a great Ars Technica piece on CloudFlare’s cloud-based CDN, how they use the tools of the cloud to deploy and scale, and how anycast IP makes their CDN work.

Bytemobile reckons that mobile data rates drop 30% in the evening peak, if you’re looking for motivation to get into CDNing.

Meanwhile, Google App Engine had a major outage, flattening a range of popular Web sites.

The competitive impact is likely to be minimal, as Amazon Web Services also had a major outage, affecting Elastic Block Service customers. EBS, which emulates direct access to a hard disk, seems to be AWS’s bullet magnet, having borne the brunt of a succession of outages over the last 18 months. As requests to the failed EBS machines piled up, though, the problems cascaded through the system and eventually affected the RDS database server, EC2 virtual machines, and the ELB load-balancer, which many customers use to manage the effects of outages.

Amazon’s typically forensic crash report is here.

High Scalability blogs a fascinating talk on Google’s new Spanner database system, and also covers an interesting project to instrument AWS.

The results suggest that the best-performing Amazon data centre is Sao Paulo, probably because it’s the newest, and in general, disk I/O operations in AWS are best kept to a minimum. Is that a pattern?

HP claims it has 2000 customers on its public cloud in beta.

Facebook’s big event also got weathered out by Sandy, but it’s the launch of Facebook Gifts, as pre-announced a while back. Meanwhile, the King of Sweden visited their huge new data centre in subarctic Lulea. It’s good to be king. They say.

Wi-Fi star Ruckus Wireless is going for an IPO, and The Voice of Broadband has a read-out of the S-1 filing. Note that 308 out of 559 employees work in R&D.

Teresa also has a write-up of Broadband World Forum. Who knew the Internet made up more of the UK’s economy than any other G20 country?

BB_GDP-1024x715.jpg

Nokia Siemens Networks picked up another 3 TD-LTE networks from China Mobile.

MTN reported strong subscriber growth, 3.8% year-on-year. EverythingEverywhere reported revenue down 3%, blaming MTR cuts. 74% of its subscribers are now on smartphones. Telenor’s revenues were up 3%. Clearwire’s TD-LTE roll-out has been slowed down to align the deployment with Sprint’s. China Unicom and Telecom pulled ahead of China Mobile in subscriber growth, but mainly by expensively throwing iPhones at the problem.

More network-sharing: Telefonica’s O2 Germany x E-Plus.

Will prices rise in France to fund LTE? France Telecom hopes so. They would. Critical comment on the UK LTE tariffs.

China Unicom has replaced a Cisco backbone router, citing “security concerns”.

99.5% of peering agreements are on a handshake basis.

Horace scores Apple’s Q3 numbers and considers them adequate but disappointing. He argues that the iPad figures were rather poor, and that this is probably explained by the run-down of inventory ahead of new devices. However, the figures on a sell-through basis, rather than a shipments basis, were much better.

iPhones sold better than expected (so much for the tech-news “it’s a disappointment” talk). A bit more here.

Is the smart TV user experience really as bad as Microsoft Bob? That said, we met a huge new Samsung smart-teev at the weekend and it wasn’t so much the design as the absence of design that stood out…

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October 22, 2012

Global mobile penetration ‘only 45%’: Google drops results; DTAG launches ADN - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Join us at Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region, and there’s a great line up of top-notch stimulus speakers from Du, Mobily, Etisalat, Singtel, Globe, Qtel, Telecom Indonesia, Google, Amex, Unilever and others.)

The GSMA thinks that levels of mobile penetration have been greatly exaggerated, because the degree of multiple SIM ownership has been underestimated. Therefore, they now reckon that the ratio of SIMs to subscribers is 1.85 globally, which implies a penetration rate by subscribers of 45% and a customer base of 3.2 billion, roughly where we thought we were several years ago.

We weren’t convinced, thinking that despite all this time in the mobile business, we didn’t know anyone who actually used multiple SIMs, and an average of 1.85 with a lower bound of 1 suggests that a typical multiple user must have quite a few…until we remembered the pile of unsolicited pre-paid SIM packs gathering dust in a drawer, which does suggest the GSMA has a point about the numbers.

Anyway, plenty of food for thought there. RootMetrics’ crowdsourced coverage maps have reached the UK, which also implies food for thought.

China Mobile reported its profits were up 1.3%, beating the estimate, on the basis of strong subscriber growth in the low-end of the market.

Megafon has put back its IPO until the Q3 results drop. Connoisseurs will note that whenever the IPO happens, it will finally resolve one of the industry’s longest-running disputes, that between TeliaSonera and Mikhail Fridman over the controlling stake in Megafon. Once the company floats, either party or both will be able to finally flog their interest and go home.

Q-Tel may be in the market for the Vivendi stake in Maroc Telecom. Vodacom upped its estimates for H1 sharply. Verizon Wireless reported its earnings per share in Q3 were up 4%, and the iPhone 5 had dramatically boosted the take-up of LTE. 35% of their data traffic is now on the new LTE network. Meanwhile, 66% of the fixed-line operation’s revenues are now from its FiOS FTTH network, and revenues are growing 4.6%. On the other hand, the cloud-centric enterprise division’s revenues shrank 3.6%.

Is AT&T going to sell its rural PSTN lines? Or is it, instead, going to deploy LTE in a fixed-wireless mode, like Verizon and DTAG?

ISIS, the US carriers’ payments joint venture, names the day and it’s…today. A few hundred retailers in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City are participating in the trial, and the app was released onto Google Play last week.

The value of M-PESA transactions shot up 41% in H1, and the Kenyan government now wants to tax them. Safaricom isn’t happy about this, pointing to the irony that 35% of the company belongs to the government.

Here’s an M2M application: lone-worker security, for diplomats. Speaking of M2M, the 3G & 4G Wireless Blog links to the proposals for special M2M features in 3GPP Release 10.

Did you know Manchester has a completely unused metro-fibre network?

Google was so keen to tell us about its Q3s that it published them early! Well, they say the printers jumped the gun. The big news, though, was that the results were bad, at least for Google values of bad - the company is still a cash machine, just not as lucrative as expected. The core of the problem is that the cost-per-click in Google advertising is down sharply, 15%, implying that prices were slashed to fill inventory. Further, growth was faster for network partners than for Google’s own websites, so revenue-share payments and hence traffic-acquisition costs were up. And Motorola is a problem.

More analysis is here and here.

It was especially painful, as Google shares had hit an all-time high on the 5th of October and the company was in a celebratory mood, inviting Steven Levy to visit its data centres and preparing to launch a new Chromebook, based on an ARM processor and dramatically cheaper.

Google’s VP of partner business solutions, Henrique de Castro, is off to be Marissa Mayer’s COO at Yahoo! She’s also looking to fill a vacancy for the head of Yahoo! software development, which probably means another headhunter raid on Mountain View.

Facebook, meanwhile, has put its new mobile ads into production. The service, in trials since August, permits app developers to bid for adverts that are inserted into mobile users’ news feeds. Interesting questions: how many developers have a substantial ad budget, and how many users will put up with ads in their stuff?

Here’s a good discussion of why Facebook Credits didn’t work. Trying to win small businesses.

Ben Evans looks into Whatsapp and argues that it’s like Instagram, but bigger, cheaper to run, faster-growing, and with revenue.

O2 UK has decided to drop an Ericsson HSS/HLR product, their Centralised User Database, after the second big outage this year. A budget of £10m is named. LightReading has a more detailed story, including a handy list of recent HLR failures.

Vodafone’s SureSignal femto product was also down recently.

On the more positive side, Ericsson do have some interesting new ideas like this WebRTC-enabled browser:

Future-y!

China Mobile has given Alcatel-Lucent the job of building a TD-LTE trial network, but decided to buy from ZTE for the production build-out. That’s no fewer than 20,000 base stations. ALU, for its part, is going to cut 5,500 jobs.

Meanwhile, NSN had non-horrible results in Q3. Not just non-horrible, but the biggest profit in the joint venture’s history.

DTAG this week announced a new cloud product, its Application Delivery Network. We’ve been talking about ADN as a concept for some time, so it’s good to see it deploying. DTAG are using Edgecast’s CDN technology.

Benoit Felten blogs back from Broadband World Forum and notes that everyone loves software-defined networking, and also that telcos make strategy decisions on a TCO basis but buy on upfront price.

Elsewhere, Jeff Atwood walks through pricing the servers for his StackExchange websites. Like quite a few people, he notes that you can buy a lot more power for your money if you forget the cloud, though that’s not always the reason that people use the cloud. He also links to Pinboard’s similar decision. The question is how much you value the other services that come with the cloud. We look at this, and telcos’ roles overall in more depth in our new report.

How does Google cool its servers? Data Centre Knowledge finds out. The whole room is the cold-aisle and the hot-aisles are enclosed and water-cooled.

OpenStack now implements the Google Compute Engine API, for the following reasons:

Our customers are asking for two interrelated items: federation to public clouds and a choice of public cloud APIs. It’s been very consistent. Customers are all deploying some kind of hybrid solution. Some times they start in public and want to move some workloads back to private, like Zynga. Some times they start in private and want to move some workloads back to public. Regardless, it’s clear they want to run mixed mode for the forseeable future: some capacity in private and some in public. The challenge, then is for them have private clouds that are compatible with public clouds.

Apple, meanwhile, started building another huge data centre in Prineville, Oregon. The ARM-based cloud hardware is coming. Jerry Yang invests in an OpenStack private cloud shop.

Nokia had Q3s out, and they weren’t much fun. There was a loss of €576m, sales of smartphones are down, sales of Windows devices are down sharply after the revelation that they wouldn’t support Windows 8, and astonishingly, Symbian and Linux devices are still outselling Windows Phone ones.

Nokia still has €3.6bn of cash on hand, though, and the latest lot of Windows 8 gadgets won’t be counted until Q4. On the other hand, BGR argues that RIM is in a better position thanks to its network products and the fact that it controls its own technology.

Here’s a really fascinating historical look at Maemo, MeeGo, etc.

Is Windows 8 depressing PC sales? And here’s a deep dive into the guts of Windows RT from Ars Technica.

How much video? 20 times as much as the Beijing Olympics, says the BBC’s controller of digital distribution, Richard Cooper. At the peak, the BBC was streaming 700Gbps of video. Fortunately, they’d provisioned the CDN infrastructure for 1,000Gbps…

Meanwhile, there’s an excellent post on the BBC Research blog about why “interactive TV apps” are a bad idea, and not just because the user experience is often terrible.

Comcast makes its own move towards interactive TV.

Is the real patent war still to come - when TiVO tries to enforce its patents on the DVR concept?

YouTube’s networks, aggregators of independent video content, are criticised for “old Hollywood” practices.

Music streamer Deezer has decided to ignore the US.

Boxee’s new gadget is out and it’s heavily dependent on Amazon Web Services.

Time was, Android’s support for Flash was considered an advantage. Now, it seems more of a bug. Dan Rayburn writes that many video-related app developers are considering dropping Android support, because its implementation of HTTP Live Streaming is so poor.

And here’s some advice from Jeff Bezos: “people who are right a lot are people who change their minds”.

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October 16, 2012

Big Data 2.0: Data Protection regulations ‘need better balance’


This blog post was written by Simon Torrance, CEO of the Telco 2.0 Initiative, reflecting on a meeting of the World Economic Forum on ‘Big Data, Personal Data and Data Protection’ that took place in Brussels with EU representatives and others last week. He notes significant positive developments in richer understanding of this complex topic and describes the potential role that telcos can play.

Simon will be sharing key insights on personal data and digital commerce at the invitation-only New Digital Economics Executive Brainstorms in Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December, 2012, and in subsequent brainstorms in Silicon Valley and Europe in 2013.

Last week I took part in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Personal Data workshop in Brussels, along with 70 executives from Europe and the USA representing organisations such as Allianz, AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, the European Commission, the European Parliament, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, OECD, Novartis, Renault, UPS, Visa and various experts, professors and consumer rights and civil liberties groups.

The workshop is part of a regular series of meetings that the WEF runs around the world (the last one being in China last month), focusing on how to ‘unlock the value of personal data: balancing growth and protection’ and part of its new ‘Data-Driven Development’ project.

As a member of the WEF’s ‘Re-thinking Personal Data’ project team and their global ICT Agenda Council for the last 2 years, it was heartening to see that the debate is moving on much more quickly with more important bodies involved. Things have come a long way since February 2010 when we ran our first ‘Privacy 2.0’ event in Boston with MIT and NSN, through which we first connected with the WEF. Output from our recent workshops this year in San Jose and London have helped to direct and push forward the debates.

San Jose workshop in action (one of the Business working groups)

wef san jose work group oct 2012.png

Those who have followed the Telco 2.0 Initiative will know that we have been talking about the unique, but latent, value of telco ‘customer data’ for at least four years now. The WEF’s project has given the subject greater importance, as it places ‘customer data’ (data that a company has about its customers which it tries to mine and analyse to serve them better) within the context of the bigger concept of ‘personal data’ (data that we as individuals automatically generate as we go about our daily, digitally connected lives).

PERSONAL DATA - ‘A NEW CLASS OF ECONOMIC ASSET’

The World Economic Forum believe that personal data is potentially a new class of economic asset (the new ‘oil’ or ‘currency’ for the digital age) and that individuals, as producers of this asset, should have access and control rights to it. Today most individuals have very little appreciation of what they are generating, nor the potential value of it - to themselves, the private and the public sector.

Like any asset - oil, money, water - it only becomes valuable if it can be distributed and exchanged and done so within a set of protocols and practices that are trusted and adhered to internationally. Currently no ‘infrastructure’ - legal, technical and commercial - exists for the safe and trusted exploitation of personal data.

The laws that govern the use of personal data (influenced by 30 year old OECD principles related to privacy and data protection) cannot keep up with pace of technological change and new forms of human behavior enabled by it (e.g. Facebook usage and location-based services).

And so, we are potentially stuck in a situation whereby ‘Big Business’ wants to take advantage of ‘Big Data’, consumer and civil liberty groups lobby government to restrict their abilities to do so (‘do not track’), and governments create laws with the potential unintended consequences of stifling commercial innovation (and thus economic growth).

This vicious circle restricts personal data from realizing its full potential in terms of societal benefits (contributing to better healthcare outcomes, democratic engagement and traffic reduction for example) and consumer benefits (cheaper, better, more personalized products and services).

At the WEF’s Brussels workshop we heard plenty of great examples of both sets of benefits that are real today all round the world.

PROPOSED EU APPROACH - GOOD NEWS

The good news, though, is that now, at last, these issues are recognized at the highest levels. I was very heartened to hear on Monday members of the European Parliament in charge of data regulation admit that the proposed new EU Data Protection regulations which are currently in review phase were “too blunt”, that they needed “adjusting to suit local needs”, that they “needed to find a better balance between supporting business innovation and protecting the consumer”.

This realization is a major step forward in addressing the legal part of the golden triangle of issues: regulation (‘rules’), technology (‘tools’), and commercial models (‘money’).

The technology aspect is perhaps the least challenging of the three - big steps are already being made into how to embed rights and permissions into the data (a key enabler of the free movement of data across storage silos, topic domains and geographic jurisdictions) and the secure management of the data.

Interoperability of digital identities is another important technical enabler, and effective standards for this should be achievable if the right technologists sit together to work it through.

COMMERCIAL MODELS ARE TRICKY

The commercial models are trickier, because they rely so much on the two other aspects being in place.

For telcos we believe there is potentially a unique role to play in this emerging marketplace: to act as custodians of individuals’ data, proactively helping them manage and exploit it through personal data services. At our events around the world we have tested these ideas and most delegates agree with the proposition.

Telcos and PD services oct 2012.png

Some telcos have taken the first steps towards this. Telefonica for example is piloting a project in the UK to allow its customers to view the data it holds on them. The aim is to create ‘transparency’, the first step in gaining greater levels of trust with their customers.

Orange has a similar general philosophy, but has chosen to start (publically at least) by making certain data available to support public sector social causes in emerging markets via a project called Data4Development.

Orange pd chart oct 2012.png

Others, like Verizon Wireless, have set up new business units to leverage telco data to support of third party marketing.

Telco 2.0 believes that there is a significant strategic opportunity for telcos to take a leading role in helping the world take advantage of this new class of economic asset. In fact at a World Economic Forum strategists meeting last year, it was rated as ‘the most important strategic opportunity’ for telcos in the future, per the chart below.

PD and telcos oct 2012.png

The Telco 2.0 Initiative will continue to explore how telcos can turn this vision into practical reality. (Some background videos on the topic here. For more information, do contact us).

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October 14, 2012

Brutal future for Euro Mobile; Telenor + Telefonica; Sprint + Softbank; shrinking PC market - Telco 2.0 News Review

Is the industry facing a brutal future in Europe? New Telco 2.0 analysis says that Europe as a whole will drop by 50Bn Euros by 2020 - or about a third. Spain and Italy - major markets, under great macroeconomic pressure, with unusually high voice pricing - are especially in the firing line. (NB The chart below shows the 5 largest economies in Europe, the ‘Euro 5’ that will drop by around 30Bn Euros between them.)


Forecast Mobile Telco Revenues in Euro 5 Economies

Euro Voice Brutal Image 2 Chart Euro 5 Oct 2012.png

Join us at Digital Arabia (5-7 November, Dubai) and Digital Asia (3-5 December, Singapore) to discuss this and the outlook and lessons at a global and local level.

How will the operators respond? Telefonica has been a pioneer in Telco 2.0, and this week they were pushing hard on the carrier billing front. In the UK, O2 is going to cut the share it takes of transactions processed through the PayForIt system in the hope of making them an economic solution for many more applications. At the same time, another pioneer operator, Telenor, is becoming the first carrier to be a customer of Telefonica’s BlueVia developer platform. This is interesting, as Telenor’s Content Provider Access was one of the very first Telco 2.0 projects way back in 2004.

There’s also Telefonica Dynamic Insights, their new division which will sell subscriber data via a partnership with GfK.

O2 also had a major outage this week.

One thing that always cheers people up is a bit of merger activity, for some odd reason. Vivendi, having decided to sell Telecom Maroc last week, is now looking at cableco Numericable as a potential acquisition. SFR would no doubt be a stronger proposition with a DOCSIS network, but you do wonder about the idea of selling one telco to buy another.

Meanwhile, will Softbank acquire Clearwire? It’s a challenging one, not least because Sprint can’t just sell Clearwire to Softbank as it doesn’t own enough shares, so Sprint might have to spend money buying out holdouts in order to sell. The deal makes a little more sense when you realise that Softbank is deploying TD-LTE, like Clearwire.

Of course, there’s one way to fix the problem of Sprint not owning the whole of Clearwire. Just buy the whole of Sprint! And that turned out to be precisely what Softbank did. It’s far from clear how this is going to work (and the structure is special), but Masayoshi Son has made a career of turnaround projects.

T-Mobile USA’s CTO Neville Ray says that the MetroPCS VoLTE network is going to stay, although he’s not sure if it’s the long term solution. Etisalat says it’s not selling out of its foreign investments.

On the other hand, smartphones sell and keep selling. Horace points out that the PC industry is seeing volumes shrinking, for the first time in 11 years, or in other words, since the last recession.

Canadian analyst thinks BB10 won’t make Christmas, but on the other hand app submissions just opened, and he also thinks it won’t matter much because the Windows phones won’t do much. This hands-on review of the Nokia Lumia 810 will not help much, as it is only a form-factor dummy.

However, this Wired hands-on review of the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini is unequivocally terrible.

The new Microsoft Office is coming to iOS.

Nokia’s VP of user experience design blogs at UK Wired, meanwhile, and discusses research on women and smartphones. Interestingly, camera specs sell, and a bare (51%) majority in Europe care about the colour of the case, although the number is higher elsewhere.

Britain! We have the lowest percentage of homes covered by FTTH in Europe, with a massive 0.05%. Doesn’t that make you proud to be British? The good news is that Hyperoptic has decided to double its deployment in London after better-than-expected takeup.

Cisco has terminated a reseller agreement with ZTE, after they discovered that Cisco equipment was finding its way to Iran via ZTE, in violation of any number of US laws. OpenBTS’s David Burgess, meanwhile, looks at the Huawei row and makes a case for open source software. While he was at it, hackers took a look at some Huawei kit and discovered that it’s not the spies you should worry about, it’s the default passwords.

Meanwhile, ZTE reported horrible results, with a substantial loss in the first 9 months of the year, notably because of the “Iranian market” but also due to pressure on its margins. Being the industry’s low bidder, its margins are naturally slim.

(Speaking of Iran, in case you’re wondering, the MTN vs Turkcell case has come up in court, and been adjourned.)

Super-WiFi vendor Ruckus Wireless is going for an IPO, and The Voice of Broadband fillets the S-1 form. It’s an impressive showing, and over half the company’s employees are in R&D.

And Surrey University, well-known for being the home of Surrey Satellite Tech, has snagged a major project to research 5G mobile. £11m comes from the government, and another £24m from Huawei, Fujitsu, Rohde & Schwarz, AIRCOM, and Telefonica.

Up in the cloud, a new trend - investment funds putting their money directly in data centres. Fidelity Investments is putting up $200m for a massive project in Nebraska codenamed “Photon”. The customer is a secret. This isn’t even the only huge secret data centre in Nebraska financed by your pension fund - there’s also the even bigger Project Edge.

Here’s an OpenStack modular data centre in a car park.

Amazon Web Services has pushed a lot of features from EC2 into its GovCloud, the special security-focused product they offer US government customers.

Building a gigantic DNS infrastructure at UltraDNS.

Google has walked back its use of Zagat restaurant ratings, a business Marissa Mayer decided to buy. Arik Hessendahl at AllThingsDigital suggests a solution to the Google-FTC row.

ReadWriteWeb reports on the Google Books lawsuit and its surprisingly uncontroversial end.

How to turn off ad tracking in iOS 6.

Fight! Fight! Dan York takes issue with Martin Geddes’ “hypervoice” presentation. Meanwhile, Tim Panton of PhoneFromHere talks about the Burning Man OpenBTS network. A bit more here.

Fuzebox, a new unicomms solution for the iPad. Check out some interesting comments about channels to market, VARs, and enterprise voice.

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October 11, 2012

European Mobile: The Future’s not Bright, it’s Brutal


The mobile industry’s combined revenues from voice, messaging and data services in the EU5 economies (UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy) will drop by nearly 20Bn Euros, or 4% per year, in the next five years, and by 30Bn Euros by 2020, says our new analysis here, which includes forecasts and analysis by country.

Join us at Digital Arabia (5-7 November, Dubai) and Digital Asia (3-5 December, Singapore) to discuss this and the outlook and lessons at a global and local level.


Forecast Mobile Telco Revenues in Euro 5 Economies

Euro Voice Brutal Image 2 Chart Euro 5 Oct 2012.png

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October 8, 2012

4G round up; YouTube commissions; NZ FTTH model for US? - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Join us 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, and there’s a great line up of top-notch stimulus speakers from Du, Mobily, Etisalat, Singtel, Globe, Qtel, Telecom Indonesia, Google, Amex, Unilever and others.)

The 4G is coming! UK mobile operators have agreed not to sue each other over the LTE situation, in exchange for OFCOM bringing the big spectrum auction forward to January. This, in its turn, is made possible by Arqiva, the TV world, and the government having made a special effort to clear the 800MHz band early, as The Register’s Bill Ray explains here.

As a result, EverythingEverywhere has named the day for the switch-on of its LTE network, and it’s the 30th October.

Now, EE went with Huawei for most of the kit and also for some outsourced engineering services. The U.S. Congress is having one of its periodic hissy fits about Chinese vendors, having discovered (again) that Ren Zhengfei is a former army officer and that Huawei has customers in the Chinese military.

Meanwhile, will Sprint try to muscle in on the T-Mobile USA acquisition of MetroPCS? Dealbook discusses the question and digs into the details of the deal. DTAG is risking someone trying to gazump, in exchange for setting up the transaction so as to pay much less tax. There’s a little more here, but it seems unlikely that it matters much that Sprint and MetroPCS both have CDMA networks - surely, any owner would be looking to build out LTE in the end.

Wanna be a telco? 53% of Maroc Telecom is up for sale as Vivendi tries to pay off its debts without losing its Brazilian operator GVT.

M2M application watch: AT&T helps track rental bikes. The 3G and 4G Wireless Blog attends a small cells meetup and sees a presentation on the theme of “How to Screw Up the World’s Largest Residential Small Cell Deployment”. It sounds fascinating (and the next meeting sounds pretty good too).

Dan Rayburn blogs a study suggesting that as much as 40% of traffic entering eyeball ISP networks is coming from the CDN sector. It includes this interesting chart (NB. AS’s are Autonomous Systems, i.e. identifiable networks in the Internet which are usually but not always an organisation):

cdn.png

The dark green band making up about the third biggest source of traffic, and the biggest single point-source, is Google. So what’s in those packets?

YouTube, of course, which this week revised its new strategy of commissioning its own video content for its channels. Last year, the Google offered a million dollars each to 100 video creators in exchange for original content that would be released on YouTube. Now, they’ve expanded the program to include another batch of creators, and launched it in the UK, France, and Germany.

The deal remains the same - the money is an interest-free advance, to be repaid from the ad revenues. Once the advance is earned out, the revenues are split between Google and the videographer. There has been criticism that Google hasn’t done enough to promote the channels, although they point out that 25 of them are doing more than a million views a week.

AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka interviews the Googler in charge, Robert Kyncl.

Does Nokia have the best maps? It turns out that owning the satnavs installed in huge fleets of lorries has its benefits - Nokia is using them to refine its maps and gather traffic information. Of course, they also have a fleet of mapping vehicles analogous to the Google cars, and the piece provides quite a lot of information about them - notably that they are using a LIDAR (like radar, but with lasers) turret to create 3-D imagery of the buildings around them.

Nokia also launched its new server-side compression and acceleration service, which claims to crunch down web pages by 75%. To begin with, it’s going to support the Nokia Asha phones, which makes sense as they’re most likely to be starved for bandwidth.

Here’s a deep-dive piece on BT and TalkTalk’s respective strategies with YouView, the finally-available UK smart TV platform. BT is offering it as a small upsell for their Vision IPTV customers, while TalkTalk is subsidising the boxes and pitching them at the entry level in a dash for market share. A special mention to Faultline Research for remembering the Homechoice story.

Facebook is offering users a new feature: pay $7 to promote your own posts, or to put it another way, pay to spam your friends. Perhaps they could include a sliding scale depending on the friend-count of the targets, so for $5 you could briefly pop up to the head of your mates’ timelines, for $80 you could bother the President of the United States, and for $150 you might even get Azealia Banks or someone.

Susan Crawford has an editorial in Wired advocating the New Zealand government’s model for FTTH deployment in the US, based on a report by old Telco 2.0 ally Benoit Felten’s consultancy.

He’s also got a report, funded by Google, out on Stockholm’s storied STOKAB muni-fibre project. It’s here, with the download on SSRN.

More details on FreedomPop, Niklas Zennstrom’s free ISP. It looks like it’s a data MVNO using Clearwire’s WiMAX network, and you’ll be expected to watch adverts and fill in questionnaires. Further, you’re going to be tied in to a 2 year contract, but any of the terms can be changed whenever the service comes out of beta.

3G & 4G Wireless Blog points us to ally Alan Quayle’s summary of the LTE Asia conference. It comes with a host of data points, and the somewhat depressing remark that “The SS7 guys have turned into the Diameter guys”. Here are the slides:

Meanwhile, RevK is at war with BT again.

Samsung told the market to expect a record third-quarter profit of £4.5bn, double last year’s numbers. Meanwhile, HTC reported that its numbers were worse than the ones they’d warned were worse than expected.

Horace looks at the role of the US smartphone market. Clearly, the beginning of major smartphone adoption in the US around 2007 transformed the vendor industry. But is the US a preview of the future, or an outlier? The answer will tell us whether RIM is going to live or die. On that theme, another new BlackBerry has been leaked.

HP, meanwhile, is hiring developers for WebOS and Enyo. The original blog post counts 53 engineering vacancies, split between the Sunnyvale HQ and their Shanghai R&D group. Perhaps a great opportunity - for people who can stand the risk that HP changes its mind again and sacks the entire division, of course.

Meanwhile, Horace is trying to forecast Apple’s share price, based on its investment in manufacturing. The result is a positively beautiful chart. The man has surpassed himself. Discussion is here, but just look at it.

Screen-Shot-2012-10-04-at-10-4-9.18.23-PM.png

How long before Foxconn workers realise Apple owns all the tooling?

Why don’t Android updates propagate faster? From our experience, it’s probably something to do with the near-certainty that an Android device old enough to need an update has run out of internal storage.

Oracle is appealing the Google/Oracle verdict. How to run a better Android on the Kindle Fire. Giving away Android phones with a magazine.

Here’s a fine example of usability hell - a graphic comparing four different Linux-based PBXen and their configuration screens. The pain is unbearable, and should be deeply embarrassing to everyone who wants Voice 2.0 to escape the status of a cult.

Asterisk guru Olle Johanson presents, on the problems with Voice 2.0 and the Internet, via Dan York.

He’s also started an effort to document all the stuff you need for actually working SIP, beyond the RFCs.

With the arrival of LTE in the UK, it looks like we’re going to have the joy of working out the kinks of LTE voice. Check out this chart, from LTE World Series Blog:

volte_billing.jpg

All clear so far? Here’s Martin Geddes’s latest as a unicorn-chaser.

Up in the cloud, TripAdvisor decided to do an experiment and trial serving the whole website from Amazon EC2. An interesting post on data centre switches from Broadcom.

And should we all be contributing to OpenStack?

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October 1, 2012

Oracle & EU go Cloud; FTTH economics; Free making waves - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Don’t forget to join us 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, and there’s a great line up of top-notch stimulus speakers from Du, Mobily, Etisalat, Singtel, Globe, Qtel, Telecom Indonesia, Google, Amex, Unilever and others.)

Larry Ellison has committed Oracle to the cloud, in his keynote at their OpenWorld customer conference. The company is offering a version of its key database product optimised for cloud environments, a version of its Exadata database machine intended for operating large in-memory databases in the cloud, and a pair of cloud services. One of these will be a classical public cloud, while the other will be installed on customer premises and managed by Oracle employees. There’s some discussion of this kind of hybrid strategy here.

Meanwhile, Amazon has started offering Oracle databases in its RDS product, and now lets you provision cloud databases in terms of I/O operations per second. NASDAQ’s new financial services-specific cloud is detailed here, at the AWS Blog, as it turns out to be implemented using Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud.

OpenStack’s latest release, rather sinisterly codenamed “Folsom”, dropped on schedule last week. Major changes include much more support for managing virtual network components from OpenStack, and interestingly, integration with VMWare’s virtual switch. There’s also a new block store and many incremental improvements to the core computing functions.

Containerised data-centres are growing at 40% annually, says a report. Embratel is spending $50m building a big data centre to support its own cloud services.

Google just opened a new data centre in Dublin and the numbers are a fascinating insight into the scale of these projects.

Construction of the data center took just under one year to complete [and cost $75m], and in total over 1,000 people working for 90 specialist building and engineering companies contributed to the build, with an average of 250 people working on site on any given day. Over 80 percent of the businesses involved were Irish. In total approximately 400,000 man-hours were dedicated to design and construction of the data centre.

Here’s an interesting experience, of selecting the site for a Microsoft data centre.

How Wordpress.com works. A fascinating Google research paper on the next generation of databases. Dan Rayburn reports on more merger activity in CDN.

And the European Union thinks its cloud strategy could mean $160bn in additional GDP growth in the EU by 2020.

Another key Telco 2.0 market is M2M, of course. From the 3G & 4G Wireless Blog, here’s our Chart of the Week, which points up just how bad the fragmentation is getting.

M2MRelatedStandards.jpg

Meanwhile, old Telco 2.0 ally Rudolf van der Berg is interviewed.

RIM teased the developers with some more details of BB10 this week, and released a video showing Developer Relations VP Alec Saunders and two other execs performing old REO Speedwagon songs. Right.

RIM’s Q2s were out, and they were marginally less bad than expected, which caused the shares to surge. Whether that counts more as a sucker-rally or a recovery play is yet to be seen, but Larry Dignan makes the case for RIM in ZDNet.

Nokia, meanwhile, is sticking to premium prices for the Lumia 920.

A bad moment for Samsung: hackers demonstrate how to remote-wipe their Touchwiz gadgets with a crafted URI. Sammy provided a factory-restore command that can be accessed via USSD, but apparently forgot that the TELURL protocol lets you pass phone numbers in web links, so an attacker could put the remote-wipe code in a link and send it to the target as a text, e-mail, Twitter update, or whatever. Once clicked, the content of the link is dispatched to the dialler…ouch. A fix has been pushed out.

Crunchy old geeks will like the new business-focused HP tablet, as all the parts are user-serviceable like a proper PC.

A shot at forecasting iPhone 5 production and inventory. Intel Research poaches Roger Jellicoe, long-time Motorola VP and father of the classic StarTAC and RAZR gadgets. Apparently, as a VP he had the authority to summon the corporate jet, which gives the story a charming Mad Men executive washroom flavour.

Also, who knew that the two biggest hits of the US mobile industry were both designed by Brits?

China Labour Bulletin reports in detail on last week’s riot at Foxconn. CNET goes to the source - a rare earth mine.

Dave Burstein has some interesting data on FTTH costs. The equipment cost of a fibre hookup is now down to $100 for builds as big as those in China or Google’s in Kansas City. And the logic of take-rates seems to make a powerful case for public sector investment - as the cost to pass homes is amortised over the paying subscribers, getting more people to sign up effectively means lower costs. In the Aussie NBN, the cost to pass is around $600 and the cost per subscriber is somewhere between $1000 and $1500 - because the whole subscriber base is transitioning over, for a likely take rate approaching 80%. Google expects a take rate around 33%, which implies a cost per subscriber double that.

Meanwhile, Android users in the US download on average about 870MB a month from cellular and 2.5GB from WLAN hotspots. The Competitive Carriers Association has a deal with Boingo to provide white-label WLAN offload.

Softbank is acquiring eAccess, making Japan the next market to go down to three national operators.

Vodafone and Telefonica get regulatory clearance to share infrastructure in the UK.

SFR has begun including their TV box in the standard bundle, in an effort to relieve the pressure from Free. Speaking of which, Carrefour is dropping its MVNO and becoming an Orange reseller in the face of intense competition from Free.

Telefonica is floating O2 Germany on the stock market.

Virgin Mobile has been quietly testing out LTE small cells along with the WiFi kit in its street cabinets.

UK LTE spectrum is expected to sell for £4bn, or at least the British opposition party are hoping it will, as they want to use the money to build houses.

Can FreedomPop make money selling free broadband? Probably not, if last time is anything to go by.

Frankfurt’s DE-CIX Internet exchange passes 2 terabits a second. Will the Americans start an IX in Benghazi? Sooner you than me. The small cell market is expected to grow very fast, but from a low base.

A trip to Huawei.

The key media of the future - voice, video, identity, maps, and augmented reality? Dan York links to our Video of the Week, with SIP pioneer Cullen “Fluffy” Jennings talking about his work as co-chair of the IETF’s RTCWeb standardisation group.

RTCWeb Explained from Cullen Jennings on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, Tim Cook apologised for the state of Apple Maps in iOS 6, and suggested that customers download an alternative mapping app. That must have been a painful letter to write.

So they turned to Google. But it was a trick. There is no Google. Eric Schmidt was quoted this week as saying that they hadn’t got an iOS 6 Maps app and weren’t working on one. It sounds like he’s decided to let Apple have a long think about the wisdom of ending their agreement.

Gizmodo points out that the whole mess makes Nokia look good. They’ve just signed a deal to be Oracle’s default mapping provider.

Persona, Mozilla’s identity application, has launched into beta this week.

The BBC’s R&D Blog discusses the sheer fragmentation pain of the smart TV world. Zeebox lands in the US. YouView initial numbers are unimpressive.

Marissa Mayer’s plans for Yahoo! were announced in an all-hands meeting this week, and they are surprisingly non-specific. (They’re going to focus on the four Cs - culture, company goals, calibration, and compensation.)

There’s a bit more in a leaked report here.

Amazon has a new line of business - finance. Specifically, they’re offering merchants who use their platform credit, in order to help them build up inventory in the run-up to Christmas.

Microsoft has bought into Klout and wants to integrate it into Bing. Klout? That would be the company that started sucking up everyone’s Twitter account and calculating (sometimes hilariously odd) social metrics on them, claiming that everyone had opted in by default. ReadWriteWeb explains why this isn’t a great idea, being more polite than we’d be.

MySpace has done a total redesign. And it’s rather handsome. But can a crashed social network really be turned around? We’re going to find out.

The new Myspace from Myspace on Vimeo.

Alibaba isn’t giving up on its forkdroid OS project. Yandex is distributing Opera Software’s products to its subscribers. Canonical wanted to include Amazon shopping results in the desktop search in Ubuntu Linux, Linux users were about as happy about this as you might expect, Canonical changed course. Adobe’s code-signing server got hacked.

And the legendary WELL online community has been sold…to its members.

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Telco 2.0 Strategy Report Out Now: Telco Strategy in the Cloud

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