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November 28, 2012

Mobile Commerce: MEF Webinar TODAY - Global Survey Results


MEF’s Global Consumer Survey 2012 questioned 9,500 mobile media users in ten countries: US, UK, China, India, Qatar, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. You can download the executive summary over on our research site here - there’s also a special 30% Telco 2.0 discount code on the full report.

The MEF Research

The 2012 behavioural and usage study digs deep into consumer trends and attitudes, providing insight and analysis on their wider industry impact with mobile content and commerce broken down into three distinct activities:

  • Purchase - digital or physical goods
  • Research - using the phone to support product/purchase research
  • Banking - transaction or accessing bank accounts

The 60 page global report delivers insight that can help both mobile specialists and those who are new to mobile to develop targeted mobile strategies and fully exploit the rich opportunities that mobile provides.

Webinar, Events, and Free Summary

There’s also an MEF webinar on Wednesday 28th November 2012 (11AM GMT / 12PM CET / 1PM South Africa / 2PM Qatar / 4.30PM India / 7PM Singapore - register here) and we’ll be looking at M-Commerce in our upcoming brainstorms in Dubai (3-5 December 2012), Silicon Valley (19-20 March, 2013), and London (5-6 June, 2013).

MEF survey cover nov 2012.png

[NB. MEF is the global community for mobile content and commerce, the leading global trade association for companies wishing to engage consumers and monetize their goods, services and digital products via the mobile connected device.]

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November 27, 2012

Big Data: Big Theme at Digital Asia


Big Data is a big theme at our Digital Asia ‘executive brainstorm’ next week (3-5 Dec) in Singapore, taking place at the wonderful Capella Resort on Sentosa Island.

Last month we were in Dubai for our Digital Arabia event and then the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda, as a member of its ‘Data-Driven Development’ council. We’ll be taking the Big Data learnings from these events, along with latest European Union developments on this topic, to Asia for the first time next week.

Not that Asia is behind the curve. We’re delighted to have MIT’s Senseable Cities lab stimulate the debate with its Live Singapore! project (“The Real-time City is now Real”!), along with leading players like Unilever, Google, Amex, Singtel and others describe and discuss how they are looking to leverage data.

As a warm up, here’s a video about the ‘Real-time city’:

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Internet Governance @ ITU? The Political Battle for the Internet


The political battle for the governance of the Internet will step up a gear at the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) next week, which will review the current International Telecommunication Regulations for the first time since 1988 - pre web and mobile networks. Some governments and telcos are arguing that it should be the responsibility of the ITU, the telecoms’ arm of the UN, to look after the Internet. What are the key issues, why does it matter, and why don’t we think this is a good idea at all?

This post previews some of the protagonists and proposals - and specifically examines the central and most controversial element: Internet regulation, and whether the ITU has any remit to enact it.

(We will be continuing to monitor, report, and analyse the outcomes of the WCIT, and look forward to further dialogue with our customers and readers on this issue online and at our upcoming brainstorms: in Singapore 3-5 December 2012, 19-20 March 2013 Silicon Valley, and 5-6 June 2013, London).

A WCIT Game?

Between December 3rd and 14th, the ITU (International Telecoms Union) is convening the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai . This event is primarily intended to review the current International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), which are now more than 20 years old. As a UN agency, this is not merely an agreement or industry standard - it is a binding global treaty. And unlike trade shows like CTIA or MWC, this event is about governments - specifically, telecoms ministries and regulators - rather than operators or vendors, although they will be in attendance as well.

So too will be half the world’s political and technology lobbyists and lawyers, with analysts and press circling and watching from a distance. While the ITU blandly describes the ITRs as being “designed to facilitate international interconnection and interoperability of information and communication services, as well as ensuring their efficiency and widespread public usefulness and availability” that belies the true importance of the event in defining the future telecoms and Internet landscape. There have already been many preparatory meetings around the world, each generating multiple submissions and proposals from local interested parties.

The last time the ITRs were reviewed was in Melbourne in 1988, before the web was even a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. 24 years ago, most countries were still in the early stages of telecoms deregulation, mobile networks hardly existed, and ISDN was the network technology of the future. Pretty much everyone agrees that it’s time to review and revise them - but the question is how far, and in what directions.
This post is intended to preview some of the protagonists and proposals - and specifically, to examine the central and most controversial element: Internet regulation, and whether the ITU has any remit to enact it.

This commentary and analysis necessarily blends various angles - the technical, commercial, political, diplomatic and even philosophical. When watching or reading about the WCIT preparations and discussions, it is important to note that a lot of the language used needs even more care in interpretation than normal telecom marketing-speak. A lot of important - possibly world-changing - detail and nuance is couched in vague and verbose diplomatic phraseology.

Introducing the players

Indeed, while some of the players hail from a telecom operator background (e.g. the European Telecom Network Operators association, ETNO), in many ways the “bigger battle” is a geopolitical one. Specifically, China and Russia (and others) have concerns about the way that the US takes such as central role in Internet governance. The US (having invented the Internet and clearly having benefited from it) takes a different stance, especially as it sees it as a tool for spreading democracy. One thing to bear in mind here: at a governmental level, there is more concern about the location of overall control of key assets, or issues such as security/censorship rather than (to them) the comparative trivia of telcos’ business models and profitability, or the abstract principle of Net Neutrality (our views are detailed in Net Neutrality 2.0: Don’t Block the Pipe, Lubricate the Market). While there might be some alignment in views - especially for smaller countries which “import” a lot of telecoms minutes and interconnect fees relative to GDP, or which still have state-owned telcos - in other markets the telcos (and their investors and customers) are passengers rather than drivers here.

In Telco 2.0’s view, the next month is going to contain some seriously vigorous and vitriolic debate - with a raft of media and social sideshows alongside. Here’s the programme. Get some popcorn.

Key issues

Overall, WCIT will cover a broad array of topics that the ITU thinks are important enough to warrant international regulations, or at least wider discussion. Some are relatively innocuous or uncontentious, such as treating numbering resources with respect, monitoring fraud, ensuring prompt payment of international interconnect bills, or allowing network pre-emption for reasons of emergency or distress (e.g. epidemic information from the World Health Organisation).

But a few particular areas have given rise to controversy. Chief among these are:


  • Proposals to move international IP / Internet interconnect towards a contractual basis, with the option for QoS and new charging mechanisms, potentially on a “sender-pays” basis

  • Proposals to allow governments to control and secure (or “monitor and censor”, from another perspective) Internet traffic, especially for “cybersecurity” but also for management of spam - and perhaps pirated content

  • Examination of mobile roaming regimes - and, potentially, the instigation of international pricing controls and regulation

  • A general extension of ITU’s remit from telecoms to ICT (information & communication technologies)

It is also worth considering the general goals of ITU and national regulators. While a few regulators are linked closely to government desires to maximise revenues from spectrum sales or interconnect, others are tasked more with improving broadband and telephony penetration and reach in their countries, and ensuring competitively-priced and high-quality services for their citizens. They differ on how they see the role of the Internet in achieving those goals - and also have a spread of opinion about the economics of network deployment and investment-justification. Some countries see the Internet as a potential threat to national security (for example, social networks used for organising insurrection), while others would like to see access defined as a human right (Finland already has).

ITU pic nov 2012.png

Source:ITU

Internet charging & ETNO’s proposals

The most divisive element of the discussions is likely to be around Internet regulation - especially any moves to change from the traditional “peering” model of network-to-network connection to one which looks more like telecom interconnect. (The security / monitoring issue is considered separately, below).

One of the key players involved in this part of the WCIT proposals and preparations is a formerly little-known telco trade body called ETNO (European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association). ETNO has 38 telco members from across Europe - including some major players such as Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Telefonica and Orange/FT, as well as smaller companies such as Albanian operator Albtelecom. A number of non-European telcos and vendors have “observer” status, such as Ericsson, Verizon and NTT DoCoMo, but conspicuously, a few big names are missing from its roster - Vodafone, BT, Bouygues, Hutchison 3 and Virgin Media are absent, for example. ETNO has also jointly run various telecom conferences, and has partnered with consulting firm A.T. Kearney “to conduct a series of joint research activities to promote a better understanding of economic policy in the telecommunications sector”.

ETNO has recently been lobbying vociferously on a broad range of topics, ranging from privacy to Internet/network interconnection business models. It has pitched both the ITU and European Commission and regulators’ group BEREC with various proposals, and its outspoken head, Luigi Gambardella, is a ubiquitous feature of both the conference circuit and social media.

In particular, in June 2012 it submitted proposals to ITU, which have proven extremely controversial. It suggests a move away from the “access and peering” model for Internet services, towards one which looks more like the traditional telecom interconnection/cascading payments structure “to ensure an adequate return on investment in high bandwidth infrastructures, operating agencies shall negotiate commercial agreements to achieve a sustainable system of fair compensation for telecommunications services and, where appropriate, respecting the principle of sending party network pays”. Whilst it does accept continued use of “best efforts” IP network delivery, it also states “Nothing shall preclude commercial agreements with differentiated quality of service delivery to develop”, which takes it headlong into conflict with Net Neutrality and opens a can of worms about competition dynamics and the potential “moral hazard” of changing the way the Internet ecosystem works.

It has defended these proposals robustly, and promoted them around the world, hoping to drum up support from other regions and countries outside Europe, which are sending delegates to WCIT. Its messaging often uses terms such as “level playing field”, “commercial arrangements between players” and “sustainable business models”, although its positions are regarded by some as highly polarising and contentious.

While certain of ETNO’s proposals and positions strike a chord with us at Telco 2.0, we are a little wary that “The Devil is in the detail”. Some of its pronouncements appear compelling at first sight (we support certain differentiated-QoS and “sender pays” models for data, for example), but we are poignantly aware that its positions are very much rooted in shoring up telcos’ businesses and insulating them from the disruptive effects of the Internet. It is notable that ETNO’s Twitter feed seems to report any “victories” against Google, Apple and peers with a measure of glee.

In general, Telco 2.0 feels that perpetuating the “them and us” story of Telcos vs. OTTs is unhelpful and unnecessarily antagonistic. ETNO does not even acknowledge that many operators now have their own Internet and digital OTT-type assets.

So while we are strong believers in operators taking robust defensive measures to protect legacy business and future opportunity, we are uneasy about the possible setting of booby-traps and landmines, or anything which might undermine innovation elsewhere in the technology ecosystem. We advocate defence, but not xenophobic protectionism against the Internet’s more successful companies. In a nutshell, we don’t support subsidising “dumb” pipes through simply taxing the “clever” people - we feel telcos should be, and often are, equally clever in developing and monetising new services, many of which also use the Internet and OTT models.

Some of ETNO’s Internet proposals seem rather poorly thought-through - for example, the definition of “sender” is very vague, especially as in many cases users request and “pull” data rather than having it “sent”. We are wary of the practicalities of implementing ETNO’s ideas, and have serious concerns about unintended consequences, especially if it will be another 25 years before ITRs are revised again. For instance, if charges are levied for imbalances in data “flow” between networks, it is trivially simple to re-engineer applications to send equal and opposite amounts of traffic in both directions, to net out the interconnect. That would likely lead to more overall traffic, congestion and cost, rather than more revenue. (Our associate Dean Bubley takes a rather stronger view on ETNO’s proposals here).

It is also worth noting that ETNO’s focus is on interconnect between countries/networks, rather than relating to Net Neutrality on the customer-facing access part of the broadband network. ETNO’s notion of “a new IP interconnection ecosystem that provides both, best effort delivery and end-to-end Quality of Service delivery” is one that has been proposed (broadly) on many previous occasions, but has failed to gain traction or support. It is worth noting that a recent OECD report found that 99.5% of today’s Internet peering relationships do not have formal contracts and are run “on a handshake”. OECD attributes much of the successful growth of the Internet ecosystem to that model, and also suggests that it is, indeed, “sustainable”, as long as opto-electronics R&D continues to allow ever-faster core network switches to be developed.

Clearly, ETNO’s proposals are just a starting point for negotiations and discussion at WCIT. But they indicate that at least some participants are hoping that the Dubai event completely redefines the relationship between Internet and telecom worlds. It is notable that the draft ITRs suggested as a starting point by ITU include the following ETNO-inspired text:

… to ensure an adequate return on investment in high bandwidth infrastructures, operating agencies shall negotiate commercial agreements to achieve a sustainable system of fair compensation for telecommunications services and, where appropriate, respecting the principle of sending party network pays.

While we would expect many Internet companies to disagree with this, it is interesting that BEREC - the European Regulators’ association and therefore essentially ETNO’s “opposite numbers” in Government - have themselves also rebutted the premise:

There is no evidence that operators’ network costs are already not fully covered and paid for in the Internet value chain

While we at Telco 2.0 certainly agree that innovative broadband business models are desirable, we are not yet convinced that this type of intervention - via a United Nations agency and international treaties - is the best mechanism for enshrining both flexibility and appropriate safeguards.

Cybersecurity

While ETNO’s proposals for new Internet interconnect models maps onto Telco 2.0’s thoughts on new business models in some areas, another issue is perhaps even larger, but indirectly connected. It relates to “Cybersecurity” - and especially the ability of governments and networks (and hence telcos) to better monitor and control what transits their networks.

Instead of ETNO, the lobbyist-in-chief here is probably Russian software company Kaspersky Labs, which was a major sponsor of the recent ITU World conference (also in Dubai, and attended by many of the same attendees as WCIT). The ITU’s Secretary-General also met Russian premier Putin last year - Forbes reported that he said hoped for “establishing international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capability of the International Telecommunications Union”.

Here, the discussion is more nuanced, and relates to the issue of Internet governance. At one level, it is designed to help national governments avoid future risks of cyberwarfare, especially in the light of sophisticated viruses such as Stuxnet, which crippled the Iranian nuclear uranium-enrichment programme for a while, and which is understood to have been of US/Israeli origins. ITU also worked with Kaspersky to analyse the Flame virus, again thought to have been developed by governmental powers hostile to Iran. While this has allowed ITU to claim the moral high ground in proposing methods to track malware at a pan-governmental level, it has also raised uncomfortable questions.

This relates to unease in certain countries (especially Russia and China) about the overall US control of certain Internet bodies like ICANN. While that could be considered the strategic geopolitical risk to those countries, there is a related tactical issue around censorship, or the ability to block/control specific services or content. The recent uprisings in the Middle East have thrown new light on the role of social media in driving revolutions or pro-democracy movements, for example. While viruses (or content piracy) are definitely bogeymen that few will disagree are worth chasing, many participants will have more qualms when faced with comments such as “The Internet must be managed by governments, with a particular focus on the influence of social networks on society”.

A somewhat less contentious part of the theme of Internet control relates to spam, and whether it is possible (and/or desirable) to put in place an international framework to block it via ITRs. While few would disagree that spam is a menace, it is doubtful that institutionalised interception and filtering of email would be broadly popular. Given the spats about encrypted BlackBerry email in certain countries recently, it is questionable whether such a move would purely be about spam, rather than as a diplomatic cover for more general email or communications monitoring.

Other issues

A plethora of other issues are also being discussed during WCIT. The thorny issue of mobile roaming is one such area. There is growing sense in some quarters of the industry that competition here doesn’t work - evidenced by per-minute calling fees that often remain stubbornly above $1/minute for many roamers, especially outside of regions with price-regulation such as the EU. A number of operator executives have themselves indicated that egregiously-high pricing is almost an embarrassment, as it is clearly hard to justify to customers - and thus can undermine loyalty. Nevertheless, many operators - and the GSMA - appear reticent to kill the golden goose, suggesting instead that individual governments or bilateral deals can help to lower prices. Telco 2.0 recognises the importance of roaming revenues and profits to some operators - but also feels that ITU may have the moral high ground on this issue, as pricing seems to be disconnected from underlying costs to a significant degree.

Less contentious are ITU’s proposals to remove the risk of “double taxation” of international telecoms services, in both originating and terminating countries.

Personalities and politics

One thing that can be expected at WCIT is the emergence of certain individuals or countries as champions, advocates or obstacles. Given such a highly politicised gathering, with ministers and UN officials, it is also likely that some machinations will relate more to personal influence and power, rather than objectively what is “right”. We don’t pretend to understand the attitudes of each individual involved, but it can reasonably be assumed that most of the attendees - from Secretary-General Touré downwards - have broader career ambitions than just regulating phone calls and web-browsing.

This is also likely to occur at an organisational level. ITU itself is thought by many to be somewhat anachronistic and unrepresentative of the modern communications environment. It is aware of this, and is trying to recreate its role and image for the 21st Century, despite its 19th Century heritage from the era of telegraphy. One thing that we have noticed in recent years is a slight sense from ITU that “telecoms is too important to leave up to the telcos” - and it is clearly trying to extend its reach to the Internet as well. There is also a certain amount of tension between ITU and GSMA, about where the central locus of telecoms-industry power resides. Some of the responses to the draft ITRs from GSMA have seemed pretty dismissive - especially about roaming and cybersecurity, for which it feels ITRs and treaties are inappropriate tools for change, as they lack flexibility and nuance.

Many countries’ delegations should be watched closely. It is widely felt that the Russian authorities are wary of the US hold over key Internet bodies such as ICANN, while the Chinese and Arabic nations are also - perhaps less blatantly - interested in prospects for Internet control. It is probably worth noting that some nations such as China and UAE already “firewall” Internet access to the outside world, while Iran has recently discussed creation of a completely separate “Halal” intranet for its citizens and perhaps the wider Islamic world.

Another group to watch are countries that currently enjoy large “imports” of telecoms minutes, benefiting from inward revenue flows from call termination. They are keen to avoid revenue erosion from VoIP, and would also be very interested in extending the model to data traffic, as per ETNO’s suggestions. This is particularly true for countries where governments still hold sizable direct stakes in incumbent operators, and therefore see interconnect fees as direct inward capital flows.

The stance and participation of the US is important to scrutinise as well - whether its delegates lobby broadly and deeply for consensus, or whether it becomes more internal, shrugs its shoulders and just refuses to ratify anything it disagrees with. Obama’s re-election may alter both its attitude (the Democrats are more pro-Neutrality than Republicans) and the attitude of other countries to its persuasion. The US has already taken a strong stance against ITU exerting control over the Internet, including passing a resolution in Congress asserting the primacy of the current “multi-stakeholder” model of Internet governance.

Our sense is that many OECD countries (especially Western Europe and Japan) will side with the US on many issues. Notably, the European Regulators’ Group BEREC has castigated the ETNO Internet proposals publicly in very strong terms, and raises similar issues to those we mention above “put simply, ETNO is trying to extract additional revenues from its existing network assets, in a bid to reassert control over a changing communications ecosystem”. We also sense that some of the issues on cybersecurity and Internet business models are of much less concern to certain developing nations than fostering broadband availability and local Internet/ICT industries and expertise.

Propaganda and counter-propaganda

In recent months, the noise about WCIT has ramped up significantly, as many Internet lobby and activist groups have woken up to it. While some of these are relatively measured and responsible, a broad swathe of fringe or niche-interest groups is being more careless with their facts and interpretations. There is considerable disquiet about the perceived “backroom” preparations and negotiations that are taking place (not unusual for a UN agency or national bodies engaging in “diplomacy”), and there are already attempts at enforcing transparency through guerrilla tactics like the “WCITleaks” website.

For its part, ITU has made something of a nod towards openness and public engagement, with an open consultation soliciting responses from a broad range of interested (and interesting) parties, and a July 2012 posting of the draft ITR changes suggested. It has also published a presentation on “myths” about WCIT, and has strongly rebutted a number of claims.

As if the flood of information, misinformation, rhetoric and invective isn’t enough, we would not be at all surprised if activist group Anonymous also gets involved - probably in its customary heavy-handed fashion. If we were security advisers to the world’s telecoms ministers and regulators, we would be suggesting hardening websites and other assets against denial-of-service or other attacks during December.

Conclusion & recommendations

At this stage, it is probably too late for telcos and vendors to make substantive impacts on the outcome of WCIT, although keeping in touch with their countries’ delegations will be important. It may however be possible to send observers to the event, or even have staff be included as part of certain countries’ delegate groups. It may be worthwhile having a team on standby to provide backup data or other material, which could be offered to negotiators via lobbyists or other channels to illustrate a key point or recommendation.

Overall, we think it is in the ITU members’ interest to encourage innovation, wherever it comes from (and it is worth pointing out the increasing relevance of web/OTT players emerging from Africa, Asia and Latin America - developing countries may well be hosting “the next Google and Facebook” already, and we would not like to see them disadvantaged). While we are keen to see new telecom business models evolve, we are not certain that enshrining them in global government-level treaties is the right approach - unintended consequences seem inevitable, especially given the pace of technology and market evolution compared to the speed of supra-national legislative change.

We feel that ITU has a hugely important role to play in creating core telecoms standards, and extending the reach and value of telecoms and Internet access to bridge the “digital divide”. Oversight of aspects such as roaming and fraud management also seems a wise move, given the increasingly international nature of communications. But we are concerned that ITRs may not be the right vehicle to manage the overall relationship between governments and the Internet, not least because of the lack of consensus on the role of openness and intervention at a network level. That may be better confined to national legislation and regulation.

Telco 2.0’s views

Telco 2.0 is not broadly a political organisation - we exist to promote innovation and drive digital transformation. We also believe strongly that these should be forces that improve the lot of people and businesses across the globe.

We believe that the ‘Internet’ has to respect the laws of the land in which it is consumed. We also believe that freedom of speech fuels innovation, innovation drives economic growth, and economic growth and freedom of speech together reduce social unrest and promote wellbeing.

We therefore hope that regulators and governments alike should value and pursue these goals and accord freedoms and rules that achieve them.

However, we also recognise that not all ‘freedoms of communication or action’ are beneficial. There are relatively black-and white examples, such as that child porn should not be made or propagated. There are many more ‘grey areas’ just in terms of the moral and legal aspects, and further complexities even within the semantics of definitions (e.g. what does ‘consumption’ mean - is it when a piece of content is viewed or when it is downloaded?).

Despite the importance of the ITU’s role, we don’t think it would be a significant improvement over the current arrangements for the ITU to take on the responsibility for governing the internet. It seems difficult to imagine that the ITU would prove a suitably positioned and dynamic body to take on such a complex issue, especially with the range of powerful international political forces at play within the UN.

However, we do think that the World Economic Forum’s work in this area provides the basis for a more enlightened, independent and practical approach. For example, on the issue of cybersecurity, we recommend this WEF article: Risk and Responsibility in a Hyperconnected World: Pathways to Global Cyber Resilience.

We will be continuing to monitor, report, and analyse the outcomes of the WCIT, and look forward to further dialogue with our customers and readers on this issue online and at our upcoming brainstorms in Singapore (3-5 December 2012, 19-20 March 2013 Silicon Valley, and 5-6 June 2013, London).

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November 26, 2012

Chinese Smartphone Market Explodes; Bharti M-Money; Autonomygate - Telco 2.0 News Review

In the build-up to our Asia-Pacific Executive Brainstorm next week in Singapore, 3-5 Dec, this week’s review focuses on the region.

China’s smartphone market is about to explode, blogs Kai Fu Lee. A year ago, there were 50 million smartphones, with typical pricing $500 for the device and $30/mo for service. Now, there are 250 million, “basic” Androids cost $100, and “acceptable” ones $200, and 58% of subscribers have access to wireless broadband.

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And who’s going to scoop the pot? Gartner reckons Lenovo is likely to be the biggest manufacturer, although at the moment they’re behind Samsung, the great beneficiary of the Android disruption. Here’s a moderately critical review of their Ideapad Yoga 13, an Ultrabook-based laptop-tablet which has the interesting feature that it converts by simply folding the screen all the way back through 360 degrees. Jeff Atwood is more positive.

Samsung, for their part, audited their Chinese suppliers after criticism from China Labour Watch.

Meanwhile, HTC denied claims that it was paying Apple a $8/phone royalty on Android devices. A court has ordered HTC to publish the terms of the agreement, at Samsung’s request, so we’ll know soon enough.

Huawei’s G330 model, a sub-$100 Android, will be appearing in the UK fairly soon.

Indian hacker claims to have a zero-day exploit of Google Chrome. It looks like Android users are less forgiving of crashy software than iOS users.

Here’s a preview of the Android future in China. OK, so China Mobile sells a lot of those MiFi pocket-hotspot WLAN devices, backhauled by their 3G network. Apparently 80% of them are sold in Shenzhen, which is interesting as it’s Huawei HQ and they produce enormous quantities of these things. Legally, there’s an EIRP cap at 100mW transmitter power, but there are apparently black-market ones, or possibly hacked ones, that crank it up to 11.

Which is a serious problem, because the Shenzhen Metro system chose to use the 2.4GHz band for its signalling system, and now the 2.4s are flooded with pocket hotspots. For obvious reasons of safety, the signals are designed to fail on red and stop all the trains. Apparently, 7 of them in a train are enough to constitute a denial of service attack on a whole line. The Metro got China Mobile to turn off 3G data for a day in order to rule out interference between the cellular network and their network, but of course this will only help if the users also turn them off.

CallMeInChina lets you map a local phone number in your home country to a Chinese number, saving your friends the pleasure of dialling 17 digit numbers and paying sky-high international rates.

Pakistan banned cheap late-night phone plans for being immoral. And here’s an interview with Mayasahi Son of Softbank about his plans for Sprint.

Bharti Airtel has expanded its mobile money transfer service across 17 African markets, using the HomeSend hubbing service from Belgacom’s International Carrier Services division.

In other bottom-of-the-pyramid news, here’s Nokia’s Asha 205, a Series 40 device with a QWERTY keyboard, heavily optimised for social networking and backed by their Xpress Opera Mini-like cloud-compressing browser. More at the Nokia blog - they’re also proud of the dual-SIM capability, which lets you switch between SIMs on the fly and remember the settings for up to five of them, and the battery life.

The GSMA thinks Africa could benefit by around $34bn if it could find some more spectrum to accommodate mobile data traffic growing at 46% annually. Which would be handy if Ethan Zuckerman is right in saying that African hackers are the world’s leading innovators.

Microsoft is experimenting with a data centre that generates power from biogas extracted from a sewage works.

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has a mobile application! Get notified if your wife leaves the country. It’s compulsory.

It was Black Friday last week and now it’s Cyber Monday. It must be time for some Retail 2.0 news. Business Insider quotes a report suggesting that the impact of Facebook and Twitter referrals on sales was basically zero. Oddly, no link to his pre-IPO Facebook predictions.

However, Horace agrees that Android users (at least in the US) are less valuable, as the percentage of shopping traffic from them actually fell as the Android installed base surged. It’s baffling, but he works through it with typically superb charts, to arrive at this.

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Perhaps price- and marketing-push driven adoption has brought the late adopters in early, and they struggle to get the best from the devices?

It’s not down to a lack of shopping apps. Here’s Ars Technica’s suggested collection. Interestingly, AllThingsD points out that a lot of users aren’t shopping on mobile devices but rather with them, going to the shops and then looking for price comparisons and product reviews on their phones. This implies that a VRM or customer experience approach may be more interesting than an advertising one.

And the FTC is apparently struggling to find evidence that Google has harmed consumers in their anti-trust case.

RIM shares hopped 5 per cent after one of the most vocal bears changed his mind, having heard that BB OS10 is now on time. Mind you, the US National Transportation Safety Board also dropped their BlackBerry fleet this week.

Nokia’s HERE app for iOS dropped this week, and it gets reviews. The app is here.

Here’s a really interesting point about the iPhone - because it requires substantial handset subsidy to shift the units, Apple has to constrain its availability in order to create a competitive advantage for the carriers that subsidise it.

Google’s Nexus 4 has LTE support in stealth mode, covering only the 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands. The XDA-Dev crowd identified it and, inevitably, there’s now an app that lets you select it as a preferred network.

Microsoft Kin usability testing - the outtakes!

Jolla, the startup trying to revive Maemo/Meego Linux, has shown off their Sailfish OS, and they claim to have their first distribution deal in place. Shiny is expected for MWC.

And the chief of cameras at Nokia quits.

HP took a monster $8bn charge to profits last week, via a writedown of the value of Autonomy, and claims this is because it discovered an accounting fraud there. Their statement was clearly very carefully lawyered.

In contrast, Peter Eavis (who you may remember exposed much of the fraud at Enron) argues that the practices HP mentioned accounted for possibly 10 per cent of Autonomy’s revenues and can’t possibly explain the massive write-off. He suspects HP of kitchen-sinking the Q3 numbers in order to make next year’s, the first ones under the new CEO Meg Whitman, look better by comparison.

In network news, Benoit Felten argues that AT&T’s “New Paradigm” network upgrade essentially means the end of the US universal service regime. Dave Burstein comments over here.

OFCOM has issued a consultation paper on how white-space spectrum would work in the UK. The document is here.

The FCC has set conditions for DISH’s effort to rehash the LightSquared concept. The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog explains the benefits of LTE.

And Google is seeing 1% of traffic over IPv6 for the first time ever.

Orange has announced a strategic alliance with Akamai to provide a CDN service to their enterprise customers via Orange Business Services. Benoit Felten discusses it from a net neutrality perspective here.

The AWS Blog has a case study of using Amazon CloudFront with a third-party front-end optimiser.

Ever wanted to be an AWS Solutions Architect?

Equinix has started a carrier-neutral IX in Dubai.

Skype 3 is here. NoJitter has run-down of browser support for WebRTC.

Ericsson Research’s Bowser now supports videoconferencing and is available as an app.

Did the shutdown of filesharing site Megaupload actually reduce the movie business’s income? A group of researchers think it might, with the effect being concentrated on smaller productions. They argue that the filesharers tended to transfer information from people with a low willingness to pay - i.e. themselves - to people with a higher willingness to pay, who then paid.

Pulselocker is an all-you-can-eat music service for DJs, which stashes the whole library locally but encrypts it. That’s probably not going to last.

Google has launched a huge augmented-reality game.

BBC Research has had an interesting workshop on how the Internet of Things integrates with content and media, which is a refreshingly creative way to think about it.

An interview with last.fm inventor Richard Jones.

The API for your car. An app that rewards you for not using your phone. The world’s startup centres, we’re no.7.

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Cloud 2.0: Telstra, Singtel, China Mobile Strategies


We’ve just published an extract from our upcoming report ‘Cloud 2.0: Telco Strategies in the Cloud’, which outlines the key components of Telstra, Singtel and China Mobile’s cloud strategies, and how they compare to the major ‘Big Technology’ players (such as Microsoft, VMWare, IBM, HP, etc.) and ‘Web Giants’ such as Google and Amazon. See here for more.

The report’s lead author, Bob Brace (ex-Vodafone Head of Cloud) will be discussing our findings at Digital Asia next week, 3-5 December, Singapore.

telstra cloud radar chart nov 2012.png

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November 21, 2012

Smart Steps: Telefonica Digital cracks open the data pile

Remember this Telco 2.0 blog post from way back in 2008? And even this one from 2007? We’ve been arguing for years that the operators’ data resources are a major opportunity, and more recently we’ve been participating in efforts to solve the privacy, security, and operational barriers to making use of it through the World Economic Forum’s Personal Data Ecosystem project.

So, what about some implementation? After all, implementation is the subject of a major forthcoming Telco 2.0 strategy report.

We’ve often written about Telefonica, especially about the BlueVia developer environment, their wholesale CDN product, their efforts to diffuse innovations between their European and Latin American contexts with Wayra, the highly successful O2 Media advertising unit with projects like Priority Moments, and we mention their partnership with Joyent for mobile-optimised Node.js hosting in the cloud in our forthcoming Cloud 2.0 Strategy Report.

Telefonica Digital, the integrated business unit that holds all their Telco 2.0 projects (there’s a good overview here - note the focus on spreading successes like O2 Media from the UK to Brazil), has just launched a new data product, Smart Steps.

Smart Steps is a mapping tool that shows levels of footfall, dwell times, flows, and other data about how O2 UK subscribers move around British cities. It provides crossbreaks of the data on various demographic factors, and provides for like-for-like comparisons. The target markets are retailers, stadiums, event organisers, transport operators, and government.

There’s a video here.

Note that they’re not falling into the trap of thinking that data = advertising. There’s much more that can be done with data than just trying to get people to click on ads, and with the kind of cost per click that even Google is getting these days, there are probably more profitable things that can be done with it. They’re also marketing the tool through a partnership with market research firm GfK, showing the need for the right channels to market.

And he data view, and the tool, are designed to aggregate out personally-identifying information. They describe it as being “about crowds, not individuals” - a good sound-bite summary of how to make use of personal data in itself. It’s important to avoid the traps of overtargeting, oversharing, and overcomplicating.

We recall a presentation from dunnhumby, the company responsible for one of the most successful data operations ever, Tesco Clubcard, at one of our events - surprisingly, the vast quantity of data collected by Clubcard was used to classify customers into as few as eight groups. The beauty of this is of course that they were the right eight groups, the ones that captured useful insights into customer behaviour.

We also wonder if the data set that underlies Smart Steps might be the one generated by Priority Moments. As the users who opt in to Priority Moments check in at venues and shops, and they also use O2’s WLAN hotspots, they generate a lot of location-based information that’s specifically retail-related. Now that’s a two-sided business model.

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November 19, 2012

Vodafonica Pain; LTE Jam; US “Peak Text” passed?; Samsung mobile eclipses Google - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. If you’re a key player in the APAC market, you should join the action in two weeks at Digital Asia, 3-5 December, Capella Resort Hotel, Singapore - apply here. One issue we’ll be looking at is the industry’s outlook on today’s markets, and here’s a chart from our Digital Arabia event in Dubai last week that gives interesting context to the stories below on the European woes of Vodafone and Telefonica (see our analysis here if you missed it).

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We think there’s a danger that telcos not feeling the heat right now might risk being complacent - we certainly saw a lack of urgency in a lot of European telcos unitil the pain really struck. We’ll be exploring what telcos can do about it at the brainstorm and in upcoming research.]

This week saw the European economic crisis strike Vodafone, forcing the company to write off £5.9bn of the southern European networks’ value and take a technical loss. Our detailed coverage is here. Telefonica is also, as you might expect, badly hit. The carrier is especially under pressure because of the debts it ran up during 10 years of land-grab acquisitions (unlike Vodafone, where the shareholders took the strain). So, are they going to float O2? They already floated a stake in O2 Germany…

Meanwhile, Telecom Italia is holding a top-level meeting on Thursday to make a major strategic distinction. Naguib Sawaris is apparently interested in buying a stake in the company, and there are two other issues on the agenda - do they spin off the Italian fixed-line network, and do they buy Vivendi’s Brazilian operator GVT? Telekom Austria, for its part, may be about to buy low-cost MVNO and ISP, yesss, which has to be spun off from Orange Austria as a condition of Hutchison’s acquisition of that operator. Austria is going down from four to three mobile operators - we can remember when there were six, which made it Europe’s most over-served market by a distance.

Telkom saw a painful hit to H1 revenues, plus a $55 million fine from the regulator. Sistema, having lost its Indian licences, may be thinking of buying Aircel. Megafon has added ex-minister and City figure Lord Myners to its board in preparation for the IPO.

Here’s a deep dive into Vodafone Turkey’s Farmers’ Club initiative, which now has 700,000 subscribers.

Is China’s regulator going to start its own operator? It seems to be some sort of triple-play ISP using wholesale service from the three major operators. There’s a bit more detail here.

Designing a tariff plan with Andrews & Arnold.

Low-power jamming attacks on LTE networks. That doesn’t sound much fun.

Is Google plotting something with DISH? There’s a rumour that the two are planning something like LightSquared’s effort to hack the regulatory system, and use a block of spectrum assigned for satellite services for LTE. DISH, of course, is also cooperating with Verizon’s rural LTE “cantenna” project.

Here’s an interesting study - Nielsen deployed a network-monitoring app to 1,500 Android users, and discovered that 78% of their data consumption is on WLAN.

The UK may move its digital terrestrial band again, in 2018, to clear the 700MHz band for “5G networks”, or more likely, finally sorting out LTE roaming. A bit.

Cisco has confirmed it’s going to start making cellular gear, specifically small cells. They’ve also acquired Meraki, a cloud-based management platform for WLAN devices.

Benoit Felten is interviewed about STOKAB and municipal fibre.

And the scientists are arguing - did somebody invent a way of encoding information onto the spin-state of radio waves, making enormous capacity increases possible, or did they just create a MIMO link between two rapidly spinning antennas?

Zahid from the 3G and 4G Wireless Blog explains LTE-Advanced.

Of course, the great consumer of bandwidth is video. Benoit links to a paper by Akamai researchers on user tolerance for latency and buffering. It is minimal, although interestingly, users are much more tolerant of latency in a mobile context.

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Meanwhile, Akamai acquired a transparent-caching company to integrate into its licensed-CDN product.

High Scalability has a typically excellent piece on how Justin.tv streams live video at scale. Live is hard, as caching and buffering won’t save you. Justin.tv’s engineering VP, Kyle Vogt, explains in quite a bit of detail, just how it works.

Yet again, the IP multicast technology that was meant to solve all this stuff can’t be used because nobody deployed it. So, in many ways, Justin.tv has to implement a multicast overlay itself. Pure networking and Internet peering issues are a big part of the solution. And the software nodes can be either input nodes or output servers, depending on the decisions taken by an auto-scaling algorithm.

Because pure networking issues are so important, they were forced to move out of the Amazon Web Services cloud and into their own dedicated co-los. Everything has to stay in RAM.

BT is looking for somewhere in London to put a TV studio. Redesigning the BBC homepage and making it responsive. Tagging radio. A new buzzword: hypervideo.

Horace notes that Google’s operating margins are under pressure.

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Meanwhile at Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer is planning to rank-and-yank the bottom 20%. How does the free food taste now?

We’ve been watching AOL’s micro-datacentre, as well as other “modular” or “tactical” data centre projects. It’s now handling 25% of their web traffic. Interestingly, though, the biggest barrier to greater adoption is still porting existing applications.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s giant DC in North Carolina succeeded in running through the summer with only fresh-air cooling, in an experiment to see how much heat the servers tolerated before the failure rate went out of limits.

However, as the CEO of data-centre builder Digital Realty says, there are reasons to think that big data centres are approaching limits on their power efficiency. A gem is buried in this post: it looks like the huge flagship projects for single customers like Google or Facebook, and the multi-customer data centres, are diverging. Perhaps it’s easier to get a grip on energy efficiency if you own the whole building and control the loads? This suggests that the private cloud might have an advantage.

And there’s a data dump on Time Warner Cable’s new Charlotte DC.

Who’s going to lose in the cloud? ZDNet discusses.

Last week, we blogged on the failure of Mitt Romney’s campaign IT. This week, the Amazon Web Services Blog discusses Barack Obama’s successful campaign IT, which ran entirely in the AWS cloud. Most of the Obama engineering team will be appearing at the AWS reInvent show, although we note that they also used AWS’s own consultants.

Text messaging may have peaked in the United States.

RIM has launched the new version of BBM, Messenger 7, into beta. And it includes voice.

Dan York notes that his readers are still searching for advice about SIP with Google Voice.

AT&T relaunches PTT on its LTE network. Is Twitter about to “pivot”? (And does that mean “become unusable”?)

German trade unions denounce T-Mobile USA call centres for making workers wear “donkey ears”.

Nokia has rolled its maps, location, and related technologies into a single cloud-based service called Here, and has also just acquired a 3D mapping company. The core of the technology is based on HTML5, but it will be available in an app for iOS, and they are working on integrating it with Firefox OS.

(Tell us you don’t secretly want a Lumia 920 running Firefox OS.)

There’s some more here.

Meanwhile, Thorsten Heins is being optimistic about BlackBerry 10. The gadgets will drop on the 30th of January, bearing out predictions that they’ll miss Christmas. He’s also hoping that concentrating on the fat head of the app market will work.

On the other hand, Android 4.2 doesn’t support the month of December, and according to Horace, Android doesn’t support Google’s business model either!

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(We said as much as long ago as March 2011, and reiterated it this spring.)

John Paczkowski from AllThingsD points out that Apple shares reliably slide every autumn.

Will Apple seek a negotiated settlement of the FRAND issues with Google, like they did with HTC? And why is Samsung so keen to see a copy of the terms? Could peace break out, in short?

Texas Instruments is reducing its commitment to smartphones. HTC’s latest fights the screen pixel wars, but like the megapixel wars in cameras, this means sacrifices in overall performance.

Airport worker steals 3,600 iPads, tells his friends first.

Android virus goes after mobile TAN banking security.

And finally…everyone knows the classic Giles Gilbert Scott red phone box. But how many of you have seen its modernist successor, the last of the red boxes?

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November 16, 2012

The Brutal Future is Here: Europe’s woes hit Voda and Telefonica

In our recent European Mobile: The Future’s Not Bright, It’s Brutal Executive Briefing, we predicted that European operators faced a grim future.

Even in the UK and Germany, the markets with the brightest future, STL Partners forecasts a respective 19% and 20% decline in mobile core services (voice, messaging and data) revenues by 2020. The UK has less far to fall simply because the market has already contracted over the last 2-3 years whereas the German market has continued to grow. We forecast a decline of 34% in France over the same period.

In Italy and, in particular, Spain we forecast a brutal decline of 47% and 61% respectively. Overall, STL Partners anticipates a reduction of 36% or €30 billion in core mobile service revenues by 2020. This equates to around €50 billion for Europe as a whole.

Like the medical profession, we don’t always like being correct when our diagnoses are pessimistic. So it is with some regret that we note that our forecasts are being borne out by the latest reports from from southern Europe. Vodafone has been forced into a loss for H1 2012, after it wrote down the value of its Spanish and Italian OpCos by £5.9bn. Here’s why:

eurobloodbath.png

The writedown is of course non-cash, and those of us who remember Chris Gent’s Vodafone will be familiar with the sensation. But the reasons for it could not be more real. Service revenue has fallen sickeningly, down 7.9% across Europe, 1.4% groupwide.

See the rest of our detailed analysis in full on our research portal. It includes analysis of Telefonica’s results as well as Vodafone’s.

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November 12, 2012

AT&T’s $14Bn NGN; India’s spectrum flop; Samsung beats Apple - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. A bumper fortnight’s review this week as we’re just back from our Digital Arabia event in Dubai last week. It was a fantastic brainstorm with really senior attendees from across the digital economy, and we saw a lot of exciting things move forward. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the most interesting participant votes on M-Commerce strategies:

Digital Arabia m-COMMERCE vote Nov 2012.png

We’ll be publishing a lot more in the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you’re a key player in the APAC market, you should join the action at Digital Asia, 3-5 December, Capella Resort Hotel, Singapore - apply here.]

Teresa Mastrangelo’s The Voice of Broadband blogs up AT&T’s Project Velocity IP (VIP), which is essentially their NGN rollout. AT&T plans to spend $14bn, $8 on wireless and $6 on fixed, on a huge network upgrade. The plan is conservative on FTTH, with only a million new connections planned, essentially to businesses, and aggressive on LTE and IPTV. The number of LTE POPs is going to double by the end of 2014, and another 8.5 million locations will get U-Verse IPTV.

Perhaps the single biggest story in this, though, is the massive commitment to small cells. Project VIP foresees 10,000 new macro-cells and no fewer than 40,000 small cells. A lot of eurovendor sales execs’ ski passes are riding on this one, make no mistake.

On the other hand, North American telcos were struggling against the cable networks’ upgrades when it came to broadband net adds, even if IPTV subscriptions have stabilised for the time being.

Meanwhile, Dealbook has a chat with CEO Randall Stephenson and AT&T turns Apple FaceTime over cellular on.

Hurricane Sandy hit New York City after the last News Review went out, and Renesys monitored the outages and reported that although only 10% of Manhattan-based networks were down, teledensity is such that this was equivalent to the whole of Austria dropping out of the routing table.

However, as they point out here, the long-haul carriers were amazingly resilient. So much so that a SunGard data centre became a refugee centre. That’s from Data Center Knowledge, which also rounds up progress on restoring data centres in the area.

David S. Isenberg blogs on the impact of a smart grid on recovery from a major storm.

In other networks news, the re-auction of the Indian GSM spectrum is a go…and a flop, as the five carriers involved seem to have found some of the “circles” too pricey. This all started when the 3G auction turned into a bidding war, with the result that the sale of the 2G spectrum was thought to have been too cheap. As a result, everyone decided that obviously only corruption could explain it.

Perhaps it was just that the 3G spectrum was overpriced?

OFCOM has at last issued the rules and timetable for the 4G auction. Bids must be in by the 11th of December, the auction itself will happen in January, with services going live in June.

MegaFon is going to raise £2bn through a partial IPO in London. Vodacom is looking for acquisitions in Africa.

Verizon’s LTE for Rural America program, which leases LTE spectrum in the 700MHz band to RLECs, who deploy the network, run a service, and provide interconnect for VZW users, has signed up Cellular One. GiffGaff is down, and the Register is polling its readers to find out if they want to hear about outages there any more.

New Zealand’s shared-infrastructure operator has asked artists to decorate its street cabinets. A gallery is here (hat-tip to Benoit).

Virgin Media has been running trials of “Small Cells as a Service”, which looks to be an outsourced offering where they host your small cells around their co-ax network. There’s a detailed report here.

Unfortunately, plans for a new emergency alert system based on cell broadcast are struggling because iOS, among others, barely supports broadcast even though it’s been part of GSM forever.

Windows Phone 8 incorporates Devicescape’s automated WLAN log-on, which keeps an eye on free hotspots and works out which hoops you need to jump through to make them work. And a new M2M standards group emerges in Cambridge.

French politician blames Free for Alcatel’s sales.

Strategy Analytics reckons that the Samsung Galaxy S III outsold the iPhone 4S in the quarter, accounting for an impressive 10.7% of world smartphone shipments in Q3 as against 9.7% for the iPhone. Obviously, Apple’s sales will have been negatively affected by the shadow of the iPhone 5. The same caveat applies to this IDC numberdrop, which reckons Androids made up 75% of world smartphones in the same period.

Horace notes that despite passing 50% North American smartphone penetration, there is no sign of smartphone adoption passing an inflection point yet - it seems to be linear rather than the typical sigmoid curve. But the make up of the mix is changing, becoming much more Android-heavy. The post is a volley of charts, but we think this one sums up the strategic consequences, tracking market share by installed base:

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Who is Android disrupting? Some answers. Meanwhile, BlackBerry OS 10’s Web browser has become one of only two to pass Facebook’s demanding HTML5 benchmark.

Horace notes that Apple’s CAPEX spiked in 2012, going well above the forecast. He thinks a major supplier, possibly Sharp’s troubled touchscreen plant, got into serious financial troubles and was bailed out by Apple.

Apple has settled its patent row with HTC, possibly taking advantage of HTC’s troubles to wind up one of the problems cheaply.

Foxconn is looking at setting up in the US. Rumour: Microsoft buys both Nokia and NVIDIA.

The first security patch for Windows 8 is out. Generating fake SMS messages on Android. Turning iPhones into bugs. Integrate a full Google Analytics harness into your Android app (you could do something similar on BlackBerry two years ago, but never mind).

Is MS Office for iOS and Android coming?

Andy Abramson is looking for Skype bug reports since the cut-over to the Microsoft Live Messenger backend. (We can report having been inexplicably unable to make a SkypeOut call yesteday.) Meanwhile, a privacy storm broke out as the company is accused of handing over information about a WikiLeaks activist without requiring a warrant.

Elsewhere, Skype top-up cards landed in British stores this week.

Virgin Media launched SmartCall, which lets smartphone users make calls on their landline plan when they’re in a WLAN hotspot. Some more drumbeat for Joyn.

The 3G and 4G Wireless Blog blogs a chart showing all 17 possible options for LTE voice.

17LTEVoiceModes.jpg

We were wondering about user tolerance of ads in Facebook timelines. Dan York’s is officially reached.

Interested in customer engagement? Perhaps you’re interested in Twilio too.

A chilly wind blows (or blogs?) down Sand Hill Road, the Valley’s venture capital hub. Peter Kafka reports on Spotify’s valuation, which has come down $1bn between two rounds of financing, apparently driven by the ugly experience of the Facebook IPO, and of course, Groupon.

Ah, Groupon. We were sceptical early, and now they’ve missed Q3s, badly (there was meant to be profit, but there was no profit), and the shares tanked. Reuters points out that the new adjacent business models they’re moving into - like “selling things” - are lower-margin than the core daily deals business, and 39% of merchants who did a Groupon promotion say they won’t do it again.

Meanwhile, Facebook advertisers are still complaining of rampant clickfraud.

Here’s an interesting YouTube story: if you’re playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II, you can now stream the video live on YouTube to demonstrate your fearsome zombie/nazi/robot/mutant-slaughtering skills.

YouTube, for its part, is going to cull 60% of its content investments when the deals come up for renewal. Elsewhere, Google was down in China briefly, and they’re sponsoring free mobile Internet service in the Philippines with Globe Telecom.

Marissa Mayer’s Yahoo! is carrying out a massive user-test campaign on the new home page, rather as you’d expect from a company now run by ex-Googlers.

Someone who could have done with much more user testing this week was Mitt Romney, whose campaign built a mobile Web app that was meant to revolutionise its get-out-the-vote effort. Although some automated load-testing was done, the app was so secret that the activists didn’t get hold of it until the night before. Many of them couldn’t work it. Passwords were wrong. The fact it wasn’t an app, but rather a Web site, fooled some of the users.

Amazingly, the system architecture had 11 database servers but only one Web-facing server for 57,000 users. Romney’s IT consultants decided to place the machines on-premises at the campaign HQ, and the Comcast Business link to the Internet was cut off at one point because the ISP’s automated monitoring thought the barrage of inbound traffic was a denial of service attack. Obama’s, not surprisingly, ran like a killer drone.

On a similar theme, the UK Government Digital Strategy is out, and here is the BBC’s lessons-learned review of the Olympics from a product management viewpoint.

Up in the cloud, here’s an interesting post on enterprise applications in the cloud, based on HP research.

Here is Telefonica’s Instant Servers IaaS product. How to make a Microsoft SharePoint farm on AWS.

And it’s 20 years since the first GSM handset, to say nothing of 8 years since the first version of Mozilla Firefox.

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November 2, 2012

Telcos in the Cloud: 3 strategy groups and 3 future scenarios


We’ve just published an extract (see here) previewing our upcoming report ‘Cloud 2.0: telco strategies in the Cloud’, which outlines the three main groups of telco cloud strategies the report identifies (Hunters, Gatherers and Innovators), and three future market scenarios (Cloud Layers, CloudBurst and CloudFail).

This extract is a sample of the larger research project, and an extract / preview of the Telco 2.0 presentations at the upcoming Digital Arabia and Digital Asia Executive Brainstorms (Dubai, 6-7th November and Singapore, 4th-5th December 2012). Please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003 to find out more.

cloud telco map fig 2 oct 2012.png

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

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