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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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