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December 17, 2012

Sprint ‘Nextel a mistake’; DTAG’s €30bn spree; Facebook advertising strategy - Telco 2.0 News Review

December 10, 2012

LTE Vs Fibre; AT&T drops homegrown CDN; Apple brings Mac home - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. We’re just back from a great Digital Asia in Singapore - for which big thanks to the participants, sponsors, and speakers - and we’re starting to look ahead to the brainstorms in Silicon Valley, 19-20 March 2013, and Europe, 5-6 June 2013. As a taster of the analysis to come, here’s a preview of one of the vote results from Singapore refering to the external use of SE Asian telcos’ data. Big Data will certainly be a big theme in the Valley and Europe too…

DigitalAsia2012 Big Data Vote Slide Chart.png

Plus we’ve just published two bumper strategy reports: A Practical Guide to Implementing Telco 2.0, and Cloud 2.0: Telco Strategies in the Cloud. Email us at contact@telco2.net to find out more.]

At least for the time being, radio has caught up with fibre, at least in the kinds of fibre deployments most operators are willing to undertake. Teresa Mastrangelo writes that FTTH growth in Japan is slowing as two more LTE networks roll out, offering peak rates of 75Mbps. Of course, the usual caveat about mobile broadband applies - you might be able to avoid FTTH, but only by building “fibre to the cellsite”, and at these levels of capacity, “fibre to the small cell”.


Meanwhile, Orange is seeing a share of net adds as high as 80% on fibre, because they’re the only French carrier actively selling it.

BT has cut its wholesale price for FTTP from £60 to £38 a month, although the Openreach install fee is still £1,000 for a run of 500 metres. In York, though, City Fibre’s FTTP network will reach 95% of businesses by 2014, starting off with 110 sites owned by the city council.

We covered Bharti Airtel’s upgrade of its African transport network last week. Alcatel-Lucent got the job, and their release has a bit more detail. Analysys Mason reckons another 44,000 towers are coming to India in the next five years.

Huawei and China Mobile have demonstrated roaming between LTE and TD-LTE networks.

NTT DoCoMo is the latest carrier to pick Jasper Wireless’s M2M service enabler platform. The announcement, here also talks about a “global enterprise M2M” offering but doesn’t provide much detail about whether DoCoMo has just licensed Jasper or whether there is more to the product than that (roaming?).

Here’s a Reuters writeup on Telefonica’s m-health projects.

The New York Times looks at the possibility of a wave of consolidation in Europe. Telecom NZ offers flat-rate data roaming. EE gets a £350m loan from the European Investment Bank.

Are we at a turning point about intellectual property? The judge in Apple vs. Samsung appears to be mostly tired of the whole thing:

“I think it’s time for global peace,” the judge said from the bench. “I think it’d be good for consumers, the industry, and the parties.”…”When is this case going to resolve?” she asked at one point. “This is not a joke, I’m being serious.”

She intends to issue some rulings in the near future, probably dramatically trimming the damages Apple demanded, and “wrap it up”.

Facebook, Google, Zynga, Red Hat, Rackspace, and Dell filed a brief in another patent case denouncing the practice of enormously broad business-method patents. In this particular case, the patent covers:

a “data processing system to enable the exchange of an obligation between parties.”

And it’s no surprise everyone’s getting sick of the patent wars. A paper from Yale Law School suggests that complying with software patents strictly would cost more than the software industry is worth, while Boston University Law School finds that the flow of money to “non-practicing entities”, a.k.a businesses that don’t use patents but just collect royalties on them, keeps rising and rising:


T-Mobile USA has landed the iPhone, after years of clinging on with low-cost SIM only offerings. However, they’re also killing off handset subsidies, or at least they say they are.

It’s looking like 2013 might be a disruptive year in the US market, with T-Mo getting the iPhone and MetroPCS’s VoLTE network to play with, and a wave of investment from Germany, and whatever Sprint-Nextel’s new owners come up with. We have an Analyst’s Note coming to help you navigate it.

Sprint has made DISH an offer, apparently suggesting that DISH could use its wholesale services if Sprint could use DISH’s 2GHz spectrum.

Samsung pushed some more features to the GS III.

This Tomi Ahonen piece points out that Android is now outselling Nokia Series 40, but reminds us a lot of the Android boosterism of a few years back when it was meant to make Google a fortune because they’d…do something…with the data.

Ars reviews the HTC 8X and considers it the best Windows Phone going. Meanwhile, a TD-SCDMA version of the Nokia Lumia 920 is going to China.

Apple is bringing production of some Macs back to the US and back in-house. We’ve known for a while that Apple is much more deeply involved in manufacturing than a lot of people assumed, but this is the iconic moment.

Horace, who suggested two years ago that Apple should control more of its manufacturing and also spotted Apple’s surging investment in machine tools, basks in the credit and discusses the reasons for it. In comments, it’s suggested that the US plant might be intended for a Mac Pro product line next year, and pointed out that the Apple A6 CPU in the current lot of iProducts is fabbed in Austin, Texas and exported to China.

The Austin plant is a Samsung facility, yet another example of the complex co-opetition between Apple and Samsung, but there are rumours Apple is looking at building its own fab in New York state.

It’s argued here that Apple fears its outsourcing to Samsung has helped its competitor learn, rather like Dell outsourcing did for Asus (before Asus did for Dell in the other sense of the word). Alternatively, perhaps Apple now thinks its manufacturing and supply chain operations are its greatest competitive advantage. Design can’t be monopolised, intellectual property seems oversold, and for software there’s Android. But operations excellence in manufacturing requires physical buildings and tooling, that take time and billions to create, and intangible skills that are built by experience and can therefore only be acquired over time. Manufacturing also influences design: see this piece about the noises hardware makes.

Why do Apple apps all get updated about now? Because every developer wants to catch CES. And using Apple Maps to navigate in the Australian outback is considered harmful.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm launches two new Snapdragon chips aimed at the Chinese Android market, and STMicro quit the ST-Ericsson joint venture.

Wired talks to the people behind the popular open-source search solution, Apache Solr and wonders why there’s no open-source search engine out there. The answer is elsewhere in the magazine. They flew a plane over Apple and Facebook’s giant data centres in Prineville, Oregon to take photos. Infrastructure was always as important or more so to Google than the search algorithms, and there’s no such thing as a free data centre.

In China, the demand for data centre rackspace is growing at 20% annually. This Amazon Web Services post has links to most of the talks from their Re:invent conference.

It’s official. AT&T has committed to reselling Akamai’s CDN, closing 13 years’ effort to build their own.

Google + has passed 500 million user accounts, with 135 million monthly active users on a comparable basis and 235 million on Google’s preferred basis. G+ also recently deployed a new feature, “Communities”, basically a threaded discussion group, which seems to be taking off.

Secure Quorum is a Voice 2.0 app that lets you set up emergency conference calls based on predefined templates, using Twilio as the voice and messaging backend. It permits an agenda to be defined for each call and outputs to be logged, and the process can be semi-automatic. Twilio’s queueing features allow you to hunt for alternatives if one of the participants can’t pick up.

The Nokia Conversations blog asks about hacking the dialler in WP8, and reviews a selection of alternative diallers in their app store. They also interview a developer. Interesting to see a vendor positively encouraging Voice 2.0.

All the patents in Apple Siri. Vodafone, Glaxo SmithKline, GAVI, and the British government study ways of improving vaccination programmes with SMS.

An interesting piece on how Kenyan banks reacted to the M-PESA disruption, and how M-PESA itself is changing to keep ahead.

Square starts offering gift cards, integrating with Apple Passbook.

How to be a Hacker News hero.

And Tomi Ahonen has a huge tour de force post on the US presidential election of 2012, in which Narwhal - supported by Twitter, SMS, and big data - beat Orca - supported by e-mail, Facebook, and robocalls - by a landslide. Oh yes, there were those two guys, as well. If you’re interested in big data, the future of advertising, marketing, and political campaigning, outbound call centres, messaging, and social networks…better read it.

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December 3, 2012

China Mobile’s LTE Tenders; ‘high margin M2M’; Joyn in Spain; Cloud price war - Telco 2.0 News Review

Telefonica is moving the HQ of its Latin American operations to Brazil. In part this is preparation for the listing of 10-15% of the division on the US stock market, a move motivated by the need to pay off debts in the European (and especially, Spanish) operation. In part, it’s also a vote of confidence in their strategy of deploying technologies and organisations from Europe into Latin America and then diffusing innovations from Latin America back to the O2 Europe mother ship.

Elsewhere, Bharti is planning to spin off the company that owns Airtel’s towers, in an IPO expected to raise $830m, while Airtel keeps a large stake in the company. At the same time, they completed a major network upgrade in their African markets.

And is a Bharti acquisition in South Africa back on the agenda? Either Cell C, the smaller of the three MNOs, or else Telkom’s MVNO, are in the frame.

Here’s Emerginov, a software toolkit developed by Orange for voice and SMS-controlled applications. The first use case is to support teachers in Madagascar.

China Mobile, meanwhile, is preparing its first LTE device tenders. So far, it’s looking like a dongles-only kick off, even if there are rumours about the iPhone.

US telcos are still being beaten by the cablecos in the fight for broadband subscribers, but paradoxically, while the cablecos saw a slight decline in pay-TV subscribers, the telcos saw an impressive uplift.

The FCC doesn’t like the proposed DISH spectrum deal one bit. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless’s sales of 700MHz spectrum continue.

Syria turned off the Internet, and also the cellular networks, on Friday, as rebels besieged the international airport. Renesys reviews which countries are most at risk.

NSN sells its optical network unit. C&W Comms sells its island networks to Batelco.

Here’s a data-point about Virgin Media’s quiet rollout of public WLAN - a service is due to start in central Leeds by the end of the year, but it will be dependent on demand for “3G and 4G”, so their “small cells as a service” concept is evidently coming.

SFR rolled out France’s first LTE network this week. Actually, they deployed little more than a test network around Lyon, and even their publicity is making more noise about Dual Carrier HSPA than about LTE. But the footprint will of course grow. Details are here.

But the big LTE story this week was a scoop for the Informer: if you’re wondering why your iPhone won’t do LTE on an LTE network, the answer is “because Apple did their own radio survey and decided the network wasn’t good enough to warrant enabling the LTE radio on the iPhones”.

3UK is another operator hoping to get more capacity out of Dual Carrier HSPA before going to LTE. In fact they don’t have much choice after EE bounced the whole industry, at least until the 1800MHz block EE has to hand over to them finally arrives. The evidence from the US is that this will work for a while, as T-Mobile showed, but in the context of an LTE-enabled competitor it will only buy time.

More interestingly, 3UK is getting into M2M, having licensed Ericsson’s M2M platform. Unusually, they consider M2M a high margin sector - this is not a reflection on their retail pricing strategy, but rather a reflection on the M2M applications they are targeting. While a lot of M2M is characterised by low bandwidth, low volume SCADA, they are hoping to specialise in applications like CCTV monitoring that are heavier on the bandwidth.

Vodafone is re-organising its enterprise side, putting the current head of C&WW in charge of four lines of business for “Global Enterprise”, Carrier Services, Hosting & Cloud, and M2M.

Sprint has a history with wholesale, and here’s the latest project. Sprint Velocity is a platform for connected-car applications, including both the connectivity and a variety of APIs and service enablers.

Here’s a good piece on an emerging OS war in connected cars. On one hand, Microsoft and QNX. On the other, a new embedded Linux partnership supported by car makers.

Some more read-out from BBC Research’s recent workshop on M2M/Internet of Things for media and content.

And here’s Tim O’Reilly’s recent presentation on the “industrial Internet”:

In voice & messaging news, this week, 3 Spanish operators jointly deployed Joyn, the RCS-based communications client championed by the GSMA.

Skype 4.2.1 for iOS dropped this week and Dan York notes that it’s all about integration with Microsoft Live Messenger, Microsoft accounts, and the like. But where is the integration with Microsoft applications?

How least-cost routing on inbound voice is killing the RLECs.

A howto from IfByPhone on making call-routing work for your business. James Parton on engaging customers with Twilio.

Why I tolerate Facebook and love Twitter. Will Facebook buy Whatsapp? TechCrunch rumour, not much underpinning.

Novelist and futurist Charlie Stross thinks it’s spam that will finish off telephony as we know it. Watch his comments thread.

Best spoof social network app ever.

Horace has at Samsung, and concludes that all the growth is coming from mobile devices, both in revenue and in profits, in today’s Chart of the Week.


Interestingly, a key factor seems to be that Samsung spends an absolute fortune on marketing and advertising.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs analysts joined the increasing wave of optimism about RIM’s BB OS 10 gadgets. Starting on the 7th of December, developers who use the Titanium cross-platform IDE will get a shiny gadget as soon as their app passes review.

Dismantling a new iMac. Mozilla abandons the crusade against H.264 video. Ars Technica reviews the latest Chromebook and recommends you run Linux on it.

How Motorola failed with software in the 2000s.

Amazon Web Services declared the cloud price war this week, slashing its S3 storage prices by between 24 and 28%. Google was forced to follow suit. Expect more of this, which is why our Cloud 2.0 Strategy Report warns telcos to avoid challenging AWS and their rivals on generic, super-scale enterprise cloud infrastructure.

AWS has also been busy in the secret labs. CTO Werner Vogels’ blog this week announced Redshift, a massive distributed data warehousing service based on a column-store model. Column stores look likely to be the Cool New Thing in databases for the next few years - Google’s Spanner is another. We blogged the technical whitepaper a while ago, here’s the Wired mag writeup.

Another product - AWS Pipeline, a tool for big data workflows.

Amazon has also begun building its own servers, like Google. GigaOm discusses the coopetition between AWS and the companies that both rival it and use its products.

The US federal government has so far managed to shut down 64 data centres as it tries to move systems into its private cloud. The big problem is that only three agencies have provided a complete list of their data centres.

Here’s an interview with Facebook’s top engineer about their Open Graph API. Meanwhile, Google’s Bradley Horowitz is quite crushing about Facebook, although G+ has a hell of a lot of ground to make up.

Spotify founder interviewed on the future of the music industry. He thinks it will be more like private equity than venture capital. ReadWriteWeb has 5 recommended Spotify apps.

Verizon FiOS TV’s apps catalogue. How many downloads, do you think?

The BBC iPlayer’s KPIs for October.

And are we heading for a tech crash, as travel-related startups die?

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