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FaceSearch Saga; more Google & AWS Cloud centres; Europain in Spain - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Diary note: it’s two months to the brainstorm in Silicon Valley, 19-20 March 2013, and then on to our European Brainstorm, 5-6 June 2013. We’ll also be at the Mobile World Congress - email us at contact@telco2.net to find out more.]

Here’s the writeup of Facebook’s new search function. We recommend skipping the cutesy bit about Zuckerberg’s dog at the beginning.

If they want to challenge Google, they need to care even more about cloud infrastructure than they do already. The Facebook-sponsored Open Compute Project is going to unveil some more designs in the next few days, says another somewhat cute and fluffy Wired piece. Data Center Knowledge has much more information, including that Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, and Rackspace are using OCP hardware and many more component makers have joined the initiative.

Some more detailed discussion here - at the moment, Facebook itself seems to be mostly interested in storage and in having a balanced mix of servers providing in-memory or Flash storage for content delivery and ones with very big hard drives to pack away the long tail of photos.

While we’re talking vendors, Huawei’s results are in and they’re impressive.

The cloud is a moving target. Google just started a $600m data centre project in South Carolina, which doubles the capacity of an existing site Google doubled in 2010. Amazon, meanwhile, acquired two more data centres in northern Virginia, possibly responding to the repeated outages in the US-EAST AWS region. Interestingly, both sites are relatively small, below 200,000 square feet, which seems to reflect an Amazon policy.

AWS’s revenues are expected to pass $3.8bn any moment now. Having taken 8 years to reach $650m in revenues, that suggests they’re hurtling up the steep bit of the adoption curve. The big problem from now on will be reaching new customer groups. And here’s a 2012 list to keep - a list of technical resources the AWS Blog published during the year.

Dan York blogs the roll-out of Facebook voice to iOS in the United States, and reports that you have to have an Apple device and you have to install both the Facebook app and Facebook Messenger. You might even call it “just another VoIP app”. And there is no interoperability with the PSTN.

Asked, Skype says it’s nothing to do with them, which suggests that the Skype-Facebook partnership is looking pretty sick.

Meet Plivo, the start-up that lets you link WebRTC and SIP.

So, that Free-YouTube peering war. Benoit Felten has a detailed report back from the French government’s meeting, which makes a succession of excellent points - the sums of money theoretically involved in “sender pays” aren’t very much, and ISPs have to make their money from what their customers are willing to pay, traffic ratios are a red herring when the access network is heavily asymmetric, and DailyMotion, unlike YouTube, can benefit from its parent France Telecom’s presence.

And then Neelie Kroes got involved, with a statement that oddly conflates the issue with cookies, etc. Meanwhile, Free reversed and stopped filtering Google adverts. France Telecom, for its part, claims that it is being paid by Google to deliver traffic, which could mean paid peering, could mean preference, or could mean a CDN service.

Time Warner Cable claims, on the other hand, that Netflix won’t let it have various content unless it accepts Netflix CDN servers. TWC’s PR advisers have decided to frame this as a net neutrality issue, but the question here is surely why anyone would object to taking masses of Netflix streaming off their core network.

“Other” may now be the handset vendor of the future. Ben Evans blogs that the biggest driver of Android growth in China is no-name shanzhai, typically not using the Google services. As he points out here, the entry-level price for an Android 2.3 device is down to $45. Inevitably, this has powered spectacular, explosive growth. Horace Dediu contributes a chart:


But it’s far harder to see how Google is making much money out of it. Ben Evans comes to the same conclusion we did - the main point was fear of an Apple monopoly.

Meanwhile, with vast numbers of out-of-date and unmanaged Androids roving around China, it’s no surprise that a million-phone botnet has emerged, based on the Android.Troj.mdk virus.

After the surge of “is the iPhone over” stories, the backlash; some analysts are arguing that if Apple is cutting back orders for components, it may be because the international roll-out of iPhone 5 was much faster this time and therefore, the transition from pre-launch stockbuilding to steady-rate production was earlier.

RIM is considering licensing BBOS 10. An interesting new feature: BlackBerry Balance, which lets the user hush the work-related and BES-managed elements of the device when they don’t want to be disturbed. Surely the insistent, blinking red service LED is a key element in the CrackBerry user experience?

The BlackBerry DevBlog looks at the new platform’s support for VoIP app development.

Here’s a rundown of projects to port Firefox OS to more phones. Nokia wants you to 3D-print your own cases for the Lumia 820. Meanwhile, 20% of Nokia shares have been lent out by the shareholders so someone else can go short.

So what’s up with Spain, where SMS volumes are diving even as pricing falls? We dealt with this over here - what’s going on is that customers, under economic pressure, have discovered WhatsApp. And once behaviour has shifted, it’s unlikely to shift symmetrically back if SMS gets cheaper or growth returns. That’s disruption.

The upshot: Vodafone.es is dropping 1,000 jobs. Both Vodafone and Telefonica have tried trimming their handset subsidies as a way of protecting margins in Spain. As Informa’s Wireless Intelligence reports, the results are mixed. Telefonica saw a short-term hit to data revenues and handset sales, but improved margins. Vodafone decided that the market share consequences were bad enough that they brought back the subsidies. More broadly, it seems that customers aren’t changing device as often - perhaps, at the moment, anything’s OK as long as it runs WhatsApp.

(The new BB OS 10 looks ideal, though, with Twitter and Google Talk as well as BBM deeply wired into the GUI.)

Telefonica.cz is cutting jobs. EverythingEverywhere is going to roll up some of its duplicate retail outlets, with an initial list of 78 to go.

In more optimistic news, France Telecom has launched a new business unit, Orange Horizons, to look for new opportunities, notably as an OTT player in markets where it doesn’t have a network, as an MVNO with or without WiFi hotspots, or perhaps as a Voice 2.0 app. Stephane Richard’s term as CEO may soon be up, as the French government is apparently considering sending him to run Veolia and swapping Anne Lauvergeon in from the nuclear reactor company, Areva.

AT&T has opened up Apple FaceTime over 3G to more users. It looks like they’re being cute and letting users on tiered data plans on before they let the flat-rate users on. One way to gain subscribers: pay them to break their existing contract. More Clearwire holdouts.

Deloitte thinks we’re running out of spectrum. GlobalStar is the next one to try the “get our satellite spectrum reassigned to mobile” trick. OpenCloud CEO brimming with frustration over Joyn and the GSMA. Cuba-Venezuela cable lights up, sort-of.

In content news, Ars Technica reports on the launch of Kim Dotcom’s new file-locker Web site, Mega. This time, he wantes to encrypt all the content.

Meanwhile, Dan Rayburn reports that the video element of CDN is worth $1bn, with a CAGR of 15%, revised down from 28%. That doesn’t count any other kind of content, media services, telco CDN, or licensed CDN. He also blogs Asus’s new $150 media-streaming box.

YouView is hiring. Who knows, you might be the one to get BT Vision working on multicast!

Verizon Wireless is planning to use LTE Broadcast - that’s the slightly less user-hostile term for 3GPP eMBMS, the standard for integrating broadcast TV or video into LTE networks - to distribute video from next year’s Superbowl. This comes with an analyst report suggesting that more MBMS might be worth a lot of money to US mobile operators.

“For the U.S. mobile operators, the amount of network capacity built in 2016 could be reduced by 9.8 percent if LTE Broadcast were deployed, equivalent to an overall potential saving of $4.21 billion,” said iGR.

This is coming up on the radar now after VZW and Qualcomm demonstrated the service at CES.

You’ve heard of “adult content”. What about “mature” content? 3UK filters a British political blog as being “mature”, possibly because that’s the last thing anyone expects a political blogger to be.

A Google-funded survey suggests that P2P users also tend to buy more music than “normal” people.

Here’s a video from TelecomTV discussing the Raspberry Pi, M2M, and the Weightless low-power radio protocol for emerging markets:

A good discussion of Weightless is here. Should you take part in SIPIt, the SIP interop event? Asterisk project mainstay Olle Johansson thinks so.

Windows RT doesn’t work so well with Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud. Internet Explorer 10 has a whitelist of Flash apps that don’t suck built into it. Is “mobile first” a bad idea? Twilio’s series on apps with their API, Node.js, and CouchDB continues.

The Ordnance Survey mapping app is here and it is beautiful, although watch out for the map pricing. Tropo has a hackathon dedicated to accessibility.

And finally, meet Wayne Dobson, the man whose house shows up as a GPS fix for Sprint customers who lose their phones.

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