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Nokia rising from the Ashas? One EU network? VZW’s LTE No.s, and AT&T’s Voice 2.0 hackathon - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Diary note: it’s just over 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.]

Nokia previewed its Q4 results, which turn out to be better than usual. Tomi Ahonen’s predictably bearish take is here, while Andrew Orlowski is more optimistic. Specifically, he notes that NSN is making money at last and the Asha budget smartphone line is doing well.

But the ability to pick up “smartphone-like” features on a device that delivers four days of battery life, and costs less than 6,000 rupees (£68, $109), has allowed Nokia to stay in the game. Android phones can be found at a similar price on the Indian market, but the low-cost Android experience isn’t that great, and a long battery life really matters to a consumer.

This is much to the point, as a look at the 311’s specs shows. If you’ve got a 1GHz CPU, you can hardly be considered a “dumbphone” or even “featurephone”. AllThingsD points out that the Asha sales numbers are truly impressive. Horace Dediu’s coverage is here.

Ashas come with the Nokia Xpress browser. Like the long-established Opera Mini, this browser routes your Web activity through a caching/compressing accelerator proxy in order to sharpen up the experience on slow 2.5G or early 3G networks. But are they breaking HTTPS? Gaurang Pandya, currently infrastructure security architect at Unisys Global Services India, is an Asha 311 user and noticed it.

Over at Apple, a rumour went around that a low-cost iPhone was coming, and was dismissed. More importantly, Apple cut its order for LCD displays for the iPhone 5, suggesting that volumes are a bit disappointing. That said, iPhone 5 users are massive data consumers, 50% higher than iPhone 4S users. Partly this is a selection bias, as iPhone 5 users will be the earliest of the early adopters.

Horace reckons Apple is making more money in China than Microsoft. You can’t, after all, get a pirate copy of the iPhone yet. He also looks into the iTunes economy, and provides this chart.


Some more detail about RIM’s BB OS 10 launch. There will be two handsets (one big-touchscreen, one QWERTY) at launch and four more by year-end.

Firefox OS phones are coming, and Mozilla has ported Firefox for Android to run on cheaper Androids. Meanwhile, the beta of a new version of Chrome for Android is out.

Is something big afoot in the European regulatory environment? “Operators are cooling on a single European network”, it says here, and the complexity of such a beast would be truly awe-inspiring. But it does look like there’s some sort of strategic proposal from the so-called E5 operators to the European Commission. The meeting they’re talking about was with the head of the EU’s competition directorate, but Neelie Kroes says a bit more here.

TelecomTV reports a study by Rewheel that suggests the worst deals for mobile customers are found in markets where there is no “independent challenger” and at least one E5 member. Ouch!

The quintessential independent challenger, Free, is having another go-round of the arguments about how fast their network is rolling out. Interestingly, there’s a new RFP out for 3G & 4G base stations - so far, they’ve used NSN technology and their homebrew set-top boxes. Also interestingly, if the opinion of a junior minister is informative, it seems they went for an inside-out deployment plan, covering the suburbs first before tackling the city centre, due to the difficulty of getting wayleaves and planning permission.

On that issue, the UK’s land lobby has agreed standard terms for wayleaves with BDUK.

The New York Times mocks the UK for being a bunch of fancy smartphone hipsters but letting Angola get LTE before we did. We paraphrase of course, but it’s a pretty good overview.

And this is very interesting: Baidu has developed a mobile browser with an accelerator proxy, as part of a custom project with Orange, who have agreed to pre-install it across their emerging market operations. Neat, although one hopes your web browsing doesn’t get backhauled via anywhere within the Great Firewall.

In other operator news, Verizon Wireless reported that 23% of its subscribers, 50% of its data traffic, and 85% of net-adds are now on the LTE network.

DISH has tabled a last-minute bid for Clearwire. And Cable & Wireless has sold Macau’s incumbent operator to a Chinese investor.

Oh dear: this year’s CCC brought with it a crop of new security issues, like always, but this one is rather special. It permits an attacker to turn Cisco IP desk phones into bugs and monitor you remotely. There’s more at Ars Technica.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile USA deploys HD voice, using AMR-WB at 12.65Kbps. It’s almost certainly the biggest HD voice deployment yet. Also, the iPhone 5 should support it now T-Mo is refarming its 1900MHz spectrum for LTE.

AT&T’s partnership with Telco 2.0 ally Voxeo Labs appears to have injected energy into the Voice 2.0 community. Alan Quayle attends AT&T’s developer hackathon and is much impressed. The prizewinners are here, including an app that monitors your brainwaves in order to decide where to send your phone calls.

Further, meet Ask Ziggy, a virtual assistant built with their APIs.

Joyride was the prizewinner for the Call Management API, and they let your friends send music to your car and create a teleconference for your journey.

Meanwhile, Twilio’s blog meets the founder of Better Voicemail, and Intooch, a contacts app devised for getting around MWC when you’ve run out of cards.

Tencent’s WeChat WhatsApp-like instant messenger seems to have a dependency on something inside the Great Firewall, as users outside China report being censored. The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog links an interesting paper on VoLTE power consumption.

And the longstanding VoIP Users Conference (VUC) now has a Google+ community.

Apple has tapped Level(3) for its CDN needs. With all that iTunes content to shift, it’s likely to be a substantial job of work. Meanwhile, Fortinet has acquired XDN for its employees and patents. According to Dan Rayburn, their speciality was pushing out video for the porn industry - and of course, they ought to know CDN.

He also doubts whether cable TV will be overtaken by streaming. No wonder, when you look at the monster file sizes associated with Ultra HD TV sets, even if there’s some doubt about consumer interest in much over 1080p. The data rate is 20Mbps to kick off, and of course streaming implies 20Mbps consistently and with low latency.

Regarding customer interest, part of the problem is that you need a very big TV and a small living room to get the benefit, as this fine chart (from here) shows:


ReadWriteWeb discusses the US’s “six strikes” copyright plan and suggests it’s really going to spoil public WLAN.

Dan Rayburn thinks Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed startup that picks up broadcast TV and streams it on the Internet, is doomed to failure.

Integrating text (and other media) and classical music, in HTML5. Music composed by computers.

Remembering Aaron Swartz.

Time to clear out the CES news-trap. Here’s an oven that runs Android. Samsung demonstrates a bendy OLED screen. Qualcomm’s baffling celebrity keynote. Fear of a Ultra HD planet: how can LTE keep up? QNX’s Car 2.0 platform. 60GHz WLAN. Recommendations for 802.11ac gigabit WLAN kit. Hands-on review of NVIDIA’s Project Shield gaming device.

MIT Technology Review has a writeup of a startup that uses smartphones logging onto your WiFi to generate foot-fall data analytics for retailers, rather like Path Intelligence does with GSM.

Engineering the platform to analyse a Spanish bank’s entire credit card transaction flow: it’s not trivial, but with the cloud and Hadoop, it’s not that complicated either.

The deep link between US healthcare and spam.

Meet Cambridge’s Internet of Things accelerator, now with Kickstarter.

And finally, The Register reports on user experience insights from the vibrator industry.

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