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February 20, 2013

We’re recruiting: Marketing Communications and Communities Manager

STL Partners is seeking to recruit a Marketing Communications and Communities Manager as a key part of our plan to help take the business to the next stage of growth. Responsibilities will include producing marketing and customer communications (e.g. newsletters, websites, brochures), digital marketing (e.g. SEO, social media, and email marketing), and the management of our database.

A key measure of success will be to achieve a significant increase in inbound sales leads within the next year as a result of this appointment. This is a full time role and will be based in Shoreditch / Liverpool Street, London. Please see full description and application details here.

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February 18, 2013

Cloud 2.0: CxO Lunch in Barcelona - 27/2/2013

At MWC this year Telco 2.0 will be hosting a private roundtable lunch with Cordys, on Wednesday 27th February 12:30-14:00. The topic for discussion will be ‘Opportunities for Telcos in the Cloud’. The debate will be facilitated by Telco 2.0 Senior Analyst, Bob Brace (formerly Global Head of Cloud Services, Vodafone Group). Bob will present highlights from the Telco 2.0 Cloud research covering: market growth, size and service development; key players and their strategies; telco activity in the cloud market and key opportunities for telcos in the cloud market.

Bob will also be joined by former Head of Cloud Strategy, Orange Business Services, Peter Martin, who will draw on his recent experience as Head of Cloud Strategy for Orange Business Services focusing on the services and applications of tomorrow, future infrastructure, and how telcos might offer unique value to their customers.

If you would like to join this session please email: contact@telco2.net and someone will be in touch to reserve your place.

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AT&T ‘loves’ OTT; India gets even more competitive; Cloud comms grow - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Five weeks 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 next week for which we can offer discounted passes - email us at contact@telco2.net to find out more.]

Randall Stephenson of AT&T has been known to say aggressive things about the OTT players who use his network “without paying” and so on and so forth. Here he is, though, on a very different tune.

“If the world moves to the OTT video model, that doesn’t keep me awake at night,” he said, adding that AT&T has approximately 4.5 million U-Verse IPTV video customers but the company’s real driver is its broadband customers. “Our money is made off the broadband product … The consumer who acquires video off our broadband is not a bad model for us.”

In related broadband and video news, some results are in from the French three-strikes experiment. Traffic to P2P sites is down. Hurray. Traffic to digital-locker sites is down. Perhaps half a hurray. But so are record industry sales. No hurray. The lurking-variable is probably the shift from P2P systems to streaming services.

Free are involved in a new row; their Freebox Replay video on demand service has been suffering for a while from bandwidth issues, and now they’re suggesting that customers affected might want to pay a fee for “priority access”. Existing customers suspect that the problem is being deliberately left unsolved to bring in the money.

Dan Rayburn reviews Amazon Web Services’ CDN activities, and specifically their increasing support for dynamic content. Over time, the offering has gained many more features incrementally, and AWS seems to be following a Google Ads-like strategy of trying to expand the addressable market by drawing in customers who otherwise wouldn’t have used CDN at all.

He also reviews another media-streaming gadget.

And the BBC is supporting an effort to add DRM features to HTML5.

In India, the holders of BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) spectrum have been told they can start providing voice if they pay a relatively small fee. With this, plus the price-war conditions, and a regulator increasingly keen to soak the carriers, it gets difficult to see how many of the Indian operators can be profitable.

SK Telecom’s Joyn implementation has a million subscribers.

No Jitter makes a case that Cisco CEO John Chambers is wrong in saying that “video is the new voice”. Instead, they argue, “text is the new voice”, for reasons rooted in the user anthropology of telephony.

That said, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), things like Vodafone OneNet, is forecast to be worth $7.62bn by 2018, growing at 24% CAGR.

Skype is getting a video-messaging feature, which is coming first to non-Windows platforms.

Truphone has been through a couple of evolutionary stages, from mobile VoIP client, to roaming MVNO, and now to hybrid WLAN/MVNO. Their new app takes over the dialler, checks quality metrics on the cellular network and nearby WLANs, and decides whether to route calls over the cellular channel or SIP over the WLAN. If the WLAN is good enough, it will offer HD voice.

AcmePacket argues that WebRTC standardisation will go faster than expected, and at the very least, much faster than SIP (although that says more about the development of SIP).

The Fonolo blog links to five key posts on WebRTC. This argues that applications come two to three years after protocol stacks. This one argues that WebRTC doesn’t matter, at least not in the enterprise context, because the real problem is the call centre.

Using WebRTC to adjust the fonts on your website, by tracking the user’s head in their webcam. You may find this a little creepy.

CEBP specialist Voicesage’s revenues are up 32% on the first half of its year.

BigMarker is a web-based conferencing service aimed at teachers that provides for record, transcribe, and replay.

A nice video from Phono:

OpenBTS is coming to MWC.

Is fax finally dead? And EU has a budget “for European growth”, says Neelie Kroes’s blog. In a manner of speaking. The outcome of the budget negotiations was an overall cut to the union’s budget that mostly came from investment, and the Information Society DG is no different.

As Neelie’s blog points out later on, this means that EU funds for broadband infrastructure under the Connecting Europe Facility have been zeroed out. Apparently there’s still some money for “digital services”, and the European Investment Bank might have some, but projects like this B4RN community fibre build shouldn’t expect much.

You’ve got to do something, so the EU Commission is taking an interest in duct-sharing.

Horace reports on Tim Cook’s comments about Apple retail, and includes a chart that shows that the pattern of being heavy on the staff goes on. While the ratio of profits to employees in retail is very gradually rising, the head count is going up faster and therefore the business is only expanding.


Elsewhere, there’s a map of Apple suppliers, and Ars Technica tracks down a weird rumour about Apple engineers being assigned to “fake projects” and finds it baseless, and Cult of Mac reviews one analyst’s predictions about Apple.

More seriously, weak PC sales are a thing for Apple as well, and they responded by cutting prices as much as 15%, especially on the MacBook Pro line.

Samsung’s new low-cost Windows 8 phone, reviewed. More on iOS 6.1 problems. The developer preview of Ubuntu Phone will drop on Thursday, nicely ahead of MWC.

Data-centre landlord DuPont Fabros is looking at building more, smaller data centres to appeal to enterprise customers rather than Facebook-sized Web monsters. They’re now planning to invest in units of 4.5 megawatts, compared to increments of 18 MW and 400,000 square feet in the recent past.

AWS’s Redshift data warehouse product is now broadly available, which isn’t quite generally available in Amazonspeak.

And here’s this week’s cloudfail. RapGenius, your No.1 source for hip-hop lyrics, runs on Heroku, and is spending $20,000 a month with them, making them one of Heroku’s biggest customers.

They observed that measurements of latency from their own analytics and Heroku’s could be dramatically divergent, and eventually discovered that Heroku’s load balancing algorithm had changed dramatically, from a fair-queueing approach to a random distribution approach. They simulated the difference and concluded that they were being overcharged by a factor of 50.

There’s much more discussion at Hacker News, and Heroku apologises here.

Gemalto and Ericsson are working on an embedded, soft-SIM M2M product. A buyer for Telecom Italia’s TV operation? Fearsome Chinese hacker also sells Facebook likes. Marissa Mayer kills 60 Yahoo! apps and buys a couple. INQ ventures into content recommendation. Renesys tracks the impact of a Black Sea cable cut. Sinister mystery with Singapore, Huawei, and advanced semiconductors.

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February 11, 2013

Cisco VNI; EE, Virgin Media bids; WebRTC milestone; BB OS10 ‘positive’ - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Six weeks 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 for which we can offer discounted passes - email us at contact@telco2.net to find out more.]

Cisco’s VNI report is out and there are basically three stories in it. First up, and no surprise, traffic on mobile networks is dominated by video, just like the fixed kind. Secondly, overall traffic growth has been revised down by 30% since this time last year. And thirdly, almost a third of smartphone traffic is being offloaded via WLAN. Between that and better cellular networks, the average smartphone is enjoying a download speed of just over 2Mbps. Interestingly, the distribution of traffic is flattening out - in 2010, the top 1% of users accounted for 52% of the total, but now, this is down to 16%.

In the US, the FCC is keen to break out the 600MHz band for white-space operations. A fierce political row is under way, while the press were immediately convinced that free Wi-Fi for everyone was coming. Ars Technica cleans up the mess.

Microsoft is interested in whitespace technology as a way to deploy better Internet connectivity in Africa.

Meanwhile, France Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent deploy a 400Gbps wavelength link for the French NREN, the first in the world. That said, ALU’s Q4s were dreadful and Ben Verwaayen is on the way out.

Benoit Felten links to an infographic on US broadband that only contains two actual charts. Is this a record? Much more to the point, he’s been interviewed about STOKAB, the Swedish prototype of municipal fibre deployments.

A massive debate on that subject took place last week on NANOG, and the upshot is a succession of threads rich in information and experiences. Start here and move on here, here, here, here, and here. It was also time for the NANOG meeting itself, and as usual the notes - available here - are fascinating.

Meanwhile, here’s the Aussie NBN’s page on how to deliver content efficiently with its IP multicast service.

Muni-fibre isn’t the only way to get to universal high-speed connectivity. The DOCSIS cable route has worked pretty well too. Virgin Media is up for sale, with a £15bn price tag, to John Malone’s Liberty Global.

Vodafone numbers are out, and they’re not good. Revenues are down groupwide by 2%. Southern Europe is dreadful, of course, but things weren’t good enough in the relatively healthy economies of Northern Europe to compensate. The UK, for example, wasn’t particularly healthy economically and was hit by fierce competition from EverythingEverywhere.

Also, there are signs of customer behaviour changing, rather as there are in southern Europe. Out-of-bundle usage is down sharply, as customers counteroptimise their usage to save money. In the South, meanwhile, they’re having to up the bundle sizes to defend market share. Fortunately Germany and Turkey were better.

EE, for its part, might be the subject of a mammoth private-equity bid. The proposed deal would involve about £3bn of the buyers’ own capital plus £7bn of borrowing from the banks, so a classic leveraged buyout. Don’t expect them to be in a hurry to roll out more 4G.

In France, ARCEP is marking up the score from the first year since Free Mobile launched. The impact has slashed the three historic operators’ revenue by 10% while adding an additional 4.5 million subscribers and close to doubling the number of subscribers who are free of contract.

Meanwhile, Xavier Niel has gone on the record to say that the Google Ads-blocking episode was deliberately intended as a bargaining chip in their peering war.

While Alcatel-Lucent was struggling, Ericsson signed a €1bn contract to run Reliance Comms’ network, and then hooked up Gemalto as a partner for M2M technology.

A huge milestone in WebRTC, says Dan York. Mozilla and Google have demonstrated voice interoperability between Firefox and Chrome without using any plugins.

Meanwhile, Voxeo’s browser telephony lib, Phono, gets WebRTC support. Here’s a walkthrough of how to get a WebRTC test rig going, which does tend to make clear just how new the technology is. (Hint - if you already have an Asterisk server, you can skip most of it.)

Oracle has acquired Acme Packet, maker of session border controllers, SIP servers, and things Voice 2.0, adding more telco-like capability to its products and its cloud.

Here’s a good sceptical blog on telephony APIs, arguing that Twilio and Voxeo are probably category killers as far as this niche goes. We might not agree with that, but we can certainly relate to this post:

All too often what is a declining business for some is in fact a growth business for others. I sit daily with what we would refer to as “telephone companies” who bemoan to me that their voice business revenues are declining. I offer various suggestions and provide viable companies actually growing in this space. “But that would mean we would have to invest and take risk”, is the normal reply. Well yes.

And John E. Karlin, who founded Bell Labs’ human factors department and redesigned the telephone for touchtone dialling, has died. Don’t miss the story about how he decided how long the cord should be.

Hacker News has good technical discussion of WebRTC interoperability here and here.

Ars Technica reviews the BlackBerry 10 OS, and is impressed. The Register is cautiously optimistic.

Reuters has a detailed piece on the Apple-Samsung relationship, arguing that Tim Cook and the supply chain/manufacturing side of Apple was opposed to suing Samsung and fighting the Android patent wars in general but Steve Jobs insisted.

Meanwhile, Horace argues that the drop in Apple’s margins is entirely explained by higher production costs, and that Apple production costs usually fall as the company moves along a learning curve. He also looks into the business model of iTunes under its new accounting dispensation and estimates its margin around 15-17%.

Vodafone and 3 Austria have both advised iPhone 4S users not to update to iOS 6.1 due to unspecified technical problems.

12 reasons to jailbreak.

HP is trying to impose rules on its Chinese suppliers to stop them using student and other temporary labour forces.

Smart TV, chained to the remote control.

Wired reports on the turnaround of Flickr, driven by Instagram’s terms-of-service fiasco, Facebook privacy dread, Flickr’s new mobile app, and perhaps just the rediscovery that it was a pretty good product to begin with.

Quite apart from the privacy issues, loading your website up with third party widgets has risks - a succession of super-high traffic websites were downed this week when Facebook widgets stopped working. Similarly, advertising during the Super Bowl has its challenges.

Eric Schmidt is selling about half his shares in Google.

DVD rental firm Redbox is integrating its streaming product into the Xbox.

It costs $200,000 a day to promote your Twitter message.

Boston Consulting tries to estimate how much satisfaction consumers get from different media. Top two: books, and social media.

Monitoring the weather with EDGE attenuation data. Robert Metcalfe (as in law) on Ethernet’s 40th anniversary. The first Shoreditch startup.

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February 4, 2013

New BlackBerry, BT Dash for Share, Rackspace: Telco 2.0 News Review

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed. Seven weeks and counting 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 for which we can offer discounted passes - email us at contact@telco2.net to find out more.]

It was BlackBerry Week, with the new OS and the first gadgets at last dropping. ReadWriteWeb’s review of the Z10 is positive, but warns that the initial learning curve may be steep as the user interaction paradigm is radically different to older BlackBerries, Android, or iOS. The design is heavily oriented towards productivity, and tries to integrate data from apps rather than foregrounding the apps themselves. For example, you can consult a notifications feed without having to quit the app you’re using.

Speaking of apps, all the shiny RIM scattered among the developers seems to have worked, as the new OS launches with 70,000 titles, of which 40% are ported from Android.

And we’re not meant to call them RIM any more - the company is rebranding as just “BlackBerry”. All the US national carriers wil be carrying the Z10 in principle, but as Dan Rowinski points out, you can ask several vendors about the gap between carrier support in principle and in practice.

There’s more review at Ars Technica, who also promise a separate in-depth review of the OS as distinct from the hardware sometime this week. They also have a gallery of classic RIM devices.

Meanwhile, Reuters points out that BlackBerry’s third biggest market is Indonesia, and a $750 Z10 is more than pricey in that context. So, is there an emerging market BB10 device in the pipeline? Nokia’s Lumia 620 is coming in at £150.

More ugly results from HTC. Samsung invites journos to Monaco to play with the shiny gadgets. Horace scores Apple Q4 as disappointing. Tomi Ahonen discusses the emerging mobile OSs and plumps for Samsung and Tizen.

EverythingEverywhere may be about to float on the stock market, says Reuters, who believe that it has appointed bankers to advise on carrying out an IPO. Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and Barclays were said to be involved.

OFCOM, meanwhile, has proposed to let British mobile operators refarm their spectrum for 4G without many restrictions at all.

TeliaSonera’s CEO has resigned after an inquiry into their acquisition of radio spectrum in Uzbekistan. The CEO couldn’t adequately prove that there had been no bribery or corruption in the transaction, something which could be said of almost any transaction in Uzbekistan, especially one involving the business interests of the president’s daughter like this one.

On the other hand, MTN says it’s been cleared over that whole business of whether they helped Iran’s nuclear programme in return for a GSM licence. More precisely, it’s been cleared by a committee it set up itself; the US Supreme Court will rule later this year. Meanwhile, QTel’s investment in Iraq had a good first day on the stock market.

SFR’s first production LTE in Paris is on, using NSN’s fancy Liquid Radio system.

Here’s a progress report on the Australian NBN. Bangladesh at last gets redundant fibre. A call to make NBP mainstay Susan Crawford head of the FCC.

BT, meanwhile, is feeling aggressive. New tariffs, just announced, offer 16Mbps for £16/mo and “up to” 76Mbps on FTTC for £26/mo, with 50GB of online storage and six months’ introductory free service.

They’re also getting rid of their usage caps. TelecomTV quotes John Petter, MD of BT Consumer, promising that their network “can stand up to the extra bandwidth demands from totally unlimited products everywhere across the UK”. Wot no exaflood of OTT video taking our jobs?

What’s going on here is a sort of political business cycle applied to telecoms. Technology improves, operators invest, and then the temptation to rip out the cap and price to go kicks in. The pipes fill up, and soon the squealing begins, and we start to hear about taxing the OTTers, etc, until the next upgrade cycle kicks off and suddenly all is love again.

One thing that will certainly fill up the tubes is streaming high-definition TV, especially if it’s from a live event that can’t be cached and everyone wants to watch it. Like football. BT has started promoting the YouView set-top boxes heavily, to go with its new portfolio of sport, and as a result we have some first data points on the platform. So far, it’s insignificant.

Sky, for their part, added 50,000 customers in the UK in the quarter, and half of them took their IPTV service. So far, 4.5 million of their 10.3 million customers have the Sky+ box, but only 1.7 million have plugged the network cable into the back of it. That’s still about 1.6 million more than YouView.

Dan Rayburn reviews CBS and Akamai’s streaming of the Superbowl, and finds it inadequate.

Amazon Web Services launches Elastic Transcoder, a video transcoding service in the cloud, thus getting closer to having a full-service video workflow.

Google is investigating subscription channels on YouTube, having asked some of its original content creators to have a think about what they might do for a subscription of between $1 and $5 a month.

Google has also, it turns out, been talking to the French government. The row between French publishers and Google has been going on for years - remember when AFP sued them for indexing their Web site? Now, Google has agreed to put €60m in what sounds like investments in digital publishing startups and to offer French content firms advice about how best to use Google Analytics and other products. In a sense, rather than set a precedent, Google has voluntarily pulled out some money to hush the problem.

Meanwhile, Facebook reckons its mobile revenue is up to 23% of the total.

Former cause celebre Phorm needs a rescue rights issue. The world’s biggest TV.

Up in the cloud, Amazon’s results were a little disappointing, although their usual weak point, margin, was up. That might explain why the shares soared on the news. Wired argues that they are growing like WalMart in the 1990s, but you have to wonder about a company with sales of $21bn and net profit of $97m.

That said, here’s Jim Young of ESRI, makers of the world-standard ArcGIS mapping server, talking about running mapping and geographical information systems in the AWS cloud:

Who’s building a monster solar-powered data centre in Iowa? Data Center Knowledge investigates. Here’s Microsoft’s latest.

OpenStack wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Rackspace. They’ve just published reference architectures for private clouds using hardware from three vendors on the OpenStack platform. Meanwhile, GigaOm introduces OpenFlow to the readers.

Competing with Google is tough: here’s how DuckDuckGo is trying to do it, from High Scalability.

And EVE Online, as you might expect, has some pretty impressive scaling challenges. The nice thing about being an alternative universe, though, is that you can fix them by adjusting how fast time passes. If you can’t do that you might want to optimise your web site for better browser caching.

Bad news for the GSMA’s Voice 2.0 project, Joyn aka RCSe. Deutsche Telekom has put off deployment until further notice, citing serious technical problems, notably to do with Android fragmentation and also with interoperability.

DTAG is also operating a Voice 2.0 platform, Voxeo Labs’ Tropo, as part of its Developer Garden programme. Speaking of Tropo, here’s an app from their AT&T hackathon.

That said, will the explosive growth of Android make telco voice irrelevant?

Vodafone says the average duration of a call is falling.

Republic Wireless is deploying VoWLAN on a serious scale.

Now Skype is Microsoft and not really peer-to-peer, who’s listening to it?

RevK says that the IPv6 consumer routers are here, but where are the VoIP phones?

What will we do with peer-to-peer LTE?

The FOSDEM conference, as usual, has a really superb Voice 2.0 lineup. Learn!

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

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