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VZ, AT&T want to buy Vodafone; The Internet under attack; P2P CDN in your browser; EBay goes OpenStack; Android wins 2012 - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed: We hope to see you at the EMEA Executive Brainstorm, 5-6 June, here in London]

Verizon and AT&T are rumoured to be considering a bid for Vodafone. Perhaps it would be better described as a “big”, as we briefly misspelled it, as the transaction would be the biggest merger in history at $245 billion. The idea is apparently that Verizon would get the 45% share in VZW and AT&T would get everything else.

Vodafone is lobbying the Indian government over the terms of the licences it took over when it acquired Hutch-Essar.

The Indian government holds that they run out in 2014, and must then be re-auctioned. Vodafone thinks they should be renewed, instead. Their problem here is that politically, the Indian side can’t be seen to do anything like the “2G scam” again, and since the 3G auction, they’ve also got a dose of the belief that spectrum auctions = lots of free money, common among politicians.

TeliaSonera can’t sell its Spanish low-cost operator Yoigo. Tele2, however, is seeing a bidding war for its Russian operation.

MetroPCS is wrangling with its shareholders over the terms of the T-Merger. More detail of the new T-Mobile tariff is here. Meanwhile, AT&T says HD voice is coming.

This post about kitting out a startup cheaply pointed out a British low-cost MVNO, Ovivo, we hadn’t met yet.

Benoit Felten tells Australians about French broadband. Meanwhile, Marc Lebourges of FTel says there’s plenty of space in the ducts, enough for multiple facilities competitors to get fibre to 80% of French households!

The EU has published a draft regulation on open access.

BT is the only player still bidding for British rural broadband funding and not surprisingly it got the contract. OFCOM wants carriers to notify their subscribers of any change in pricing ahead of time and Vodafone spin doctors respond.

The week the game changed, says Simon Woodhead of the massive denial of service attack against Spamhaus. He has some interesting suggestions for what to do about it. And it wasn’t just the DDOS attack, either. Somebody also hijacked Spamhaus’s BGP routing, pretending to be Spamhaus’s service provider and diverting their traffic, thus carrying the attack into the core infrastructure of the Internet. Woodhead argues that the defence must be built into the core, with source-address filtering being deployed in Internet exchanges.

Akamai’s chief network architect, Patrick Gilmore, points out in a blog post that we know how to prevent the attack used on Spamhaus, and we have done ever since the publication of BCP 38 in 2000, which specifies that ISPs should filter out any traffic that doesn’t have a source address inside their network or their customer’s network before it leaves their network. The problem is getting everyone to deploy it, or at least to filter everyone who hasn’t deployed it.

ReadWriteWeb has a good explanation of DNS amplification attacks, and a worrying chart from Arbor Networks. The green line shows the volume of traffic generated by the biggest denial of service attack recorded that month.


Meanwhile, the Internet was also under attack in a more direct, physical, and sinister fashion, as the Egyptian navy caught a group of divers cutting submarine cables, including the key SMW-4 Europe-Asia link. The Renesys Blog reports on the impact, which was substantial. Here’s the effect on round-trip latency between Bharti Airtel and Frankfurt DECIX.


Higher on the chart is higher latency, signalling either that traffic was diverted via a longer geographical route, or that a network link was congested. The sharp increase in latency clearly marks the moment of the cable cut. The colours show which operators were in use, so the chart also tells us they lost their route via a peer at DECIX and fell back on transit via Deutsche Telekom, Telia, L(3), and others, probably going westbound or via the Cape given the far higher latency. Wired has more, including the point that the suspects say they cut the wrong cable, and that there are some 14 submarine telecoms cables in very close proximity at this point.

F-Secure blogs on best practices for ISPs cleaning up after malware outbreaks. Voice denial of service attacks target 911 centres.

Computing pioneer Alan Kay, who has an excellent claim to have invented the very first mobile computing device with his 1970s Xerox PARC Dynabook project, thinks there is nothing new around.

“The past 30 years have been completely mundane. It’s all been scaling (of old technology) and Angry Birds”

We’ll try and prove him wrong. So, that WebRTC. Everyone’s busy re-implementing Whatsapp in the browser, or if you’re Chris Kranky, hoping it will replace phone numbers, but here’s something genuinely interesting. WebRTC, of course, lets you create browser-to-browser tunnels for media, usually but not at all necessarily voice or messaging. But what if you served content over the tunnel? PeerCDN wants to do just that and create a peer-to-peer distribution network for your web site.

Telco 2.0 ally Dean Bubley has a report out on WebRTC, and we’ll be covering it in a forthcoming Voice Strategy Report. In other VoIP news, one telecoms operator is proud to say “We’ve reduced the number of SIP profiles we support to eighty”. Only eighty? The great thing about standards is that there’s so many of them…

Remember when everyone was worried about BitTorrent hogging all the tubes? They’ve been busy, working on improving the protocol’s congestion management and localisation, and now they have a completely new solution for the P2P distribution of live streaming content, basically implementing multicast for UDP packets. This is neat because it saves bandwidth in a big way, and because it’s UDP things just get thrown away in the event of congestion.

There’s a (less technical) interview with the CEO over at TorrentFreak. We are amused by the fact they call the multicast element a “screaming” protocol rather than just a streaming one.

OnApp is an interesting CDN business model, allowing existing resellers to upgrade to a licensed-CDN model more easily.

Small business SDN from the cloud.

Twilio on node.js and as a padded cell for spammers. Another SMS-bashing machine.

In the cloud, EBay is preparing to flush 80,000 VMWare virtual machines, starting with the 10,000 at PayPal, and deploy OpenStack instead. They’re working with Silicon Valley OpenStack consultants Mirantis.

Meanwhile, the founding CTO of OpenStack’s startup has delivered its new product, which will work either as an instant OpenStack cloud appliance or else as a high-performance controller for a much bigger cloud.

“76% of cloud users run Linux, and 75% of enterprises used Linux servers for their new projects” says the Linux Foundation.

With the best will in the world, nobody is likely to remember Apple as that great cloud company. The company that made the Macs? Yes. The iPhone guys? Sure. The people who eventually delivered the promise of NeXT OS in OS X? Of course. But the cloud?

Famously, Steve Jobs called an all-hands meeting about their cloud backup product, asked the product manager to explain what its features were, and then exploded: “SO WHY DOESN’T IT DO THAT?” And the less said about Apple Maps, the better.

This Hacker News thread suggests that iCloud isn’t going to change that. The following quote should be scary for Apple:

If it’s consumer-facing it’s years in development and polished. If it’s for us lowly developers, well don’t hold your breath

As the iPhone triumphed in large measure because it won with developers and consequently had a wealth of excellent apps, this is a bad sign.

Much more is here. None of it is good. Of course, Apple does have a card up its sleeve here - cash. If they can’t fix mapping, they could always buy TomTom, poach its employees, or subsidise OpenStreetMap. If they can’t fix cloud, they could always repeat the trick of buying PA Semiconductor and buy a start-up somewhere in the Valley.

If you’re one of the telcos that’s investing heavily in VMWare-powered cloud infrastructure, here’s your competitor, PeakColo, which exclusively sells this stuff via channels.

Kantar’s sales numbers are out, and it looks like Android gained on iOS in the States during 2012, RIM suffered, and Windows Phone did reasonably well. Microsoft prefers IDC’s scoreboard, because it’s more, although it also says that Symbian still outsold them in 2012…

Here’s a positive hands-on with the keyboardy BlackBerry Q10.

Apple has been the subject of a wave of angry media reporting about its warranty policies in China, and Tim Cook this week apologised publicly. It’s the country that invented the word “kow-tow”, after all.

Meanwhile, you might not associate Apple products with construction, but here’s a use-case from Balfour Beatty’s project to build a new airport terminal in Dallas. Rather than print 60,000 pages of blueprints, reprint them many times to cover all the people who needed copies and to provide spares, and keep track of the inevitable changes to the plan during construction, they bought each supervisor an iPad and kept the lot in digital form. They also used Apple TVs and big monitors to display plans in site offices. So far they’ve saved $1.2m on printing (!).

More importantly, it’s a common problem in the industry that some people end up using out-of-date drawings, and by the time anyone notices, something has been built in the wrong place. Do we change the plan to fit it, or do we knock it down and start again? Either way, it’s expensive and time-wasting. So far they’ve avoided this entirely.

Steve Wozniak wants to make speech recognition to the next lot of iPhones what Applescript was to early Macs:

And perhaps Cupertino is listening - the message “Siri, hire all the geeks!” went out this week. They’re seeking interaction designers, “speech operations engineers”…and someone to triage the bug reports.

Businessweek has a fascinatingly weird profile of Samsung, the company, which comes over as a sort of AMOLED-stroking industrial religion. They point out that Samsung, like Apple, hit the return to vertical integration early and hard and is reaping the benefits. And back in 1995, when some phones didn’t come up to scratch, the chairman set fire to the entire stock of them outside the factory, during a mass meeting of the 2,000 strong workforce, before driving a bulldozer over the smouldering mess and threatening to do it again. If you read nothing else this week, read this. Includes this rather interesting chart.


Facebook is going to do a big splash announcement on Thursday, and it looks like some sort of skin over Android, probably running on an HTC device. ReadWriteWeb points out this means the abandonment of their HTML5 with everything strategy.

If there’s a business model for this, presumably it’s something about “sponsored content”. Google is not pleased with the amount of advertorial its crawlers are sucking up and they want it out of Google News.

So, if Facebook wants to be Google, apparently Google wants to be Amazon, as they’re experimenting with a retail delivery network around the Bay Area. So does Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce firm founded at the same time with a markedly similar business model, which is now planning to launch in the US.

And, seeing as they just bought a book review community and jacked up third-party merchant fees, it’s a fair assumption Amazon wants to be Amazon.

Browser adoption stats are here.

US Army Intelligence personnel have been issued with a specially prepared Galaxy Note II. But what does the pen do, Q?

The BBC releases TV Application Layer, the kit of parts from the iPlayer, in open source. An interesting conference on payments. QR codes for…the dead.

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