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American / Japanese Voice use; T-Mobile USA; Euro-Brazilian LTE; Apple; Huawei; Alcatel; ISIS; Alibaba; Telco 2.0 News Review

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Americans use hours of voice, the Japanese hardly ever - until you see how much VoIP they’re doing

Mashable reminds us that nobody burns through mobile voice minutes quite like Americans, with an average of 356 minutes per subscriber per month, compared with 126 in the UK or 78 in taciturn Germany.


But as Chris Kranky points out, the forces of disruption are careering towards the US voice market. The Japanese may only get through 91 minutes of monthly billed mobile voice, but Japanese VoIP users - 68% of the smartphone base - are really yakking away, generating US levels of usage in the parallel universe of mobile VoIP.


We see at once the continued relevance of the most natural form of telecommunication, and also the menace to a business which still accounts for a majority of the US top four carriers’ revenue. Will the coming launch of VoLTE with AT&T and Verizon do anything to defend it? RCR Wireless asks the readers and promises that it will be interoperable.

Dean Bubley, for his part, is worried that too much effort in telcos is going into integrating WebRTC with IMS.

But is all of this just beside the point? Is the problem with the idea of a “phone call” in itself?

Twilio’s blog has some examples of working with context.io, a startup that provides a webhook API for your e-mail inbox. Meanwhile, the Harvard Business Review blog looks at the idea of inserting predictive or recommendational content into your to-do list, which may well sound a lot like spam. At least it’s not just 120-year-old phone conventions reimplemented with layers of new technology, though.

This voice-driven CRM startup is also organised around the idea of priorities, action items, and queues. So there are a couple of ideas to be going on with until the new Telco 2.0 strategy report comes out.

T-Mobile USA goes after roaming; Sprint purge; Euro-Brazilian LTE roaming; EE scores BT MVNO account

T-Mobile USA’s price blitz goes on. With some help from Shakira, CEO John Legere this week announced that the operator (sorry, uncarrier) is going to dramatically cut its data roaming charges and set a flat $0.20/minute rate for roaming calls. On the same day, they drew down $5.6bn of funding from the Deutsche Telekom mothership.

Whatever T-Mo USA is up to, DTAG is very much a carrier rather than a uncarrier back in Europe, like its pals in the E-5 group. Rewheel’s latest pricing review is out, with the following fine chart showing prices and data bundles for an unlimited voice & messaging smartphone package.


Three points stand out - as they say, bigger operators are more expensive (perhaps because the UK, French, German, and US economies aren’t as bombed-out as Italy, Spain, or Portugal). DTAG is pricey. But that said, it’s less ironic than it might seem - prices at the US top 2 carriers are significantly higher than DTAG mainline, so there’s scope for T-Mo USA to split the difference even if corporate might not want to go full-on Free Mobile.

Over at Sprint, meanwhile, has carried out a major reshuffle of the board. CMO Bill Malloy and chief of sales Paget Alves are out. The unusual post of chief sales officer is broken up, with Dow Draper of Clearwire taking over prepaid, chief service officer Bob Johnson taking over retail, and wholesale boss Matt Carter moving to become president of enterprise solutions.

A major strength of the Sprint-Softbank deal was meant to be that the two companies would have a single buyer for devices. In order to implement this, the head of customer acquisition (a CMO, a head of sales, *and* a head of customer acquisition?) is taking over the job of VP of product development, thus relieving Fared Alib to move out to Silicon Valley and take charge of an alliance with distributors Brightstar that’s meant to handle device procurement for the whole company.

Verizon’s bid to shut off Fire Island’s copper is still reverberating around the industry. The Washington Post blogs that old copper must go. Here’s a case that carriers should be made to sell the networks to someone who’ll love them, like Frontier, Windstream, or Fairpoint, rather than cut the wires.

AT&T is pulling older data plans in order to only sell the ones that let you use the same data allowance on multiple devices. Prices are slightly higher, so AT&T is betting that multi-devices feels like a bigger bundle. And the Canadian government has blocked a sale of MTS’s business division to Middle Eastern telecoms identity Naguib Sawaris on “security grounds”.

LTE roaming is coming, specifically, between TIM Brasil and Telecom Italia Mobile. This is thanks to Telecom Italia’s wholesale division, Sparkle, expanding its GRX/IPX operations to provide LTE roaming services. It’s obviously also a bid to retain the upper hand in its efforts to avoid selling TIM Brasil to the competition.

Vivendi hasn’t named the day for the spin-off of SFR, but they’re dropping heavy hints that it’s sometime this autumn. Meanwhile, Vodafone’s acquisition of KDG closed this week.

EverythingEverywhere, though, has nabbed the BT Mobile job from Vodafone UK, which has been providing MVNO service to the ex-incumbent for years. EE wholesale has been doing strong business lately, but the interesting question here is whether BT is going to lend EE some of its 2.6GHz 4G block, or perhaps use it for enterprise small cells with EE overlay coverage on top?

OFCOM, meanwhile, is going to sting the UK operators for a fee if they want to keep the GSM spectrum that was handed out for free back in the day. Evidently this affects the Original Two most of all, but since EE had to sell some of its 1800MHz holdings, even 3UK has some of the freebie spectrum.

Reaction is here - nobody likes it very much.

Ovum reckons that mobile value-added service revenue will fall by 7% in Europe this year, but the sector will still make it to a 10% global CAGR thanks to good growth in Asia and Africa.

So it’s good news that having hooked up the West Africa Cable System (WACS) last month, MTN Zambia has turned up dual-carrier HSPA+.

Apple seeks TD-SCDMA clue; iPhone 5cs going free!; Firefox OS 1.1 out

Junk Charts highlights this superb visualisation of the rise and fall of the BlackBerry, reminding us of how the iPhone re-disrupted after the 3GS and how important the concurrent, separate entry of Android was.


Meanwhile, more details have emerged about former half-CEO Mike Lazarides and Doug Fregin’s rival bid for the company.

Apple, for its part, has been advertising in China for a carrier-approval manager conversant with TD-SCDMA. It’s the place to look, after all. More seriously, TD-SCDMA means China Mobile, so this is another step towards the arrival of the iPhone on China Mobile, one of the world’s least well kept secrets at this point.

If you’ve got an old smartphone, Best Buy Mobile will give you at least $100 trade-in credit. With Apple’s price set at $99 for a US 16GB iPhone 5C, that makes it a freebie. There does seem to be some difficulty in moving them.

It looks like 3 Denmark will be carrying Jolla’s Sailfish OS gadgets - we also have the impression it refers to getting the OS via an app store, but our Danish isn’t that good. There’s also going to be a second wave of pre-orders coming up.

Mozilla, meanwhile, pushed a major update to Firefox OS, taking it to v1.1 and fulfilling their promise of quarterly minor versions so far.

Huawei says no to acquisitions; disaster at Alcatel; Nokia Networks partners with Juniper

Huawei is not going to make any major acquisitions, says Guo Ping, one of the company’s three deputy chairmen, who rotate the post of CEO.

Alcatel-Lucent is doing the opposite - it’s cutting 15,000 jobs, although it hopes to create 5,000 elsewhere for a net loss of 10,000. The CEO, ex-Vodafone man and French deep-telco technocrat Michel Combes, is trying to focus the company on IP, optical, and mobile broadband networks, which means dropping some of its BSS-OSS and software empire. At the same time, they’re pushing software-defined networking/network functions virtualisation hard through the CloudBand initiative.

One solution is selling the company to NSN or as we now call it again, Nokia Networks. Nokia might not be all that interested, as they just set up a strategic partnership with Juniper Networks. The idea is that Juniper puts the routers and security technology in the backhaul side of Nokia’s radio networks.

ISIS rolls out to the pad, loses 2 banks; volunteer for Google’s Sponsored Stories clone? thought not; Alibaba wants to be Amazon.cn

ISIS, the US carriers’ payments joint venture, is coming - the app is ready and launch is set for some time in the next few weeks. iPhone users will have to get a case with an NFC chip to make use of it, but it will be accepted at 1.3 million locations around the US and at 24 of the top 100 merchants.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile have all agreed to have the service promoted in their shops and in their marketing campaigns, which is a good sign, but the big question is surely whether anyone will bother to get the NFC gadget. Further, although American Express and Chase are signed up, two other credit card companies who took part in the field trial in Salt Lake City have decided not to go ahead with the launch into production. That will be Capital One and Barclays, so no pressure then.

TelecomTV notes that US carriers are increasingly interested in telco-OTT solutions for things like home automation. We’d point out that as well as telco-OTT solutions, riding on someone else’s lines, there’s also the option of “M2M as OTT”, using the mobile network to compete on these things in other companies’ fixed homes.

Meanwhile, Google’s Shared Endorsements will put your name and face next to products you +1’d…unlike Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, though, which ended up in a mess of lawsuits, it will only do it if you volunteer.

For its part, Facebook has acquired an Israeli mobile analytics startup, Onavo.

Yahoo! has acquired Bread, a URI-shortener, to “strengthen its mobile advertising”. It seems to be a talent acquisition more than anything else.

More interestingly, perhaps, Yahoo! is about to roll out a new advertising product, intended to be common across its services, which will be similar to Facebook’s news feed, a continuous scroll of targeted ads. AllThingsD notes that the advertisers, so far, are a bit lacklustre.

They also point out that Yahoo!’s business is benefiting from the flow of dividends it draws from its stake in Jack Ma’s giant Chinese B2B marketplace, Alibaba.com. This week, Alibaba had a genuinely big announcement - it’s investing $16bn in creating a fulfillment network, payments system, and analytics capabilities, in other words an Amazon-like e-commerce platform for China. Now there’s something to write home about.

Remember Virgin x BBC iPlayer? Now here’s Netflix x your cable competition; Twitter-TV integration

Netflix is in talks with US cable operators - and some other cable operators closer to home - about distributing its video over their networks, into their set-top boxes. This is a playback of Virgin Media’s canny decision to integrate the BBC iPlayer into their cable offering, both improving the content and offloading traffic from the Internet service. Virgin itself, as well as Com Hem in Sweden, have already signed up.

Comcast, and its NBC Universal TV mates, have a new deal with Twitter. The idea is that you can embed a call to start playback of on-demand TV, change channels to a live broadcast, or set the DVR within a tweet, creating a call-to-action that can be promoted virally. Now that sounds interesting - not least because it implies the existence of a back-end web API.

Here’s an interesting post about Video Factory, the system developed by the BBC that transcodes, prepares, and cues up the content that goes into the iPlayer.

Keeping traffic from the NSA, but not from the BND; Beware D-Link routers

Renesys blogs about Anycast IP, why it can mean traffic within the building routing around the world, and why it might be worthwhile doing it anyway. Also, there seems to be a problem with Google’s internal routing in Latin America.

Deutsche Telekom is considering changing its routing policy to keep more traffic within Germany and therefore theoretically away from the prying eyes of Edward Snowden’s former colleagues - which would be a nice idea if it wasn’t for last week’s disclosure that the German spooks were taking traffic from the DE-CIX.

A whole selection of D-Link home routers are accessible to anyone who sets their browser user-agent to “xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide” (hint - read it backwards).

The Internet is on in Aleppo.

And here’s something genuinely interesting: an old missionary HF radio network is repurposed to help civilians survive the Lord’s Resistance Army.

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