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June 30, 2014

Google I/O: Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed: Plus, don’t forget to mark your diaries for OnFuture Arabia 2014, November 11-12, Dubai, and Digital Asia, 2-4 Dec, Bali.]

Google I/O: Android on your TV, your car, your watch; stock ‘droid phones at last; Glass, he dead; new big-data tools; Nest API

It’s been Google I/O this week. Among the major announcements, Google is having another run up the smart-TV hill with the selfexplanatory Android TV. This incorporates the API from Chromecast into a TV-specific version of Android, which also has voice recognition and natural language processing extensions to support searching for content hands-off. The API is also intended to let the user drive it from a mobile phone, rather than a remote control.

There was a lot of hardware; the main announcement in that sense was Android Wear, the Google wearables solution, with gadgets showing up from LG and Samsung. Very interestingly indeed, Android TV, Android Wear, and the Android Auto connected-car solution all put the core user interface in the domain of Google’s apps, rather than the Android OS itself, giving Google much more control of the development path and the ability to update the software.

You can see why: here’s the Nokia X2, the second generation of Nokiadroids, a rather impressive device for $99, with all the potentially profitable bits of Android subbed out for Nokia/Microsoft equivalents.

Google frustration with carriers and OEMs’ fiddling with Android is also demonstrated in Android One, a project to produce Nexus-like official phones running nothing but stock Android and updating automatically.

Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica, their reviews editor and Glass explorer no.1499, argues that Google Glass is now obsolete in the light of the Android Wear smartwatches, which offer a more ergonomic experience and one that is both more useful and less intrusive, to the user and to those around them. Further, the watches’ API uses the Android notifications/intents paradigm, and therefore integrates with essentially any Android app, while Glass apps have to be specific to the device. They are also much, much cheaper. He points out that Glass originated in Google X, the trainset-within-a-trainset research group, while Wear originates in the much more product-oriented Android division.

Android Auto is reviewed here. Like the watches, most of it lives on your phone and the UI is remoted to the car’s ICE screen. However, the UI is subject to heavy restrictions so as not to disturb the driver. (OK Google, where’s that self-driving car you were talking about?

In the core Google system, Urs Hölzle says that Google no longer uses the iconic MapReduce distributed data-crunching system, having replaced it with a new tool called Cloud Dataflow, which he says will eventually become available as a service.

The Nest API has been released, with support from several major appliance makers. Vision Mobile thinks that the success of the Internet of Things is best tracked by counting the developers working on it. (Note that NTT DoCoMo just announced its embedded SIM product.)

Google has secretly acquired Arpental Technologies, a startup working on 60GHz band radios.

Despite all this Android activity, Samsung’s CFO is trying to lower expectations for the vendor’s Q2 earnings, which he says won’t be “too good”.

Twilio * Chromebooks = call-centre as a service; Sprint launches national HD voice

Here’s a clever proposition from Voice 2.0 player Twilio. For $75/seat/mo, they will send you Chromebooks with Plantronics headsets, pre-provisioned Google Apps, and the Twilio client, with 7,500 minutes to the PSTN. These are being distributed by Twilio partners who typically have an app running on their platform. The first is LiveOps, so you get their app too. It’s an instant, inflatable call centre, with integral IT support and a high degree of hackability.

The official announcement is here, as is a very nice tutorial on using natural language tools to process SMS messages.

Here’s an Orange whitepaper on why that might be important.


Sprint has turned up HD voice throughout the US, and claims that 16 million of its subscribers already have a device that can use it.

Ken Wieland discusses why carriers are deploying VoLTE. The main motivations so far are spectrum saving, HD audio, and perhaps also WLAN integration.

The challenges and rewards of more speed; Brazilian 700MHz plans; latest TIM dramas; Chinese 700MHz “not before 2020”; America Movil faces up to regulation

Here’s a High Scalability post on what it takes to achieve a factor of 10 improvement in the performance of a web application that ought to be both damning and inspiring to telcos. The damning bit:

Let’s suppose that the network cannot be sped up any further (requiring our network providers and/or the speed of light to improve are said by some to be equally difficult)

The inspiring bit: look at how much of the whole improvement is from the network!


It’s no wonder everyone is so keen to get at the 700MHz band and get even more LTE out there. Brazil is trying to get more carriers to bid for the 700 band, and their regulator reckons the auction will also mark the point where 3G overtakes 2G in terms of subscribers.

The minister reckons that means early September, before the elections. The shutdown of analogue TV and the handover program should begin in April 2016 and reach 60% population coverage by the end of 2017. This compares favourably with the same process in China, where the 700s won’t be available before 2020.

The fate of TIM Brasil is still not clear, and it’s getting less clear, as there’s more drama at the parent Telecom Italia.

The consortium of Italian banks and insurers, rather obviously named Telco, that owns a controlling stake in TI has had to take a €830m writeoff on the shares, and three of the partners want out. Under the terms of the shareholder agreement, this implies winding up Telco and divvying up the stock, which would give Telefonica 14.7% of TI. That would be 14.7% in the high-powered version of the stock, too. The breakup is subject to approval from a galaxy of regulators - as well as Brazil’s antitrust agency (CADE) and telecoms regulator (ANATEL), Argentine telecoms regulators and the Italian insurance supervisor have to sign.

Oi has sold another 1,641 towers to a financial investor for some $527m.

Still in Latin America, Mexico finally has a regulator and it has inevitably pointed the finger at America Movil’s 61.8% market share. The carrier has set up a committee to “consider all options”. TelecomTV points out that the reform provides for plenty of surveillance and net non-neutrality.

Whatever America Movil decides to do, they’re doing it without AT&T. The carrier sold its stake back to Carlos Slim for some $5.6bn, money it’s going to spend on DirecTV.

EE “most complained” operator; BT outage; cheap, cheap FTTH; NBN pays Telstra for FTTN

EE is the operator with the most complaints per 1000 customers in the UK, according to OFCOM. The biggest causes of complaints were billing disputes, number portability, and “complaints handling” - so a substantial number of complainants were complaining about the response to past compliants. The British, it seems, like complaining. Interestingly, O2 has the fewest complaints.


BT, though, managed to really give them something to complain about this weekend, as the network fell over. DNS was unavailable for the whole UK, while about half AS5400’s prefixes disappeared from the Internet routing table.

OpenSignal, meanwhile, reckons reckons national roaming won’t help much.

Having failed to merge with Orange or buy SFR, Bouygues is trying to expand its nascent FTTH network. To do so, they’ve just slashed the prices, offering a triple-play bundle for €25.99/mo.

The French regulator is not happy about the Bouygues-SFR network sharing agreement, meanwhile, specifically because Bouygues alone is allowed to run LTE in the 1800MHz band.

Australia’s NBN is paying Telstra to deploy a trial FTTN network. How are the mighty fallen; once the NBN set out to replace the copper, now it’s paying Telstra to invest in it.

Satellite Cowboy Charlie Ergen has been involved in the litigation over LightSquared, the latest in Phil Falcone’s long line of satellite-Internet projects, which went bust after discovering it couldn’t just use the same band as GPS. There is now a plan to bring LightSquared out of bankruptcy, but there is no place for the Cowboy in it. The judge was displeased:

Mr. Ergen, who left one of the three mediation sessions with creditors without Judge Drain’s permission, had not “participated in the mediation in good faith” and “wasted the parties and the mediator’s time and resources,” the judge wrote in a memorandum filed on Friday afternoon.


Kinnevik denies that it’s selling Tele2. Is AT&Tcutting back its CapEx? It’s costing £70m to shut down the South Yorkshire Digital Region.

And here’s a good presentation on why EE isn’t doing C-RAN yet.

Aereo: whatever Supremes say, it just wasn’t very good; Verizon adds more CDN; is Spotify hyping music from its advertisers? Facebook Home is dead

The US Supreme Court this week found against Aereo, the company that wanted to receive broadcast TV and re-stream it on the Internet. Dan Rayburn argues that this is a detail - Aereo wasn’t a good product or a sensible business model.

Netflix and other services have taught us that consumers want a lot of content choice, they want a deep catalog of content to pick from, they want it on all of their devices, they expect the quality of the video to be very good and the service to be easy to use. This isn’t what Aereo offered.

Verizon, meanwhile, has added 20 more POPs to its EdgeCast CDN. Interestingly, this has been done in part to create more peerings where content providers can upload their stuff.

Amazon Web Services has added more intelligence to CloudFront, letting it respond to a wider range of HTTP headers.

Spotify streams and recommends music. It also sells ads. Does it recommend music that it advertises? The question is asked, and the answer is no, for the time being.

YouTube and Universal Music have signed an agreement under which YouTube agrees to take down UMG content it objects to, whether or not it is covered by the fair-use exemption. This sounds like it could run and run.

Tencent is spending $736m to buy 58.com, a Chinese classified-ads website, in order to offer more shopping opportunities to the vast QQ/WeChat user base.

The Facebook Home team has been disbanded.

Facebook experiments on your mind; “no” to warrantless searches of mobile devices; Germany kicks Verizon; Blackphone review

Speaking of Facebook, it turns out they carried out an experiment to see if they could influence the moods of 600,000 non-consenting users by changing the newsfeed algorithm. They could indeed do so, and the rest of the Internet’s mood has been changed to “angry”.

On a similar theme, a design student at the Royal College of Art has built a filing cabinet that follows people around, to remind them of their data trail.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that mobile devices cannot be searched without a warrant.

Germany has cancelled a huge contract with Verizon to run much of its government’s telecoms - because they want to punish them over the NSA spying.

And Ars Technica reviews the Blackphone.

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June 26, 2014

Disruptive Strategy: ‘Uncarrier’ T-Mobile vs. AT&T, VZW, and Free.fr

We’ve just published a new research paper ‘Disruptive Strategy: ‘Uncarrier’ T-Mobile vs. AT&T, VZW, and Free.fr’ T-Mobile USA’s ‘uncarrier’ strategy has delivered significant net additions, but is it a good strategy - and is the disruption promised by Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son already underway? We compare it to Free Mobile’s disruptive approach in France, and the results of its competitors’ responses.

You can read an excerpt of the report here We’ll be looking further at telecom disruption at OnFuture Arabia (10-12 November) and Digital Asia (2-4 November) 2014. Email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003 to find out more.

Extract chart from report:

The duopolists hold a lead but a new challenger arises.png

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June 23, 2014

LTE-A, WiFi Cows, Amazon Fire, Cloud, Netflix: Telco 2.0 News Review

SKT, Bouygues, Orange, SFR, Swisscom, Vodafone.pt launch LTE-A hotspots; EE launches the Wi-Fi cow; prime minister’s dropped call leads to UK roaming; military coup stops Thai 4G

SK Telecom turns up its LTE-Advanced network with carrier-aggregation, claiming a 225Mbps peak download, using 2x20MHz carriers in the 1800MHz band and a 10MHz 800MHz carrier together. Samsung has helpfully enabled it on a version of the Galaxy S5, as well as a new high definition display to help you enjoy it.

Meanwhile, Bouygues took its mind off merging with Orange or Free and soft-launched its own LTE-A, claiming 220Mbps. The actual coverage is quite limited, and the only device available is a Wi-Fi hotspot, so this is really more of a large-scale trial.

Orange and SFR are promising something similar this year. Swisscom has started trialling the technology in major railway stations. Swisscom has an unlimited data tariff, so it could well benefit from it. And Vodafone Portugal is offering its first LTE-A product.

That announcement also solves the mystery of why all these LTE-A rollouts are in this week’s news; Vodafone.pt is offering a new Huawei Wi-Fi hotspot, and presumably the announcements are being driven by the availability of the hardware. Huawei and Vodafone also claim to have demonstrated co-channel interworking between GSM and LTE, which sounds fun for those carriers with lots of 1800MHz spectrum, like EE.

Speaking of EE, they win the prize for this summer’s publicity stunt by deploying fibreglass Wi-Fi cows to the Glastonbury festival. In fact, EE is the “official 4G partner”, so the festival may involve strange introverted characters wandering around, muttering in esoteric code, using their antennae to measure how Glastonbury Tor affects the invisible emanations of the aether…before the hippies show up. Also, is this the first case of a COW, as in Cells on Wheels, disguised as a cow?

Elsewhere in the British countryside, it seems the Prime Minister’s calls have been dropping, and he is very very angry. As a result, the government is considering introducing national roaming as a quick-fix measure.

Opposition MP Tom Watson makes a remarkably cogent statement of why this might not be a good idea, while the Financial Times identifies cynical and partisan motives, and RevK, whose company already offers the option of switching to Vodafone Netherlands, points out that under the new EU regulatory regime, foreigners would get free national roaming but UK residents would pay at unregulated rates.

Meanwhile, both EE and 3UK are offering voice-over-WLAN. 3’s sounds like an app, while EE’s announcement suggests they’re looking at automatically routing calls.

In Thailand, meanwhile, mobile broadband is on hold after a military coup. The new junta has cancelled the planned 4G auction, and wants to “review” the ownership structure of Total Access, the second-biggest mobile operator and local affiliate of Telenor. Fascinatingly, the current military dictator has form for this; he stormed the presidential palace in 2006 in order to depose Thaksin Shinawatra over his allegedly enormous tax-evasion during the sale of market leading 3G operator AIS to Singapore’s sovereign-wealth fund.

Low, low prices; OFCOM proposes UK wholesale fibre rules, eight high-tech trials

If you’re in one of the few lucky bits of the UK where Hyperoptic is building out fibre, they’ve cut their prices by half as a promo giveaway. The 100Mbps package looks a steal.

OFCOM has proposed a price cap on BT wholesale FTTC, set in order to ensure that competing ISPs can make a margin.

Eight companies have received part of a £10m OFCOM pot to investigate new technical approaches to rural broadband.

And Benoit Felten is moving to Asia, taking his fibre obsession with him.

Amazon Fire - high-end, Tango-y, AT&T exclusive; BlackBerry Q1s and new gadgets; succession planning at Samsung

Amazon’s smartphone, the Fire, is here. Here’s an interview with Jeff Bezos. The default assessment of any Amazon product is that it exists to sell content and is probably a loss-leader, but the make-up of the Fire is interesting. Rather like Google’s Project Tango, it is fitted with a high quality camera and has a SDK for applications that use machine-vision. There’s some discussion here, making the good point that the iPhone didn’t disrupt everything at launch, but rather as it improved with successive iterations.

Very untypically for Amazon, it is priced at the top end of the smartphone market, and even on a subsidised contract deal you’ll have to pay $199 up front. The hefty subsidy (the contract-free cash price is $649) is coming from AT&T, which has exclusivity over the phone. Amazon is also getting into the Apple trick of selling additional Flash storage for outrageous prices - it comes with 32GB as standard, versus a typical 16GB, which may contribute as much as $100 to the price tag.

BlackBerry has Q1 numbers, and they claim to have made money, $23 million of it. This is in part down to heroic accounting adjustments, without which the company would have lost $60 milion. But despite TelecomTV’s snark, something must be going right, as the company is adding substantially to its cash.

They say cash is king, you cannot fake cash, so follow the cash. But you’d think inventories of shiny, kickable, physical gadgets were even less ambiguous. Not so; although 2.6 million of them shipped, the company could only recognise revenue from 1.6 million, as previous channel-stuffing weirdness was unwound.

There’s also a new gadget, the BlackBerry Passport, a large phablet with a very high definition display, and a slightly unusual form factor: it’s square, like a typical BlackBerry user.

(Also, did you know the Canadian police had access to BlackBerry instant messaging?)

Lee Kun-hee, the chairman of Samsung, is not a well man, and as a result, the family is looking to sell some shares in order to pay inheritance tax. The main take-out is that Samsung’s corporate structure is deeply strange.

China Unicom builds Hong Kong cloud; Telstra escapes from Australia; Cisco hits tail -f; Facebook’s homegrown switch

China Unicom is spending £240m to build a huge data centre in Hong Kong, providing itself with a base for cloud services that has globally outstanding submarine cable connectivity and is outside the Great Firewall.

Telstra was an early adopter of cloud among telcos, notably because latency sensitive services can’t really be based in the US or Europe for Aussie customers. Now, they’re rolling out around the world, the latest deployment being in the United States. The carrier is the first to deploy Cisco’s own cloud platform.

Cisco, meanwhile, spent $175m to acquire SDN startup Tail -F Systems.

Oracle says its revenues in its Q4 were up 3 per cent overall, which breaks down to 25% growth in the cloud and services business and an actual decline in software licencing and hardware.

Microsoft has started assigning IPv4 addresses from outside North America to new Azure virtual machines, because its numbering resources within ARIN are now at an end.

Facebook has developed its own modular, software-defined top-of-rack switch, which it’s releasing through the Open Compute Project. Rackspace has one of those “dedicated server as a cloud” products. Amazon has more SSDs in the Elastic Block Store.

Sprin-T - no deal means 700MHz buy; seven days’ free iPhone; Sprint rural roaming; VZW to buy DISH spectrum?

If the Sprin-T deal falls through, T-Mobile plans to spend its $2bn break fee on 700MHz spectrum. You do occasionally wonder if some people at T-Mo would rather have the break fee than the deal; it must be the memory of the AT&T no-deal.

T-EO John Legere, meanwhile, picked a fight about the Amazon Fire, claiming that it was going to be as big a flop as the HTC “Facebook phone”, also an AT&T exclusive. He also announced that anyone with a credit card could come into a T-Store and try out an iPhone 5S for seven days, service included. T-Mo will take a $700 pre-authorisation to stop the phones walking. (Among other things, it sounds like a great idea if you’re visiting the States briefly.)

Sprint has signed up a dozen rural carriers to its LTE roaming program.

Verizon Wireless may be looking at buying DISH’s 2GHz spectrum. How are the mighty fallen! Once the Satellite Cowboy Charlie Ergen did battle with the Samurai Son. Today, he faces the sale of his spectrum to the clone armies of the Bell empire.

Remember when Verizon wanted to turn off the phones on Fire Island? After the epic row, the installers have arrived to start deploying FiOS.

Netflix: paid peering contributes nothing to our prices; FCC fingers Cogent peering in the great video wars; cable and fibre deliver; national roaming

Is all the arguing about paid peering much ado about nothing? Here’s a Netflix exec saying that the costs of interconnection are so small that they don’t represent any meaningful percentage of their prices to the the customer. By extension, they also can’t represent a meaningful percentage of telco revenue. So perhaps we can all go home.

The FCC official blog thinks so, too. Based on the latest release of its Measuring Broadband America report, it comes out and points the finger:

In particular, we found significant drops in broadband performance during a period when Cogent, an Internet backbone provider, reportedly was having disputes with various ISPs.

Unfortunately, our speed test for the report only measures our sample of consumers connecting to a few other points on the Internet, and it cannot accurately gauge the scope of a network congestion problem. As far as we can tell, this problem only appeared in tests using Cogent links. Furthermore, our research indicates that the issue was “path specific,” i.e., it only affected users when they tried to access certain content or data over certain network paths.

Meanwhile, as usual, the report itself is a goldmine of statistics. Here’s an interesting chart showing how, as our Triple Play in the USA note pointed out, cable and fibre underpromise and overdeliver while (V)DSL does the opposite, and satellite operators are strategically modest about the speeds they offer.


And T-Mobile wants the FCC to investigate AT&T, specifically, over the prices they charge for national roaming.

Canadian cableco about to go Free? T-Music causes net neutrality storm; Google threatens indie labels with YouTube death penalty

Are we about to see some disruption in Canada? Cableco Videotron has got its spectrum, specifically 700MHz, and it’s planning to become the fourth national carrier. It will surely be interesting to see whether a Free Mobile-like disruption is transferable outside France, and whether it is intended. Also, what will the (theoretically) content-focused cable folks do with content?

Speaking of cable, the Numericable/SFR deal is done.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, has added an own-branded streaming app to its lineup, which includes Rhapsody, Spotify, iTunes Radio, Beatport and quite a few others. The streaming traffic will be zero-rated for T-Billing, which is causing a minor outbreak of hives among net neutrality activists, who tend to appreciate T-Mo.

That, however, will be as nothing to the row unleashed by Google this week. They are planning to launch a paid-for version of YouTube, offering downloads and no ads. This requires that the record labels sign up for it, and the Google has found the ideal way to convince them: simply scrub their stuff off YouTube if they don’t knuckle under. Rage abounds, and a complaint is already with the European anti-trust regulators.

Google buys in-home CCTV company; I/O preview; Telenor gets another M2M platform; Vodafone & NTT partnership

After the $3.2bn acquisition of Nest Labs, Google’s home automation spree continues. Dropcam was snapped up this week for $555m. The company makes a variety of hardware and software for video monitoring and surveillance.

Google I/O is coming up, and Ars Technica has a rundown of Google projects that might figure in it. They’re also looking at investing in another submarine cable.

Telenor Connexion, their international M2M business, has signed up with Thingworx, a platform for M2M software applications. This is a little surprising, as Telenor already has the Shepherd platform in its Objects business.

And Vodafone has extended its M2M partnership with NTT DoCoMo.

The French government is not happy that ICANN has accepted the .wine and .vin top-level domains.

Here are two good pieces on the 36-year old heir to Kinnevik, the Swedish holding company that played a key role via Millicom in the early days of GSM.

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June 16, 2014

AT&T, DirecTV, FCC, Bouygues, Apple: Telco 2.0 News Review

AT&T: we need DirecTV because U-Verse failed, like Telco 2.0 said; US customers hate cable, but not as much as they hate telcos; key data on the Verizon/Netflix row

AT&T’s official filing to the SEC, setting out reasons why it should be allowed to acquire DirecTV, is sensational, Ars Technica reports. The original document is available here. In it, CSO John Stankey as good as confesses that U-Verse just isn’t good enough, that too much of the revenue is leaking away to the content providers, and that the broadband isn’t much cop either. He seems distinctly worried about Google Fiber, and also concerned that increasing numbers of customers just aren’t that into TV. Meanwhile, not only do the cablecos have better TV, but they have much better broadband:

Screenshot from 2014-06-16 12:34:05.png

These are essentially exactly the conclusions we arrived at in the Telco 2.0 Transformation Index and its component AT&T In-Depth Report. We have recently published a new Executive Briefing, Triple Play in the USA, covering developments in the US fixed market in detail.

He argues that buying DirecTV would permit a better TV offering, and more interestingly, that it would strengthen the economics of GigaPower, their fledgling FTTH product, permitting them to roll out substantially more fibre. He also promises that a combined company would launch a fixed-wireless LTE broadband service for its rural markets. Interestingly, he argues that the existing synthetic bundle of AT&T wireless service and DirecTV broadcast is a bit of a disaster too.

In the meantime, AT&T is putting up its one-off activation fee by $4. A spokesperson said this was because so many customers were activating a new phone under their quick-upgrade plan.

Benoit Felten points us to this Washington Post article, which shows polling suggesting that 53% of Americans would change to a different cable operator if there was competition. The Post frames the story as being about how awful cable is, but we think the more interesting point is how bad the telco competition must be if they can’t get them to churn.

Although Netflix and Verizon have settled their dispute, it turns out that the Verizon peering upgrades Netflix is paying for won’t be ready for another eight months, while Comcast’s engineers turn out to have been coordinating with Netflix well before the deal was actually announced.

Netflix, for its part, is keen to talk about its “streaming science”, but what about this must-read post from Dan Rayburn? Rayburn points out that Netflix paying for carriage is nothing new, because after all it historically always used multiple CDNs, right up until it decided to take its CDN in-house - and measurements of end-user speed take a dive right then.


Well, at least they didn’t fall over on the first night of the World Cup. ReadWriteWeb compares the online TV hardware.

FCC calls in peering after Netflix-Verizon; should wireless be net-neutral? Pre-empting the states on muni-fibre; decoupled roaming in practice

Speaking of the Netflix-Verizon and Netflix-Comcast rows, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced that the regulator is going to examine Internet peering. Wheeler’s statement, which frames the issue as one of net neutrality in the meaning of the Open Internet Order, is here.

Meanwhile, the FCC is also seeking public comments on whether it should include wireless in its effort to redraft the OIO. James Hamilton, of AWS fame but blogging in a personal capacity, argues strongly in favour of net neutrality and encourages readers to write to the FCC.

Elsewhere, although the US is about to release more than 100MHz of fresh spectrum in about a year, Republican senator Marco Rubio is introducing an act to demand more of it.

Chattanooga’s municipal fibre network can’t expand further because Tennessee is one of the states that has a law against municipal fibre. Wheeler says the FCC is ready to use its powers to pre-empt the states on this issue.

And the EU’s next lot of roaming regs is coming, and the 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog has a good presentation on the technical implementation of “decoupled roaming”.

Vodafone after Forthnet, deploys Italian LTE, buys connected car co; Bouygues-Orange is off; Viacloud is dead; Sprint sits out AWS-3

Vodafone is bidding jointly with Wind Hellas to buy Forthnet, Greece’s main alternative fixed operator and the owner of a pay-TV network, Nova. At the same time, Vodafone Italy is promising to deploy LTE to another 100 towns every month, aiming to reach 90% population coverage by 2016, with 95% coverage on HSPA+.

Voda has also acquired Cobra Automotive, an Italian company that provides telematics services for connected-car and fleet tracking applications. Yours for €145m.

Atos is floating its Worldline payments unit on the Paris stock market, hoping to raise €2.4bn. It will be interesting to see if there is tech/telecoms interest.

Bouygues’ talks with Orange have collapsed, and the operator is going to cut 1,500 jobs, having lost €19m in Q1. They also promised “very aggressive pricing” in broadband.

Viacloud was an interesting company, a so-called “MVNA” (the A is aggregator) that was in some ways like a workshop for tailored MVNOs, which sat in EE’s UK network. This week, the company has gone into liquidation. According to Mobile News, it has failed to secure any customers except for two in-house MVNOs.

Sprint may sit out the AWS-3 spectrum auction, on the grounds that it needs low-band spectrum more. RCRWireless points out that VZW is on the record as saying it has all the 700MHz it needs, so there’s scope for a tacit deal.

And Telefonica has started selling some of its enterprise customers electricity and energy services.

The good thing about standards is that there are so many - EU now has two 5G centres; Qualcomm small cell chips; Airvana cloud-RAN; Brocade goes for SDN with Vyatta

The 5G Infrastructure Association, a group of European vendors and telcos, has signed a MoU with South Korea’s 5G Forum to cooperate on developing the next lot of mobile network standards. Interestingly, or perhaps depressingly, the UK government’s 5G Innovation Centre seems to be doing the same sort of thing, just with a completely non-overlapping list of members. Fortunately, one of them is Samsung.

Qualcomm has launched a new line of chips for 4G small cells, specifically ones targeted at small business or “neighbourhood” applications. Samples are expected some time this year, and the devices should provide LTE and WLAN for 16 concurrent users with 100mW power.

Here’s an interesting discussion about the problems of urban small cells.

Airvana has a new small cell for multi-operator indoor deployments, based on so-called Cloud-RAN technology.

The Small Cells Forum has issued another lot of standards, notably covering interoperability in het-nets and the API for edge-caching and location-based applications.

Brocade is getting into network virtualisation, and has picked the Vyatta network-appliance distribution of Linux.

Firefox gadgets, not going anywhere unless GSMA twists arms? What if Apple’s WWDC was really about gaming? Those Microsoft Android patents

Is Firefox OS doomed? RadioFreeMobile thinks so, arguing that the (rather impressive) Spreadtrum SC6821 chip in the new reference design doesn’t leave enough of a margin for the vendors to make money unless they get a minimum commitment of 10 million gadgets. The problem is that there is no reason to think the carriers will pre-finance so many of the things.

That said, Firefox OS apps can now be packaged for use on Android.

Horace argues that WWDC was like a conference on concrete attended by Architectural Digest writers. Here’s a blog arguing, cogently, that the incremental improvements across iOS and OS X add up to big and important change, notably from a gaming point of view. The combination of app extensions and the peer-to-peer version of AirPlay is especially important.

Ars Technica has a comprehensive history of Android.

The list of patents Microsoft claims to hold over Android has been disclosed in China. One of them at least seems to patent the whole of UMTS and LTE. And Microsoft’s right to use the name Nokia on smartphones is drawing to a close.

Here’s a good discussion of what Apple might do with the iPhone 5c. Is this a new twist on their tried strategy of using the older iPhones as the low-end options?

Google releases ultra-hip cloud technology; Microsoft spending hard on data centres; CDNs unite to fight DDOS; why Google bought Skybox

Google has released its internal containerisation tool, Kubernetes, as open-source software. The name means “helmsman” in classical Greek and is of course the derivation of the word “cybernetics”. The tool has been rewritten to integrate with Docker, and has the interesting feature that it can do job-routing and load-balancing not just across machines or groups of machines, but across multiple clouds.

Microsoft is spending $350m on more data centres in northern Virginia. Between the data centres, Level(3) is buying TWTelecom.

CDN operator CloudFlare is organising Project Galileo, which aims to protect “political and artistic” Web sites from denial of service attacks, by pooling the service and blackholing resources of major CDNs.

Amazon Web Services adds Windows Phone and Baidu to its Simple Notifications Service.

Google has acquired a company that both operates and makes satellites, Skybox. Here’s a good discussion of why.

1st VoLTE roaming calls; Twilio numbers accept SMS; review of a webinar tool

KT and China Mobile claim to have demonstrated the first VoLTE roaming calls.

Twilio has added SMS receive capability to its toll-free numbers, and here’s an example of how to use them.

Fring and Bouygues Telecom. Nice app!

Here’s a review of 3CX’s WebMeeting.

DTAG joins Vodafone in publishing lawful intercept requests

Last week it was Vodafone publishing a big list of all the snooping; now DTAG has done so, although with regard to Germany only.

A “contractor” to AT&T filched customer records in order to unlock stolen devices. DuckDuckGo is riding its post-Snowden inflection higher and higher. Some AT&T thinking on mobile security. Don’t have nightmares.

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June 10, 2014

The $50bn Enterprise Mobility Opportunity: what’s stopping telcos winning 500% more business?

We’ve just published a new research paper ‘The $50bn Enterprise Mobility Opportunity: what’s stopping telcos winning 500% more business?’.

Our new global research among enterprises and telcos shows that many telcos are ideally positioned, but underprepared, to exploit the fast emerging and evolving $50bn Enterprise Mobility opportunity. How can telcos address this gap?

You can download this report in full for free here. We’ll also be exploring the implications at the OnFuture EMEA Brainstorm, 11-12 June in London. Email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003 to find out more.

image SAP.jpg

Source: STL Partners, On-line research, Enterprise >250 employees, Feb 2014(n=101)
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June 2, 2014

WWDC standby; Moto X production; consolidation coming - Telco 2.0 News Review

The 9th Annual ‘OnFuture EMEA’ Executive Brainstorm & Innovation Forum (formerly ‘New Digital Economics EMEA’) is designed to equip up to 200 specially-invited business leaders with new, breakthrough ideas, methods and tools on how to grow significant new revenues in the next 12-18 months leveraging Mobile, Cloud and Big Data. For the full agenda click here, to apply to participate click here.

Standing by for Apple WWDC, speculation roundup; tablet sales slow sharply; Moto X production in US to end; Foxconn tries being a telco

Apple has signed off the acquisition of Dr Dre’s Beats Music for three billion greenbacks. More importantly, we’re standing by for the keynote at this year’s WWDC. ZDNet reckons we can expect a “mash-up of software and services”, and probably new versions of OS X and iOS. There’s also speculation that Apple will announce something to do with home automation, mobile payments, fitness apps, or let slip details of the next iPhone - although at this point you might think we’re just iterating through a list of generic options.

Horace offers a list of questions for Apple executives at the Re/Code event, notably “why isn’t there an app store for Apple TV”, and ReadWriteWeb argues that iCloud is still the weakest aspect of Apple’s product line and needs attention. Notably, like the TV, it doesn’t do much for app developers. ZDNet, again suggests some acquisitions that make more sense than Beats - notably ARM Holdings or Akamai. Big deals though they would be, that would represent radical deepening of Apple’s supply chain, which fits more with their strategy than really nice headphones.

Whatever happens, nobody knows anything until Tim Cook opens his mouth. Ars Technica will be following the announcements live.

IDC has revised down its estimates of tablet sales. The new numbers suggest that growth has slowed sharply, from 51.8% CAGR to 12%. The shift is concentrated in the smaller gadgets, probably because the big-screen smartphones are cannibalising the 7” class. More worryingly, there is also evidence that consumers are putting off upgrading.

Remember when Google announced that the new Motorola Moto X phones would be assembled in the US, so as to provide for mass customisation? Not very surprisingly, Lenovo isn’t interested and the plant is shutting down.

Samsung has announced its first Tizen-based smartphone. Nokia mapping division Here.com has a new CEO.

And here’s an idea for you: Foxconn is becoming a telco! Specifically, it’s buying Taiwanese operator Asia-Pacific Telecom and its new 4G licences for some $11.6bn.

LG, meanwhile, has added a laser rangefinder to its latest smartphone, in order to provide a dramatically faster autofocus. Interestingly, they originally developed the technology for their robotic vacuum cleaner. Question: does the operating system expose an API for it?

FCC to redefine broadband; H3G/O2 Ireland is go, and perhaps more; Comcast hires ALL THE LOBBYISTS; Chilean net neutrality

The FCC is considering updating its definition of “broadband”. At the moment it’s 4Mbps downlink, which starts to look a bit skinny (that said, it wasn’t that long ago when it was defined as 200Kbps), and 1Mbps uplink. The FCC is considering revising this to 2.9Mbps up and either 10 or 25 down.

European commissioner Joaquin Almunia has cleared the acquisition of O2 Ireland by Hutchison, a decision that is being taken as a signal that more consolidation will be officially tolerated in the EU. Vodafone’s Irish opco is not happy and is considering legal action. Unusually, a condition of the deal is that 3 will have to support any new entrant to the market - presumably the Euregulators are thinking of some sort of Free Mobile-style minicarrier.

Comcast, meanwhile, is playing out that scene from The Matrix where Keanu Reeves is asked what he needs and replies “Guns. Lots of guns”, but with lobbyists. They have added seven new lobbying firms since announcing their bid for TWC, to a roster that already included 33 of them. 82% of the total staff are ex-regulators or ex-government in some way.

This costs money; in 2013, Comcast’s total lobbying bill was only just pipped to the top by armaments manufacturer Northrop-Grumman. In 2014, can the curious Hollywood-Telecoms alliance that is Comcast raise their game and beat the masters of war to the title of America’s Top Lobby? This quote suggests they’re trying:

There’s a simple way you could describe Comcast’s strategy: have an unlimited budget and then exceed it

In Chile, meanwhile, the regulator has invoked their net neutrality law to kibosh those “200MB of free Facebook, everything else is billed” tariffs Telenor does in India.

More French consolidation coming; DTAG and Softbank agree on T-Mobile; China Telecom on network sharing; MegaFon

Stéphane Richard, France Telecom CEO, says that more consolidation needs to happen in “the coming weeks”, arguing that the European green light for H3G/O2 Ireland implies that going down to three operators is acceptable. The industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg, has done another of his carefully timed indiscretions, confirming that Orange and Bouygues are in secret talks. But what will Free Mobile do?

Elsewhere, DTAG may keep as much of 15% of a merged Sprin-T, in order to keep the final price within the realms of the acceptable for Sprint. It’s also being reported that Softbank Samurai Masayoshi Son has named a price, and DTAG agrees. The big question is therefore the FCC.

China Telecom, meanwhile, says it’s the party that will benefit the most from the giant tower-sharing joint venture, being the smallest of the three national networks.

Here’s a 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog post on how network sharing between T-Mobile and Orange in Poland works.

MegaFon, meanwhile, saw its net profits dive 43% due to the acquisition of Scartel and foreign exchange moves.

And Google is recasting its Project Loon as a constellation of medium earth orbit satellites, costing $1bn to start with. Interestingly, they’ve hired the founder of MEO startup O3b Networks.

Buy FTTH and get cable thrown in; even bigger faster Wi-Fi; Hyperoptic rolls out to the North; cable operators lead with speed

Gimme of the week: Singaporean operator Starhub is offering subscribers who sign up for its 500Mbps service over the national FTTH network a free 100Mbps cable subscription thrown in.

The product is described as being the first to tackle “Wi-Fi slowdowns”, which turns out to mean that you get two “premium” WLAN routers. At $55/mo, that’s a deal, even if we’re struggling a little with why you’d want a random co-ax line once you already have a 500Mbps fibre link.

Huawei is providing the chair for the 802.11ax working group, which aims to get peak Wi-Fi speeds to 10Gbps in 2018.

Hyperoptic, meanwhile, has announced that it’s starting to deploy 1Gbps fibre in Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds, where it can find large buildings with a sufficient concentration of signups.

In the meantime, cable operator Virgin Media continues to top the billing for speed in the UK. The cable operators have quite a few shots in their locker; Virgin takes that title with an average of 49Mbps downlink, but the upgrade path is demonstrated by TWC, which just turned on a 300Mbps product.

We cover the role of cable operators and high-speed broadband in the fight for the US triple play market in depth, in a new Telco 2.0 Executive Briefing


Reliance buys a TV station; Netflix rolls out across Europe; Comcast X1, where are the apps?

Having spent big money to acquire 4G spectrum across India, Reliance Industries is now buying up content. They’re taking 78% of Network 18 Media & Investments, a TV station among other things, for $678m - a big deal, when you remember that the 4G licences cost $1.7bn.

Netflix is expanding its European presence dramatically, adding Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg, giving it access to 76% of fixed broadband subscribers on the continent. The Voice of Broadband discusses the barriers to reaching the levels of penetration (37% of broadband subscribers in the US take Netflix) they get in the States. Content rights are a problem in France, and competition might be one in Germany.

Comcast has built its cloud-based STB, the X1 platform, out of HTML5 and similar good things, but so far it’s not saying much about working with app developers. ReadWriteWeb finds this strange.

ISPReview compares the UK ISPs’ CPE.

SDN sales still yet to take off; Mobily deploys vRAN; Joyent, Adobe #fail; OpenStack for telcos

Infonetics reckons sales of routers and switches rose only 2% year-on-year in Q1. They argue that this is because operators are hesitating about SDN deployment, and also unwilling to deploy any more traditional equipment for fear of ending up with stranded assets.

The TM Forum may promise that SDN will lead to “dramatic disruption” for telcos, but it’s clearly not here yet.

Mobily has deployed Alcatel-Lucent’s virtualised RAN technology, specifically the 9771 Wireless Cloud Element Radio Network Controller.

Joyent had a major outage after a system administrator accidentally rebooted all the machines in their US-EAST 1 region. Meanwhile, Adobe’s Creative Cloud was offline for 17 hours.

And here’s a look at why telcos are deploying OpenStack.

YateBTS 3.0 is here, and it integrates with OpenVoLTE. Firefox’s nightly build contains experimental TokBox support. TrueCrypt suddenly announces that it is “insecure”, causing panic. Google publishes data on the ethnic makeup of its workforce. The answer is not surprising.

Users of Microsoft’s Siri-equivalent, Cortana, are warned in the EULA that it may “infer information that accurately reflects you but that you are uncomfortable sharing with others”.

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