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

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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

St├ęphane 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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