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Vodafone India, China Tower, AT&T, ARM, IAB, Nokia: Telco 2.0 News Review

New Telco 2.0 research out now: in partnership with app analytics specialist Crittercism, we study app-level latency across European MNOs and discover the startling truth.

Vodafone.in IPO; Singapore spectrum row; China Tower is go; EU Digital VP draws line at 4 MNOs; Polish 4G

Vodafone is flirting with an IPO of the Indian opco again, now that a Bombay court has ruled in their favour over their tax dispute. Vittorio Colao says he’s “positively inclined” to the idea, but won’t say anything about timing. We do know that Vodafone picked Rothschilds as financial advisors on the deal and they’ve stuck a $4bn price tag on it.

Meanwhile, the MD of Reliance Jio has quit to join Analysys Mason of all companies, as their 2.3GHz 4G build-out gets later and later.

Telenor is having a board reshuffle to give the Asian opcos more representation in the groupwide leadership. Vivek Sood leaves Telenor India to be group EVP and CMO, with Sharad Mehrotra moving over from Telenor Myanmar to be the India CEO. There are a string of other moves, including adding the DTac, Grameenphone, and DiGi CEOs to the management committee. Details are at the link.

Here’s a good row in Singapore. The three incumbent networks, Singtel, M1, and Starhub, have filed regulatory challenges against a plan to reserve some 900MHz spectrum for the new fourth operator. When the band gets refarmed for 4G in 2016, one-third of it will be available for a new entrant at a substantial discount. That new entrant is almost certainly Xavier Niel’s MyRepublic. The incumbents point out, fairly obviously, that they’re being asked to give up some of their spectrum for a competitor, and claim that the service will suffer.

Malcolm Rodrigues, the MyRepublic CEO, is being almost as abrasive as M. Niel in response:

MyRepublic’s outspoken CEO Malcolm Rodrigues e-mailed The Straits Times to point out that in his opinion the incumbents ‘waste spectrum’ on old technologies and are trying to ‘minimise spectrum availability to new players’. Rodrigues believes that the setting up of a fourth telco is the best way to ensure that precious frequency resources are used efficiently for 4G rollouts. ‘There is grossly insufficient mobile data capacity to meet the rising demand for mobile data,’

In China, the sale of the carriers’ towers to the new China Tower holding company is a deal. CT is paying the three carriers in shares, with China Mobile getting 38% of its capital, Unicom 28.1%, and Telecom 27.9%.

Viettel launches service in Tanzania, where they will be the sixth operator.

The European Commission’s Digital VP, Andrus Ansip, has come out in support of Competition Commissioner Vestager’s decision on the TeliaSonera-Telenor merger. This shouldn’t be that much of a surprise; as readers will remember, Ansip pushed back against Günther Oettinger’s tilt to the €-5 carriers this spring. Ansip, interestingly, says he sees carrier investment rising without consolidation.

ARCEP, meanwhile, names the day - the French 700MHz auction opens on the 16th of November. Stéphane Richard is on record as saying consolidation might be relaunched after the auction, but this seems a lot less likely in the light of Vestager and Ansip’s remarks.

The Polish 4G auction is in, and it’s been spendy. The carriers are in for $2.5bn in fees, six times as much as the regulator pencilled in. Full details aren’t yet public, but it seems that 4th operator P4 got at least one 800MHz block and four 2.6GHz.

Telecom Italia has been talking about selling Telecom Argentina for some time but there’s never been any hurry. Now, the Argentine regulator has an objection, on the grounds it doesn’t believe the buyer has the chops to run a telco.

The US incentive auction is here. FCC has published the official documentation, including the guide prices, and much more. Sellers - i.e. broadcasters - must file by 6pm on 18th December, and buyers - operators - by 28th January.

Verizon Wireless says all 21 operators in its LTE for Rural America program have turned up service in the upper 700MHz band it leases to them.

An AT&T quad-play customer writes to the CEO with a suggestion and gets a response from the carrier’s lawyers. T-Mobile, inevitably, jumps in to make fun of them. Meanwhile, a reseller that provides wireless broadband to schools and libraries is suing Sprint over the planned shutdown of the WiMAX network, and Sprint’s SVP of strategy resigns.

After gigabit cable comes cableco SDN; $22bn for Chinese rural broadband; WiFi pavements; UK USO revised?

Cox Communications’ head of network architecture says traffic is growing at a 53% clip, and the answer is SDN, while Bright House’s SVP of engineering says they’re already using scripting to automate their processes although it’s only “pre-SDN”. Meanwhile, Comcast’s VP of access, Jorge Salinger, says the emergence of Google Fiber and other alternative overbuilders is what’s driving the wave of DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades. He also confirmed that the main rollout would be done by 2018.

Another gigabit cable upgrade.

Meet BSOD - not Blue Screen of Death, but Business Services over DOCSIS. It’s the cable industry standard for virtualised CPE, VPNs, Layer 2 Ethernet over cable, and the like, and therefore, the primary competitor for your SDN strategy. Bright House is keen.

Verizon is moving more markets over from copper to fibre. Chattanooga’s city fibre operator, having led the way with gigabit FTTH, is now offering 10Gbps.

Here comes $22bn in Chinese government funding for rural broadband, being paid out from here to 2020. The aim is to improve service to 30 million households, with 50,000 villages being hooked up for the first time.

The Aussie NBN’s targets have been revised up, with 7.5m more connections over the next 3 years.

Sky re-iterates its push for Openreach divestment. Hyperoptic turns up service in Birmingham.

Virgin Media has launched its first community WiFi deployment, using access points under the pavement and multiple, bonded cable links for the backhaul. The House of Commons broadband debate suggests that the universal service target might rise above 5Mbps.

Football remains a great customer acquisition tool.

And Relish/UK Broadband is losing money hand over fist

AT&T goes cloud-focused; ARM servers about to break through? Equinix, SingTel datacentre builds

AT&T is re-organising - the focus is increasingly on the SDN- and cloud-heavy Business Solutions, which takes over wireless products for businesses and becomes the biggest line of business by revenue. The others are Consumer Mobility, i.e. AT&T Mobility less the customers it’s shedding to Business Solutions, Entertainment & Internet Services, i.e Home Solutions plus DirecTV, and International, containing the assets in Mexico and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, here’s a case that AT&T’s SDN transition will mean job losses. Verizon, for its part, is offering something called Secure Cloud Interconnect, which is “SDN powered”. It seems to be an inter-datacentre managed WAN connection.

Amazon infrastructure chief James Hamilton argues that ARM servers are about to break through, thanks to the mobile sector’s investment in fabs at Samsung and TSMC and in design at ARM itself and Qualcomm.

Peter Eavis takes a deep look into the EMC-Dell deal and finds that EMC isn’t making anywhere near as much money as it ought to be.

Here’s an interesting business model: a dark fibre ring specifically for inter-datacentre peering around Equinix Ashburn. Equinix itself, meanwhile, is building a new 1m sq ft site in Ashburn, at an estimated cost of $1bn and a very round $1000/sq ft.

SingTel is building a new data centre in Jurong, offering 570,000 sq ft for $285m or half the cost of the Equinix project.

Red Hat buys a cloud automation company.

Apple surge in South Korea; Microsoft apps huge boost for the iPhone; Nexus reviews

Apple is gaining serious market share in South Korea, surely dreadful news for Samsung. Since the iPhone 6 Plus launched, they’ve gone from trivial levels of share to 14%. A knock-on effect is hitting LG - as Samsung cuts prices to defend share, LG and Pantech customers trade up, so LG loses out.

The version of the iPhone sold with an AT&T SIM, but unlocked, turns out to have the widest range of band support. Ask for model A1633.

The iPhone 6S Plus is now “the perfect enterprise smartphone” - thanks to Microsoft apps. So ironic.

Here’s a review of the new Nexus phones.

87% of Androids have unpatched bugs; 13 Flash vulns; giving up on the crypto ban, again

Android security problems don’t seem to be getting any better. A study shows that 87 per cent of Androids have at least one critical vulnerability. Terribly, some of the bugs have been in the wild for the last five years. The problem is quite simply that the patches aren’t getting out there. And the killer detail? Google paid for the study.

Many VoLTE implementations are buggy.

Microsoft releases a critical patch for literally every version of Windows.

Thirteen more Adobe Flash vulnerabilities.

A map of insecure connected kettles.

If you use OK Google, here’s how to erase the recordings of your voice.

Bad crypto implementations let the NSA slurp up reams of stuff. In comments, it turns out that the same methodology is in reach of a hacker willing to spend big on AWS instances or use a large botnet.

And the US government has given up on the latest go-round of trying to require backdoors.

IAB says sorry for the ads, proposes LEAN standard; 1,083 GETs of advertising; Netflix earnings miss; WeWork slides

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is sorry, it says, for all the ads. It’s trying to get advertisers to sign up for something called LEAN, for Light, Encrypted, Ad Choice supported, Non-invasive ads, a standard that’s meant to address the reasons why everyone is using an adblocker. Among other things, they want to restrict how many levels of re-targeting you can be put through and guarantee that you won’t be re-targeted for a product after you’ve bought it.

Interestingly, the IAB also takes some responsibility for Flash ads draining phone batteries, perhaps because Google made them pause by default in Chrome.

More and more people are experimenting with finding out just how much ad-tech they’re exposed to. This blogger found that opening a story on the Forbes homepage, scrolling to the bottom, and back to the top triggered 1,083 URI requests to 197 domains for a total of 18.3MB.

Well-known Silicon Valley sceptic and Pinboard founder Maciej Ceglowski notes that the Web site for the latest version of Mac OS X is more than the total RAM in the original iMac.

Netflix announces a seriously disappointing quarter - earnings per share were 7 cents, compared to a consensus forecast of 12 cents, US net adds were 880k vs 1.25m, and free cash flow was $252m negative, down from $229m negative the quarter before. The shares fell 11 per cent. CFO David Walls blamed the miss on the deployment of chip cards in the US.

Here’s the deck WeWork used to snare a massive financing round. It’s…bullish.

2G is the new 3G; Sigfox to Dubai; LPWAN bull and bear cases; Amazon vs Cisco IoT

Meet the new technology that’s driving the M2M market: GSM, according to Berg Insight. They argue it’s just cheaper at the moment, and won’t give way to LTE-M until 2019. Meanwhile, that doesn’t leave much of a role for 3G.

Don’t expect the LPWAN crowd to give up, though. In fact, Berg hedges a bit, saying they are likely to have “some” success. Sigfox is opening an office in Dubai in preparation for its roll-out in the Middle East, while a new research report argues the market will fragment into a high-bandwidth 4G/5G sector and a low-bandwidth, ultra-low cost LPWAN sector. That might give them as much as 345 million devices by 2020.

Hypercat, which is developing a standard for IoT data discovery, has linked up with the UK government’s Future Cities Catapult to run an “accelerator” for the technology in and around Park Royal.

Comcast expects “ageing Boomers” to drive demand for IoT services.

Here’s an interesting blog post comparing Amazon and Cisco’s Internet of Things products, arguing that AWS IoT is aligned with consumer/developer products and Cisco with industrial ones.

Nokia, the “western alternative to Huawei” in more ways than one; 5G test in Brazil next year?

Nokia, apparently, is the “western alternative to Huawei”, says CEO Rajeev Suri. He means that after the Alcatel-Lucent acquisition, it will have a full, end-to-end product portfolio. He also, interestingly enough, says he wants to get into cloud providers’ business and would be willing to trade margin for access.

But Nokia is increasingly the western alternative to Huawei in another way: it’s the low bidder on enormous Chinese 4G contracts. To be specific, China Mobile wants to deploy a million TD-LTE base stations, and they’re all coming from Nokia under a new übercontract. Apparently this makes Nokia CM’s “biggest non-Chinese vendor”, but if they’re delivering a million eNode-Bs, can they possibly not be their biggest vendor, full stop?

Elsewhere, they snagged a long-term framework agreement covering basically all Ooredoo’s business for the next five years.

Ericsson says it’s going to bring the first 5G test network to Brazil, with Claro, in 2016. That’s early.

MTN Benin is deploying an ultra-low cost, solar powered network with Ericsson.

The Open Networking Foundation and the Linux Foundation are collaborating on ONOS. WiFi Alliance has formed a task force on coexistence with LTE-U.

And here’s a fundamental advance in fibre optics.

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