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Merry Christmas from the Telco 2.0 News Review

Apple’s new COO, Hardware SVP, displays lab; BlackBerry Q3; Qualcomm not splitting; Amazon Jet

Apple has appointed a new COO, Jeff Williams. Having been the head of worldwide procurement and vice president for operations before taking over the supply chain from Tim Cook, he’s evidently a product of the Cookian industrial strategy. So is Johnny Srouji, who is promoted to SVP of hardware technologies after having led the in-house chip design team since the beginning in 2008. Meanwhile, Phil Schiller, who heads developer relations and product marketing, also gets the responsibility for the App Store.

Perhaps more interestingly, they have created a new R&D lab in Taiwan to work on display technologies, yet another element of the Apple product line going in-house. The site previously belonged to Qualcomm during the development of their Mirasol displays. Apple is hiring optronics engineers in the country.

In a TV interview, Tim Cook says Apple wasn’t attracted to investing in China by cheap labour but rather by the range of industrial suppliers available. The Register is snarky about this, but even if it’s true that Apple doesn’t employ many tool and die makers, it’s also true that the proportion of their costs made up by final assembly labour is small.

TalkingPointz, for what it’s worth, thinks Apple needs a low-end option, but isn’t that just the iPhone before last?

Meanwhile, Ericsson and Apple have settled a patent dispute regarding 4G modems for an undisclosed sum.

A surprisingly high percentage of Indian iPhone users are blocking ads.

BlackBerry’s Q3 results announcement begins “BlackBerry Reports 43 Percent Year-over-Year Organic Growth in Software License Revenue for the Fiscal 2016 Third Quarter”, which should tell you that they’re still losing money, either $15m or $89m depending on whether you believe their non-GAAP numbers. That said, revenue is growing and free cash flow is positive.

Qualcomm has decided against splitting the company in two.

Toshiba is cutting 7,000 jobs and concentrating on just two lines of business - chips, and nuclear power - after its accounting scandal.

Jolla is funded again.

Google is having more meetings with European officials than any other company as it fights European anti-trust charges.

And we started this segment with a story about a tech company increasingly defined by its base of hard industrial assets. Amazon, for its part, is leasing Boeing 767-300ER jet freighters to move more of its own cargo.

IBM takes over AT&T data centres; MS vs AWS; Google AMP; huge Switch project

IBM has taken over AT&T’s managed hosting operation. The two companies have an increasingly close relationship in enterprise services - IBM resells AT&T NetBond VPNs and AT&T resells IBM SoftLayer managed hosting - and this move basically consolidates most of AT&T’s data centres into IBM, which has much more scale in this business.

Enterprises are increasingly adopting a strategy with a common hardware setup in the data centre, and a pair of clouds - one VMWare-based and mostly used as a virtualisation layer for legacy apps, one OpenStack-based and mostly used for development and cloud-native work. In parallel, a lot of enterprises are still moving back to the private cloud after hitting a bill shock in the public cloud.

Microsoft Azure sees this slightly differently. Rather than public/private, they see a mixture of public cloud and on-premises, physical setups, bridged by a common software layer, which sets them apart from either Amazon Web Services’ cloud fundamentalist view or Google, which seems to be waiting to see how it turns out.

The UK Government Digital Service has picked Cloud Foundry as its preferred PAAS.

An interesting interview about Google’s AMP project is over at High Scalability.

James Hamilton’s blog announces the Amazon Web Services NAT gateway. Yahoo! open-sources Data Sketches, a tool for getting estimated results from very large data sets quickly.

Switch is building a huge data centre in Michigan, starting by converting a pyramid-shaped office block.

Glasgow city council’s cloud explodes.

NEC, Intel working on Cloud RAN; another 1Gbps demo; ITU puts open-source into 5G; 300k more CMCC sites

Another day, another vendor effort to push mobile edge computing and virtualised networks - this time, NEC is developing a “Cloud RAN” system using Intel chips.

Now we’ve had the first gigabit wireless announcement, expect them to come thick and fast. Netcom - i.e. TeliaSonera’s Norwegian OpCo - claims it’s demonstrated 1Gbps LTE with Huawei. Sorry. That should of course be “4.5G LTE-Advanced Pro”.

ITU’s focus group on the network aspects of 5G has been extended into the New Year, and its charter has been altered to have it take note of open-source projects. In practice this is going to be OPNFV, OpenNFV, OpenFlow, and other stuff with “Open” in the name.

China Mobile has provided an update on its 4G rollout. 1m eNode-Bs will have been installed by the time the clock strikes, and they hope to put in another 300,000 next year as they aim for 500m 4G subscribers. A lot of those will come from Nokia under the supercontract, and Nokia also this week announced it’s doing Indosat’s LTE-A.

The GSMA is pleased about a 3GPP decision to take forward its favourite IoT technology in LTE R13. Actually, 3GPP fudged - Narrowband IoT, aka LTE-M, gets in, but so does the LTE Machine Type profile and even the revived GSM for machines, EC-GPRS.

British small cells maker Quortus is getting into MEC and has joined the ETSI working group.

Google Fi is no longer dependent on WiFi.

Vivendi gets 4 directors at TI, Niel says it’s a consolidator; BT Mobile SACs (Subscriber Acquisition Chocolate)

Vivendi got its way at the Telecom Italia board meeting, or at least some of its way. The meeting voted to let them appoint four new directors, but refused to let them change the share structure and dilute the current shareholders. Given the numbers, this implies that at least some existing shareholders agree that Vivendi should have more influence over the company.

Existing shareholders…like Xavier Niel? Niel said this week that he sees TI as a potential consolidator, not a target, although he also says it needs more financial capacity to invest in 4G and FTTH.

Does this interview with Smartfren CEO Paul Hodges, formerly of CSL in Hong Kong, suggest a vaguely Niel-like disruption strategy for Indonesia’s 5th (5th!) 4G operator? A rival is already trying that.

Vimpelcom and MTS are extending their spectrum sharing agreement so as to let them deploy more carrier aggregation.

Vimpelcom, of course, operates outside Russia as Wind, or at least it did - having started the process of selling Wind Italia to Hutchison, they’re now selling Wind Mobile in Canada to Shaw, yet another mobile/cable merger.

Christmas madness in the US - Sprint is offering a free 32” Samsung TV to anyone who takes a Samsung flagship, while T-Mobile will give you $100 service credit plus a year’s Netflix subscription if you do the same. One presumes the fabled Sammy marketing budget is taking the strain. Sprint also sent Christmas offers to T-Mobile retail employees, in a stunt that was somewhat less amusing when you remember they just sacked quite a few of their own retail employees. Ho, ho, ho!

Charter is trying to spread some (regulatory) Christmas cheer with a $14.99/mo, 4Mbps up/30 down offer for low-income families. On a similar topic, if you take BT 4G over Christmas they will give you chocolate.

No amount of chocolate will convince Benoit Felten that BT shouldn’t be broken up. Adrian “RevK” Kennard doesn’t believe it would help.

All year US carriers have been racing to push out gigabit fibre, and here comes Windstream digging up the roads in Kentucky.

Netflix has started streaming animation at lower bitrates in order to reduce the volume of its streams by 20%.

AT&T updates U-Verse pricing, and astonishingly enough, it’s going up. Notably, basic standing fees like voice, “non-DVR TV receivers”, and broadcast TV get hiked.

The Green Dragon Inn, Cowley, is Britain’s fastest pub now Gigaclear has trenched down its street.

MTN Nigeria, not surprisingly, is going to court over that huge fine.

Apple CarPlay rips into connected car; AT&T, however, adds 1m of them; £20 bounty for exploding chargers

Car dealers say Apple’s CarPlay is helping them move more cars, in a piece full of depressing quotes for both car manufacturers, whose dreadful software is being shown up by Apple’s product, and telcos who were counting on lots of reasonably high ARPU connected cars.

That said, AT&T added a million connected cars in Q3, out of a total of 1.6m M2M net-adds, after a year in which they signed up Jaguar-Land Rover, Subaru, Audi, and a ZTE retrofit product.

Amazon Web Services IoT has gone into general availability in time to ruin Christmas for the IoT platform startups.

What could be more fun than lightbulbs connected to the Internet? Ones with DRM in the controller that gets remotely updated to stop you using cheaper ones. Philips just lost a lot of customers.

EE is recalling all the Power Bar booster chargers it gave away, and offering £20 as a bonus to turn them in. Why? They keep bursting into flames.

JunOS routers hacked; Fireeyes hacked; Brazil vs. WhatsApp; Chen on encryption

Juniper Networks is in trouble after two backdoors were discovered in the operating system used on its routers. The software is partly developed in China, but post-Snowden, there’s no reason to think the Chinese are any more likely to spy on your traffic than the Americans, the British, or indeed pretty much anyone else. It could allow an attacker to steal passwords, change the router configuration, and decrypt VPN traffic. And there are at least two known cases of someone using the exploit. Some hackers think the GCHQ attack on Belgacom’s GRX hub was one, too.

Meanwhile, Google’s Project Zero security research team discovers a terrifying bug in Fireeye network taps that could let someone get root access to a device that by design sees all the traffic on your network, just by sending a crafted e-mail.

British telecoms operators won’t pay for the so-called Internet Connection Record.

On average, about 10 per cent of British subscribers want porn filtering.

The Brazilian government wants WhatsApp to give them a backdoor, so they made them shut down for 48 hours.

John Chen, BlackBerry CEO, issues a blog post rejecting backdoors or a ban on encryption, but also arguing that tech companies should assist law enforcement.

And the UK phone-hacking investigation closes down.

Twilio video, HD audio is here; what number does a VoIP spammer dial? building Simwood Mobile

Twilio has launched in-app video chat, and also HD audio. There’s much more detail in this interview, and this blog post.

VoIP frauds attacking Simwood always dial one number.

And here’s Part One of Simwood’s How to build a mobile service.

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