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January 28, 2016

Problem: Telecoms technology inhibits operator business model change (Part 1)

We’ve published a new research paper “Problem: Telecoms technology inhibits operator business model change (Part 1)”.

The last few years have seen attempts by many leading telecoms operators to refresh their business model and generate new sources of growth and value. Now many digital initiatives are being scaled back. Telefonica and Telenor, two companies in the vanguard of the ‘drive to digital’ have both disbanded their digital organisations. In the first of two reports, STL Partners explores why efforts to yoke platform and product innovation businesses to a traditional infrastructure business have proved so difficult. The financial and operational constraints associated with traditional telecoms - particularly the need for long investment cycles in ‘one-function’ infrastructure - have made achieving the switch to ‘agile digital innovation’ all but impossible. But all that may be about to change and the future could be a little brighter.

This report is part of the Executive Briefing Service and you can read an excerpt of the report here.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

Extract chart from the report:


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January 26, 2016

Building Digital Trust: A Model for Telcos to Succeed in Commerce

We’ve just published a new research paper ‘Building
Digital Trust: A Model for Telcos to Succeed in Commerce’. Digital commerce continues to be held back by the lack of straightforward and consistent mechanisms for consumers to authenticate and identify themselves, share information and complete transactions with merchants. Telcos could address this fragmentation by creating a single framework through which individuals could interact with merchants, content companies and other service providers. Such a move would shore up telcos’ relevance and could ultimately increase their revenues. We show how, and review case studies from Deutsche Telekom (DTAG), Vodafone and KDDI.

The report is part of the Executive Briefing Service and Dealing with Disruption Stream and can be accessed here.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

Extract chart from the report:

building digital commerce.png

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January 25, 2016

Google vs Apple, Downturn, VZW, 5G, Indonesia, AR: Telco 2.0 News Review

Google shares surge before Apple Q4; the enormity of bad advertising; iRumours; Oracle leaks Android “numbers”

Ahead of Apple’s results tomorrow, Google, or rather the holding company Alphabet, was trading within 10 per cent of Apple’s market capitalisation. The investment thesis is apparently that the iPhone has peaked, while digital advertising can only grow. How this matches up with the on-going shakeout of ad-tech companies and massive adoption of adblockers is an interesting question. Also, Apple ‘bears’ have notoriously managed to predict the end of the iPhone ahead of every Apple quarter for years, in the same way Paul Samuelson said the market predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions. So… tomorrow’s results will be interesting.

Speaking of the ad business, Google itself is now paying over a thousand people just to police deceptive, creepy, or malware-laden ads. Last year, 780 million of them were shot down, which is up 49% year-on-year. The worst offending sector was pharma, with 12.5m unacceptable ads. No fewer than 17 million ads were caught mimicking operating system prompts in order to trick users into installing dodgy software. And this doesn’t even include mobile, although at least 25,000 apps were turned down for in-app ads for shonky tricks like “placing ads so close to user-interface elements users would click them by accident”. Google exec Tom Siegel says the volume of refused ads is going up as the total volume of ads does, but you can’t tell because they don’t give a percentage number.

The case to buy Alphabet and sell Apple, such as it is, is laid out here but another way to look at it is just the old stock exchange wisdom “buy the rumour, sell the fact” - it makes perfect sense to talk down the share ahead of the results, jump in on the cheap, and get out again when they turn out to be OK or indeed outstanding. For what it’s worth, this week’s leading Apple iRumour is that a new small-factor iPhone, the 5SE, is coming that would backport the new stuff from the 6S in a smaller gadget.

Meanwhile, an Oracle filing in the Google/Oracle patent lawsuit (yes, it’s still a thing) leaked some numbers about Android revenues and Google distribution payments. Actually it didn’t leak them so much as get Oracle’s own estimates of them out there for their own purposes; although Bloomberg Businessweek  got a look at the documents before Google issued a takedown notice, there are no details of how they arrived at the estimates and therefore it’s hard to say how much credence to give them. The factoids are that Oracle reckons Google derived $31bn in revenue from Android since 2008 and $22bn in profit (i.e. a fascinating 70% gross margin), and that they think Google pays Apple about $1bn/year to be the default search provider in iOS and OS X.

Google has agreed to pay £130m in back tax to the UK government over that whole thing where the ad sales team in London wasn’t technically making sales, only introducing them to someone in Ireland who closed the deal. Charles Arthur tries to estimate how much profit they actually make in the UK - their second biggest market - and concludes the tax bill is low by a factor of ten.

Here’s a piece on Larry Page and the Google trainset projects. With luck, we’ll actually know something by the next News Review, as the first Alphabet quarterly numbers drop next Monday and the Apple Q4 will be in by then too.

Docker creator goes bust; Twitter execodus; Samsung may exit white goods - and smart home? Wearables startups are so last season; Softbank turns to India

Here’s a flavourful piece on the top of the market in Silicon Valley. This quote is pure gold:

“Things have been frothy, and you see a lot of dumb money. The music’s going to stop and not a lot of people will have a chair,” said 48-year-old Suchet, a 500 Startups mentor who says he’s been seeing companies now with $10m valuations and no product. “There will be a lot of dead bodies. A lot of dead bodies. There’ll be a lot of blood.”

But the really telling bit is the awful character of the products they do have. A marketplace for investing in your favourite poker players?

Meanwhile, dotCloud, the company that started the vastly popular Docker project, is going bust - apparently there just isn’t room for another platform-as-a-service company, which we can well believe. At least it left something useful behind.

Over at Zappos, they’re seeing the effects of CEO Tony Hsieh’s now-legendary philosophy of anti-management, Holacracy. As in, one in five of the staff have taken a buyout and quit rather than spend another minute in Utopia. About half of those seem to be over-and-above their average annual turnover. This quote is gold, again:

We offer every new hire several thousand dollars to quit and leave the company before they start the actual job they were hired for.

Right…over at Twitter, meanwhile, four execs including the head of engineering, the head of product management, the head of HR, and the head of media have quit in the old-fashioned way. And the boss of their video streaming business, Vine, has been poached by Google to work on a VR project. The shares are in the basement.

Brendan Eich, Mozilla founder and JavaScript co-inventor who was sacked as Mozilla CEO for not supporting gay marriage, is back with a new Web browser designed to exclude advertising and tracking. Weirdly, the main-line app is a fork of Chromium but the iOS app is a fork of Firefox.

Rackspace has got rid of Jungledisk, the online backup service it acquired in 2008, after its management raised enough VC money to buy it out. At one time STL Partners used it quite extensively but moved on. It’s not you Jungledisk, we said, it’s just not the right time for us, and it appears Rackspace has gone through the same emotional journey.

In the wearables and IoT space, meanwhile, it’s pretty damn ugly: Jawbone’s market value has halved and they just had to take a down-round of $165m compared to a reduced valuation of $1.5bn, while Fitbit has gone from $10bn to $3.7bn and is getting sued, because its gadget encouraged some users to push it just a bit too hard.

This has mostly been Valley stuff so far, but look at this: Samsung is considering selling its home appliances business, which does make you wonder whether they’re repenting of the SmartThings smart home/IoT project. And no bad thing, too, if this comment is anything to go by. The e-mail fridges must die!

Nothing daunted, Intel leaps in with its own platform for IoT in retailing.

Imagination Technologies issued a profit warning in December and now it’s looking at selling its digital radio business. This was meant to be the year their MIPS-based chips broke into the smartphone market…

If you dare to deal in the Russian stock market, Megafon shares are down 26% and frankly cheap…if you dare to deal in the Russian stock market.

General consternation reigns after Sprint’s announcement they’re redoing the network, again. CEO Marcelo Claure is tempting fate by publicly needling T-Mobile, but the Samurai Son is looking West towards India. Is it too crazy to think Softbank might give up on the whole mess, or at least cut off the CAPEX pump, if they want to invest heavily in India?

Sprint kept Huawei gear; VZW Q4 results, VES hit by cable; AT&T FTTB build is done; what are they planning with satellite?

Interestingly enough, it turns out that Sprint never did get rid of its Huawei kit as it promised the authorities back in 2013. The offending machines are somewhere in the network it acquired from Clearwire, which is also interesting as it suggests they’re still using that network. That said, as a result it might well be more secure rather than less; it’s a different world since Edward Snowden did his thing.

Verizon Q4 and full year results are out. Net-adds are down year-on-year, but no-one’s complaining about 1.5m postpaid in Q4. Similarly, when you’ve net-added 4.5m postpaid users in the year, you can be philosophical about net-losing 550k prepaid users. Drilling down a bit, Q4 saw 960k tablet net-adds and 713k smartphone net-adds, which implies a substantial number of the additional smartphones were basic phone users who upgraded. Again, no-one’s complaining about that.

Revenue, meanwhile, was up 1.2% in Q4 and 4.6% for the whole year. Out of that, service revenues were down 3.1% and equipment sales up 54%. OPEX was up 1.3% for the full year, but fell 5.6% in Q4, implying VZW’s service margins are opening out as LTE adoption increases. At the year-end, 90% of data traffic was on the 4G network. CAPEX was up 11% for the full year, to $11.5bn, expected to be flat next year.

CFO Fran Shammo says whatever AT&T does, unlimited plans aren’t coming back. That sponsored-data/zero rating project, aka your new favourite regulatory row, is launching this week under the name FreeBee. Has anyone wondered, by the way, how that will work given that so much of a typical commercial web page is made of adverts?

All is great at VZW, but as we know, VZ Enterprise has been doing it tough ever since 2012. According to a FCC filing of theirs, 77% of their footprint is now subject to competition from the cablecos in the business segment. The point is to lobby against the FCC’s review of the special access segment, but it does as well to point out how effective Comcast’s move into wholesale and enterprise has been.

Over in fixed, FiOS TV has hit a rock. Q4 net-adds were only 20k, after 42k in Q3. At the same time, AT&T’s U-Verse net-lost 92k subscribers in Q3, but they have the excuse that they’re moving to DirecTV’s platform. Moffett Nathanson analyst Craig Moffett argues that what’s happening is that cablecos are winning video customers again.

AT&T, meanwhile, says it’s completed the fibre rollout to 1 million buildings its then Business Solutions division started in 2012. FierceTelecom points out that its pricing on the FTTB Ethernet network is very sharp, in line with its residential FTTH.

In West Virginia, there’s an interesting debate going on about a proposal to build a state-owned regional fibre network.

Meanwhile, CEO Randall Stephenson seems to suggest that they plan to use DirecTV’s satellites and associated spectrum to deliver video to customers on the new unlimited plan. Does he mean some sort of mobile-satellite hybrid in 5G?

Future Network: CapEx, 5G, Flat Distributed Cloud, Future Data Centre

The ITU reckons we have 1.5bn net-adds to go to achieve the goal of universal connectivity, and it will take $450bn of investment to get there by 2020. It’s got to be 2020 because it’s a round number! Less flippantly, what will we be spending all that money on?

Verizon, Swisscom, DTAG, and Cisco think it might be full-duplex radio. They have invested $25m between them in Kumu Networks, a startup that develops the self-interference cancelling filters central to the technology. Telecom Italia has it under test around Milan.

In the meantime, ZTE seems to be doing rather well selling bread and butter 4G and optical networking kit.

AT&T has been working with ON.Labs’ ONOS project for open-source NFV for some time, and it makes up a core element of their Central Office Rearchitected as a Data Centre (CORD) project.  Verizon now wants in, perhaps realising they’ve let the cloud slide, but then they’ve now confirmed they’re selling the data centres.

OpenStack, which also plays an important role in the AT&T NFV projects, has issued a survey it claims shows a surge of telco interest in the technology.

Cloud integration in the radio network is the taste of 2016, and the UK’s 5G Innovation Centre is proposing a new architecture called the Flat Distributed Cloud.

TeliaSonera, meanwhile, has pencilled in 2018 as its target for 5G launch. They were first to deploy 4G, in December 2009, although it’s not obvious they got much benefit from being first. That probably needs the European Union to get its skates on with low-band spectrum - Digital Single Market VP Andrus Ansip is pressing to get the 700MHz band cleared, but he’s not the only one who decides.

Mitsubishi claims to have solved some of the problems with massive MIMO antennas.

Telstra has acquired a cloud consulting company and is opening an SDN portal to let users set up their VNFs.

Some startups are still pulling in big VC money: here’s Big Switch, a SDN monitoring and management company, raising a $48m Series C.

Quortus’ software core network is now compliant with the ETSI MEC architecture.

Here’s an interesting overview of new local networking and storage technologies.

Amazon Web Services published this blog post about their preparations for Storm Jonas. It was a head-on-the-block decision, and ironically it only paid off in part - AWS made it through the storm without downtime, but as far as we know, so did all the other cloud providers.

10 operators down to 4; place no Reliance on these forecasts; M&A update; MTN in more trouble

Indonesia’s minister of telecoms has the classic emerging market problem where you’ve got six - in Indonesia’s case, ten - MNOs but none of them have any coverage beyond the international airport. As a result, he’s threatening to revoke the smaller operators’ licenses unless they either build out more infrastructure, or quit and sell up to a consolidator. A figure of 4 national MNOs is mentioned. At the moment, the top three have 80% of the subscribers.

Perhaps we should look at this announcement in that light. Indosat, controlled by Ooredoo, and XL Axiata have agreed to share infrastructure via a so-called MORAN (Multi-Operator Radio Access Network) arrangement. Are they trying to free up cash to acquire smaller operators when the shakeout begins?

Reliance Comms’ Q4 numbers are out and they’re disappointing. Revenue is down 3.1%, EBITDA down 2.6%, and bottom line profit by 15%. ARPU is flat, so there’s no mystery what’s happening - they’re losing subscribers. In Q4 2014, they had 107.5m customers. In Q3 2015, they peaked at 111.6m, and by the year-end, they were down to 102.1m, so they net-lost almost ten million subs in three months, the same period when Bharti, Idea, and Vodafone turned up 4G service. The big bet on 2.3GHz LTE in RJio starts to look very dear indeed.

It looks like any Orange/Bouygues deal would be left to French regulators rather than referred up to the feds in Brussels. This is being read as a positive for the deal, on the grounds that the French politicians whose call it is believe in less competition > more investment, or perhaps just that they consider Stéphane Richard one of Our Guys.

On the other hand, the feds certainly do want to see 3UK and O2’s papers, and they may be going to impose serious conditions, like those proposed for Telia/Telenor Denmark.

In other UK news, Virgin Media is sacking 900 call centre staff. 121 MPs write demanding the break-up of BT. BT picks a new CTO. Former OFCOM director Ed Richards doesn’t want to be the UK’s financial regulator. The British advertising regulator says you’ve got to include line rental in headline prices.

Brazilian consolidation is back on - Oi just signed up for a $1bn loan from a consortium of banks to finance a move for TIM Brasil.

MTN Nigeria’s court case over the $5bn fine has been adjourned to give time for negotiations. In Cameroon, meanwhile, MTN and indeed both the other MNOs have been accused of tax evasion.

Apple hires AR/VR expert; CarPlay vs Android Auto; designing WebRTC apps people actually like

An interesting hire at Apple: Doug Bowman, professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, world authority on AR and VR systems, and co-author of 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice. (Mobile World Live has been watching 2001: A Space Odyssey again - they called him “David”. Dave Bowman is of course the astronaut who battles HAL the insane computer. “You can’t do that, Dave…”) What are they up to? Something with maps?

Ars Technica reviews Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto together, and points out that Apple has chosen to replicate the iOS look-and-feel while Google went with a fundamentally different, notifications-centred design.

&yet and AT&T have a series of blog posts about UX considerations in WebRTC apps.

Zendesk is using Twilio for its Advanced Voice features.

The Skype app is getting more and more like Skype for Business, as it grows more integration with MS Outlook.

IBM acquires a livestreaming app, Ustream.

Chris Kranky is having one of his WebRTC get-togethers in Bangalore.

APIs are the new interoperability.

An interesting reading list on conversational UX.

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January 18, 2016

Xiaomi, Intel, WhatsApp, BT-EE, 5G, Facebook Live: Telco 2.0 News Review

Below par in Q4: Xiaomi, GoPro, PCs, Apple, Bitcoin

January is supposedly the most depressing month, and this week saw an impressive crop of disappointments around the tech industry.

Having shaded its 100 million phone stretch-target down to 80 million, Xiaomi eventually missed even that and suspiciously won’t give a more precise number than “over 70 million”.

They also won’t say how many of those were shipped in China and how many of them went for export, although they are still claiming to be No.1 in terms of installed base, rather than new sales. Huawei, by comparison, seems to have shipped 108 million devices worldwide, making it the third biggest vendor and the biggest shipper in China. The Chinese analyst shop behind that number also reckons the exact figure for Xiaomi is 72m, for what it’s worth.

IDC reckons PC sales are lower than they were in 2007, despite Windows 10 and the Intel Skylake chips. According to IDC, sales were off 10% year-on-year, according to Gartner, they were off 8%. Both agree that the only vendor actually growing is Apple, by about 2.8%.

That said, even Apple isn’t immune to failure. iAds were never much of a business, and Apple is now trimming its commitment to them, pulling out of creating, selling, and managing advert campaigns. For now, the platform will continue operating, but in a manner much closer to a “normal” ad network.

GoPro shares plummeted after its Q4 revenues beat expectations in the wrong direction, leaving it with basically zero growth since 2014. Since September, CEO Nick Woodman has lost half his net worth.

In the first half of 2015, Uber lost as much money as it did in the whole of 2014. Although the company’s revenue is rising steeply, its expenses are surging, especially in sales and marketing. This being Silicon Valley, the company has issued a new set of forecasts arguing that it will turn a profit sooner, bigger, and faster.

Dan Rayburn shares his experience with Samsung’s SmartThings products, which turn out to be pretty dumb:

For over a year now, SmartThings has struggled to do something simple, turn on and off my lights. I have three lights setup to go on at 4pm and scheduled to turn off at 11pm. And yet, twelve months later, SmartThings still isn’t reliable. Sometimes the lights work perfectly, other times they never work for days at a time. Sometimes only one will turn on and off, while the others don’t do anything

At least it wasn’t the heating. Google’s Nest thermostats got a bad software patch that drained the battery. You guessed it: the device’s failure mode is “heating off”, and presumably also “airconditioning off”. In comments, someone suggests “IoT” stands for Internet of Tears.

And finally, a core developer quits Bitcoin and sells all his coins, arguing that the system won’t scale past this year and has fundamental security problems.

Intel Q4s; Samsung fabs for Qualcomm; no shiny laptops unless you take Win10; matching AWS price cuts

Intel, on the other hand, announced a strong Q4. Although volume in client computing (i.e. PCs) was down, average selling prices were strongly up as the new chips began to diffuse - 50% of them are now fabbed at 14nm. Internet of Things revenue was up 6% and data centre was up 5%. This last item is crucial, as the server business is hugely bigger than the IoT ($4.5bn vs $625m).

Over at Samsung, the semiconductor fab side of the company has won over a new client: Qualcomm. Time was, Samsung bought chips Qualcomm designed, that were manufactured by TSMC and then assembled into phones by Samsung. Now Samsung doesn’t buy as many Qualcomm chips any more, but all the Qualcomm chips will be manufactured by Samsung. And everyone’s on tenterhooks to hear whether the S7 will have an Exynos or a Snapdragon 820. Both the Exynos 8 and the Snappy will be fabbed on the same 14nm process.

Did you know Huawei’s in-house LTE modems support 18 different bands?

And Microsoft is trying to nudge its vast enterprise customer base into upgrading to Windows 10. The latest trick: no Skylake for you unless you upgrade. Support, even extended support, for Windows 7 and 8 will only be available if you resist the temptation of new hardware. If you want PCs with Intel Skylake, AMD Bristol Ridge, or Qualcomm 8996 processors, you must run Windows 10. More approachably, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and HP Elitebook Folio are examples of Windows 10-only machines.

MS also matched a wave of Amazon Web Services EC2 price cuts this week. And Internet Explorer 11 performed the worst out of all major browsers on a range of performance benchmarks.


Who knew connecting the baby monitor to the Internet might turn out creepy? Someone that wasn’t Mum got access and likes to talk to the baby. Sickening stuff.

Google’s security research team says that TrendMicro anti-virus software lets any random website launch shell commands on your computer, exposing 70 different APIs to the Internet and among other things, providing an attacker with access to your stored passwords.

Meet the Android trojan that intercepts voice calls, looking for two-factor authentication codes delivered that way because SMS was considered insecure.

Bruce Schneier comes out for a ban on third-party ad tracking.

The Internet Advertising Bureau disinvites Adblock Plus from its conference, because that’s going to stop people installing adblockers! Perhaps that one should have been under “Fail”.

Four huge business lobbies write to the US, the EU, and 28 European countries demanding that they hurry up renegotiating the personal data agreement.

Spamhaus shames Verizon, pointing out that it routes 4 million stolen IP addresses, and goes on to have a crack at Amazon Web Services, China Telecom, China Unicom, and Softbank.

Gigabit subs to 10x this year; 5 DOCSIS 3.1 modems certified; Google Fiber, Comcast deployments, Thai NBN, CityFibre in Bristol

CableLabs announces that DOCSIS 3.1 is ready to go live for retail customers, as there are now five modem implementations certified. Not surprisingly, this week also saw two more cablecos announce gigabit deployments - Midcontinent and Mediacom.

Deloitte reckons the number of gigabit subscribers is going to increase by a factor of 10 this year, and by the end of the year, about 250m subscribers will be on networks capable of delivering 1Gbps. By 2020, they expect 600m gigabit connections will be active worldwide, or about half the total connected homes.

Google Fiber is coming to Chicago and LA, which will make up quite a bit of that 10x increase by itself.

Meanwhile, one weight-class up in the business Ethernet market, Comcast is rolling out more 10Gbps fibre.

Thailand is planning a national broadband network with at least 30Mbps, probably fixed-wireless.

CityFibre is opening 82km of fibre around Bristol as a gigabit-class access network.

Goodbye, operator; WhatsApp goes free; Comcast international voice; BT moving call centres

The end of the operator is nigh: AT&T this week filed papers with the FCC asking for permission to shut down six operator-assistance services by March. That includes collect, person-to-person, third-party billing, busy line verification and interruption, and international directory assistance. Traffic to the operator has fallen by 93% since 2004, a useful reminder if one was needed that something that falls 99% can fall another 99% and then another. Rather sadly, international directory enquiries are shutting down because some of the other operators no longer provide any directory service.

Probably more importantly, WhatsApp is going free. This is possible because they have a new business model, charging businesses to reach you. Does this mean the horrible possibility of WhatsApp spam? They deny it, but you have to wonder.

Comcast has progressively become more and more important in wholesale voice, now up to 2.5bn minutes a month, and now it’s offering international termination.

Windstream is shutting off a virtual PBX service that only has 57 customers. Frontier is complaining about its rural voice service obligations, which is pretty rich from a company that keeps buying more of them.

The Met Police’s new command and control system is late and over budget.

And BT wants us to know it’s moving call centres back to the UK, again. It’s as if there was another controversial BT story in the news or something.

BT-EE is go for launch; ARCEP doubts Orange-Bouygues; Telecom-Unicom; Legere “sorry”

That story is of course the BT-EE deal. The Competition & Markets Authority this week gave the deal a full clearance with no conditions. Not surprisingly, BT is now moving quickly - closing day is set for the 29th. The interesting question is whether the CMA really believes this, or whether they’ve implicitly left it to OFCOM’s industry-wide review to do whatever is necessary to preserve competition.

OFCOM, meanwhile, has a new hire: former BT CEO Ben Verwaayen is joining the board.

ARCEP chairman, Sebastian Soriano, says that going from four MNOs down to three could be seen as a “regression in relation to the introduction of competition”. Well, yes, it could. The Orange-Bouygues proposal is always going to be a tough sell from a regulatory point of view because it means one fewer operator, a dominant player over 50% of the market, and a lot of additional fixed-mobile integration.

And it surely can’t help that Stéphane Richard is being investigated over his role in the Bernard Tapie case, which is too complicated to discuss here but fortunately doesn’t have anything to do with telecoms.

Telecom Italia is the latest company to stick its mobile brand on its fixed operation.

Telefonica, meanwhile, may be going to float or spin off its Spanish infrastructure company, including 11,500 towers, for some €5-6bn. They might also add more assets at a later date.

Elsewhere, Orange just snapped up three African opcos in as many days, in Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Sierra Leone.

MTN Nigeria may be suing over the famous $5bn fine, but it’s also doing its best to get into the regulator’s good books by hurrying up SIM registration.

China Telecom and China Unicom have signed an agreement to cooperate more closely when it comes to competing against China Mobile. They are almost too clear that it is NOT a merger.

Sprint has created six regional presidents. AT&T brings back unlimited plans, for a price. And in a rare moment of contrition, John Legere apologises to the EFF.

Nokatel closes, snags Vodafone India 4G; China sets 2020 5G target; Sprint has an idea about its network; who wants VZ data centres?

The Nokia-Alcatel merger having closed on the 14th, the make-up of Nokia’s management team is now confirmed. No real surprises. There’s also a substantial new contract - Vodafone tapped Nokia Networks for 1800MHz LTE in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Punjab.

Idea, meanwhile, turned up another three telecoms circles’ worth of LTE and signed a spectrum-sharing agreement for enough additional 1800MHz to launch two more. Reliance Jio, for its part, agreed to buy a substantial quantity of 800MHz off its sister-operator Reliance Comms, while offering RCOM national roaming and spectrum-sharing in some of its own blocks. Does that mean they’re losing confidence in the 2.3GHz strategy?

Huawei and M1 have a gigabit demo.

The Chinese Ministry of the Information Industry has set an official target of launching 5G by 2020, as has Vodafone-Hutchison Australia. European Commissioner Günther Oettinger, meanwhile, called in major operators to demand that they go faster and catch up with “Asia”. But it sounds more like America we need to catch up with, thinking about their lead in 4G adoption and VZW’s plans for early 5G deployment.

Apparently the 20th of June is going to be Wi-Fi Day.

Sprint has a new network initiative, the Next Generation Network. After Clearwire, Network Vision, Spark, and who knows what else, that’s got to get your attention. They want to save $1bn a year by moving more infrastructure onto publicly-owned land and by using more microwave backhaul.

“Getting there is going to be a nightmare,” said the source, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the matter. “It’s going to be very, very disruptive.”

And Data Center Knowledge has a rundown of which Verizon data centres might sell to whom.

Telefonica in for DirecTV LatAm; how Facebook handles live video; Iranian mobile gaming

Telefonica is a buyer for the DirecTV satellite assets in Latin America, naming a price of $10bn. AT&T acquired this with the rest of DirecTV, and Randall Stephenson is on record as saying they’d be willing to sell, although there’s no hurry. That said, with their increasing commitment to Mexico, you might wonder whether they might find a use for them.

Here’s a really good post from the Facebook Engineering blog on how they deliver live streaming video at Facebook scale. It turns out Facebook has two live video delivery systems, roughly speaking, one for celebrities and one for humans, or if you prefer, one for one-to-many broadcast and one for peer-to-peer. The problem with the first is capacity, the problem with the second is interactivity and hence latency.

The solution was to build a pull-driven HTTP Live Streaming infrastructure with two levels of CDN for the celeb broadcasts, and a push-driven RTMP infrastructure, including a fork of nginx for RTMP proxying, for the civilians. Interestingly, the HLS cache servers are set up to always cache-miss the first request, and queue requests until the origin server responds, so the origin server is never exposed to surge traffic.

BBC Research has validated the claimed bandwidth savings of HEVC with panels of viewers.

Here’s an overview of the Iranian mobile games market. Here are some recommendations for games that work on the Apple Watch - interestingly, they all seem to be so-called “no UI” text-driven experiences.

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January 14, 2016

Connectivity for telco IoT / M2M: Are LPWAN & WiFi strategically important?

We’ve just published a new research paper ‘‘Connectivity for telco IoT / M2M: Are LPWAN & WiFi strategically important?

It’s reasonably clear that standard cellular networks will only carry a fraction of the data of the Internet of Things (IoT), but how should telcos be involved in the fast growing range of low cost, disruptive networks that will carry the bulk? We examine the alternatives and outline strategic options.

The report is part of the Future of the Network Stream and you can read an excerpt of the report here.

For more information on any of our services, please email contact@telco2.net or call +44 207 247 5003.

Extract chart from the report:

connectivity for telco thumbnail.png

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January 11, 2016

CES & Internet of Things Special: Telco 2.0 News Review

CES; AT&T launches edge hosting for M2M apps; NB-IoT in Ericsson 17A; 20m Qualcomm connected cars; Nokia private LTE for oil & gas

So it’s CES week and the world is full of Internet of Things gadgets. AT&T announced over 400 enhancements to its M2X developer platform for IoT apps, including integration with Salesforce, a new emphais on Salesforce’s Heroku PaaS, and a new API for deploying apps to edge-computing hosting. This last product is called Flow Edge and sounds very much like the ETSI Mobile Edge Computing concept.

On the other hand, here’s a washing machine that has a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 procesor, runs Linux, and streams HD video. However the most exciting use case suggested is just that it has a spin cycle, like most washing machines outside the United States.

Ericsson claims its latest software release, 17A, includes full support for NB-IoT, aka LTE-M, and as a result, that it’s deployed with both AT&T and Verizon Wireless

Microsoft has signed up French MVNE Transatel to put 3G/4G connectivity in Windows 10 gadgets - they’re planning an Apple-like solution where the user can sign up for service in the OS interface, without talking to a carrier.  Meanwhile, Transatel itself is expanding into the US.

Samsung and Microsoft are dropping heavy hints about some sort of IoT partnership - no details yet, but we note that the Samsung keynote included, yes, a fridge that sends e-mail.

Qualcomm will be putting its 602A connected car SoC into 2017 Audis, and they claim there are already 20 million cars driving around with Snapdragon LTE modems. Also, there’s a new reference design for smart-home products, the 212.

Mark Zuckerberg wants his house to be somewhat intelligent in 2016, including recognising his friends, letting him visualise data in virtual reality, and keeping an eye on his daughter. The first is pretty easy and not very exciting, the second is doable and interesting, the third is either just an expensive baby monitor or really, really hard.

Nick Hunn’s Creative Connectivity blog discusses the emerging standards war for IoT mesh networking. Interoperability is crucial, but the vendors who are developing the standards are conflicted - they also want to lock out the competition. In the industrial world, it’s easier because there’s usually a dominant supplier in each sector vertical, or else a long-standing standardisation forum.

Australia’s biggest on-shore oil producer has hired Nokia Networks to build them a private LTE network. That’s one way to eliminate all your interop problems.

And O2 is going to start selling the AT&T Digital Life platform in the UK, including cameras from Samsung and Serco and thermostats from Tado

Hackers wreck Ukrainian power grid; Telefonica, China Unicom data JV; British cops buy £37m worth of CDRs

While CES is touting all those IoT devices, it’s finally happened - the first confirmed successful hacker attack on an electricity grid denied power to about half the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine, after the BlackEnergy virus was used to infect the control system. The virus can do physical damage to some SCADA systems, and will anyway provide a reverse shell into the device and optionally destroy the bootloader. The attack vector seems to have been nothing more exotic than crafted Microsoft Office documents sent as e-mail attachments.

Although Path Intelligence is no longer with us, the Royal Parks used EE to track visitors to London parks for a year, it turns out.

Telefonica and China Unicom have started a joint venture to market Telefonica’s Smart Steps retail-focused big data technology in China, using China Unicom’s data. Or rather, their customers. That said, this is one telco big data project that probably won’t have many regulatory problems around privacy…

Over the last five years, British police forces have spent at least £37m buying surveillance data from telecoms companies. Apparently a typical request costs £50.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have handed in a joint letter protesting the British government surveillance bill, joining Apple, which did slightly earlier.

There is a serious bug in the Blackphone’s hardened version of Android, PrivatOS. Fortunately, Silent Circle’s incident response has been effective and a patch was mass-deployed on the 7th of December. It affects the Icera modem in the Blackphone 1.

Remember CarrierIQ, the company whose unremovable Android app monitored your stuff for the carrier or vendor, and kept all the data where any other app could read it? The remains of the company have been sold to, ah, AT&T.

Juniper says patches are coming to remove the two backdoors in its NetScreen firewalls…some time in the next six months.

And between Intel, Vox Media, Lady Gaga, and Re/code, there’s going to be a hackathon on solutions to abusive Internet trolls.

WiGig; Lenovo to mass-produce Project Tango; Samsung, HTC, Huawei numbers; new laptops

It’s still gadgets week, after all, so let’s have some more hardware news. Lenovo has a new clutch of ThinkPads based on the Intel Skylake processors. Interestingly, they’ve dropped touchscreens from the flagship X1 Carbon, which is henceforth a pure laptop (and one with truly impressive specs), and introduced a ThinkPad with the Yoga’s 360 degree hinge, so you get a choice between a flash-harry and a hardcore geek option. Also, there’s a docking station that uses WiGig (802.11ad) rather than just, you know, wires.

Meanwhile, here’s the first WLAN router to support WiGig.

Lenovo, interestingly, is also trying to consumerise Google’s Project Tango spatial computing technology, promising a 6” Tango smartphone around $500 by the summer. Although launch is apparently 6 to 8 months away, there was no hardware to ooh over at CES. That said, Google has re-opened its call for app ideas and will apparently pre-install the lucky winners. Perhaps the device is the same one in the dev kit, just manufactured more cheaply? The problem so far with Tango is that there’s been little point developing apps for it when nobody has a device.

Also, Lenovo confirmed at CES that they are dropping the name “Motorola”, although they will keep caling phones the Moto this or that.

Samsung’s Q4 guidance is out and it’s modestly positive, suggesting that although volume is underperforming a tad, the mix of devices improved over Christmas.

Huawei says its new goal is to be the No.2 smartphone maker within two years, which means getting past Apple. They finished 2015 in third place with 9.5% of the market, compared to 11.8% for Apple and 28.3% for Samsung. That’s 108 million phones.

HTC reported fairly dreadful sales and seems to be increasingly betting on the wearables and VR fashion turning out to be a thing.

Here’s HP’s Elitebook Folio, like a MacBook with ports. They’ve also done a Microsoft Surface-like gadget that’s a proper PC.

Binge On! row is here; UK MNOs vs. landlords; Facebook vs. African startups

The T-Mobile Binge On! regulatory row is well and truly here, after the EFF discovered that T-Mobile USA is throtting non-Binge video down to a uniform 1.5Mbps. Also, downloads as well as streams are affected. And downloads that contain video, but don’t have a video filetype, are affected, so T-Mobile is evidently examining their content.

John Legere responds typically, ranting on Twitter and demanding:

“Who the f*ck are you anyway EFF, why are you stirring up so much trouble, and who pays you?”

Inevitably, it looks like the whole issue is heading for the FCC docket.

Chairman Wheeler says we should expect a “spectrum extravaganza” in 84 days’ time when the 600MHz incentive auction happens, although he declines to predict how much money he expects. Meanwhile, the regulator has paused the Charter/TWC/Bright House deal for 15 days to consider more filings.

AT&T is complaining that the FCC’s new broadband definition makes it look bad next to the cablecos.

An interesting piece from BuzzFeed gives a sense of how clumsy Facebook’s Free Basics/Internet.org rollout was. Meanwhile, Cynthia Gordon, the head of Millicom’s African operations, points out that if Facebook wants to drive data adoption in Africa, it could help much more by localising content and supporting local developers.

OFCOM has found that BT is indeed in breach of its obligations when it comes to providing Gigabit Ethernet feeds to Vodafone. Specifically, it’s using an obscure internal procedure to delay actually hooking them up. This seems a bit late in the light of BT/EE being a racing certainty to go ahead.

The rental agreements for about a quarter of the UK’s base stations are up for renewal and the operators fear that the landlords will take the opportunity to force rents up, now that the operators have installed their gear and are therefore committed. EE, especially, wants changes to the Electronic Communications Code. For their part, the operators are saying things like:

signal blackspots could occur where disputes are ongoing, because the network would not be able to access the site if the mast needs to be repaired

You could mistake that for a threat!

Orange buys a bank; new BTOR CEO; T-Mo Q4; Millicom in Mexico; Thai spectrum

The Orange-Bouygues talks continue with no fixed calendar, while Stéphane Richard says it’s a condition of any deal that it not cause any job losses in France. Meanwhile,  Orange is acquiring  65% of the banking business of French insurer Groupama, with a view to launching “Orange Bank” in 2017 in France, with Belgium and Spain to follow.

BT Openreach has a new CEO, Clive Selley, who moves over from running the group-wide technology function. Here’s an interview with their chairman, Sir Mike Rake. Rake argues the company is open to a strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom after the EE deal closes, that it might be in the market for more media assets, perhaps even including Channel 4, and that it is moving its call centres back to the UK. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t want to sell Openreach.

T-Mobile USA may be in a regulatory row, but its customers care little; Q4 was another net-adds monster, 2.1m of them, taking the total to 63m. Of those 2.1m, 1.3m were branded, postpaid and 917k were branded, postpaid primary phone connections. Sprint, meanwhile, decided to keep the Christmas giveaway going until mid-February.

Comcast’s next iteration of the X1 STB brings 4K and HDR, and it’s planned to roll out in time for the Olympics.

Millicom is looking at the possibility of launching in Mexico.

Telenor denies that it might sell its Thai opco dtac after missing out on low- or mid-band 4G spectrum. Meanwhile, two of the lucky operators are planning to share the spectrum, and Jasmine, whose foreign investor has not shown up, is looking to a Free Mobile-like rollout with small cells in users’ homes.

Kenyan mobile penetration stands at 88% and Internet penetration at 74%.

Finally, some RJio detail; first LSA; Italian FTTH in trouble; “new services” drive 5G for Vodafone

Reliance Jio inches towards a for-real 4G launch. After the employees-only announcement over Christmas, they’re now talking about going live in March, and they’re beginning to give some details. The initial product will be a MiFi (i.e. Huawei) mobile hotspot/tether device with 10GB of data, for $10.50/mo. The own-brand Lyf smartphones offered to employees will presumably follow along. What’s actually holding them up turns out to be that it’s taking longer to build out to 90% population coverage, their target, than expected. Apparently they’re now at 70%.

France announces the first Licensed Shared Access test, in a 2.3GHz block used by the French MoD.

The long-standing idea of a joint FTTH build across Italy has run into trouble, again. The private-sector partners have dropped and the government partner, Infratel, says it’s going ahead on its own with its share of the project.

AT&T’s technology chief John Donovan says they now base decisions to build out FTTH on the combined demand for data of residential, business, and wireless backhaul. Similarly, NTT DoCoMo is investing in Alcatel-Lucent 7950 routers for its RAN, the sort of thing that until recently was considered “ISP stuff”.

Donovan also wants to bid for the planned FirstNet emergency service network.

More US gigabit deployments are coming. Comcast is putting 2Gbps FTTH into Minneapolis, after Centurylink began upgrading to 1Gbps and new entrant US Internet got the city council’s go-ahead to deploy. For its part, Centurylink says the gigabit helps them sell the lower tiers too. And Cox’s GigaBlast! rolls into Oklahoma City. O.K!

A disturbing story from Australia. Now the fixed-wireless element has gone from the NBN plans, some customers who have perfectly acceptable ADSL are losing it in favour of satellite. Happy, they’re not.

And this collection of 5G spectrum slideware at the 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog makes the interesting point that Vodafone sees 5G as interesting mostly for new services.

VZ sells up the data centres; Equinix aims to 3x its enterprise customers; Huawei nixes ONOS/OpenDaylight

Verizon is selling its data centres. 48 sites are up on the block for a total of maybe $2.5bn. This includes all the assets they acquired from Terremark in 2011 for $1.4bn, so when you think VZ almost certainly had at least a billion’s worth of its own, that doesn’t look like such a great deal. Centurylink, meanwhile, wants to keep its data centres but wholesale them out.

Equinix, on the other hand, says it wants to triple its customer base within the next five to 10 years, mostly by signing up more enterprises. Interestingly, part of the strategy is developing sites near Google, Amazon, Microsoft et al to offer good direct peering. As a lot of Amazon data centres are wholesale, they might even be the same units.

An example would be this hookup between BT Global Services and Salesforce.

IBM’s head of cloud is retiring.

John Donovan says AT&T is “on track” to be 50% open source and 75% virtualised. He also says they now have 74 “integrated cloud” nodes in place, and encouraged developers to concentrate on OpenStack.

Huawei is against the idea of merging OpenDaylight and ONOS, and it looks like the Linux Foundation is sceptical too, on the grounds ODL is too “SDN” and ONOS too “NFV”.

Openet is releasing its VNF manager app as open-source.

And is the blockchain the worst database in the world?

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January 4, 2016

IPv6, 5G, Comcast, India, Talko: Telco 2.0 News Review

Mobile drives IPv6 adoption through 10%; MTS wants 5G by 2018; VZW wants 28GHz; ETSI MEC PoCs; Swantee quits

On the 31st of December, the world reached a milestone: 10% of world Internet traffic is now on IPv6, per Google. The US is almost at 25%, although nowhere close to mighty Belgium’s world championship performance with 43%. If current trends continue, that means IPv4 will be decommissioned by the summer of 2020, only 25 years after IPv6 was standardised by RFC 1883.

Interestingly, the key driver of growth is now mobility. On the US top four wireless networks, 38% of traffic is now IPv6, so 2016 will be the year when the world’s biggest and richest ISP market becomes majority-IPv6.

More statistics are over here- note that Verizon Wireless is the only public operator in the top 10, which is otherwise made up of universities and part of the US Navy.

Lowell McAdam, meanwhile, called on the FCC with a gang of other VZ executives to lobby for faster access to high-band spectrum and also for LTE-U/LTE-LAA/whatever it’s called this week. They seem to be targeting the 28GHz and 39GHz bands. The doc is here.

MTS is the latest operator to set a date for 5G - they want to deploy at least a trial network in time for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and they’re counting on Ericsson to do the job. That’s relatively conservative compared to VZW’s plans. Meanwhile, T-Mobile USA’s CTO Neville Ray is pouring on the cold water, talking up “advanced LTE” and poking scorn at VZW’s hype, although he does say “we fully intend to bring 5G to the market in a very real way when the time comes”. The blog post is here if you really enjoy a bit of US-style fighting talk.

Telecom Italia launched LTE-A and VoLTE, by giving away a free gigabyte of data over Christmas. They’re claiming top speeds of 375Mbps. Turkcell, meanwhile, is the latest carrier to do a gigabit wireless demo, getting 1.2Gbps out of Huawei’s LTE-Advanced Pro and five-carrier aggregration over the 1800, 2100, and 2600MHz bands. They plan to launch in April provisioning 300-400Mbps with 3xCA and move on to the gigabit in Q3, or whenever devices catch up.

Olaf Swantee, the EE CEO who took the momentous decision to go ahead with 1800MHz for 4G, is leaving the company after the BT-EE deal closes. Marc Allera, ex-3UK and currently in charge of EE’s retail operation, takes over.

The first ETSI Mobile Edge Computing proof-of-concepts are here, and they’re all about either video, or virtualisation.

An important blog post from Nick Hunn makes the case for LoRa as the solution to the Internet of Things. Interesting point: most data from most devices will be worthless most of the time, so the marginal cost of a device must be really tiny.

This worries neither Vodafone or Huawei, who demonstrated a water meter with NB-IoT (i.e. LTE-M) connectivity. Here’s a case study of an actual water meter deployment, using yet another LPWAN radio technology (SymphonyLink, a fork of IEEE802.15.4 with some LoRa-like characteristics). Note that the meters cost $27.99; even a GPRS modem would add a tenner to that.

And just in case you felt there weren’t quite enough options in the LPWAN space, here’s the Wi-Fi Alliance’s offering, HaLow. It’s essentially Wi-Fi operating below 1GHz.

Comcast 1Gbps cable is here; YouTube vs Binge On! Sprint’s $30m consulting bill; VZW leaps into price war

Comcast will be upgrading to 1Gbps DOCSIS 3.1 this year, aiming to provide gigabit cable to 40% of the United States. This is only going to add fuel to the fire, spurring other fixed operators to roll out more fibre. It looks like AT&T might be changing its mind about some of its FTTC deployments in favour of FTTH.

YouTube isn’t included in T-Mobile’s Binge On!, and apparently can’t or won’t make the config changes necessary to get in. So they’re going to the FCC. It’s hard to imagine Google of all companies not being able to turn around relatively minor configuration changes to their CDN. If we accept that, “can’t” is ruled out and we’re left with “won’t”. Won’t suggests Google wants to make a point with the regulator.

Chicago subway passengers now have 4G coverage via a joint deployment by the big four carriers. There’s some interesting detail at the link. The solution is a distributed antenna system (DAS), owned by the Chicago Transit Authority, which the operators rent for $500,000 each a year, increasing 3% per annum.  The CTA maintains the system, and also uses it for its own communications, permitting it to rip out various other radio networks.

Apparently, Sprint spent some $30m on strategy consultants when, immediately after parachuting into the company, Marcelo Claure brought in a team led by former Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo, who were promised as much as $50m for a year’s work. However, the arrangement was terminated by Masayoshi Son after five months and $30m spent. The company said:

“It accelerated a discussion on topics that Marcelo may not have gotten to for a while”

Meanwhile, the job cuts have begun.

AT&T has completely abandoned contract smartphones in favour of instalments. And Verizon Wireless has finally thrown dignity to the winds and leapt into the price war, offering up to $650 in gimmes for churners. It’s still not cash, though, so we’ve not hit rock bottom.

RJio launches. Sort of. Idea 4G really does launch. Free Basics row, again. Thai 4G. Chunghwa results. 2018 forecasts

Reliance Jio’s much-delayed 4G network has launched! Well, “launched”. Only its employees can use it at the moment, which makes this more of a trial than a launch. This didn’t stop the RJio management indulging in an orgy of hype, including having hundreds of Indian celebrities all tweet exactly the same thing.

Meanwhile, its talks with Aircel have been formally acknowledged in a stock exchange statement. This gets to be a complex deal, as it’s also buying Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), Aircel’s parent Maxis Communications wants to stay involved, and Reliance wants to keep its tower assets out of it.

Somewhat more seriously, Idea turned up 1800MHz 4G in 75 southern Indian cities.

The specific Indian version of the net neutrality debate has taken another twist. The founders of nine Indian startups wrote to the regulator protesting about the Facebook-inspired Free Basics zero-rating project, the one that used to be known as Internet.org, pointing out that it disadvantages Indian startups like theirs. The regulator responds, asking RCom to hold off on deploying Free Basics while it seeks more information. Facebook, for its part, is asking Indian users to write to the regulator in support.

Bharti Airtel launches Wynk, its app store for games.

There are two kinds of spectrum auctions: blowouts and disappointments. Thailand’s 4G auction has ended up in the first group, as the second phase ends with a total take of $4.2bn. The 3rd operator True, and new entrant Jasmine, were the winners if that’s the right word - they got 10MHz each of refarmed 900MHz spectrum for over $2bn each, a world record. In the first phase, last month, the market leader AIS concentrated on the 1800MHz band, a good call, but still paid 158% of the reserve price. AIS and True both now have 900 and 1800MHz spectrum, while True also already has 2100MHz. Jasmine has only the 900MHz, while No.2 operator dtac has only the 2100MHz.

18 months after launch, Chunghwa Telecom has 4.4m 4G customers, or 40% of the total in Taiwan. They went with a low-band strategy, pairing the 900 and 1800 bands.

By 2018, there may be as many as 315m Indian smartphone users and another 317m in Africa. The key is $50 entry-level smartphones.

Samsung trims its inventory, struggles with software; Apple settles with Ericsson, Italy; new ThinkPads

Samsung may be cutting back its shipments of smartphones by as much as 12% this year, based on its orders to suppliers. This seems to be a response to the slow-down of overall shipment growth rather than to competition, but it’s definitely a bear signal.

Meanwhile, here’s a good Reuters piece on how the company struggles to get to grips with software. That said, there’s a case that the emerging chip wars mean there’s more enduring deep value in the hardware - Apple’s history since 2008ish certainly looks that way. See also this Wired piece on smartphone cameras and the key role of the image signal processor. Apple and Samsung design and make their own, everyone else takes whatever comes in the next Qualcomm Snapdragon package.

It looks like another good Christmas for Apple, while they agreed to settle a patent dispute with Ericsson.

The company has also done something genuinely innovative in the last week - it paid its Italian taxes.

Lenovo’s first lineup of Intel Skylake-powered laptops are here.

BlackBerry wins out over Pakistan; Linode down; Cisco XMPP bug; Path Intel RIP

BlackBerry seems to have won its row with the Pakistani government. They’re not leaving the country, and they aren’t handing over the encryption keys either.

Major managed hosting/cloud provider Linode has spent the whole of Christmas under massive denial of service attack.

A serious bug in Cisco’s implementation of XMPP. A worse bug in the GRUB bootloader means you can get access to any Linux machine by pressing the backspace key 28 times.

Path Intelligence, the UK startup that ran quiet IMSI catchers to track you moving around shopping centres, has gone bust. More discussion here.

Surprisingly large amounts of US police radio that should be encrypted…isn’t.

Talko sold, to MSFT; new Google messaging app coming? 2015, when broadcast took over WebRTC

Ray Ozzie has sold his Voice 2.0 startup, Talko, to Microsoft. 10 years ago, MSFT bought Groove off him and that eventually became OneDrive and therefore started their transition towards being a cloud- or even communications-focused business. The OneDrive application process is still called groove.exe. Talko is going to be folded into Skype for Business, although Ozzie isn’t coming with it.

Dan York points out that the biggest problem for them was the directory. The Hacker News thread on the original announcement of Talko is here and bears re-reading.

Google is apparently working on a new messaging app (its third after Talk, Chat, and Hangouts) which would be focused on chatbot applications.

Tsahi Levent-Levi rounds up 2015 in WebRTC. UC applications appear to be giving place to many more streaming ones, a trend he discusses further here with regard to Tokbox’s latest. If Flash is dying as a video/audio streaming client and protocol, what will replace it as a production, ingestion, and serving solution?

Android moves to OpenJDK; Microsoft’s new JavaScript engine; Facebook dumps Flash video; HEVC patents

The next version of Android will use the OpenJDK Java virtual machine, as maintained by Oracle and the Java community, rather than Google’s own. This was the issue at the heart of the Oracle vs Google lawsuit, which now looks to be very much ancient history. Interestingly, the reason seems to be in part that OpenJDK’s development has overtaken Dalvik, and it has a variety of new features that Android developers are keen to get at.

Did you know Minecraft includes its very own minimal Java implementation?

It looks like there may be another twist coming in the race for faster, better JavaScript support. This all began when Google launched its V8 JavaScript engine, dramatically faster than the then-state of the art implementations from Mozilla or WebKit. The stimulus led to a race between Apple/WebKit, Mozilla, and Google to improve JavaScript engines. Now, Microsoft has a new one out: Fork, and some informed observers think the Node.js server-side JavaScript platform would do well to switch from V8.

Facebook boots Flash video from the platform in favour of HTML5.

And the HEVC video codec pool sees sense, offering revised licence terms that cap the maximum payout at $40m and provide an exemption for anyone whose bill would be under $25k.

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