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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.
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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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