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March 31, 2016

TeliaSonera and Spotify Make Beautiful Music

We’ve just published ‘Partnering 2.0: How TeliaSonera Makes Beautiful Music with Spotify’, a follow-up to last month’s report on digital partnering at AT&T.

TeliaSonera’s digital partnership with Spotify has worked well while other operator music tie-ups have languished. We investigate how the partnership has helped both companies to target new market segments and develop innovative products, with Spotify benefiting from TeliaSonera’s marketing channels and direct investment, and TeliaSonera leveraging both Spotify’s brand association with youth-oriented digital innovation, and the serious stickiness of the Spotify service.

This report is part of the Telco 2.0 Transformation Stream and you can read an extract here.

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

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MWC 2016: 5G, NFV/Cloud and the IoT

What was hot at Mobile World Congress? We’ve published four short research briefings that round up the action:

  • How MWC 2016 overall signalled a sea-change in the industry (read more)
  • The cloud/NFV transformation needle is starting to move (read more)
  • The Internet of Things is getting real but looking smaller (read more)
  • How is the 5G game shaping up? (read more)

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

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March 29, 2016

Future Network, Fibre, Smartphones - Telco 2.0 News Review

VZW 28GHz tests; Tele2 virtualises for 5G; more ONOS telco cloud; open optical switching; Ahuja out at Cisco

Verizon has filed papers with the FCC requesting permission to test 5G technology in the 28GHz band at three locations in the US. The test campaign will last at most six months and it intends to evaluate Ericsson, Intel, Samsung, and Qualcomm equipment. Interestingly, Nokia has already been testing with VZ in the same area.

Tele2, meanwhile, is moving its core network into a private cloud, and it is positioning this as preparation for 5G.

The system is based on OpenStack, using Huawei and Cisco hardware, and Canonical’s VNF manager, Juju. Canonical itself got the contract to do the systems integration and manage the new setup. The first app to move is the virtualised EPC itself, in Q3.

AT&T’s enterprise side has held a substantial led in the move to cloud over its arch-rival, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Now, VZ is beginning to act. At the ON.Labs Open Networking Summit, the ONOS developer conference, it announced that since late 2015 it possesses a cloud operating across 5 data centres, using RedHat’s implementation of OpenStack, with a Neutron plugin to manage its Big Switch virtual switches via ONOS. VZ describes the individual sites as “pods”, and says the next step is “aggregation - and then, the edge”.

AT&T, meanwhile, has started an open-source hardware group with Ciena, Fujitsu, and Nokia to develop designs for ROADMS, basically optical switches. It wants to plug them into the wider SDN infrastructure and manage it all in OpenStack, and it’d also presumably quite like lower prices.

Here’s an interesting talk by Equinix’s CTO about the impact of open-source technology on the data centre.

Some more new customers for Google Cloud Platform - Universal Media and Coca-Cola.

Oracle has a new product line for customers who want its cloud, but want it in their data centre with their own lock on the door. It’s a little bit reminiscent of Canonical’s mini-cloud in an orange flight case, the Orange Box.

Long-time head of Service Provider at Cisco, Kelly Ahuja, is out and the company is going through a complicated re-organisation.

5G researchers at Bristol University have achieved a 12x improvement in spectral efficiency over LTE, using a massive-MIMO setup with 128 antennas.

An interesting whitepaper from the EU-funded METIS II research group on the requirements for a 5G network architecture.

Apple: reviving the tablet market, selling MS Office 365, buying Imagination Tech, the FBI finally breaks that iPhone

After last week’s Apple announcements, the washup. Apple’s Phil Schiller said it was “sad” there were so many old PCs around, and the new iPad Pro is fairly clearly designed to target them for replacement. But there are also a hell of a lot of old iPads out there. As Kantar Worldpanel analyst Carolina Milanesi points out, the single most common iPad is the iPad 2 from March, 2011 and the second-most common is the original.

ABI sums up the challenge - tablet shipments are dreadful pretty much everywhere, although at least there’s the possibility of upselling Chinese users giving up their no-name Android devices. So you can see why Apple would want to hit the PC installed base. Horace’s charts here also speak to the point that the tablet market has saturated very fast.

The biggest barrier to swapping out those old PCs would be getting their owners to dump Windows for iOS. Fascinatingly, Apple is now selling Microsoft Office 365 accounts at the checkout with new gadgets.

HP is talking up a new strategy of confronting Apple in the high-end with the Elite X3 and the Elitebook laptops.

Apple, however, is concentrating on its strategy of getting hard-to-duplicate technologies and manufacturing systems in-house. This week it acquired more chip design know-how by buying up Imagination Technologies, fairly clearly to get its hands on the PowerVR GPU technology and the people behind it. It has often used the PowerVR chips, now it wants to make its own, and not coincidentally, deny them to the competition.

On a similar theme, as well as diversifying its cloud spending by giving Google some business, Apple is building its own data centres again.

Even Homer nods. iOS 9.3 contains a bug that breaks hyperlinks.

Meanwhile, the FBI managed to get into the famous locked iPhone, and as a result, the Apple vs. FBI case is now moot. Speculation is rife about the possible role of Israeli firm Cellebrite, makers of a device police forces use to slurp data from suspects’ phones. I remember a meeting at MWC years ago where Cellebrite’s CEO offered to demonstrate the tool…on mine. Thanks, but no thanks, as they say. There’s some discussion of how it might work here, but we rather like the idea some G-man finally tried “1234passw0rd”.

AMOLED screens are now cheaper than LCDs.

The LG G5’s camera is really very impressive even without the clip-on photography module.

700, 2.5GHz in the iPhone SE; Wheeler on 600MHz; Comcast wants spectrum; AT&T accuses Netflix of “throttling”

The selection of LTE bands in the new iPhone is interesting. Bands 14 and 25 are in, which means the 700MHz and 2.5GHz bands are available for 2x carrier aggregation. But Band 30, the 2.3GHz band that’s so far unique to AT&T, isn’t.

Less seriously, T-Mobile CEO John Legere’s constant Twitter trolling has lastingly changed the US wireless industry’s style. Everyone’s caught a bit of it, even Verizon Wireless, where it usually tries to rise above it. This week, Sprint trumpeted the hiring of two VZW regional presidents, and promptly VZW hired Ricky Jervais of all people to badmouth Sprint’s network on TV.

More seriously, Tom “Lawman” Wheeler told Congress he expects the 600MHz auction process to take years, complained that the WRC-15 didn’t deal with 28GHz, and remarked that the whole world seemed to be hanging on every word from the US about 5G.

T-Mobile, for its part, filed a comment with the FCC arguing its current plans for the 600MHz were just fine, while the National Association of Broadcasters says it’s all happening too quickly.

Comcast, interestingly enough, has signed up to bid for 600MHz spectrum. What can it be planning? Also, something called ParkerB Wireless has signed up to bid using DISH’s office address. Can we be facing a repeat of the Northstar “small business” caper, so soon? Well, by the time it comes up on the docket, Lawman Wheeler may be out of town, so it’s worth a try.

Best regulatory complaint of the week - AT&T complains to the FCC that Netflix is “throttling” its mobile users, or in other words, it serves video at lower resolutions to people on mobile networks so they don’t explode their data caps.

On a similar theme, Verizon’s chief lobbyist has come out in support of something very like net neutrality.

And if this doesn’t start a regulatory row in the end, I don’t know what will. Comcast is now selling its services via Amazon.com, a company that offers competing over-the-top video streaming.

ENEL in €2.5bn fibre build; VF.de ups cable speeds; VZW, AT&T play up cableco Ethernet; Globe FTTH

Italy’s electricity grid, ENEL, is going into the fibre business on a big scale. The company plans to spend €2.5bn laying FTTH into its own infrastructure, which apparently includes three times as many street cabinets as Telecom Italia, and then wholesale the fibre to anyone who wants it. Wind and Vodafone are mentioned as potential launch customers. Benoit Felten has some words of warning.

France has banned carriers from referring to co-ax cable, FTTC, or whatever as “fibre”, and has also required them to quote upload speeds as prominently as download speeds.

Vodafone Germany has begun the second wave of its cable upgrades, taking the top speed to 400Mbps.

Verizon has started a pre-emptive ad campaign talking up FiOS’s uplink speeds as defence against the coming Comcast DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit threat. It is also scared enough of cablecos’ growing Ethernet over DOCSIS enterprise business that it is both moaning to the FCC and standing up a rival product using FiOS fibre. AT&T is also playing up the EoD threat, as both carriers lobby the FCC over its special access consultation.

Google Fiber is coming to Salt Lake City.

Globe Telecom is putting the majority of its CAPEX into FTTH.

The UK’s putative 10Mbps universal service obligation does seem to exist - OFCOM is holding a four-week public consultation.

China Tel, MTS, Oi FY; Jas Mobile loses licence; Alfa stake in Turkcell for sale; Orange-Bouygues crunch meeting

After Mobile and Unicom, here comes China Telecom with its results. Mobile service revenue was up 3.5%, and net profits 13.4%. It ascribes the success to 4G uptake, with a hand from its fixed operation’s excellent (64%) penetration of FTTH.

Another company doing well in the 4G rollout is MTS, which was one of the picks in the 4G Rollout Analysis Executive Briefing. Mobile service revenue was up 2%, subscribers are still rising, while data traffic was up 19.8%. Groupwide, revenue was up 4% with margins flat.

On the other hand, after TIM Brasil, it was Oi’s turn to feel the Brazilian economy’s crisis. Revenue for 2015 was down 4.2%, with a worrying 6% slide in subscribers and domestic market EBITDA off 9.3%.

Jas Mobile, the would-be fourth MNO in Thailand, has definitively failed to come up with the licence fee money and lost its allocation of 900MHz spectrum. The band is likely to end up with market leader AIS. Only a real cynic…

Meanwhile, Viettel is having another go at Burma’s 4th mobile licence, and OMGTEL, competing with Xavier Niel’s MyRepublic for the 4th Singapore licence, says it’s signed for $400m of the $1bn funding it’s after.

Roshan’s CEO says Afghanistan has too many MNOs.

Alfa Telecom is suggesting it might be willing to sell the much-litigated stake in Turkcell back to Cukurova Group.

Angolan mobile users have found a use for zero-rating programs like Wikipedia and Facebook Zero - upload pirate content as part of a Wikipedia article, free, download it, free.

Orange and Bouygues will be having the big meeting on Wednesday.

And Belgium’s emergency services network, running over Belgacom’s Proximus mobile network, broke down during the terrorist attack last week. It wasn’t the mobile data network that failed, though, as they were able to get through on Whatsapp.

More LPWAN deployments; nobody wants to talk about 2G shutdown; Nest Labs struggling

The LPWAN drum beat keeps up. Sigfox signs up Altice/SFR in France and then reseller Wireless Logic for its partner, Arqiva, in the UK.

A good explainer of what the LPWAN fuss is about.

RCRWireless asks AT&T what impact the shutdown of their GSM network, planned for next year, will have on the Internet of Things. AT&T doesn’t answer the question.

Nest Labs doesn’t seem to be working very well, and half the employees they acqui-hired with the $555m buy of Dropcam have quit.

WiFi light switches are not such a good idea (again).

And Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Tay, was released onto Twitter this week. Within 16 hours, she had been taken offline after, as the Daily Telegraph put it perfectly, becoming a Hitler-obsessed sex robot.

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March 21, 2016

3UK/O2, APAC Special, Google Cloud, European M&A, Apple: Telco 2.0 News Review

3UK/O2 - Wholesale 30% of O3 capacity, or leave O2 independent?

The 3UK/O2 deal just gets more interesting. Hutchison apparently proposed to offer as much as 30% of the combined network’s capacity as wholesale for MVNOs, and sell its 50% stake in Tesco Mobile to the eponymous supermarket. It also suggested offering a strategic partner a long-term MVNO agreement, perhaps rather like the national roaming agreement between Orange and Free Mobile. The Financial Times reckons the partner is Sky, but it could equally be TalkTalk or Virgin Media.

OFCOM, meanwhile, issued an econometric study comparing prices between 3-operator and 4-operator markets, with a special focus on the presence of “disruptive” operators. Not surprisingly, going from 4 to 3 operators tends to mean prices go up. Interestingly, though, the presence of a disruptive operator has an impact on prices of similar size. As OFCOM considers 3UK to be disruptive, it follows that they expect a really substantial price hike if we both move down to 3 operators, and lose a disruptor. Get the document here. Also, the Austrian regulator reckons the 3 Austria-Orange merger led to some smartphone tariffs going up over 50 per cent.

Li Ka-shing’s company tends to love a deal, and the more complicated the better. This one will be no different - they’re already thinking about selling a piece of the business to an outside investor. Their finance director, Frank Sixt, says they’d be looking for someone to take 10-20 per cent of O2. Obviously this would mean they wouldn’t need to raise as much cash themselves. But they also seem to think it would help from a regulatory point of view if O2 UK wasn’t consolidated in the books, but rather run on as an autonomous firm. Surely OFCOM, or the Euregulators, would see through that?

Canning Fok, joint managing director of CK Hutchison (i.e. the new top-level holding company), meanwhile says 3UK stopped being a price disruptor in 2014. They certainly chose to can their unlimited data plans, and you can see why, as average data traffic per user has reached 5GB/month. It’s numbers time, and 3 Group Europe reported subscriber growth of 4%, service ARPU up 5% year-on-year at €18.14/mo, and EBITDA up 12%. The Hong Kong and South-East Asian businesses were pretty strong too.

(No surprises there - 3UK did very well in our 4G Global Rollout Analysis Executive Briefing.)

Three out of the four UK MNOs approve of the government’s plans to reform the electronic communications code. Oddly, no word from Vodafone. Meanwhile, the idea of setting a 10Mbps universal service obligation, as announced by the prime minister, has mysteriously vanished from the government budget.

China Mobile FY, 4G numbers, flushes 3G sites; China Unicom numbers; MyRepublic countdown ticks on; Elop @ Telstra

China Mobile spent 2015 adding 4G subscribers at a ferocious pace, going from 90 million to 312 million LTE subscribers in 12 months. At the same time, the overall subscriber base is still growing, up 2.4%. They hope to reach 500 million 4G lines this year, which would mean about the same growth rate. The upshot of this is data traffic up 143%, and their revenues crossing over from majority-voice to majority-data. Overall, net profit was down 0.6% while revenue was up 2.6%, so there’s just the faintest hint of margin erosion.

China Unicom, though, is doing it tough. The user base is shrinking, by 5.4% in the year. Mobile service revenue was off 8%, and net profits 12%. Voice is down to 31% of total revenue, but unlike China Mobile, they measure these things including SMS, so this doesn’t imply they’re winning themselves to death with data. The simplest explanation is that customers want 4G and are churning to China Mobile to get it - CMCC is about 37-38% 4G by customers, Unicom about 17.5%.

The challenge of keeping up with the market leader is daunting. China Mobile finished 2015 with 1.1m eNode-Bs in service, having installed 290,000 of them in 12 months. They expect to add as many again in 2016.

Their motivation in this forced march to 4G is pretty clear from this story - the authoritative Chinese magazine Caixin quotes a CMCC employee in Jiangsu saying that there is an “irreversible trend” of closing down 3G infrastructure, although the executives they asked on the record denied it. The problem is that they can’t criticise the decision to impose the TD-SCDMA technology on China Mobile publicly. But they can scrap it and replace it with Nokia kit as quickly as possible, especially in the light of the top-level political push for more broadband.

Of course, the more cynical could let lower-level managers in their provincial OpCos make the decision for them and take the fall if it all goes wrong.

Lenovo is restructuring, and has let Rick Osterloh go as head of the Motorola Mobility unit.

Xavier Niel’s MyRepublic has signed up for a $128m loan from Goldman Sachs and DBS ahead of the bidding for the 4th Singaporean MNO licence. Worth noting that the spectrum allocation will be at least a 60MHz virtual carrier, i.e. what Nokia Networks reckons is the minimum for a gigabit LTE service.

In Thailand, market leader AIS is trying to turn off 900MHz GSM and it’s a struggle.

Telstra has decided it needs someone to take on a combined CTO and strategy role, rather like John Donovan’s at AT&T. The new hire is…Stephen Elop, formerly Nokia’s CEO. Meanwhile, the operator had its second massive outage in six weeks.

And Softbank will start selling electricity.

Sprint: rebrand? 300Mbps demo, wireless backhaul. YouTube joins Binge On!

Softbank, of course, owns Sprint, even if its commitment to them has started to look a bit faint these days. It’s suggested here that Sprint ought to rebrand - what about “Softbank USA”? - and emphasise the improvements in its network.

They’re having a go - this week, they demonstrated 300Mbps 3xCA LTE with a Samsung S7.

As usual, they took the opportunity to talk up the 2.5GHz spectrum block. A comment by CFO Tarek Robbiati suggests they might end up using it for wireless backhaul in support of their small cells, and apparently Softbank has been using an Airspan Networks multipoint wireless backhaul solution in Japan. However, Robbiati also said:

“Priority No. 1 is cost takeout,” Robbiati said at the Deutsche Bank conference. “No. 2 is cost takeout, No. 3 is cost takeout. In case you haven’t heard it, the top priority is cost takeout.”

T-Mobile USA has come to an agreement with YouTube, and YouTube videos will now flow under its Binge On! zero-rating program. It looks like T-Mo will flag requests under Binge On!, and YouTube will selectively serve the content in a format that complies with T-Mo’s requirements. Therefore, everyone ought to be happy - YouTube gets to control how it transcodes video content into the required format, and the users can always opt out if they so wish (there’s now a shortcode to turn it on or off).

Meanwhile, Verizon beats AT&T to the first Cuban interconnect now sanctions are lifted.

Google wins Apple cloud business; DTAG Open Cloud opens; ONOS v6 launches, with AT&T CORD; AT&T’s new service platform

This could be an iconic moment for the cloud: Google wins Apple’s cloud business off Amazon Web Services. Well, about half of it, but it’s $400-600 million, and it’s Apple. (If you’ve got a GMail address, you can try their service out free here.)

The last couple of weeks have been difficult at AWS. As well as Apple, Spotify has taken its business over to Google, and Dropbox has scaled out of the cloud altogether, moving into its own data centres.

Deutsche Telekom’s Huawei-powered Open Telekom Cloud is open for business, and it has its first client: CERN, no less.

The sixth release of ONOS is here, which integrates it into the broader Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) infrastructure. It also upstreams the AT&T CORD (Central Office Re-Architected as a Data centre) work into ONOS itself. CORD itself is expanding, with mobile infrastructure features being demonstrated at the Open Networking Summit this week.

AT&T, meanwhile, announced another new target - 80% of their applications to move into the cloud by the end of 2016 - and further announced their new ECOMP orchestration-and-management solution. This is the project all the AT&T/Mirantis work on the OpenStack Fuel modules is supporting. The whitepaper is here.

Our new Executive Briefing on Telefonica’s NFV and cloud strategy is out now

Metaswitch and Genband are suing each other.

Cable merger edges closer; Comcast DOCSIS 3.1 is live, $70/mo; upgrades coming to Europe; PTel shutting down copper

We’re getting close to signing off the Charter/TWC/Bright House merger, at last. Chairman Wheeler is expected to circulate the FCC draft report & order to the other commissioners any moment now. (There’s a good profile of “Lawman” Wheeler here.) It apparently includes restrictions on some programming contracts and measures to promote high-speed broadband. After that, all they need is anti-trust clearance from the Justice Department and a final tick in the box from the California state Public Utilities Commission.

Comcast, meanwhile, is going to put DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit cable in production in Atlanta. The service will cost $70/mo (aligning with AT&T GigaPower, other cablecos, and Google Fiber) if you’re willing to commit to a three-year contract. Their business services division, meanwhile, is offering direct peering with AWS for its Ethernet customers.

Ovum reckons European high-speed broadband takeup is going to surge ahead, although there’s no sign of anything like the recent surge of US fibre builds. (Mediacom plans to pass 3m homes with gigabit service; here’s an all-new fibre overbuilder that’s actually trademarked “scary-fast Internet”.)

This might help. In France, Altice is going to start upgrading SFR customers to DOCSIS 3.1 using Arris’ new Converged Edge Router. They also say they won’t be making any more acquisitions this year. Adtran, meanwhile, claims it has trials running of the new XGS-PON standard, which provides multiple 10Gbps wavelengths over GPON fibre.

Benoit Felten points out that telcos deploying FTTH need a strategy to shut down the copper network, like Portugal Telecom is doing.

Ironically, AT&T wants more information from other telcos about where they have fibre, ducts, and poles under the FCC inquiry into special access. Partly this is regulatory trolling, but they are doing a lot of FTTH roll-outs…

They’re also, interestingly, launching an ads exchange for their TV products.

Comcast hires HP IoT boss; SKT, Swisscom deploy LoRa; Orange IoT announcements; horrible IoT experience

An interesting hire, meanwhile, at Comcast. Sridhar Solur, who ran HP’s IoT and wearables businesses, is joining as SVP, Xfinity Home and IoT Products. He reports to the EVP and Chief Product Officer for Cable and joins the product leadership team.

SKT is going to build a national LPWAN, and it’s going with LoRa, having secured regulatory approval to use the 900MHz band and let devices transmit at up to 200 mW. You can see the attraction - it’s going to spend some $84m to get national LoRa coverage, peanuts by telco standards.

Swisscom is deploying a national LPWAN, and it’s LoRA.

Orange made a clutch of IoT announcements, saying that they expect to cover the first 17 French cities with LoRa by mid-2016. They’ve also offered 5,000 employees “connected lamps”. These flip the usual IoT model - rather than being devices that use the network, they’re devices that provide network connectivity for others.

Here’s an Apple Watch app for your robotic lawnmower.

Another dreadful user report on Samsung SmartThings.

TI CEO out, FY results; Orange-Bouygues inch towards a deal; Yoigo up for sale

During the previous week, Vivendi upped its stake in Telecom Italia to just under the mark where it would have to mount an official takeover bid. Now they’ve used it - CEO Marco Patuano is gone. He wanted to keep TIM Brasil, they wanted to sell it. There’s no word yet on the status of the €18bn CAPEX plan he unveiled last week.

There are, however, full-year results. The company is profitable, although the out-turn was down quite a bit on the previous year. However, the result attributable to shareholders is much worse, a tax loss, due to a decision to buy back a substantial quantity of the company’s bonds.

Deeper down, the Italian business is still just about shrinking year-on-year, but it’s growing sequentially. Consumer mobile revenues are up, marginally. TIM Brasil, however, is being battered by the Brazilian economic downturn. Although TI booked €328m from selling 85% of its towers, it also had to book a €240m writedown on the unit’s value.

Elsewhere, Orange and Bouygues are close to a deal. Apparently, SFR will pay €4bn for some Bouygues assets - Telecoms.com says the subscribers, Telegeography doesn’t say - and Free will pay €2bn for some more. Telecoms.com says Free will take network assets. Orange pays €4bn for the rest - maybe the spectrum?

German super-MVNO and ISP Freenet is buying a 23% stake in Swiss MNO Sunrise.

TeliaSonera is in exclusive negotiations with Zegona Communications, a London-listed company, about selling them Yoigo, their Spanish OpCo. Zegona seems to be a pure acquisitions vehicle run by ex-Virgin Media execs - a statement from them confirms the talks and says the reverse-takeover rules require them to suspend their shares.

Günther Oettinger says he wants Europe to “lead in 5G”. Inside 5G explains why this is nonsense.

New iPhone, iPad, CareKit; PlayStation VR; 275m insecure Androids; Google says goodbye to the giant robot

Of course, there was an Apple product event. The heavily trailed iPhone 5SE landed, although it’s just an iPhone SE without the number. It looks very much like the iPhone 5, in terms of form factor and industrial design, but it gets both the A9 CPU and M9 sensor co-processor. Pricing starts at $399, making it the cheapest iPhone ever by some distance. It gets 4K video support and a 12 megapixel camera (better than most of the iPads).

The compromise to fit the A9 SoC and the new camera in a smaller gadget and a much lower price seems to be that it doesn’t have the full range of LTE carrier aggregation that the 6S does, implying that it has a different modem and RF chain. Is it possible Apple homebrewed one?

There’s also a new iPad, basically an iPad Pro in the original 9.7” form factor with some new accessories like a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor, a substantial update to tvOS, and a cheaper entry-level Watch. Perhaps the most interesting announcement was CareKit, a toolkit for medical devices and apps, which is being released into open source, a rare but usually significant move for Apple.

Cryptographer Matthew Green has discovered a zero-day exploit that permits the decryption of iMessages.

Janus Friis’s startup, Wire, has added end-to-end encrypted video calling to its app. It sounds like Friis has decided to invent Skype, again.

Nokia announced that they’re looking for one-minute VR experiences to promote the Ozo camera. Content is obviously a big hurdle for VR/AR hardware. Sony’s PlayStation VR peripheral is priced to go, while they’re also looking at a refresh of the PS4 with more poke.

There’s a new implementation of the Stagefright exploit of Android about, and 275 million devices are at risk.

Make sure you get your Kindle software update or you might have to side-load new firmware.

The hacker responsible for the “Celebgate” disclosure of vast quantities of naked celeb photos has pleaded guilty. The hack turns out to be quite boring - far from discovering an iCloud exploit, he just sent out phishing e-mails claiming to come from Microsoft or Google and waited for the passwords to roll in.

Facebook says ad exchanges are stuffed with worthless cruft and malware, don’t bother with them.

How do different virtual assistants cope if you’re suicidal? Microsoft’s Cortana turns out best, which is interesting when you remember she is also programmed to holler back at creeps.

And Google has admitted that you’re not getting a self-driving car any time soon. They’ve also put the giant dog robot up for sale. It looks like the new financial reporting structure is focusing minds.

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March 18, 2016

Telefónica’s NFV: An Empire Divided?

We’ve published a new research paper: Telefónica’s NFV: An Empire Divided?

In this analysis we examine the background and trajectory of Telefónica’s NFV high-profile NFV program, how it may evolve, and the implications for other operators on or considering the journey.

This report is part of the Telco 2.0 Transformation Stream, Future of the Network Stream, and Cloud and Enterprise ICT Stream and you can read an except of the report here.

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

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March 14, 2016

Open Compute, Fibre, Iliad, Softbank: Telco 2.0 News Review

TI’s €7bn for innovations; Equinix brings Open Compute to telecoms; Microsoft’s Linux-based switches; wave of NFV contracts

The long-running saga of TIM’s investment in Telecom Argentina is at an end, with regulatory approval in. The sale, to a financial investor, brings in $1bn. The interesting bit, though, is what TIM plans to do with the money. Over the next three years, TI plans €12bn of CAPEX. Out of this, €1.2bn is going into additional 4G capacity, €3.6bn into FTTH builds, €400m into the TI Sparkle submarine cable division…and a whole €7bn into “innovation initiatives” such as IoT, NFV, and cloud. CEO Marco Patuano says this is

“the transition from a traditional telco to a digital telco & platform company enabler of the country’s digital life”

Very Telco 2.0?

Elsewhere, Facebook’s VP of Infrastructure Jason Taylor, who is also the chairman of the Open Compute Project, released some more details of the Telecom Infra Project, the open-source hardware initiative’s extension into telecoms. It’s focusing on wireless access and backhaul to begin with, and AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, EE, SK Telecom, and Verizon have signed up. If you’ve been reading this or buying our research you won’t be surprised to see AT&T on that list, nor will you be surprised to see SVP of Architecture & Design Andre Fuetsch involved.

Although the TIP is supposedly focusing on wireless, its first production deployment is very un-wireless - Internet exchange operator Equinix will be using Facebook’s Wedge high-density Ethernet switch design. That’s about as deep in the Internet core as you can get. It’s also a significant vote of confidence.

Google has joined the project, and this week it contributed its first design, a server rack with 48VDC power. Infrastructure boss Urs Hölzle says it represents a 30% saving of energy over a 12V system.

In the How 5G is Disrupting Cloud and Network Strategy report, we noted that the size of the biggest data centres had stopped climbing, and their power density, a key scaling metric, had also stopped growing. A lot of people expected the next move in power density to be upwards as data centre builders packed more, bigger, hotter servers into the available space. But it didn’t happen like that, and Facebook gives us some insight into how.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has released a modular platform for network switches through the OCP, and it turns out to be based on Linux, in the same week their SQL Server database appeared for Linux. This certainly isn’t your father’s Microsoft. Interestingly, HPE’s new machine learning API is hosted in Microsoft Azure.

NTT DoCoMo says it’s deployed a virtualised EPC from NEC. Vodafone.nl says it’s deployed virtualised IMS, EPC, and VoLTE from Ericsson. It’s probably time to get used to lots of boring contract announcements in the NFV space. Even Intelsat’s latest is apparently virtualised, so you can have a cloud above the clouds.

And AT&T’s John Stephens is selling their SDN capability vigorously.

“Holistic” fibre; the battle for US SMBs; cablecos won broadband in 2015; content co-op; Go90 could go a bit faster

Stephens also had some interesting things to say about their fibre roll-out. He makes the important point that once the residential broadband/video-focused build is done, the metro-fibre network can also provide business broadband, large enterprise/special access, and wireless backhaul services. Also, whenever the carrier does a business fibre install, they survey the building to determine whether or not to install a distributed-antenna system for the mobile network. Stephens expects Business Solutions topline revenue to start growing again once strategic services reach 40 per cent of the total.

In Louisville, where AT&T is trying to hold up Google Fiber deployment by legal action over access to ducts and poles, the carrier has started its own 1Gbps fibre build. Meanwhile, Google has succeeded in getting a deal with two electricity companies in Oregon to deploy fibre on their civil works. That said, three other providers (Comcast, Frontier, and Centurylink) are already deploying fibre in Portland, Oregon, having beaten Google to the punch.

Where they already have fibre, AT&T and Centurylink are pushing Gigabit Ethernet service aggressively into the SMB market. This is a response to the cablecos’ continuing success in business services - Comcast Business is growing 20% year-on-year and Time Warner Cable, 14%. A non-trivial share of that is mobile backhaul, a segment the market leader Level(3) mostly sat out. L(3)’s CFO Sunit Patel now wants back in as C-RAN fronthaul creates an increasing demand for dark fibre from mobile operators.

The need for more fibre is clear from this story. US cablecos net-added 3.3m broadband customers in 2015, 1m in Q4 alone. By comparison, the telco sector net-lost 188k wireline broadband customers during the year. The major cable operators also roughly held the line on pay-TV, with net-adds of 18k customers during the year for the top three. However, the regional cable operators did much worse in pay-TV, some of them deliberately as they de-emphasise content they have to buy in compared to broadband they produce in-house. That was enough, along with hard times for DISH and AT&T U-Verse, to lose the pay-TV sector 385k net subscribers in 2015.

A group of small cablecos are lobbying the FCC to make support for a content-buyers’ cooperative a condition of the Charter-TWC-Bright House merger (yes, that’s still going on).

Verizon’s Go90 video app is the 300th most downloaded on the App Store.

U-Verse is in a retransmission dispute with Univision, and AT&T’s chief lobbyist Jim Cicconi is getting all worked up.

Iliad FY2015; duelling performance reports; EU push on 700MHz; UK broadband; DTAG may spin off towers

It’s that time again. Iliad, the holding company for Xavier Niel’s Free.fr and Free Mobile, has full-year results. Revenue was €4.4bn, up 5.9% year-on-year, while EBITDA was up 16% at €1.5bn and net profits 20% at €335m. Free Mobile’s service revenue was up 20% and it net-added another 1.6m subscribers in the year, reaching a market share of 17%. 3.7m of the 12m mobile subscribers are now on 4G. They also net-added 270k fixed subscribers at an ARPU of €34.5/mo.

4G transition is important to Free, as the national roaming agreement with Orange only covers 3G. Moving subscribers to 4G therefore reduces the bill they pay to Orange, but of course demands that Free find the coverage independently. By the end of 2015, it had 3,500 4G sites in service for 63% population coverage, and it aims to deploy another 1,500 this year for 75% coverage. Meanwhile, it is also adding 3G sites at a rate of 1,600/year. This sets it back between €1.25-1.3bn a year in CAPEX.

Our new Innovation Leaders - A Disruptive Operator Tackles the Cloud report covers Iliad’s emerging cloud strategy, while the 4G Roll-Out Analysis report covers its network design and much more.

Another day, another mobile network performance report. This one claims 4G is now faster than WiFi, and both are faster in the United States than in Europe. That’s the precise opposite of the results from, say, OpenSignal’s data collection - they have 4G being faster in Europe than the USA. Interestingly, they reckon the difference in page load times diminishes with the size of the download, suggesting that it’s our old friend, latency, doing the damage. The bigger the download, the more time is taken up by data transfer rather than latency.

That makes sense, if it wasn’t for our own latency measurements suggesting the contrary.

Back at MWC, Ericsson CTO Ulf Ewaldsson was full of praise for how the US had conducted the 700MHz and AWS-3 auctions. EU digital vice-president Andrus Ansip is going that way too, arguing for a coordinated approach to licensing the 700MHz across Europe. The UK is trying to move the broadcasters out and get 25MHz of it available for mobile broadband quicker, but this is a national initiative at the moment.

The UK government may be thinking about changing the planning law that applies to mobile infrastructure, although at the moment this is pretty insubstantial. However, it’s certainly amusing that the prime minister now regrets campaigning against mobile phone masts.

The responsible minister has declared victory and 90% coverage with “superfast” broadband, as redefined down to ADSL2+. This makes it somehow ironic that they’re busy changing the planning regs and casting about for more spectrum. IHS reckons new entrants are going to start deploying much more fibre, while Openreach is gingerly trialling a 1Gbps SMB product in Bradford.

Very few details of last week’s crunch meeting with the Euregulators have been disclosed, but it looks like a 3UK-O2 deal would lead Tesco to buy out O2 UK’s stake in their MVNO, Tesco Mobile.

German regulators seem to be lobbying for less Euro-regulation, and more autonomy, almost certainly in support of DTAG’s consolidate-to-invest agenda. DTAG, meanwhile, is looking at the idea of spinning off its 40,000 European towers as an infrastructure subsidiary.

Ex-EE CEO Olaf Swantee takes the job at Sunrise in Switzerland. Vodafone Germany upgrades another 620k homes to 200Mbps cable.

MyRepublic pricing details; Mittal expects Indian price war; Indian 3G usage up 85%; 1bn 4G users; Softbank reorganises

Xavier Niel’s operator in Singapore, MyRepublic, is progressively unveiling its strategy and as we said last week, it looks a lot like Free. Their cheapest service plan is going to be $5.79/mo for 2GB of data. Compared to Singtel’s $14/mo, that’s brutally cheap. When you remember that T-Mobile USA’s marginal pricing is around $5/GB, it’s even cheaper. They’re also planning to offer an unlimited data plan at $57/mo, implying they expect an average unlimited user to draw down 20GB/mo of data. Not coincidentally, that’s the biggest Free Mobile bundle. Within the week, prices came slithering down across the industry.

Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal says he expects a price war in India that will take the market from 10 operators down to five, or rather “four plus one”, with Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance Jio, and the state-owned operator BSNL surviving.

Nokia reckons mobile data traffic in India grew 85% in 2015, with the average monthly usage reaching 750MB/user. The vendors’ club, the GSA, meanwhile, reckons we’re through one billion 4G users and adding 1.7m users/day.

This is the ideal moment for a snapshot review of the 4G roll-out so far. Get it here.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce is not happy about the US sanctions against ZTE, much as you’d expect.

Softbank is planning to re-organise itself into two divisions, one for Japan and one for “international”. That latter division will basically include two assets, Sprint, and Alibaba.com. It is probably no accident that you can imagine Softbank selling both of them.

XL Axiata and Ooredoo’s Indonesian OpCo are looking at 4G network-sharing under a so-called MORAN (Multi-Operator Radio Access Network) arrangement.

The rather odd partnership between Telstra and the San Miguel brewery to launch a third operator in the Philippines has broken down. Meanwhile, Telstra has turned up its first SDN products, an enterprise VPN and a hosted security service.

MTN apparently offered to pay $1.5bn of the famous $5bn Nigerian fine.

Millicom denies planning to launch an MNO in Mexico. Marco Patuano denies he’s under pressure to sell TIM Brasil.

Softbank, not Sprint, in the market for 600MHz; Sprint “5G” small cells; AT&T signs 2m unlimited plans; regulating third-party data usage

This is strange. We mentioned that Softbank has moved Sprint into a separate “international” division. Despite this, Softbank is still planning to take part in the 600MHz auction, in its own right rather than as Sprint, and apparently a special-purpose company is being set up for this. The official line is that Sprint has plenty of spectrum, and indeed will have a huge spectrum advantage once it gets the 2.5GHz block going. So what gives?

CFO Tarek Robbiati says they’re building a 5G network, not a 4G one, repeats that they have all the spectrum but doesn’t explain why their parent company is buying more, and says they intend to densify the network much more by adding large numbers of small cells. This doesn’t sound much like the other week’s strategy of declaring CLEC status and building 120-foot high minimacros on government land, does it? Meanwhile, here comes another wave of prepaid price cuts.

AT&T is claiming that 2 million customers signed up for its revived unlimited data plan, although most of those are upsells rather than net-adds. The soft cap kicks in after 22GB/mo, about 10% more than Free’s expected usage of 20GB. Oh, and there’s a new corporate identity, but as the piece says, pretty much anything would pale in comparison with 1983’s enduring classic.

VZW, meanwhile, followed its usual policy of holding the line on prices, adding some more to the bundles but not cutting the headline price point or going unlimited.

T-Mobile USA’s CFO, Braxton Carter, claims VZW is “losing the LTE game” and that’s why they’re so keen to do 5G early.

Lawman Wheeler fined Verizon Wireless over its so-called “supercookie”, which linked its users’ web browsing to marketing information, this week. He then proposed rules for the re-use of mobile broadband data. You would be able to presume user consent regarding data you need just to provide the service, as long as you only use it for operational purposes. Using the data to market your own services would be allowed unless the user opted-out. Providing it to third parties would be subject to opt-in consent.

And Google Fi is out of invite-only mode. They’ve also discovered the delights of handset subsidy; for a month, you can get a Nexus 5X for half price if you also take Fi.

NYU Wireless releases 5G simulator; ARM doesn’t believe in VR hype; Exynos S7s > Qualcomm S7s; Xiaomi in trouble

The NYU Wireless project, increasingly influential on 5G and close to Nokia Networks, has released its 5G channel simulator software for millimetre-wave spectrum in open source. Getting the mmWave propagation models and channel simulations ready was a major to-do item from the Phoenix 3GPP RAN meeting last autumn, so this is a significant step forward. The NYU Wireless director, Ted Rappoport, says interestingly that the multipath properties are similar to those in 4G and the main difference will be a new directional antenna.

Apple has sent out invites for a product launch on the 21st of March

The CEO of ARM Holdings is sceptical about the size of the market for dedicated VR hardware.

Here’s Ars Technica’s in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy S7. They took the trouble to evaluate both the US (i.e. Qualcomm 820) and International (i.e. Exynos 8) versions, and found that the Samsung-designed version has a distinct lead on most of their benchmarks. That said, the weird pinkness in the camera white balance is still there, like it was on the S5 and S6.

Xiaomi may be having the same basic problem Google has with Android - nice OS, decent hardware, but where is all the money? Meanwhile, Indian OEM Micromax’s CEO quits.

We may be looking at another go-round of whether the Google Apps bundle is anti-competitive.

Wire, the VoIP and instant messaging startup from the Skype founders, has added end-to-end encrypted video. (Are they trying to create the original Skype, again?)

Why you shouldn’t be excited by that computer playing Go.

Bosch’s IoT cloud launches; Sierra Wireless on LTE-M; Android light switches

Bosch says it’s now “a full-service IoT provider for connectivity and the Internet of Things”. They have a cloud platform for managing your things, a portfolio of devices and reference designs, and presumably an MVNO relationship with some carrier (we guess DTAG). And, of course, they know an awful lot about the cars and other machines the things get built into, as well as having long-standing business relationships with most of the companies involved. This was always likely to be a significant threat.

On a similar theme, General Motors just bought a self-driving car startup.

Sierra Wireless, which manufactures the radio modules, has also set up its own MVNO. Having done that, it’s probably little surprise that it’s committed to LTE-M and thinks it will “keep telcos relevant”.

Linux developer Matthew Garrett stayed in a hotel with Android tablets for light switches. It was “as bad as you’d imagine”. Anyone with a computer and a hank of Ethernet cable can control the lights and curtains in any room. He also bought some awful light bulbs that can both crash, and forward packets from their own ad-hoc WiFi into the owner’s local network.

An exploit for every version of Windows ever. Fortunately, there is some software you can rely on - this hacker spent 11 days trying to crash the popular open-source database SQLite and couldn’t, even after 473 million separate interventions.

The UK’s smart metering programme is so dear it’s only a little more expensive to roll out energy storage.

And, 140 years ago this week, the first telephone call.

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March 11, 2016

Innovation Leaders: Iliad - A Disruptive Operator Tackles The Cloud

We’ve published a new research paper: Innovation Leaders: Iliad - A Disruptive Operator Tackles The Cloud

Free has won market share and customer plaudits alike with its disruptive and original strategy in the French telecoms market. Its parent company Iliad has now developed an ingenious strategy for cloud. Our latest report shows how, and highlights lessons for all operators with ambitions to be more than a ‘pipe’.

This report is part of the Telco 2.0 Cloud & Enterprise ICT Stream and you can read an except here.

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

STL_InnovationLeaders (00000002).jpg

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March 7, 2016

Smartphone Slowdown, 5GHz, Mirantis, Sprint, 3UK/O2 - Telco 2.0 News Review

A wet blanket for smartphone shipments; iPhone 5SE; Ericsson warns on m-money; Microsoft’s outstanding apps

IDC reckons the glory days of smartphone shipments rising 10+% annually are over. Western Europe, North America, and China are already under the mark, whereas South-East Asia, India, Africa, and Indonesia are going great guns. That of course means that the device mix is skewing cheaper, with ASP expected to drop from $295 last year to $237 in 2020.

GfK, meanwhile, offers a short-term take, saying that volumes were up 7% globally in 2015 but ASP fell enough that the size of the market by value was flat.

The breakdown is interesting - the dramatic recession in Brazil is clearly a key driver, as both volume and pricing have fallen off a cliff in Latin America. Around the world, the downward pressure on price is pretty clear. China, however, is seeing a move upmarket, as prices are rising faster than volumes, the only market where this is true.

Apple is cueing up its next product launch. Interestingly, IDC reckons its shipments will return to growth next year as its various trade-in and other incentives bite. The iPhone 5SE looks carefully targeted at (Chinese?) upgraders, as it packs most of the 6/6S feature set into a 4S/5 form factor and presumably price point.

Here’s a review of the Raspberry Pi 3. Here’s a review of gaming hardware specialist Razer’s effort at a productivity laptop: looks cool, fast as a thief, nice screen, terrible battery life.

Last week we heard that Ericsson has radically cut back its forecasts for IoT devices. This week, they brought out the wet blanket again. Everyone in the industry loves emerging-market mobile money, but it turns out a surprisingly large majority of its customers are accessing it via an agent rather than a phone. An optimist might take this to mean that there’s more scope for growth, a pessimist that the industry doesn’t really yet understand the money business that well.

Nick Hunn offers a checkpoint on NB-IoT, LTE-M as was, and points out that a lot of the operators think it will need a SIM, and hence a billing system. Satellite for the IoT; probably not good news for MNOs, as the product described is a VSAT-based gateway for a capillary network of sensors (or whatever).

ZDNet points out again that Microsoft’s suite of Android apps is strong and getting stronger, with rich features, outstanding design, quick update cycles, and good ideas. Having reviewed a complicated document on the run the other day, we can only agree.

Vodafone.it goes 1Gbps; Ericsson spills the 5GHz beans; ZTE banned from US; AT&T on 5G

The march to the gigabit goes on. Vodafone Italy announces its trials, 1.2Gbps downlink, using Huawei kit (as always at that opco) and “all available frequencies”. The big question there is whether they’ve got the backhaul - a major finding of our all-new 4G Global Rollout Analysis Executive Briefing is that Vodafone’s European opcos are still held back by their lack of fibre backhaul. No Vodafone property makes the cut into the top-performing operators in this chart:

4G-figure1.pngThe announcement has something to say about that too - they’re also trialling 10Gpbs XG-PON in their fixed operation. The question is how well the fibre distribution and mobile backhaul networks line up.

“All available frequencies” - that means what, precisely? The worst-kept secret at MWC was probably that it very much includes the unlicensed bands, whether via LTE-U, LTE-LAA, LWA, or MuLTEFire. Ericsson told FierceWireless as much, saying that you’ll need at least 60MHz of spectrum, something very few operators can say without helping themselves to the 5GHz band.

They also said they expect the first really serious 1Gbps LTE deployments to come from North American operators swapping out copper, which makes this story from January rather interesting even if it’s far from clear what they’re up to. Here’s a bit of detail about Verizon and Samsung’s 28GHz 5G testing.

Hutchison’s Austrian opco has signed up for ZTE’s “pre-5G”, saying they expect to boost speeds between 4-6x those achieved on LTE across 6,000 eNode-Bs. Ironically, ZTE has just been banned from the US for breaching sanctions on Iran.

In other vendor news, the GSA, aka the vendors’ club, has started a spectrum working group. The point seems to be to put pressure on the WRC to hurry up with 5G coordination - the working group consists of the Early 5G Gang, Nokia, Ericsson, Intel, and Qualcomm, plus Huawei.

Comcast’s 2Gbps service is FTTH, and it’s pretty dear. Not surprising, seeing as it’s basically a drop from the metro-network. That said, it’s permitted them to get a substantial tax cut in Oregon via a provision intended to attract Google Fiber.

Google Fiber, meanwhile, has signed up to be the anchor tenant on Huntsville’s munifibre network, the first deal of the kind it did.

One of Britain’s business lobbies wants a plan for 10Gbps everywhere. Benoit Felten is cautiously positive about OFCOM’s decisions on Openreach, and points out that everything now hinges on that database of ducts. Scaling and scoping a UK FTTH build - a huge variable will be whether, and how, the copper network shuts down.

Here’s a good interview with AT&T SVP of wireless network architecture, Tom Keathley, on 5G, and a nice presentation on 5G network architecture - two levels of cloud processing, linked by fibre rings, linked to you by wireless.

Mirantis 8 is out; OpenEPC for the edge; ARM in the cloud; HPE results

Speaking of AT&T, the OpenStack startup they support, Mirantis, just announced version 8 of its OpenStack distribution, codenamed Liberty. The point here is that Liberty is meant to be roughly equivalent to a stock Android ROM, without any customisations to fit this or that vendor’s hardware, SDN, or orchestration setup. Also, it’s meant to be rather like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, heavily tested and fireproofed.

The FOKUS group at the Fraunhofer Institute has long been doing good work by providing open-source reference versions of key telecoms systems. Now they have a spinoff company, Core Network Dynamics, that sells their OpenEPC software as a packaged testbed for NFV systems. Specifically, they’re keen on bundling the whole virtualised EPC onto edge devices.

Interesting product: a high density, ARM v8-based server optimised for NFV and edge computing applications.

Huawei is beginning to make its own ARM-based chips, and the first application is - unusually - a server. Here’s a walkthrough of running Docker on one.

Here’s a report back on ARM itself’s announcements at MWC. We didn’t get to the stand ourselves, but it’s certainly interesting that the iconic mobile chipmaker is mostly interested in 5G modems, security for the IoT, and “flexible, distributed cloud”.

The next iteration of OPNFV is out.

HP Enterprise has Q1 numbers and they’re not bad. Despite all the talk, though, it’s not machine learning, consulting, or other magic that did it - it’s servers and network switches, a handy reminder that the cloud is made of nothing else.

Salesforce was down in Western Europe.

If you ask Amazon Web Services nicely, they’ll send you all your data. In a truck. They’ve offered data ingestion via physical media for some time, but now they will do the opposite too.

An online gaming company takes control of its WAN. This is being sold as an SDN use-case, but it’s actually very much like just graduating to having an AS number and getting BGP peering set up.

Sprint brings back device subsidy, hocks the network; AT&T’s Stankey on DirecTV; data pricing; T-Mobile not for sale, again

Remember when device leasing was the new thing? Sprint has just brought back device subsidies on service contracts. If you want a new iPhone 6S for a lower downpayment, you can choose to take a bigger bundle on a 2-year contract. This may be a response to last week’s wave of scrutiny on its accounts. Meanwhile, the carrier is pushing ahead with a scheme to start a new operating subsidiary that would own the network and spectrum licences, and borrow on their security, and then advance the holding company the cash. Do we remember something not so good happening with a structure like that back when they were called special-purpose vehicles?

VZW reckons it has plenty of spectrum, won’t start doing unlimited data again, and will use 5G as an “add-on” to LTE, just like the Early 5G Gang’s roadmap from 3GPP RAN says. They have also given some detail of their content investments.

An interesting quote from AT&T’s John Stankey. “We didn’t buy DirecTV because we love satellite as a distribution medium”. Instead, the three new Internet-only TV options the carrier is pushing under that brand are aimed at “cord-cutters”, the “credit-challenged”, and “those who live transient lifestyles”. That said, he wants a “common middleware” between their TV platforms.

Back when we did the first Telco 2.0 Index project in 2012, AT&T had just closed its online advertising operation. Now it’s opening a new one, offering programmatic ads on the DirecTV and U-Verse platforms, competing with DISH’s similar ad exchange.

MVNO Boost Mobile announces new data plans. They’re mostly of interest for what they say about Sprint and US-wide data pricing, as Boost is offering a big discount for anyone who switches from the other three nationals. This gimme takes the form of a big bulk discount; on the smallest bundle, data costs $6/GB, on the biggest, $2.8/GB. For reference, T-Mobile SIM-only plans sell data at $5/GB whatever the volume, suggesting that Sprint is in line or a hair dearer.

A peering dispute has broken out between Google and Cogent. Nothing new, but this one involves IPv6 connectivity only, and it’s Google that pulled the plug.

And Deutsche Telekom looks at selling T-Mo, again, and thinks….maybe next year. Ironically, this puts the proposed sale back until after the 600MHz auction, so if you believe they’ll ever sell, you’ve got to imagine they’ll spend a boatload of money on spectrum and then walk away.

Crunch day for 3UK/O2; impact of Voda/Ziggy; Vivendi after TI CEO; Xavier Niel in Singapore; Telkom Indonesia FY

By the time you read this, Hutchison execs will have finished their crunch meeting with the Euro-regulators. Telefonica, BT, Vodafone, Sky, Virgin Media, and TalkTalk are invited too. It’s the Heads of the Six Families, come to decide who gets a piece of the business.

A survey suggests the combination of Vodafone NL and Ziggo is likely to win business customers over, but prices might go up. The record of mobile-cable mergers suggests that’s not far wrong.

Vivendi’s stake in Telecom Italia is up to 23.8%. Under Italian law, once they hit 25% they have to either bid or refuse to bid. However, they seem to be trying to stay under the radar and replace the CEO without actually bidding. The big idea is apparently to sell TIM Brasil and be “Southern Europe-focused”. All right then. Relatedly, the contentious sale of Telecom Argentina has been signed off by the regulator.

Orange would like you to know it’s investing €15bn in fibre and 4G. Again. This was announced before MWC and now it’s been announced again.

MyRepublic, the proposed 4th MNO in Singapore, is one of Xavier Niel’s projects, and it looks like he intends to run the Free Mobile script again. His manager on the ground says they’ll bring back unlimited data plans, and therefore get to 9% share within 5 years and profitability within 3 years. The key to this is using the same fibre network for fixed and mobile broadband. They reckon it will cost only $214m to build. Important detail: the spectrum reserved for new entrants includes 60MHz in the 900MHz and 2300MHz bands.

Thai new entrant Jas Mobile still hasn’t paid the licence fee.

Telkom Indonesia’s profits are up 7% year-on-year and they added 17,869 new cell sites, 1,761 of which are 4G, plus another million FTTH homes.

MTN has seen a sharp drop in its net profits, between the Nigerian fine and problems like hyperinflation in South Sudan.

T-Mo is 50% VoLTE; all-German cloud voice; new Alexa gadgets; beamforming with sound

T-Mobile USA’s CFO, Braxton Carter, is usually surprisingly informative about their network for a CFO. On this occasion, he says half the voice calls at T-Mo are now on VoLTE, whether over LTE or WiFi. Also, they’re in the process of refarming their GSM spectrum for LTE.

The owners, back at DTAG, have launched a cloud voice product with a guarantee that everything stays in Germany. Speaking of cloud voice, here’s a useful checklist of requirements for your LAN before you try to use it or, God help us, offer it.

Amazon has some more devices for its Alexa voice-UX product, including an additional speaker-mic (the Dot) and a mobile device (the Tap).

SoundHound is a new app that offers an independent alternative to Cortana, Siri, and OK Google.

Twilio has a tutorial on building video chat apps for iOS.

And this is exciting, another one from the “stuff we missed at MWC” file. Beamforming audio that follows you around the room so it doesn’t bother anyone else.

Facebook veep recommends Brazilian jails to anyone; Apple vs FBI; Amazon drops, brings back crypto; real pirates

The Facebook vice-president who spent 24 hours in a Brazilian jail last week says the jailers treated him with respect and it won’t change the company’s plans in Brazil. They were trying to force him to turn over WhatsApp messages. Being end-to-end encrypted, this was impossible. Also, a US court refused to make them give Kazakhstan information about political dissidents.

The San Bernadino County district attorney won’t give up so easily. In the Apple vs FBI case, he demanded access to the famous iPhone in case it contained a hypothetical “lying dormant cyber pathogen”, and is now arguing that Apple is the one violating the constitution (of California). A judge turned him down, and Apple’s SVP of software engineering is now trying a bit of hyperbole of his own, threatening the security of basically everything if he doesn’t get his way.

Here’s the world’s first Mac ransomware.

Amazon decided to delete full disk encryption from its Fire OS devices because “nobody used it”. Turns out, some people do care, and they made their point.

Real pirates hacked a shipping company’s web server to find out which ships were carrying valuable cargo.

A new and disturbing hardware attack on mobile phones.

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March 4, 2016

4G Roll Out Analysis: Winning Strategies and 5G Implications

We’ve published a new research paper: 4G Roll Out Analysis: Winning Strategies and 5G Implications

As LTE adoption passes 50% in North America and 9% worldwide, we review the operators who did best and worst and draw conclusions for the mass adoption phase of 4G. The analysis provides a valuable template for all players in the 4G race, and has important implications for plans for 5G.

This report is part of the Telco 2.0 Future of the Network Stream and you can read an except 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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Telco 2.0 Strategy Report Out Now: Telco Strategy in the Cloud

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