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Valley Special: Telco 2.0 News Review

WWDC: Intel modems in iPhone, ads in the App store; Google Fiber Wireless? MS LinkedIn; RIP Tom Perkins

It’s Apple WWDC week. First up, there’s a huge story in the semiconductor business - some variants of the next lot of iPhones will be getting their LTE modems from Intel, not Qualcomm. After years and years of trying, Intel finally has a major mobile deal and it’s the biggest it could possibly be. Also, it’s another punch in the guts for Qualcomm, especially as modems and other RF components are meant to be one of its biggest growth segments over the next five years, on a par with its push on the data centre.

Told you this year would be a chip war; here’s the Huawei P9, the first of their devices with their own in-house SoC.

Meanwhile, there are also far-reaching changes to the App Store afoot. SVP of global marketing, Phil Schiller, announced that all apps, not just news and media, will now be able to use subscription business models, that the app review process is being speeded up, plus some detail improvements to the discovery process such as bringing back a categories tab. Interestingly, the subscription offering skews the revenue share so as to reward developers for retaining long-term users - if you keep someone signed up for 3 years, your share goes from 70% to 85%. The point may be to help retain people in the Apple ecosystem.

Developers will soon be able to buy ads for their apps inside the App Store, too. There will be one ad per page, marked as such, the copy must be identical to the non-paid App Store listing, and only App Store content will be accepted. Ads will be auctioned, Google-style, with no minimum. No user data will be released to anybody.  There’s more discussion and links here and here.

Will Apple start dropping support for the 32-bit iPhone 4S and iPad 2 from their next iOS iteration? It could make the iPad Pro much more attractive. On the other hand, Android expert Jake Hamby points out that making Apple software run on the old machines is a discipline that keeps their code clean and fast, while bloat is a real problem for Android.

Speaking of Android, Google has just announced a new feature in Google Play that recommends apps that are relevant to your location. An interesting idea, especially with the new support for installing app components at run-time. Interestingly, it looks like you might be able to promote your app locally using a Bluetooth Low Energy beacon, as it needs both location services and Bluetooth permissions to work.

Lenovo, as promised a few months ago, has launched its $500 Project Tango smartphone. Project Fi, Google’s MVNO-plus, has gained a third network partner, US Cellular

Eric Schmidt has summoned the Alphabet board to discuss whether Google Fiber should still be fibre, or whether in the light of 5G radio technology, they should pivot to a fixed-wireless solution like the ones VZW and AT&T are trialling.

And it turns out Larry Page’s latest side project is a pair of startups working on a flying car, in such secrecy that employees weren’t allowed to know the identity of the “GUS”, or “Guy Upstairs” until quite recently. This sounds like something that escaped from a satire on Silicon Valley, especially as Page’s motivation is apparently to compete with Elon Musk’s rockets and get Peter Thiel to shut up about flying cars. And, it turns out, it probably is.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has acquired LinkedIn for some $26bn in cash, or $250 a user. That’s pretty sharp for a company that’s losing money. Satya Nadella defends it as bringing together AI, mobile, and the cloud, but it’s by far Microsoft’s biggest ever acquisition and it’s an incredible exit for the LinkedIn founders.

On a similar theme, Twitter is now on its fourth head of product in less than two years as Jeff Seibert has gone back to running the developer program. Ed Ho, senior director of engineering, takes over. Japanese messaging platform Line, famous for a business model based on selling virtual stickers, is cueing up an IPO this summer that it hopes will value the company at $5bn plus. Alternatively, it might be the World Online of the second great tech bubble. Yahoo! will tell AT&T, Verizon, and Warren Buffett’s consortium today that they’re into the second round of bidding for the company.

And Thomas J. Perkins, founder of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that defined Silicon Valley VC firms for good or ill, has died at the age of 84. A full obituary is here.

The latest effort by Oracle to appeal the judgment in Google vs. Oracle has been thrown out, but they’re still going to take it to a higher court. Four Cisco SVPs, essentially the board of a starup they acquired in 2013, are quitting.

It’s not surprising, given poor PC sales, that Dell’s Q2 was nothing special. It is impressive, though, that precisely the consumer PC division (Client Solutions) managed to squeeze out a 76% jump in operating profits although revenue was down 3%.

Does anyone actually want a bendy screen? Qualcomm has a reference platform for connected cars. Mycroft is an open-source voice-based assistant based on Ubuntu Core.

And here’s a problem. The Alliance for Open Media is trying to develop an open-source video codec free of any third-party IPR claims, and it’s making progress. But neither Apple, nor Samsung, nor Qualcomm is on board even though ARM is.

Salesforce developers; “massive-scale” cloud numbers; MEC is an HPE product now; Brexit for data centres

Salesforce is trying a push to recruit even more developers (it already has 2.8m registered devs, 5.5m apps, and 3,000 SKUs in their app stores). The point is to ward off the threat from the Apple partnerships with SAP and IBM. The means include a range of new tools and a $50m VC fund. One of those tools is Runway Systems, a browser-based app to help you model, visualise, and test distributed systems. It looks very cool.

A new forecast suggests that the “massive-scale cloud”, i.e. companies like Amazon Web Services, MS Azure etc, ran about $11bn in revenue in 2015 and will reach $120bn by 2020, growing significantly faster than the wider cloud industry. Another estimate puts public cloud revenue at $20bn/qtr as of Q3 2015, against $29bn/qtr for data centre infrastructure overall, and says Microsoft has 40% of the “cloud infrastructure software” market, although this might not be so meaningful as so much of this is unpriced open-source software.

HPE has just announced its first dedicated mobile edge computing products, the Edgeline EL1000 and 4000, servers optimised for IoT analytics applications.

Diffraction Analysis notes increasing interest in “edge” or “regional” data centres, and the associated need for denser dark fibre networks.

Probably don’t build a data centre in the UK if your business involves processing EU citizens’ personal data or finances. The phones at Interxion, KPN, and Hibernia Atlantic are probably red hot at the moment. Apple is building one in Galway.

DTAG’s wholesale division has signed up Nexmo to provide wholesale application-to-person messaging.

AT&T is working on its metro-Ethernet interconnect portfolio as a cheaper way to port the 3,500 TDM interconnects it has around the US.

Reliance-Aircel; 3-Wind, now with added Xavier Niel; Drahi says no French M&A; Yoigo final sprint

Reliance Comms and Aircel may be closing to finalising a merger, with the agreement expected to be ready in July. RCOM would spin off its wireless assets as a new company, which Aircel would buy, leaving the two partners hokding 50 per cent each. Before that can happen, though, RCOM has to close the deal with Sistema, which is meant to contribute its own Indian mobile network and use RCOM’s money to buy back into the joint venture.

The Euregulators have taken another 15 days to think the 3 Italia/Wind deal over, and you probably wouldn’t give much for its chances these days. In an effort to save it, CK Hutchison has been touting the possibility of selling off enough spectrum to start a new mobile network in Italy; bidders include Fastweb, Denis O’Brien’s Digicel, and intriguingly, Xavier Niel. But who spends €20bn on a mobile network and immediately invites Xavier Niel to rip its business model to shreds?

Altice CEO Patrick Drahi says he wouldn’t promise the French market will be like it is now 10 years hence, but he’s certainly not expecting any consolidation soon.

The bidding process for Yoigo is getting tense. Zegona, the team of ex-Virgin Media execs, has apparently told the seller, Telia, that it wants a deal or nothing within days, fearing they’re just being kept around to drive up the price Masmobil’s offering. Masmobil is willing to go up to €700m, but it’s not clear how they’d fund that. Zegona has stuck at €550m, but Goldman Sachs is good for the money.

And Telstra is apparently interested in the potential privatisation of Vietnamese operator Mobifone.

RJio a bit closer to launch; Pakistani 4G eruption; AT&T 5G details; vendor team bids for FirstNet; MTN settles Nigerian fine

Reliance Jio inches closer to an actual launch of its 4G network. There’s a website now, and small numbers of own-brand phones with their SIMs have gone on sale. It’s still a large-scale trial, though, rather than a commercial launch. Meanwhile, the 3G and 4G subscriber base in Pakistan has doubled in nine months.

Sprint is apparently struggling to get planning permission for more shared-pole installs. (See here for why that might be problematic.) Some people are keeping the faith that the 2.5GHz will come good, and apparently the latest new idea is trying to get the FCC to let them turn up the maximum Tx power levels.

Here’s some useful context about small cells from the CEO of Zayo, who provides fibre for a lot of the little chaps.

T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier 11” announcement turns out to be basically 100% fluff.

If you want to know about the substance behind T-mobile’s success, though, you might try our new US Wireless Market research note.

The 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog links to a useful AT&T presentation on their 5G plans. The test campaign in Austin will indeed include mobile as well as fixed wireless, but they are sticking by a 2019 target for Phase 2 standards, although they offer some leeway for deployments ahead of a standard.

Nokia, Intel, Ericsson, and Fujitsu are making a joint bid for the US’s FirstNet single emergency services network. Interestingly, it will need a major wireless carrier to act as interconnect partner.

An FCC consultation is out on the emerging issue of whether the auto industry should let WiFi into the 5.9GHz band, and whether the WiFi users next door in 5.8GHz should have to take special precautions to protect the autos.

Both T-Mobile and AT&T have marketing initiatives themed around thanks, but only AT&T is being sued by Citigroup, which claims to have a trademark on the phrase “Thank you”. As long as the banks are around, telecoms won’t be the most hated industry.

Not surprisingly, the 3UK CEO thinks OFCOM should restrict how much spectrum BT owns. BT’s EE division, meanwhile, has announced a new small business tariff providing unlimited voice and texts and 15GB of roaming data a month throughout the US and the EU. No surprise, then, that the company plans to publicly warn against the risks of Brexit.

Vodafone UK is offering to replace lost or stolen phones within 4 hours of an insurance claim. TalkTalk’s fixed-mobile convergence app stopped working after the big hack, and has never worked again although it’s mentioned in their customer retention call-centre script. Tesco Mobile is the latest operator to try the “watch these ads and we’ll give you a discount” trick.

Vimpelcom is paying Ericsson $1bn to re-do its IT systems. Vodafone is deploying 50 more LTE-A networks in Germany, and selling half its New Zealand OpCo to Sky. Here’s an interesting interview with Telefonica R&D’s Ignacio Berberana on 5G. KPN says it’s not ruling out NB-IoT…but it is deploying LoRa nationally.

And MTN has come to an agreement with Nigeria over the famous $5bn fine. They’re going to pay $1.67bn in full and final settlement, less the amount they paid up in advance.

$70/mo Comcast 1Gbps; AT&T responds; 10Gbps cable; Vodafone/KDG upgrades

Comcast kicked off the second wave of DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit cable rollouts, with an “advanced user trial” in Nashville. This means, in practice, that you can get the service for three years at $70/mo, which sounds like a steal. Chicago, Detroit, and Miami are targeted later this year. Meanwhile, AT&T announced that its gigabit FTTH is coming to parts of El Paso and San Diego.

Here’s a deep read on Verizon’s $300m FiOS build in Boston, especially on how they’re planning to use the investment for wireless backhaul, enterprise services, and public sector applications as well as residential FTTH.

Huawei claims it has the first cable access platform that supports 10Gbps both in cable and in FTTH. Starman, the biggest cable operator in the Baltic states, is deploying 10Gbps GE-PON FTTH using Nokia technology. Altice claims it’s tested 3Gbps per subscriber over DOCSIS 3.1 with the Cisco CBR router.

Vodafone just upgraded its German cable network to 400Mbps.

And Virgin Media has announced the next two Project Lightning FTTH rollouts.

Day of the Hyperleaks; Symantec buys Blue Coat; NSA and the IoT; simple ways to steal iPhones

MySpace, LinkedIn, and Tumblr have all been hacked within the last few weeks, exposing 600 million user acounts including Mark Zuckerberg, whose password was apparently “dadada” and whose LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts were taken over. The weirdest thing, though, is that we now get fake data leaks as well as real ones.

Although Twitter itself wasn’t hacked, numerous users’ PCs were, and as a result you can get huge Twitter data leaks too.

You might think it would be a good time to sell a security company, and you’d be right - Symantec just bought Blue Coat for $4.65bn.

Will the Internet of Things be an intelligence goldmine or a security nightmare? The NSA answers: yes. Because, after all, they’re the same thing depending on your point of view.

Impressively creepy startup lets landlords mine their tenants’ data.

Anything you say may be taken down and used against you, in a targeted advert. Like so?

The “snoopers’ charter” is finally law. Spoofing navigation apps to get rid of the traffic.

A simple security exploit: dress like an Apple Store employee, walk off with $16,000 worth of gadgets.

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