Ring! Ring! Hot News, 6th October 2008

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In Today's Issue: Sprint selling Nextel; personalisation is dead; new enterprise voice at Sprint; harassing your customers; Apple iPhone NDA dropped; new Nokia, HP iClones; bloggers drool over Gphone; no new Nokias before Noel; S60 5th Edition; Web apps vs mobile apps - synthesis achieved; Nokia music; T-Mobile phone-router; weird concept phones; BT outsourcing whole of Openreach?; C&W/Thus spaceship gaffe; T-Mobile in 17 megacustomer datafart; MTN buys small country in West Africa; transit costs the same in London and Bucharest; Georgia seeks revenge in the courts

Having finally launched its WiMAX service, Sprint is moving closer to a sale of the Nextel iDEN network it bought for $35bn and has since written down to zero. Because of the vast accounting writeoff, the sale is certain to make Sprint's books look a sight better, at least for those with short memories. It also opens an interesting opportunity for someone interested in better voice and messaging, what with its specialisation in push-to-talk and emergency service comms; however, it's more likely that private equity buyers will squeeze it for cash.

Want an example of what you could do with a Nextel? Try this post at Telephony Online, on why personalisation is yesterday's news and why your users should be able to take their phone service apart and put it back together. Sprint does get this, up to a point; they just started a new enterprise fixed voice unit.

Alternatively, you could always just send threatening messages to randomly selected subscribers and hope they are cowed into paying up early. Telecoms - where the customer is always wrong.

Apple is usually better at this, and this week they decided to get rid of the much-reviled NDA imposed on iPhone developers. We predict the sky will not fall in as a result; but pressure on the iPhone mounts, as Nokia's much-awaited touchscreen gadget arrives, HP sets about launching a rival,and the blogosphere lights up with excitement over the G1 Android gadgets.

Interestingly, the new Nokia will launch in Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Spain first; is this Nokia missing the Christmas rush or is it a deliberate tactic to dodge what looks like a dire sales season? There's an overview of changes to the Symbian look-and-feel in S60 5th Edition here.

Robin Jewsbury revisits the Web apps vs. mobile apps controversy, and concludes that far from one of them superseding the other, the distinction itself is becoming increasingly irrelevant, as browser scripting gets access to more low-level functionality and persistence, and native programs increasingly use a browser-like user interface. In other Nokia news, they launched some music service or other.

T-Mobile subscribers are encouraged to share their HSDPA with others using a new gadget, a small WLAN router which your phone plugs into. It's a cool idea, but the form factor looks like a BT DECT phone; not terribly mobile, in other words, compared to some third party products like this one.

Via Masood Mortazavi's blog, here is a new concept phone from KDDI; the "Ply" is made up of autonomous modules which each provide a different function - core voice & messaging, full screen browser, keyboard, games controller, printer (really?). It sounds a cool idea, until you realise that you're bound to lose a crucial element on the bus, or down the back of the sofa...

BT is progressively turning itself into something similar; independent layers of telconess, loosely coupled together. It is reported they may be considering a monster outsourcing deal to maintain the Openreach network. Curiously enough, the Global Services layer of BT is itself a major IT and telecoms outsourcer, and one of its major customers is Alcatel-Lucent; which is also in the frame for any Openreach outsourcing...

Another big enterprise comms operator, C&W is celebrating its merger with Thus in a slightly unfortunate manner.

BT is going to have another attempt to trial Phorm, hopefully without the PR disaster this time. Rather, this week's privacy horror show was at Deutsche Telekom; T-Mobile has lost addresses and telephone numbers of 17 million Germans including the former Federal President, and it wasn't even connected with the ongoing spy scandal there.

MTN is a fixed operator in the Ivory Coast, having just bought its biggest fixed-line operator and ISP. That also gives them control of yet another WiMAX network.

According to Telegeography, Gigabit Ethernet transit now costs no more in Bucharest than it does in London. A flat world, after all?

Finally, sometimes you can't win, even if you have the support of the Russian army. MegaFon has lost an appeal against a fine imposed by a Georgian regulator. The Georgians claim MegaFon took advantage of the war with Russia to move cell sites into the Russian-occupied zone, thus using Georgia's radio spectrum illegally. It's a far cry from this post; apparently having bigger tanks doesn't necessarily give you control of the airwaves, but you wouldn't bet on the Georgians collecting.