Ring! Ring! Hot News, 29th June, 2009

Posted on

In Today's Issue: Vodafone after T-Mobile UK? Femtocells ready to launch; voiceprint ID at Vodafone Turkey; moving to the Smoke; HOWTO install unauthorised software to a Palm Pre; Intel-Nokia strategic alliance; Moto Karma launches on AT&T; AT&T femtocells coming; subscription navigation application; TV to go; Comcast, TimeWarner break with Hulu; Virgin Media to bother filesharers; ARCEP says yes to urban overbuild, divides France into three parts; NSN gets optical kit from Juniper, i.e. Ericsson; the long death of Nortel; new Ericsson CEO talks to the FT; Indians alarmed by exploding Chinese gadgets; GVoice hype and cold water; AdSense for mobile launches; native SDK out for Android; BREW's future; iPhone 3GS costimates; EBay "bought Skype but not the code"; Genachowski's in at the FCC; Entanet shoots back in the UK wholesale wars

Consolidation watch: the Financial Times claims there is an offer on the table for T-Mobile UK, from Vodafone. How will OFCOM respond to that? A combined company would have no less than 40% of total spending on mobile service in the UK, and this would trigger yet more repercussions for the spectrum situation. Perhaps part of the regulatory solution would be to trade off a tranche of 900MHz to 3UK, in exchange for T-Mobile's 1800MHz holdings?

Meanwhile, Vodafone UK is about to launch a femtocell product. It's going to be called "Access Gateway" - thrilling - and it looks like Vodafone is marketing it on the basis of better in-building coverage rather than any new features it might have. There is some discussion here of what you can and can't do with them; notably, it will be interesting to see how easy it is to circumvent the IP-address geolocation and take it abroad with you.

If you read the whole thing, down-ticket, there is an interesting development at Vodafone in Turkey; they're working on a voiceprint-based authentication/identification service, presumably in order to compete with Turkcell's Mobile Signature. It's not obvious that voiceprints are particularly solid verification, but it's certainly an original and innovative idea.

And there's a major moment in the history of the world's biggest carrier by revenues; they're moving HQ from Newbury into the capital, apparently to be "nearer shareholders and business partners". Which is ironic; the original reason for locating what was then a skunkworks inside Racal Electronics another half an hour down the railway in Newbury, rather than at Racal HQ in Reading, was precisely to keep the nascent operator well away from the owners so they didn't ask too many questions.

If you're bored waiting for a femtocell to show up so you can take it to Australia and convince it that it's still in Surrey, you could try...installing unauthorised applications on a Palm Pre. The exploit is simple; send yourself a link to the application as an e-mail message.

In other technology news, Intel and Nokia have agreed to cooperate on a range of things, including embedded 3G chips, mobile Linux, and devices in the ever-shrinking gap between smartphones and netbooks. This is probably very bad news for WiMAX. However, it's something of a relief to see that they aren't breaching tradition by reducing the number of Linux variants in the world; Maemo and Moblin will continue to exist separately.

Motorola, meanwhile, has a new, social networking-targeted gadget out with AT&T, which also announced a coming femtocell deployment this week. Note that unlike Vodafone, AT&T was making noises about integrating other features onto the STB. And they have just launched a subscription-based navigation app and a mobile client for their U-verse IPTV service.

Comcast and Time Warner don't seem convinced about Hulu - they're launching their own subscription-based Internet TV service, which will be available on mobile (at least in the end). Does this mean that Hulu is going to be left short of content?

In other cable news, Virgin Media wants to start disrupting service to people it thinks are illegal file-sharers; they deny that this involves spying on their customers' traffic, and square the circle by saying that the information comes from Universal Music. But where do they get it from? Bound to be highly controversial, whatever the answer is.

ARCEP has decided that France should be divided into three parts; dense urban areas, where fibre overbuild at the level of individual buildings will be permitted, less dense ones, where multiple operators will share fibre right to the wall socket, and rural ones, where the whole fibre loop will be FTel wholesale.

Regarding fibre, Nokia Siemens Networks recently announced it was partnering with Juniper (an Ericsson division, you'll remember) for its IP optical networking products. So we presume that means they don't want the Nortel metro-Ethernet division when it comes up on the block. Telephony Online looks back at the long slow death of Nortel.

There's an interview with Ericsson's new CEO here, after Carl-Eric Svanberg left to run BP this week. The major challenges are Huawei and the continuing mid-market squeeze on Sony Ericsson; however, the Indian industry is concerned about the quality of so-called "whitebox" imports from China.

Hype has been building up fast about Google Voice, Grandcentral as was; TelecomTV provides a valuable corrective, pointing out that it has no clear role or route to market in the enterprise. We'd also point out that when you can do essentially anything in enterprise voice with Asterisk, just being free may not be enough, and certainly doesn't constitute a business model.

More interestingly, Google has launched the private beta of AdSense for mobile applications. Everyone knows AdSense; Google's real core business, the huge targeted-ad serving system. AdSense for mobile apps is what it says on the tin - a version of it that fires targeted ads inside your mobile application, and kicks back some revenue share if a user clicks through. This is an important step in the mobile apps economy. Google also released the native C SDK for Android 1.5. Meanwhile, there's a good post on the future of BREW here.

The iPhone 3GS costs $172.46 in parts and $6.50 in labour to make, iSuppli's analysts conclude after pulling one apart and playing with the bits. It's not that long ago that the same firm costed out the first iPhone at over $300 a go...

Trouble between EBay and the Skype founders. Rather than sell Skype back to Zennstrom and Friis for a chunk of the money EBay paid them in the first place, EBay wants to find a trade buyer or perhaps IPO the p2p icon. But it turns out that the dynamic duo didn't sell the intellectual property rights to Skype along with the company; in fact, EBay paid $2.6bn for Skype the company without getting Skype the application. So now, everyone's off to the courthouse; the founders claim EBay has breached the terms of the software license, and threaten to turn off the system.

Julius Genachowski has been confirmed by the US Senate as Chairman of the FCC.

And the British ISPs shoot back at BT's proposed extra charges for content providers.