Ring! Ring! Telco 2.0 News Review

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Last week's top Telco 2.0 news stories

Vodafone is keen to find new ways of deriving revenue from its soaring data traffic. One way, according to Vodafone Europe CEO Michel Combes, might be to charge end-users or perhaps even content providers for guarantees of better QoS. This could go either way - two-sided triumph or IMS-headed fiasco. After all, it's not clear to what extent a mobile radio network really can guarantee quality of service over the air.

Before this even becomes relevant, though, Vodafone may face a worse problem; without cross-industry collaboration, content providers, clouds, etc may not be interested in negotiating with every mobile operator in Europe and integrating with their diverse technical solutions. Delegates at Telco 2.0's EMEA Brainstorm agreed that appropriate collaboration on APIs is now necessary to create the market.

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The CEO of Getjar, the world's second biggest AppStore after Apple, is to speak at the 8th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in Orlando from the 9th-10th December.
Wired News has a warning about the dangers of committing to app stores dominated by one huge vendor.

Hiring David Isenberg was a good idea; the FCC held what sounds like a fascinating meeting on how to deploy fibre in the US. It's well worth noting the CTO of Verizon's remarks. He reckons that every wireless carrier wants to pull fibre to their cell sites, and that the real limiting factor for capacity on mobile isn't spectrum, but the availability of fibre for backhaul. 40% of Verizon Wireless's towers are already fibred-up.

Telephony Online cites a report from Infonetics that claims that spending on backhaul grew 59% last year and will grow 60% this year. Point-to-point microwave Ethernet kit is apparently in especially heavy demand - it saves trenching, and at least it operates in fairly obscure tracts of the radio spectrum.

It sounded like a crazy idea when David Isenberg first suggested it, but according to Brough Turner, some US communities are building user-owned fibre to the home. You find between $1,700 and $3,000, and they lay your very own strand of glass. Interesting detail - the take-rate is by definition 100%. And in Australia, the first service provider has confirmed it will move its customers onto wholesale service from the National Broadband Network.

It's worth remembering that it's bread and butter issues like coverage and capacity that are making the headlines in the US telco market. AT&T and VZW are suing each other over the ad blitzes both carriers are conducting. Both parties are bombarding the public with ads claiming to have more coverage - of course, that depends what you mean by "more" and "coverage", and so the lawyers have been rolled out. In the latest shots, AT&T tried to force VZW to stop showing a particular spot, failed, and announced another wave of ads.

Fortunately, US advertising rates are as low as they've ever been, with huge ad buyers like the car industry and the real-estate sector on the ropes, so the temptation for any marketing department with cash on hand is to hose 'em down. P for Plenty, as they say.

Verizon is hoping that the Motorola Droid gadget will be a strategic match for the iPhone. Among other things, their ads have been boasting about the camera on the Droid. So it may be a little embarrassing to have to rush out a firmware update to make it work better. Palm is also patching this week.

Palm's entire future is staked on the idea that all the applications on your device run in a Web browser; now Sony Ericsson is going the same way with a new SDK. Apparently it's based on BONDI and implements the open-source PhoneGap framework. Meanwhile, Nokia developers try to work out what on earth various Symbian capabilities are for. Perhaps it'll come as a relief to find that they have a spanking new user-interface toolkit for Nokia Web Runtime widgets. (You can preview the UI here.)

Perhaps it may also come as a relief to hear that Nokia may decide to use Maemo Linux on the top-line Nseries phone instead of Symbian S60.

Google, meanwhile, announced its Chrome OS - basically the Chrome browser running on a canned linux system. Apparently they're hoping to make it a standard for netbooks.

The UK government is suddenly vexed by big-file upload sites, and nobody quite knows why. On the other hand, TalkTalk is protesting vehemently against the planned "three strikes" legislation and promises to refuse to disconnect anyone until forced to do so in court. Charles Dunstone is angry:

"We don't support copyright infringement in any way but we live in the real world and understand that no amount of policing and censorship will solve the problem," said Charles Dunstone, CEO of TalkTalk Group. "It doesn't matter how many websites are blocked, how many services are shut down or how many individuals are pursued, people will always find ways to access copyrighted content for free.

When we asked Telco 2.0 delegates about their expectations of the legislation, 80% of them agreed with Dunstone.

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On the other hand, there's a catastrophic breach of user privacy. T-Mobile UK employees were caught this week selling the details of subscribers whose contracts were coming up for renewal, so the competition could cold-call them. It's as yet unclear how many people were spammed as a result, but the Information Commissioner thinks jail time might help. (Perhaps that's why they want to jam mobile phones in prisons?)

In a related issue, security guru Bruce Schneier has a taxonomy of user data in social networks. He also reports on an unintended consequence of data-retention legislation - the standard 64Kbits circuit used to carry the surveillance data is a potential denial-of-service attack target.

In the daddy of all telecoms privacy cases, the so-called "Spitzelaffäre" in which Deutsche Telekom management used subscriber data and information from many other corporate databases to spy on journalists, members of the supervisory board, and trade unionists, former Deutsche Telekom boss Kai-Uwe Ricke's lawyers say he's going to spill the beans when he testifies to the state prosecutor for Bonn later this week.

A downside of the hysteria about P2P filesharing is that it acts as a chilling effect on fantastic new ideas. Consider Skifta, an application growing out of Qualcomm R&D that distributes your media content around your devices whereever they may be, using the DLNA set of standards. Unfortunately, they're subject to music licensing hell; like the streaming service MySpace just bought, which apparently can't keep up with its licensing payments.

The chaos of Pirate World spins on. Here's an attempt at a new business model; a manufacturer of set-top boxes wants to include YouTube videos as a channel on the device. Google says no. The key? The manufacturer is being asked to fork over a minimum multi-million purchase of advertising from Google.

News Corp wants to make Microsoft pay it to let them index its newspaper sites for their search engine, in order to worry Google. You can't help feeling that Murdoch has overestimated the percentage of Web traffic that his newspapers actually account for; especially as Google already has an exclusive search deal for MySpace sites.

In Oman, meanwhile, VoIP is a crime, and there's a roundtable with Martin Geddes here on the future of voice and the cloud. Motorola, by the way, is investing in iDEN tech.

And, hilariously, The Pirate Bay is suing a Swedish electronics retailer over their intellectual property rights.