Ring! Ring! Telco 2.0 News Review

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Top Stories, 14th December 2009


Rich Karpinski Editor of Connected Planet (previously known as Telephony Online) has been blogging from the first-ever Telco 2.0 America Executive Brainstorm: if you weren't there, there's a taste of the event here and here.

Meanwhile, pictures and details of what is supposed to be a Google Phone leak. If true, Google is making its own stab at an Android device and will be marketing it direct to consumers, which means that it will at least look expensive compared to the competition with their handset subsidies. However, you can be fairly certain that this device will come with Google Voice. Google was also working hard to snag more phone numbers this week: after Google Voice users got the ability to use the service with their existing phone numbers, they're now being given the chance to "upgrade" and get a Google-assigned number instead.

At the 8th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm, held this week in Orlando, Sprint's VP Corporate Strategy, Russ McGuire, said that "we must break the Big Bell dogma" against partnering with external innovators. He argued that nobody really wanted carriers to try to innovate at Silicon Valley speed, and therefore we needed an open development model, like Sprint's Business Mobility Framework, that would make key telco assets available to third-party innovators if we wanted new applications and services.

What about the core services? Sprint CEO Dan Hesse suggested that in the future, not only would users pay for gigabytes of data, they would do so instead of paying for minutes; at the same time, Sprint recreated the job of President of 4G, and assigned Matt Carter to it. He's better known for starting the $50/month for unlimited everything MVNO, Boost Mobile.

That suggests that Sprint's strategy, with both the 1xEVDO and the WiMAX networks, will be the exact opposite of AT&T's - Ralph de la Vega recently broached the subject of usage-based pricing, in the light of the surge in data traffic driven by iPhones. Interestingly, user research suggests that users think e-mail is the biggest user of bandwidth, when in fact it's video (of course).

With the war of words between VZW and AT&T raging on, a network test vendor decided to do some experiments and find out whose coverage was best. Connected Planet has the results.

Microsoft has decided that its cloud-server business, Azure, would probably be best off in the server and cloud division.

Embedded Linux specialists Wind River are doing Android. Inevitably, the restrictions on the Motorola Droid have been defeated by hackers in order to get access to the device as the root user. Good for them, but it's probably the right moment, given the great iWorm hooha, to remind everyone that if you're going to expose the root console on a Linux-based device of any kind, you'd better change the default password to something random...Vodafone, meanwhile, has dropped the HTC HD2 Windows phone, presumably to give the H1 and the iPhone a clear run.

Orange has an app store, and there will be operator billing available. And the iPhone now has speech to text.

However, as Rich Karpinski points out, what difference does it make? All the smartphones are converging on a very similar design, the size and shape of a trouser pocket (as Richard Kramer pointed out at Telco 2.0) with the face taken up entirely with a big touchscreen, probably with a Unix-like operating system, and with an applications layer made up mostly of Web-based widgetry.

Telefonica has announced that its Amobee mobile ad platform will be available across 18 countries; this comes after O2 UK presented on their successful third-party ads program at Telco 2.0 EMEA.

On the downside, OFCOM reports that the UK telecoms industry has stagnated since mid-2008, and the good point is well made that BT's 21CN plans appear to have disappeared. For comparison, Australia's National Broadband Network, which started digging in July, is estimated to be worth a saving of 5% of Australia's CO2 emissions.

BT, in slightly more optimistic news, is in talks about building a huge CDN infrastructure in the UK; the Government wants to tax unused phone lines in order to fund their FTTC rollout. The Radio Society of Great Britain, meanwhile, is vexed about powerline Ethernet and specifically that some devices haven't been adequately tested - if it doesn't work properly, your whole ring main will become a giant antenna broadcasting all your traffic...

Brough Turner wants to stop the mobile operators getting all the whitespace spectrum; and Kigali gets its WiMAX.

In the content field, another Spotify - a rightsholder-backed streaming service - is rising in the US. Even if the negotiations over content licensing with EMI dragged a little...actually a lot, it's going to be interesting how this works out. And the Boxee media centre/TV launched successfully this week.

There's a row going on about privacy at Facebook after a major change to the terms of service was partly reversed. In that line of business, here's Bruce Schneier's presentation on The Future of Privacy at the Open Rights Group in London.

Internet cockup of the week: it turns out that two organisations have been assigned the same AS number.

And finally, if you read the Guardian, there's an app for that.