Telco 2.0 News Review

Posted on

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed - don't forget, just four weeks until the 9th Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London, 28th-29th April 2010, book here or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003.]

Is Vodafone going to merge with Verizon? The FT thinks it's possible, and also expects that Vittorio Colao will soon be able to force Verizon to resume paying dividends from Verizon Wireless after the mobile operation pays off its debts at the end of this year.

Alternative 'mobile data offload' business models are one of the things we look at in depth in our new Future Broadband Business Models Strategy Report, and here's a WiFi offload example. Kineto Wireless has launched a range of apps for Androids, Blackberry, iPhone etc that implement a GAN client using their WiFi radios. If your operator lets you, you can install the client and tunnel all your telecommunication via whatever WiFi happens to be around; this is especially interesting as it enables a new and interesting paradigm for cheap roaming. An operator could ship this client by default, sign up some major WiFi aggregators, and offer really cheap roaming calls and data service.

That would even fix this: Telecom Egypt saw its revenues fall 13% and promptly reacted by having the government ban mobile VoIP. For some reason, fixed is still allowed (we can't imagine that there are quite that many Egyptians running mobile VoIP clients, surely?) - which is odd as at least half the motivation is also to discourage people from using encryption.

Vodafone UK's Sure Signal femtocell product was reported to be having "issues".

Computer Weekly reports that the UK Government's national cybersecurity centre, CESG, may be preventing a National Broadband Plan-like rollout. A key element in the US National Broadband Plan is pushing really broad broadband connectivity to "anchor institutions" like schools, town halls, libraries, medical centres and such - these are meant to get their own gigabit-class publicly-owned links, which will also be subject to open access requirements.

Obviously, fibre-to-the-school solves quite a lot of the problem of getting fibre-to-the-home - this is going to bring high capacity open-access backhaul to a lot of places where it wasn't before. It's also quite similar to the French regions' investment in open access middle-mile infrastructure that got their broadband roll-out going. But apparently, CESG isn't keen on public-sector networks being shared with anyone else. Whether this is appropriate for schools and town halls, as opposed to nuclear secrets, is a good question.

Computer Weekly also notes the continuing wave of copper thefts; recently, thieves in Leeds hitched a vehicle to the end of a Virgin Media cable run and dragged hundreds of metres of cable out of the ground. Virgin Media's infrastructure is, of course, either aluminium co-ax in the access loop or fibre in the backhaul, and therefore of virtually no scrap value. Thieves never seem to appreciate the distinction; hence the prevalence of open cabinets.

David S. Isenberg, meanwhile, has a series of posts on how Verizon struggled to fix his FiOS fibre-optic link:

If Verizon service had a five-nines guarantee, which it doesn't, they'd owe me 1369.9 YEARS of flawless service to make up for the outage. That's right, my FIOS would need to run until 3380 A.D. without another problem.

We especially like the bit where the technician pointed a laser into one end of the fibre, and then looked down it from the far end...more seriously, can you spot the CEBP teachable moment?

Brian the Verizon technician came at 5:00 PM today. At about 5:15, John the Verizon service rep called to tell me a technician had been dispatched. It's a mystery why John couldn't pick up a (hypothetical) GPS on Brian's truck, mash up the GPS data with a mapping program and determine without asking me that the truck was in my driveway. But no. I had to tell John the service rep that Brian the technician was already here. He was asking **me** to keep **him** informed.

More here.

It's been a week for infrastructure news; DTAG has announced that it wants to fibre-up 10% of German homes, 4 million lines, by 2012. Relatedly, the Federal Networks Agency has ruled on the pricing of access to DTAG infrastructure. VDSL wholesale line rental is set at 12 European cents a metre a month, while a slot in a street cabinet will cost €113.94; both of these are significantly less than the carrier's initial offer.

Caracas gets fibre-to-the-block from cable operator NetUno. What's the betting the UK will get its fibre after Zimbabwe? That's being harsh; the deployment is in new-build apartments, rather like BT in Ebbsfleet. Brough Turner warns against exclusive contracts with service providers in just such an environment.

(He's got a point. In the early 2000s, one of the Telco 2.0 team lived in Vienna, in a brand-new development that had been wired up by a cable operator. Broadband! Pretty impressive for 2001, but not that it did him any good as 486-25 machines struggle with DOCSIS modems. The operator went bust in the spring. This was perhaps not surprising; he didn't receive a bill from them for six months, and after the bankruptcy he never heard anything more despite repeatedly trying to pay the new owners, UPC Telekabel.)

Al-Noor Ramji exits BT, heads for banking systems company Misys.

GE and Cisco are funding a trial that uses WiMAX as the transport network for a smart grid system. Rather than a telco being the partner for the power company, though, this looks more like a specialist smart grid company with a WiMAX network that might also sell spare bandwidth.

Here's another Voice 2.0 application; Line2 is a better telephony client for the iPhone, which implements handoff between WLAN and GSM/UMTS and routes your calls via their SIP trunk, offering cheap rates and a variety of additional features (multiple numbers, dynamic routing, visual voicemail). Given that it uses a very similar GUI to the iPhone's own dialer and voicemail client, the big question is how Apple came to approve it in the first place.

It's been noted that iPad shipping dates have gone back somewhat, which is being seen as a sign of raging demand for the oversized iPod Touch.

The payback: Google moved Google.cn to Hong Kong, China Unicom knocked Google Search off its lineup of Android devices. Google PR is targeting Microsoft and IBM for continuing to work with Chinese censors; GoDaddy has stopped registering .cn domains.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, cracks down on reporting of the whole affair.

Also, something weird happened with one of the machines that make up i.root-servers.net, one of the Internet's top level DNS servers. I-root is managed by Netnod, the Swedish national IX, but like most of the rootservers, it's actually multiple machines distributed around the world for redundancy and served using IP Anycast. One of the machines is hosted by CNNIC in Shanghai; and it started returning wrong IP addresses (in Korea Telecom's space, oddly enough) for queries like facebook.com - of course, a rootserver shouldn't ever provide an authoritative DNS record anyway, rather than referring the query to the relevant top-level domain. CNNIC denies having anything to do with it.

It's possible that Google might be a little un-horrified by China Unicom's move; they may get ad revenues from Android devices, but it turns that they're also paying out in revenue-sharing deals with the operators. Phone Scoop lives up to its name and has the full story.

AdMob's report for February is out; one thing you can do if you serve a lot of mobile ads is sniff which devices are making the requests, and that's what they're doing. The breakdown puts the iPhone in the lead with 50% of the total, followed by Android on 22% and growing very fast, and Symbian S60 on 18%. Telco 2.0 recently had the opportunity to meet Psion and Symbian founder David Wood; later that evening, he needed to consult Nokia Maps on an E71. The device hung and eventually crashed hard enough that it needed a hard reset. "Damn you, Red Baron!"

Meanwhile, the Pwn2Own hacker contest demonstrated vulnerabilities in MS Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.6, iPhone OS, and Safari, so iPhone users get two security breaches for the price of one.

Stand by for action on B2B app stores; AT&T is opening a platform for corporate applications, Vodafone already has Application Services (the Newbury genius for titles strikes!! it's Access Gateway all over again!) Also, PayPal has just finished a developer competition with some interesting ideas. And Electronic Arts wants to engage smartphone developers.

RIM impressed at MWC with their latest round of developer offerings, including a payments service and in-app advertising. They've now cloned yet more of O2's Litmus, offering a membership-only Beta Zone.

TeliaSonera is offering a private-cloud service to its business customers with Cisco.

Orange UK is reviewing its tariffs and they've been leaked. However, the segmentation by animals remains - you can be a Raccoon, a Panther, a Dolphin, or a Canary. What about being a rat or a virus? Of course, the real answer to the question "which animal would you be if you could be an animal?" is "you already are an animal".

Nokia acquires browser maker Novarra, with a view to giving Series 40 mobiles better Web and widgetry capabilities. Apparently there's a new service offering coming later this year for the vast fleet of cheap Nokias out there - which addresses a point we make in our Nokia vs. Apple note from a couple of weeks ago.

David Burgess continues and eventually completes the saga of Niue's GSM network.

Secrecy of communications is a basic requirement and important company policy! The UK's national mapping database is going under Creative Commons licensing as of April 1st. North Koreans take advantage of the overlap between Chinese mobile networks and the border. And finally, this is indeed not how you use Python; our answer is ' '.join(mylist), by the way.