Telco 2.0 News Review

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Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed - we'll be covering Devices, Apps, Apple's and Google's strategies and more at the Telco 2.0 Brainstorms: AMERICAS 27-28 October, L.A.; EMEA, London, 9-10 November 2010.]

On his way out of the door, Anssi Vanjöki announced that the Nokia N8 had accumulated more pre-orders than any previous Nokia device, as Nokia announced a gaggle of other new phones, including a couple of C-series consumer devices and the E7, a business-optimised QWERTY device described as the "heir to the Communicator". Nokia shares fell somewhat.

On the other hand, Wireless Watch gives a rundown of reasons to be cheerful - after all, back when Motorola made good phones, they did very well concentrating on North America. There's no reason why Nokia couldn't build on its strength in Europe, Asia, Africa, and essentially all the non-American parts of the world. The company has operations excellence on its side - when was the last time they shipped a gadget whose cellular radio didn't work like Apple, had a wave of strikes like Foxconn, or set an industry record for returns like Moto did with the RAZR? - and they have a major strength in the bits of marketing that involve boring stuff like channels, partners, supply chains, and shopkeeping in general.

Interestingly, they're putting a lot of resources into development of Symbian Series 40, the mass market software platform, and building a flavour of the Ovi app store to deliver apps optimised for the Series 40 phones on a localised basis. After all, it seems that 24% of Americans use mobile apps, according to a survey. (On the other hand, 11% of those surveyed didn't know if they did or not.)

So while everyone's waiting for MeeGo smartphones, perhaps we should be watching the mass-market division headed by Mary McDowell more closely? It's called "Mobile Phones", after all. Better than endless Facebook phone!!! rumours - or the MeeGo appstore with no apps in it.

Perhaps a more interesting Facebook story: are they launching a war on the virtual currency market? It was a key element in QQ's success.

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao took the opportunity of a trip to Nokia World to warn everyone to expect tiered pricing on mobile data in the future, rather like Vodafone's planned LTE pricing in Germany. O2 UK, for their part, suddenly cut the data bundle that goes with the iPad.

Meanwhile, there's a significant upgrade to Ovi Maps - its route planner now has public transport information and can advise you about trains and trams, but not buses yet, and it's gained Foursquare-like social functionality. It still probably doesn't have €8bn worth of a business model.

Elsewhere, RIM reported results, with 4.5 million new BlackBerry users and net income of $800m. Samsung is having a vote on the best app in its Bada Developer Challenge - which will be some fun as all of them were developed in the emulator, because there weren't enough Samsung Waves to go around. It will be interesting to see what breaks when they are deployed. And the point is well made, in the run-up to Oracle Openworld, that a major reason why Java ME has been overtaken by Apple, Android etc is the horrible code-signing, testing, and distribution process. You may recall our Nokia vs. Apple note.

Verizon is reported to be looking at the upgrade path for its GPON fibre-to-the-home net, while a muni network in Chattanooga is advertising the first 1Gbps residential service in the US, a snip at $350. Meanwhile in the UK, we have the latest implementation of RFC-1149 - 1149, you may remember, specifies how the Internet should handle data transfer by carrier pigeon. In this case, a successful test achieved a data rate of 533Kbps, which was faster than a comparable link using no pigeons. Some people may be amused, in the light of recent events, by the fact that the authors of RFC1149 foresaw an explicit pecking order for different classes of service.

The relatively good news is that BT won't be charging its existing customers extra to migrate to FTTC when it arrives. If you're wondering, a list of scheduled exchange upgrades has found its way into the forums over there. Infrastructure is fun - it also turns out that one issue is that a significant number of BT lines still need the white plastic NTE5 socket installing, instead of the old grey box on the wall, before the fibre shows up.

But this weekend, there was no further progress on the job in much of London: has the IETF tackled this problem yet? Perhaps we need a new standard for Explicit Pope Notification.

In the US, the FCC decision on the so-called white space spectrum is expected next week. Northwestern University has carried out a study, meanwhile, that shows that having a duopoly tends to keep prices high.

Singapore impressed everyone with its plans to build a national gigabit fibre network, with open access at layers 3 to zero. Now they're looking at what they might want to push over the fibre. Specifically, they're the latest country to look at moving TV onto the Internet. There's a call out for proposals for a "Next Generation Interactive Multimedia, Application and Services Platform", which sounds a lot like the back-end element of Project Canvas.

Canvas is showing more and more signs of life. The latest announcement is that it's grown an operating company and a friendly consumer-facing brand: "YouView".

In other video news, here's a glimpse of Google's content-fingerprinting technology in action - this seems to be the solution for YouTube, in the end. The magic detects if what you're uploading has been registered with them as copyrighted, and tells other bits of Google to stick adverts next to it. The rightsholder gets a share of the ad revenue. Problem solved, in a Google way.

Samsung wants to be your content centre with its Media Hub product. Boring old TV has some good ideas too - ABC has done an iPad app in support of its My Generation series, that knows what's happening on the TV screen because it gets messages hidden in the soundtrack. Neat (and a canny re-use of Teddy Ruxpin).

Looking at peer-to-peer video rather than TV, after Cisco's Cius enterprise-optimised conferencing tablet, here comes Avaya's take on the same idea. Like Cisco's, Avaya's device runs Android, but it's notably more expensive, bigger, and less mobile-focused. It comes with their Ace application developer SDK (there's a developer kit for Avaya? who knew?). GMail's video features get an upgrade. And will Samsung's new Galaxy Tab beat your network senseless with...video calls?

Neelie Kroes was here - roughly the message from the European Commission, which has set targets for the deployment of next-generation access and declared that open access to both wholesale service and dark fibre is essential. In Italy, though, talks have broken down between the group of three altnets who are building their own shared FTTH network and Telecom Italia. Perhaps it's not surprising with things like this happening? The result would seem to be that they're going to compete to roll out the fibre.

Some people in Britain, as we have seen, are desperate enough for broadband that they're willing to use USB sticks taped to pigeons. A new alternative to this would seem to be buying Internet transit from the Government of Iran. Renesys has two excellent posts - here and here - on how the Iranian wholesale monopoly (DCI) is becoming a significant transit provider to Afghan, Iraqi, and possibly Pakistani networks.

Perhaps they should beware of Persians bearing bandwidth. Last week's Haystack affair defies summary, but there's really no need to do anything else than reading Evgeny Morozov's outstanding reporting. There's a useful roundup here. Pro tip: if you're working on a tool to help Iranians get around the national censorproxy deployed in DCI's core network, it's probably best not to test it on real live dissidents.

Of course, the secret police could just get you to log into MS Exchange and then erase all your stuff.

With the arrival of the submarine cables in East Africa, the Internet has evolved rapidly around there. Where it used to be international bandwidth that was scarce, suddenly it's metro- and regional transit and dark fibre, data centres, and the like. Kenya Data Networks is going all-wholesale as a result.

That's the pattern everywhere, really - Telegeography reports that Internet traffic grew 56% in 2009-2010, but capacity utilisation remained safely in the 50-60% band, while prices fell.

Telenor and Telefonica have started a new partnership for their large enterprise customers. As far as we know, it's all about the connectivity at the moment, although we do wonder if some of Telenor's Telco 2.0 products couldn't be marketed into Telefonica's customer base.

Developing in Flash, inside Skype.

The "razor and blades" business model is a myth.

HDMI video hacked, although you'll need either a data centre or some very special hardware. Steve Jobs is rude. Computer Weekly's archives go to Bletchley Park. Fixing France Telecom's sick workplaces. Die! Telco Die!

The 10 words users apply to the best apps, and the worst apps.