Telco 2.0 News Review

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Telco 2.0 News Review

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Tellabs threatens the "end of profit" for the mobile networks within the next few years - by 2013 in North America. However, readers at Informa's telecoms.com point out that their assumptions about cost structures are highly conservative, and also that the study assumed that the network operators won't do any repricing/usage based pricing. Further, increasing their use of data offload pushed out the evil day beyond 2015.

On the other hand, for the first time, Vodafone made more revenue from data traffic than it did from SMS, with data revenue of £1.33bn in Q42010, growing at a 27.2% clip, compared to £1.31bn worth of txts. That doesn't sound like disaster. On the other hand, the business is flat in Europe and voice revenues are declining - but rapid growth at Vodafone-Essar and Turkcell makes up for this.

Elsewhere, both Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless passed the mark of one-third of their revenues coming from data traffic excluding SMS in the third quarter. (They also reserved the right to cap the top 5% of data users, and the Canadian government told its telecoms regulator to think again about letting Bell Canada impose usage pricing on its wholesale customers.)

NTT DoCoMo, meanwhile, brought back flat-rate data, although they can afford it as it's priced at $66 a month.

Did you know Felixstowe has worse Internet connectivity than many ports in Africa?

It was a week of big numerical milestones - after all, it was the week that the Internet ran out of IPv4 addresses. Once the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre got an additional /8 block early this week, IANA activated the final divvying up of the remaining free pool of addresses, with the last five /8s being shared out equally among the five regional registries. RevK reports on trying to get IPv6 connectivity on a Virgin Media fibre link, and VM responds in the comments, but not before claiming there was plenty of IPv4 left.

Meanwhile, VM dropped its 20Mbps cable service to upsell the users onto its faster, and pricier, tiers of service.

It's rough being an operator - Google and Twitter get all the glamour when they get blocked by some vicious tyrant, but if you're a telco, not only do they cut the wires, but they also expect you to push out sinister state propaganda via broadcast SMS. Because of how Cell Broadcast works and how Vodafone configures its handsets, when the Egyptian secret police texted everyone to alternately threaten them and demand they come on a loyalist demo, the messages appeared to come from "Vodafone". Whoops, especially as Britain's students already suspect that Vittorio Colao might be history's greatest monster, going by their attitude to the 360 Oxford Street Vodafone shop.

Vodafone has pointed out that the Egyptian spooks had the legal right to do this, and of course also the power to do it, legal or not. And that they've complained to the regulator, as if anyone is doing any regulating in the middle of a revolution. It probably won't do any good. Renesys, of course, has charts illustrating the cut-off and restoration of the Internet in Egypt. Meanwhile, a major effort is on to secure the release of a Google exec who has been missing since going on a demonstration last week.

The EFF has an interesting legal discussion of the FCC's Net Neutrality-ish order. Interestingly, they're relying on the concept of ancillary regulatory authority under the Telecoms Act Section 706 - although this has been thrown out by a court in the past.

In the UK, OFCOM has given the go-ahead for the trading of spectrum between operators. Rather like football transfers, all transactions must go via the regulator, but it's unlikely that 2600MHz will appoint an agent with a really odd haircut to represent its interests.

Brough Turner has a fascinating presentation on why he thinks "over the top" is the future of communications. He's currently at the 4G Wireless Evolution shindig in Miami. Of course, if he's right, his mesh-WLAN startup will need plenty more spectrum, and he reckons that there's an obscure FCC provision that may deliver just that by extending the whitespace rule to other underutilised bands.

Contracts are out for New Zealand's rural broadband network.

What's on the network? As Brough's presentation makes clear, it's mostly video. Humax just added the BBC iPlayer to its Portal DVR as an over-the-air update, with the Sky Player coming soon. A TV tuner for your iPhone. At least that's keeping TV where it should be, in broadcast. Google's Google TV UI gets open-sourced. There's only one problem....

....and that's that it doesn't seem that anyone really wants any of this stuff. An experiment with families in Boston demonstrates that "cutting the cord" is surprisingly difficult. Further, Informa estimates the population of cord cutters is utterly insignificant, and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Surely, though, there's plenty of traffic from the cloud and social networking tools to go around. Data Center Knowledge reports on Facebook's massive expansion plans. So far, they're focusing on filling up the gigantic sheds they recently built in Prineville, Oregon, and Forest City, North Carolina, rather than adding more buildings. But that in itself adds up to a huge project.

Google and Facebook's massive spending on data centres and big-data analytics is causing a bidding war for engineers in these fields, and startups like Cloudera are complaining that it's raining money and they can't compete.

Facebook's faintly creepy Places Deals feature (you tell them where you are, and they soak you with advertising for stuff that is supposedly cheap and relevant) is going live in the UK and the first up is Starbucks. Because people in a cafe want to be reminded it serves coffee? Meanwhile, Connected Planet reports on the success of featurephone social network AirG.

If you're crunching big data, you've probably used the R programming language at some point, and you may have a mass of stuff in the proprietary SAS file format. Help is at hand, at a price.

We've predicted before that BSS/OSS is a field where operators could do well to shift their data into the cloud. Connected Planet reports on products that exist to do just that. However, there's a word of warning from High Scalability:

PaaS 1.0 is like the public telephone booths of yesteryear. Its starts out terribly expensive but all new, shiny & clean. Very quickly it becomes soiled by its multi-tenancy, lack of policing & maintenance, its limited (crapped) space & capacity, its lack of adaptability (upgrading is a bitch because its controlled by a single authority) to innovations elsewhere, and then there is all those business (card) adverts for questionable services plastered all over it. What's amazing you continue to pay the same expensive call rate while it goes through this lifecycle process.

At the other end of the pipe, the devices half of Motorola announced it had made a small but real profit. It's incredible what a bit of Android will do for a battered handset vendor.

No surprises, really - Canalys reckons that Android has now overtaken Symbian in shipments. Crucially, the quartet of Samsung, HTC, Acer, and LG have seen truly spectacular growth in units shifted.

The Android Developers blog announced a number of improvements to the Android Market, with access to the Market from the Web, easier handling of payments in multiple currencies, and an in-app billing process. Google also showed off prototypes of Honeycomb, the tablet version of Android.

There are videos of Honeycomb and also of a new Nokia user interface concept here.

Not surprisingly, given the news from Canalys, speculation is running wild ahead of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's pre-MWC strategy announcement on the 11th (Friday). Some think they should use Windows Phone 7, while others suggest Android, and Nokia's credit rating is under review. All Things Digital points out that Nokia spends a fortune on R&D.

There's an interesting Forum Nokia piece by Randy Arnold on promoting the MeeGo ecosystem - Telco 2.0 will be attending the Nokia/Intel developer day at MWC, so we're very keen to find out what's going on and if we get one of those sweet Lenovo IdeaPad netbooks he mentions them giving away at their conference last year.

Meanwhile, IBM and Oracle have settled their differences over the future direction of the open-source bits of Java. Perhaps Google should have stuck with OpenJDK in Android and they wouldn't be having quite as many lawsuits.

Moving on from the shiny gadgets, Bharti-Airtel saw a sharp drop in profits although revenues were up, as it spent heavily on integrating its African acquisitions and encountered unfavourable currency movements. China Unicom warned on profits as a consequence of the shakeup of the Chinese industry and accelerated depreciation of its old network. Alcatel-Lucent UK recruited former BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland as its chairman.

Light Reading has a video interview with BT's CTO in which he says that the operator is working on a new voice product for its FTTH deployments based on Ribbit. He also provides some updates on 21CN, BT's Metro-Ethernet products, and fibre deployment.

Elsewhere in Voice 2.0, a row breaks out between a blogger and the FreePBX developers, and continues here. Salesforce.com launches its Chatter enterprise social network with a video during the Superbowl.

Skype Journal interviews Skype CEO Tony Bates, a Cisco veteran and multiple RFC author, and remembers former Skype president Rajiv Dutta, who has died unexpectedly.

Is Google making more money than expected from YouTube? According to a fascinating Wired piece, there is some content that is making as much money for its owners and for Google from ads on YouTube as it makes in revenues on paid-for sites.

News Corporation launched its iPad optimised newspaper in a blaze of hype this week. On the other hand, they've just taken a $275 million write-off on the value of MySpace. Better luck this time, eh.

Get the tweets you want out of the whole 110 million items a day firehose feed, with Gnip's keyword search filtering product.

It looks like Apple is trying to stop apps getting into the App Store that provide access to other app stores, in order to stop the 30% revenue shares leaking away.

Hacking Toshiba laptops in 1995. Watercooled PC disasters. Open-source multitouch displays. Mashup of the year, and it's only February: the geographical distribution of Page 3 girls.