Vodafone 'not bad'; Telefonica Digital 'gambles'; Mobile Money 'explodes' - Telco 2.0 News Review

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[Ed: Two weeks to the EMEA Executive Brainstorm, 12-13 June 2012 in London. There's top speakers from Amazon, Google, Barclays, Ofcom and the top EMEA telcos, a great agenda covering the latest on Telco 2.0 strategies, telcos in the cloud, M-Commerce, and M2M, and it's in a smart new venue. Register here, call +44 (0) 207 247 5003, or email contact@stlpartners.com for more.]

It was Vodafone results week, and the results could be summed up as "not bad, seeing as they're in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and Ireland". Revenues across the carrier were up a tad, helped by Verizon Wireless dividends and strong performances in India and Turkey. Operationally, Vodafone seems to have done an outstanding job managing the broadband incentive problem, as data revenues are rising strongly, and smartphones are drawing more and more subscribers onto contracts.

A major theme in the results presentation was that Vodafone is increasingly moving its IT and some of its value-added services into an internal, private cloud infrastructure. As a result, they've also been investing in submarine cable capacity to link up their five strategic data centres. The "Vodafone nobody knows" is a substantial fixed ISP and global carrier services operation.

Vodafone's OneNet business-focused Voice 2.0 product has been a major success, and it's telling that it's grown very strongly in Italy despite the terrible macro-economy and falling telecoms spending. Service revenue in Italy was down 4.1% (1.9% excluding termination), but enterprise revenue (a quarter of the total) was up 5.8% with OneNet itself growing at 70%. In Germany, service revenue is growing at 1.2%, while enterprise is growing at 5.6%. It's now reaching 2 million users, having added 650,000 year on year.

Although OneNet is implemented as an IMS application server, it's being deployed from Vodafone's IT cloud, which helps managing the costs and deploying quickly. Watch this space: a Telco 2.0 analyst note on OneNet is coming this week.

Elsewhere, Deutsche Telekom CEO RĂ©ne Obermann has said that they aren't ruling out any options on the future of T-Mobile USA, but they are leaning towards keeping it. However, they are looking at selling the towers, which would be one of the biggest ever such deals.

Meanwhile, Reliance Communications is looking at selling or sharing its towers, EverythingEverywhere has completed its integration of the Orange and T-Mobile RANs. And Orange Spain's CTO thinks European operators should do much more network sharing.

Mind you, a few years back nobody believed the market would ever stand for 4 LTE networks per country, and the US is well on its way to getting just that plus a WiMAX network for people who insist on being special.

The FCC has taken steps to crank the "specialness" down a tad, issuing an order opening up the 800MHz band for LTE operations. Sprint-Nextel has substantial 800MHz spectrum, formerly the iDEN band, and it would very much like to deploy LTE into it.

The human cost of 4 4G networks per country: did you know that working on AT&T's cell towers is the most dangerous job in the United States?

France Telecom acquires Mobinil. TalkTalk becomes a wholesale provider - snagging the contract, with Fujitsu, to run the Post Office's ISP product.

Sponsor a metre of rural fibre duct. You do wonder why one of the sponsors wanted BT CEO Ian Livingston and OFCOM director Ed Richards' names on it in place of their own.

BSkyB is interested in the EverythingEverywhere 1800MHz block, the one they're threatening to deploy LTE unilaterally in.

Femtocells on warships. The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog covers the signalling sessions at LTE World Summit.

Will the EU impose a tariff on Huawei and ZTE?

As well as OneNet, there's been quite a bit of news on key Telco 2.0 themes this week. Here's an interview with Matthew Key, who's heading Telefonica Digital. Leading the organisation is described as Key's third big gamble after re-branding London's Millenium dome as the O2 Arena and the iPhone.

Telenor is usually a pioneer operator on these issues, and here's Telenor Connexion's mobile app for managing M2M device fleets.

Meet Yottaa, new site acceleration/CDN startup.

Two good howtos from the Tropo blog.

The political economy of M-PESA. On that theme, the GSMA's Mobile Money for the Unbanked Blog interviews the people behind MTN Rwanda's mobile money platform. They also note that these projects fall into two groups - the ones that grow explosively like M-PESA did, and like MTN Rwanda's is doing, and the ones that...don't. As a result, here's this week's Chart of the Week.

Thumbnail image for MTNMMRwanda.png

Worryingly, the common factor in the fast growth group was that six out of eight of them were from East Africa.

Elsewhere in payments, Google is changing course to de-emphasise NFC.

Up in the cloud, you can now export an EC2 virtual machine out of Amazon Web Services to run it on a local machine. And how Rackspace benefits from the Open Compute Project.

After the Facebook IPO, the hangover. Felix Salmon names the guilty men, including half Wall Street. The Wall Street Journal blames Facebook's CFO. Others blame NASDAQ's computer failure, but it wasn't their computers who decided to shuffle off the additional 25% whack of shares on small investors after the horrible Q2 numbers were not made public....

There are details of the system failure here. Here's a detailed timeline of the pre-IPO process, and here's our own bear case from February.

In other Silicon Valley news, Hewlett-Packard is going to cut 27,000 jobs. And the first to go is Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy, the British startup legend HP bought for $10bn five minutes ago. Well, seven months ago. Wired tells of employees rating it the worst company you could work for (apparently they didn't ask AT&T's steeplejacks - very few people have ever fallen off software and died), while the Daily Telegraph interviews Lynch, who blames HP management for turning away from Leo Apotheker's software-first strategy and HP bureaucracy for stifling Autonomy.

Meanwhile, The Verge reports that the key programmers on HP's highly rated Enyo HTML5 apps framework, a core element of WebOS, are off to Google.

Google has released some photos of its data centres, and also provided data about demands from copyright holders for the takedown of links pointing at their content. Apparently, the Google removes about a million links a month, and half of those requests come from one company: Microsoft! The next biggest source of takedowns is the British recording industry via the BPI, and the biggest target is filestube.com (with the Pirate Bay in 13th place).

Google is also changing how it serves ads in GMail. They now look like the profile information that appears next to your e-mail, and you can save them and forward them, like e-mails. If you're weird enough to do that, you will of course also be informing the advertiser of your interest, so you can expect plenty more ads.

Yahoo! has launched a new Web browser, Axis.

Microsoft is going to kill the "Windows Live" brand, and concentrate its online activities around identity. Rather than Live being a separate project, a "Microsoft account" will be built into Windows 8 and a suite of cloud services. There's an excellent blog post from the VP of Live at the Building Windows 8 Blog.

Their developer tool, Visual Studio, is changing to emphasise the Metro touchscreen-centric UX, although the changes can be overstated, as this compendious explanation points out.

60% of smartphone sales in Q1 were Androids, and another 23% were iPhones. Meanwhile, RIM cuts 2,000 jobs including its head of sales.

However, Baidu's server stats turn out to show that Nokia is still the leading brand in China, for a while at least. 22% of phones accessing their Web site are Symbian-powered Nokias. 16% are shanzhai products, and 10% are Samsung.

Those shanzhai devices are increasingly likely to run a localised "forkdroid" version of Android, IDC reckons. Meanwhile, a jury rules that Google didn't infringe Oracle's patents - so we can't call Android "Shanzhai Java" after all.

Here's a detailed review of the Nokia 808 super-cameraphone.

Cisco has cancelled its business-focused, Android-based tablet, the Cius.

Horace notes that Apple's CAPEX is spiking again. As Apple famously owns the machine tools in its subcontractors' factories, this indicates that they are retooling for either a new product or a big expansion in production of the existing ones. Alternatively, it could be going into new data centres in support of a service product rather than hardware.Typically, this indicator leads sales by about a quarter, so watch out this autumn!

And here's an unexpectedly fascinating teardown of the iPhone charger.

The best Kinect hack ever - Surrey Satellite Technologies wants to use it to make nanosats dock in orbit. The science of guessing passwords. African tech hubs.