Cisco VNI; EE, Virgin Media bids; WebRTC milestone; BB OS10 'positive' - Telco 2.0 News Review

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[Ed. Six weeks to the brainstorm in Silicon Valley, 19-20 March 2013, and then on to our European Brainstorm, 5-6 June 2013. We'll also be at the Mobile World Congress for which we can offer discounted passes - email us at contact@telco2.net to find out more.]

Cisco's VNI report is out and there are basically three stories in it. First up, and no surprise, traffic on mobile networks is dominated by video, just like the fixed kind. Secondly, overall traffic growth has been revised down by 30% since this time last year. And thirdly, almost a third of smartphone traffic is being offloaded via WLAN. Between that and better cellular networks, the average smartphone is enjoying a download speed of just over 2Mbps. Interestingly, the distribution of traffic is flattening out - in 2010, the top 1% of users accounted for 52% of the total, but now, this is down to 16%.

In the US, the FCC is keen to break out the 600MHz band for white-space operations. A fierce political row is under way, while the press were immediately convinced that free Wi-Fi for everyone was coming. Ars Technica cleans up the mess.

Microsoft is interested in whitespace technology as a way to deploy better Internet connectivity in Africa.

Meanwhile, France Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent deploy a 400Gbps wavelength link for the French NREN, the first in the world. That said, ALU's Q4s were dreadful and Ben Verwaayen is on the way out.

Benoit Felten links to an infographic on US broadband that only contains two actual charts. Is this a record? Much more to the point, he's been interviewed about STOKAB, the Swedish prototype of municipal fibre deployments.

A massive debate on that subject took place last week on NANOG, and the upshot is a succession of threads rich in information and experiences. Start here and move on here, here, here, here, and here. It was also time for the NANOG meeting itself, and as usual the notes - available here - are fascinating.

Meanwhile, here's the Aussie NBN's page on how to deliver content efficiently with its IP multicast service.

Muni-fibre isn't the only way to get to universal high-speed connectivity. The DOCSIS cable route has worked pretty well too. Virgin Media is up for sale, with a £15bn price tag, to John Malone's Liberty Global.

Vodafone numbers are out, and they're not good. Revenues are down groupwide by 2%. Southern Europe is dreadful, of course, but things weren't good enough in the relatively healthy economies of Northern Europe to compensate. The UK, for example, wasn't particularly healthy economically and was hit by fierce competition from EverythingEverywhere.

Also, there are signs of customer behaviour changing, rather as there are in southern Europe. Out-of-bundle usage is down sharply, as customers counteroptimise their usage to save money. In the South, meanwhile, they're having to up the bundle sizes to defend market share. Fortunately Germany and Turkey were better.

EE, for its part, might be the subject of a mammoth private-equity bid. The proposed deal would involve about £3bn of the buyers' own capital plus £7bn of borrowing from the banks, so a classic leveraged buyout. Don't expect them to be in a hurry to roll out more 4G.

In France, ARCEP is marking up the score from the first year since Free Mobile launched. The impact has slashed the three historic operators' revenue by 10% while adding an additional 4.5 million subscribers and close to doubling the number of subscribers who are free of contract.

Meanwhile, Xavier Niel has gone on the record to say that the Google Ads-blocking episode was deliberately intended as a bargaining chip in their peering war.

While Alcatel-Lucent was struggling, Ericsson signed a €1bn contract to run Reliance Comms' network, and then hooked up Gemalto as a partner for M2M technology.

A huge milestone in WebRTC, says Dan York. Mozilla and Google have demonstrated voice interoperability between Firefox and Chrome without using any plugins.

Meanwhile, Voxeo's browser telephony lib, Phono, gets WebRTC support. Here's a walkthrough of how to get a WebRTC test rig going, which does tend to make clear just how new the technology is. (Hint - if you already have an Asterisk server, you can skip most of it.)

Oracle has acquired Acme Packet, maker of session border controllers, SIP servers, and things Voice 2.0, adding more telco-like capability to its products and its cloud.

Here's a good sceptical blog on telephony APIs, arguing that Twilio and Voxeo are probably category killers as far as this niche goes. We might not agree with that, but we can certainly relate to this post:

All too often what is a declining business for some is in fact a growth business for others. I sit daily with what we would refer to as "telephone companies" who bemoan to me that their voice business revenues are declining. I offer various suggestions and provide viable companies actually growing in this space. "But that would mean we would have to invest and take risk", is the normal reply. Well yes.

And John E. Karlin, who founded Bell Labs' human factors department and redesigned the telephone for touchtone dialling, has died. Don't miss the story about how he decided how long the cord should be.

Hacker News has good technical discussion of WebRTC interoperability here and here.

Ars Technica reviews the BlackBerry 10 OS, and is impressed. The Register is cautiously optimistic.

Reuters has a detailed piece on the Apple-Samsung relationship, arguing that Tim Cook and the supply chain/manufacturing side of Apple was opposed to suing Samsung and fighting the Android patent wars in general but Steve Jobs insisted.

Meanwhile, Horace argues that the drop in Apple's margins is entirely explained by higher production costs, and that Apple production costs usually fall as the company moves along a learning curve. He also looks into the business model of iTunes under its new accounting dispensation and estimates its margin around 15-17%.

Vodafone and 3 Austria have both advised iPhone 4S users not to update to iOS 6.1 due to unspecified technical problems.

12 reasons to jailbreak.

HP is trying to impose rules on its Chinese suppliers to stop them using student and other temporary labour forces.

Smart TV, chained to the remote control.

Wired reports on the turnaround of Flickr, driven by Instagram's terms-of-service fiasco, Facebook privacy dread, Flickr's new mobile app, and perhaps just the rediscovery that it was a pretty good product to begin with.

Quite apart from the privacy issues, loading your website up with third party widgets has risks - a succession of super-high traffic websites were downed this week when Facebook widgets stopped working. Similarly, advertising during the Super Bowl has its challenges.

Eric Schmidt is selling about half his shares in Google.

DVD rental firm Redbox is integrating its streaming product into the Xbox.

It costs $200,000 a day to promote your Twitter message.

Boston Consulting tries to estimate how much satisfaction consumers get from different media. Top two: books, and social media.

Monitoring the weather with EDGE attenuation data. Robert Metcalfe (as in law) on Ethernet's 40th anniversary. The first Shoreditch startup.