Disruption in Italy: TI warns on profits, sued by Vodafone; Apple meets China Mobile; It's not vectoring that damages the FTTH business case, it's cable - Telco 2.0 News Review

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Disruption in Italy: TI warns on profits, sued by Vodafone

Disruption in Italy: Telecom Italia warned on profits for the year, pointing to the terrible macro-economy and the intensifying price war in mobile. Further, growth in Latin America has been slower this year. The big question is whether they can get away without having to sell the relatively high-growth Brazilian operation.

They're also being sued by Vodafone, which alleges TI used its incumbent status to stop Vodafone, Fastweb, and others competing effectively in the fixed-line sector. VF demands a billion euros in damages.

Elsewhere, Vodafone may have to sell its stake in Bharti Airtel after the Indian government decided to forbid cross-shareholdings between operators that serve all 22 of the country's telecoms circles.

In Germany, Telefonica O2 is looking at buying KPN's E-Plus operation. A problem: the regulator has written to remind them that they can't simply keep their spectrum licences, as these are linked to specific, independent companies, and they might have to give back valuable spectrum. DTAG, of course, is lobbying intensely to achieve this, claiming that the merged company would have an unacceptable dominance of spectrum above 1GHz. There is, of course, a precedent from the UK, where the T-Mobile/Orange merger resulted in spectrum being redistributed.

In the UK,3UK has half-year results and they are relatively good, with 263,000 contract net-adds, revenue and profits up, and an EBITDA margin of 18.8%. A typical 3UK subscriber is using 1.5GB of data every month.

Canada's national mobile market is already pretty thoroughly consolidated, with only three MNOs controlling 90% of revenue. Now, Verizon wants in, hoping to buy either or both of two small operators. The incumbents are hitting back, with Rogers Wireless plotting to take control of the minnows' spectrum through a joint bid with two Canadian private equity firms. Canadian regulators now have to choose whether they dislike a scheme to maintain the three-opoly or Verizon moving in more. For additional complexity, there's a spectrum auction coming up.

Apple meets China Mobile; waiting for the next bound; Lumia 1020

The CEOs of Apple and China Mobile met in Beijing to discuss "matters of cooperation", as a genuinely gnomic statement put it. As Reuters says, the big issue will be whether and when and how Apple iProducts will appear on China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network. China Mobile would like to do something to up ARPU and margins as its voice and SMS revenue starts to get substituted.

Horace rounds up data on Apple stores. The military have the idea of a "tactical bound", which is the period of time a particular decision or set of decisions covers - a bound of six hours means you're planning for the next six hours and will be back in six hours to review what happened and issue orders for the next six hours. This chart on their investment in retail suggests we're at the start of the next bound.

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He also reviews the competition. Ambassador, with these charts you are spoiling us.

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Elsewhere, Germany is now 62% smartphone by installed base. 41% of shipments are Samsung devices, followed by 21% Apple and 9% Nokia.

That sounds almost good for Nokia these days. Ars Technica reviews the camera-optimised Lumia 1020, and argues that it's so good as a camera it makes the whole point-and-shoot product class obsolete. The new gadget consists of the computing and radio guts from the 920, the fancy gorillaglass/AMOLED screen from the 928, and a 41 megapixel camera based on the Pureview 808 demonstrator's technology, but with back- rather than front-side illumination. Ars explains as follows:

Back-side illumination constructs the sensor similar to that of a cephalopod eye, with the wiring behind the photo diode. This is more complex, but it allows more light capture

Squidtastic. It sounds impressive, especially the new app that controls all the photo kit. It's also damned expensive. Elsewhere, Nokia has licenced its indoor-navigation databases to Qualcomm. And Qualcomm, for their part, have been badmouthing the competition's "octo-core" chips.

HTC, meanwhile, reports sales off 37% year on year. Ouch.

Here's a comparison of the new Moto X and its rivals, from AllThingsD. Google is very proud that the gadget is being assembled in the US in order to support Dell-like mass customisation. So why did they flog all those Motorola factories a few months back?

Android has now got a device-management setup like iOS had three years ago.

T-Mobile USA, in keeping with its new "uncarrier" image, has signed up for the Ubuntu carrier advisory group, although this does not mean they've agreed to supply the phones.

It's not vectoring that damages the FTTH business case: it's cable

The Voice of Broadband asks if VDSL2 with vectoring is "destroying the FTTH business case", and argues that it's probably not, but only because the business case wasn't all that good to begin with.

In many ways, if there's a technology that's done real harm to the business case for FTTH, it's DOCSIS 3 cable. In most advanced economies, and quite a few others, while the incumbent operator clung to the copper and the fibre brigade struggled to reach the start line, the cablecos kept iterating and eventually delivered much faster broadband. TVoB goes to the cable industry's shindig and reports that their carrier-WiFi group, the Cable WiFi Alliance, is now claiming 150,000 hotspots in North America, three times as many as it had last year.

That said, Virgin Media's Q2s were horrible - they lost 23,500 customers, revenue in the Business sector was down 11%, and less worryingly the ADSL side of the business wasn't looking too clever either. They boast that 40% of their subscribers are now getting over 60Mbps downlink - nobody else in the UK can say anything of the sort.

Of course, more speed in the access network is no help if the peering is congested. Ars Technica has an intelligent long-form piece on peering wars and video, well worth reading.

Siemens prepares "Project Ansible" for enterprise Voice 2.0

Siemens has called in Frog Design - UX/product experts and occasional Telco 2.0 event participants - to help with their effort to meet the challenge of Voice 2.0. As they sell masses of enterprise PBX kit, this is a crucial issue for them. Especially, as Chris Kranky points out, because price disruption is very much on the cards. Here's the video.

Meanwhile, at IETF 87, there's a meeting on how to create a secure caller-ID for VoIP. The STIR Working Group's page is here and this being the IETF, all the action will be on the listserv, here.

Another big decision at IETF 87 was that DTLS got the nod for voice encryption in WebRTC, which bunch of multi-letter acronyms or MLAs means that WebRTC-SIP interworking will require decrypting packets out of WebRTC and re-encrypting them in SIP.

And here's a really simple example of how to do something intelligent with hold messages in a conference call, from the Twilio blog. If your IVR doesn't say how long you'll be waiting, you really have no excuse with tools like this.

Showrooming: a myth?

Everyone knows that mobile users tend to "showroom" - walking around shops looking at products, checking reviews and prices on their smartphones, and then going home to buy on the Internet from the cheapest supplier.

Or do they? Advertising Age reports on a survey that asked consumers both whether they did so in general, and also whether they did so for specific purchases. The second question suggests that they do so much less.

The US government wants Apple to allow apps to link to other sources of e-books (like Amazon) rather than just the iTunes Store. Apple, predictably, disagrees.

And here's a really interesting integrated print/mobile/TV/ads/retail play, from the Sun.

Panic in the cloud; Lenovo PCs not banned after all; hacking the smart toilet

The Cloud Security Alliance says 10 per cent of its non-US members have already cancelled a contract with a US cloud provider for fear that the US government might do something weird with their data. And 56 per cent of them said they were less likely to use a US provider as a result.

Last week, the Australian Financial Review claimed that the Australian defence ministry had banned Lenovo PCs from its classified networks. The security-conscious, of course, would have understood that Australia is one of the countries that use common information security standards on their classified systems, and therefore that Lenovo was banned from the UK and US defence establishments. The story turns out, according to CIO.com, to be fake and probably put about either by competitors or else to distract attention from the latest lot of NSA revelations.

M2M systems are unusually demanding from a security point of view. Meet the Insteon HUB, a home-automation product that shipped with authentication on the web interface off by default, and didn't even have a robots.txt file, so the devices turn up in web searches.

But even that pales by comparison with the Satis Smart Toilet, which anyone in Bluetooth range can control from an Android app. There is no password and the Bluetooth pairing key is "0000".

Every day, for about ten minutes, GPS is jammed near the London Stock Exchange. This is annoying for low-latency financial systems that need precise time sources. GPS jammers cost £50.

A major hidden-service hosting company has been raided for distributing child porn. The big question: how many other TOR users were compromised by the FBI hack involved?

How criminals fool the British PSTN. We tried the exploit for ourselves and it worked.

And sometimes, information security can be a really disturbing hobby. Security blogger Brian Krebs offended a group of hackers, who plotted to plant heroin in his house and then call the police.