US price wars; Comcast-TWC; Nexmo; Amazon Ads: Telco 2.0 News Review

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'Digital Asia 2014' Executive Brainstorm and Innovation Forum, run by STL Partners in collaboration with Telkom Indonesia, is designed to equip 250 specially-invited business leaders from across the region's telecoms, enterprise and technology sectors with new, breakthrough ideas, methods and tools on how to grow significant new revenues in the next 12-18 months leveraging Mobile, Cloud and Big Data.

Wave of US price-cutting - price war has begun, if it hadn't already

With the Sprin-T deal in pieces, the FT reckons price war is inevitable in the US. We, of course, think it's already started, as the Disruptive Strategy: VZW, AT&T, and Free.fr EB argues. ARPU and margins are falling for everyone except Verizon Wireless, and subscriber growth is unexpectedly strong, far more than could be explained by losses from Sprint. The pattern is surprisingly similar to that in France post-Free Mobile.

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But the thing about a price war is that it can always get worse.

Sprint has announced a new unlimited $60/mo tariff, as long as you provide a phone or pay for one, and has also doubled data allowances at its current price points. T-Mobile will give you a year's unlimited data if you sign up an ex-Sprint subscriber. AT&T is edging into the game, too; although the mainline brand is still trying to pretend that it's not getting involved, the discount MVNO Cricket is offering $100 to anyone who switches from T-Mobile. T-Mobile, meanwhile, is offering an extra 2GB of data for $5.

Comcast-TWC deadline; big consequences for the metro-fibre market; Sprint optimism

Meanwhile, it's deadline day for anyone with an opinion about Comcast-TWC. Not surprisingly, Public Knowledge doesn't like it. More significantly, perhaps, Vertical Systems's scoreboard in the business Ethernet market points to the fact that the Comcast-TWC and Level(3)-TWTelecom mergers are moving this market in the direction of consolidation. As that includes almost everyone's mobile backhaul, it offers an extreme degree of vertical integration.

And Comcast is overbuilding Verizon in some areas, specifically to deploy fibre to small businesses and enterprise Ethernet customers - that at least is definitely a move towards competition. In the consumer market, VZ's response is moving towards symmetrical broadband at unchanged prices.

That said, Comcast has plenty of enemies; it turns out that even its tech support staff have a sales target, and then there was the massive leak of unlisted phone numbers.

Cincinnati Bell is promising 1Gbps, responding to the possibility of a Google Fibre rollout.

Sprint, meanwhile, is playing a happy tune about its wholesale wireline operation, which is offering unified comms in Europe.

And here's a successful community mesh network.

Telefonica is Nexmo's "SMS partner"

Nexmo, the Voice 2.0 platform company used by Viber, Line, and KakaoTalk, is working with Telefonica as of this week. Telefonica says they will be a "top 10 SMS partner", which sounds rather as if Telefonica is now Nexmo's preferred bulk SMS provider.

Of course VoLTE works better; it's LTE.

Using Twilio and Splunk, and searching for phone numbers.

Is this the first WebRTC fraud?

Amazon Elastic Advertising Service? Salesforce results; Rocket IPO; VMWare; exit Tobin at Telecity

Amazon Web Services is apparently developing its own advertising platform. It's meant for their in-house use, but that's what they always say - every AWS cloud product started off like that. This is obviously a huge gun pointing at Google's core business if it works, which is of course a big question.

Elsewhere in the cloud, Salesforce reported strong results, with profits, revenue, and forward indicators of sales all up.

Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based VC firm famous for copycat startups, is undergoing change. First, the owner of 1&1 Internet swapped its minority stakes in several of the startups for shares in Rocket. Now, Holtzbrinck Ventures, which already invests in Rocket as well as directly in its projects, has done much the same. The reason is that Rocket seems to be planning an IPO, aimed for sometime next month, on the Frankfurt stock exchange, around €800m. This may allow a profitable exit for some big investors.

VMWare has announced some more features in its vCloud, notably object storage and a service tier based on SSDs. Telefonica, meanwhile, is trialling Brocade's virtualised switches and routers.

Nokia's HERE location services wing has lost its boss, Michael Halbherr, who wants to pursue his own entrepreneurial opportunities. It's more original than spending more time with your family.

Tumblr is growing, but it's not making money.

And after 10 years, Michael Tobin stands down as CEO of Telecity, one of the first data centre companies.

AT&T-DirecTV, done? Amazon Twitch; BT (and all other UK operators) hikes line-rental; News Corp caught losing business

AT&T's bid for DirecTV may be a done deal, as Reuters thinks the regulatory clearance is now certain after AT&T agreed to "conditions".

Amazon has acquired Twitch, a web site for streaming your exploits in video games, for some $970m, under the nose of a company called Google you may have heard of.

Netflix has chosen to peer at the other German Internet exchange for its launch in Germany, not the DE-CIX.

BT, meanwhile, has upped its line rental charges by £1/mo and its basic broadband package by 6.49%, while the formerly free answerphone has reached £22.20 a year. Someone's got to pay for the football rights and it looks like it's you; a whole swath of fees and charges, like call setup, early termination, the cut-price line rental, and basic billed voice minutes, are going up sharply.

Here's a chart from Think Broadband that's packed with information:

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BT is certainly in the lead, but all the UK operators seem to be drawing out a bigger and bigger margin on their standing charge over the wholesale line rental rates. Meanwhile, ISP Review notes how different UK authorities use different definitions of "superfast" broadband as it suits them, and some of them are no better than ADSL2+.

And it turns out that News Corporation's business in Australia is doing very poorly indeed.

Germany looks at Dutch M2M model; NII goes bust; rebels blitz Zain Iraq

Germany's regulator has issued a consultation on the possibility of issuing mobile network codes to M2M customers or other big enterprise systems, Dutch-style.

MTN may be about to cut 850 jobs.

How will cross-border mobile banking be regulated?

NII Holdings has indeed missed a bond payment, and is putting Nextel Chile on the market.

And part of Zain's network in Iraq has been blown up by ISIS rebels. That's not as bad as Asiacell, though, which reports that although everything is still working, 25-30 per cent of their network is in rebel territory.

This may be bad news for the rebels: the trusted nature of SS7 networks turns out to let anyone who presents themselves as a carrier get a location update on any mobile number.

Apple: smartwatch sapphire order, the only PC subsegment that matters; pricing; Xiaomi mi4; Firefox OS

Here's the bit you've been waiting for: with the Apple iPhone launch day next week, Seeking Alpha notes that GT Advanced Technologies has orders for sapphire screens for both an iPhone and a smartwatch.

The PC market may be stagnating, but the bit Apple dominates is the bit that's growing.

Horace discusses Apple pricing.

Ars Technica reviews the Xiaomi Mi4, a Chinese Android-based iPhone clone, and finds it "unoriginal but amazing".

And here's India's first Firefox OS device.