WWDC, Gigabit Mobile, LA munifibre, Title II, double the cloud: Telco 2.0 News Review

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WWDC - a substantial range of incremental change

Apple's WWDC was mostly about incremental change, but that doesn't mean it wasn't significant. The new version of iOS, for example, seems to make it much more business-focused and may be setting the stage for an "iPad Pro". A summary of the changes is here. There are also some new apps - Apple is introducing a new push-driven search app called Proactive that is essentially a clone of Google Now, and there's a news aggregator that is meant to learn from your history, rather like Samsung's beloved Flipboard.

The deep plumbing got quite a lot of attention. Apple has essentially deprecated unencrypted HTTP for iOS apps, and developers are being strongly encouraged to use only HTTPS. In a further effort to improve security, two-factor authentication is now available throughout. And they've released the Swift programming language as open source software.

Actually, iOS networking is changing quite fundamentally, as this WWDC presentation shows - several advanced features that have been standardised through the IETF but haven't been widely deployed will ship in iOS 9 and also in OS X 10.11. Those include the new TCP Fast Open extension, Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN), and the CoDEL queuing algorithm developed to combat the bufferbloat problem. Apple is also trying to encourage app developers to use IPv6, and has developed some compatibility tests. It's a major step forward for the next generation of TCP - if the features ship in iOS, they will certainly be in use at scale.

What with Apple Music, vast quantities of iTunes content, and multi-gigabyte iOS patches (this one, at least, is relatively reasonable at "only" 1.8GB), it's possibly no surprise that Apple is investing in its own CDN. If so, it's likely that the huge iDatacenter of 2012 will be the high water mark for big data centres at Apple, as CDNs are inherently decentralised, a mark in favour of this new Telco 2.0 Executive Briefing's core thesis.

Now Apple is a streaming music provider, as well as a TV manufacturer and a distributor of downloaded content, it's increasingly in competition with the cable, broadcast, and IPTV industry. Stories like this one from Dan Rayburn, in which Verizon repeatedly tries to up prices while bombarding him with direct mail despite the fact he's already a customer, suggest they won't worry too much. Also, is this just posturing between AT&T and CBS, or is the carrier seriously considering dumping the TV element of U-Verse?

Apple Pay, meanwhile, is getting bigger and has taken over the Passbook app, which is being renamed Wallet. The service now works with a variety of store cards, and there's a partnership with Square to get more SMBs on board - notably, the Square reader will be on sale in Apple stores. Also, it will launch in the UK, the first market outside the US, in July and you'll be able to use it on the Tube.

That said, when Apple Pay launches in Britain, will Apple be able to hang on to the highly advantageous deal it got from the banks? Both Visa and Mastercard are offering their tokenising service to Google free, with the consequence that Google isn't allowed to charge any transaction fee at all, while Apple gets 0.15%. The banks are now keen to use the Google precedent to bear down on this.

Proactive is likely to be a heavy user of geographic data and services, or in other words, maps. Horace has an interesting post checking up on the major map providers, basically Google, Apple, and Nokia, in terms of how much it costs to maintain the map per-user. Per-user is the right way to go about it, of course, because as with any digital product, the cost of replicating it is negligible. The upshot is that you need either heroic scale to spread out the costs (ie Google), or an anchor tenant who needs maps badly to pay for it (ie Apple), and that's why HERE is up for sale.

Elsewhere in devices, HTC has revised down its Q2 revenue forecast by one-third after a terrible May, and BlackBerry might be doing an Android device.

KT launches gigabit mobile; cablecos battle the LAA menace; 60% offload; German spectrum hits €4bn

So how are we going to deploy those iOS patches? Well, KT has just become the first mobile operator to offer a gigabit-class cellular service. The imaginatively-named Giga LTE offers up to 1.17Gbps if you've got a Galaxy S6 or Edge, and it apparently works by "using both LTE and WiFi".

That sounds like it's doing multi-stream aggregation between their 4G network and their (impressive) public WiFi infrastructure, rather than LTE-LAA with the 5GHz WiFi spectrum. In turn, that will come as a relief to the cable lobbyists currently trying to get the FCC to regulate LAA before anyone tramples on their WiFi investments.

Juniper Networks reckons world MNOs will offload about 60% of their data traffic to WiFi in 2019.

Interestingly in the light of that KT story, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, and EE executives have been vigourously making the point that there's a lot of 4G to come before we get to 5G, as many of the radio improvements are likely to be added to 4G networks first. EE also argues strongly for the ETSI Mobile Edge Computing technology we discuss in this new Telco 2.0 Executive Briefing, but sounds a note of warning: "not all our network is Nokia".

That said, for everyone who's trying to be sensible, there's someone who's plunging into the hype. Du is joining the Koreans in the push to get something deployed by 2018, and here are some German academics who think it will be like the Internet but "cleverer". Ahem.

While we're in Germany, the new spectrum auction has pushed through €4bn. As usual in the last couple of years, the 1800MHz band has turned out to be the most sought-after.

Nokia Networks says small cells are taking off in 2015. The 3G, 4G, and 5G Wireless Blog reports that LTE-TDD and 8T8R antennas seem to go well together.

Here's a survey of African countries' interest in their own satellites. Facebook, meanwhile, has given up on theirs, but OneWeb, the project backed by Qualcomm and serial satellite-hugger Greg Wyler, is going ahead - it's signed a contract with Airbus for the first lot of spaceships.

US FTTH race: a new hope. All the deployments this week. LA muni-fibre. Combes' new job

The surge in US FTTH deployments goes on. In San Francisco, Comcast is bent on rolling out 2Gbps fibre into what was long a staple AT&T market. AT&T responded with a GigaPower build. Now Wave Broadband is pulling gigabit fibre into major apartment blocks in the city, offering a symmetrical gigabit service for $80/mo.

AT&T, meanwhile, turned up GigaPower service in Charlotte, North Carolina, and announced 75Mbps service in 9 new markets on the existing network, while new entrant Ting opened up at $89/mo for 1Gbps in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Over in the enterprise space, Windstream says it's going to add more buildings to its fibre networks in 5 new markets this year.

The city of Los Angeles, meanwhile, has issued an RFP for a 1Gbps muni-fibre network plus a lot of public WiFi.

Elsewhere, KDG is extending its 200Mbps tier to reach three million homes, and highly acquisitive cableco Altice may be about to hire ALU CEO Michel Combes.

You're reading this under Title II; DISH-T rumours; is the next price move in the US upwards?

Net neutrality: it's here. Title II reclassification went into force this week, after a court refused to grant a stay of the measure while the lawsuits against it are fought out. Harold Feld has a very detailed writeup.

Interestingly, AT&T and Cogent hastened to sign an interconnection agreement and thus resolve their remaining peering issues before Title II came into effect and their customers could complain to the FCC.

This is complicated; everyone thought the DISH-T-Mobile thing was back on the table. Then Timotheus Höttges seemed to deny any interest and suggest he would prefer a deal with Sprint. And then his PR people rebutted the story and denied the denial. Meanwhile, DISH has been passing the hat round for financing.

OpenSignal apparently rates T-Mobile the fastest network in the US.

John Legere issues a sweary rant against Verizon and AT&T's dominance of the AWS-3 auction. The Verizon official blog hits back.

But is the price war coming to an end? T-Mobile has just announced the end of its very popular family plans, which offer (for example) unlimited 4G data, voice, and texts for two people at $100/mo or 2.5GB for four at the same price. Have they just signalled that they're getting out?

BT/EE fast-tracked. OFCOM may Openreach-ise BT dark fibre. Vodafone UK home broadband

The BT/EE merger has been fast-tracked by the UK antitrust regulator. The process moves straight to Stage 2, with the result that the decision will be some time in December or January, rather than Q2 2016 as previously thought. Everyone is spinning this as a win for their lot - BT because it's happening quicker, everyone else because Stage 2 has to review the concerns from Stage 1, things like:

a substantial lessening of competition in relation to the supply of wholesale access and call origination services to mobile virtual network operators and fibre mobile backhaul services to mobile network operators in the UK

Of course, the Competition & Markets Authority is not the only regulator involved in the game of three-dimensional chess BT's bid for EE started. There's also OFCOM. The new boss over there, Sharon White, this week said that the regulator was moving towards action on the so-called very high speed dedicated line market. Specifically, BT would have to start offering dark fibre, and the pricing would have to be linked to their Gigabit Ethernet pricing, less an allowance for the cost of the electronics.

This is something independent ISPs and the mobile industry have wanted for years, but the interesting bit is how it interacts with the BT/EE deal. Is the idea that OFCOM forces BT to open up their fibre network, and then the backhaul issue is resolved and CMA can give BT the go-ahead? This, however, doesn't do anything to address the point European Commissioner Margarethe Verstager makes here, which is that less competition doesn't necessarily mean more investment.

In the meantime, BT seems to be pivoting on its football strategy. So far, they've been giving it away in pursuit of market share, but now they seem to be tightening up and trying to derive more revenue. And they've become the first to provide a 4K ultra-HD sports channel.

Vodafone's promised fixed broadband service is coming, and it's mostly a fairly standard BT Openreach FTTC ISP with speeds up to 76Mbps downlink. Pricing is very low, though - existing mobile customers can get it for £5 a month, plus the line rental.

EE is selling a GoPro-like ruggedised camera with 4G streaming. Meanwhile, O2 UK has dropped out of the bidding for the UK emergency services' network, leaving only...you guessed it, EE (or BT).

Qualcomm wants out of its 1.4GHz UK spectrum block. And two of the B4RN team receive the MBE.

GSM.sg is over, Q2 2017; Weightless-N in London; ITU smart city standards; RPi considered harmful

Singapore is going to turn off the GSM networks in April, 2017. The regulator has approved requests from M1, Singtel, and Starhub, on condition that they ensure the remaining 250,000 2G-only customers transfer "smoothly" over to something more modern. Starting in September, new registrations of 2G-only devices will be rejected by the regulator, and some time after April 2017, the spectrum will be reallocated.

By comparison, AT&T plans to shut down by the end of 2017, Telstra by the end of 2016 (although they're now down to 1% on 2G), and Verizon Wireless by 2021, while Telenor plans to keep 2G at least until 2025. The big question about closing 2G, of course, is what happens to the M2M devices.

Orange, Alcatel-Lucent, and Sequans, a chip maker, are offering a 4G developer kit for M2M applications. SKT has got one of its own based on the GSMA OneM2M standard.

Weightless-N deployment is here, with a test network operating in London under the auspices of the UK Government's Digital Catapult centre.

ITU-T has opened a study group on smart city standards, headed by someone from the UAE regulator.

And are Arduinos and Raspberry Pis killing startups?

DTAG wants to double its cloud; 35 ISVs for Cisco; AT&T remakes COs with Open Networking Foundation tech

DTAG wants to double its cloud revenue by 2018, and as a result, its partnership with Huawei is getting extended and its T-Systems business unit saved from the chop. Although T-Systems has long been problematic, it has 2.6 million Microsoft Office 365 subscribers served from its German data centres and that's got to be worth something. Achieving the target means 20% or more annual growth, which means:

Deutsche Telekom plans to pit itself more strongly against the Internet corporations Google and Amazon in future

Sounds exciting.

Meanwhile, Cisco announced no fewer than 35 software vendors as partners in its Intercloud strategy, and a lot more features, notably including the ability to import virtual machines from Amazon Web Services.

The Open Networking Foundation has shipped Atrium, its open-source SDN platform. So far, it consists of their operating system, ONOS, and the components needed for a BGP-speaking software router.

AT&T is using ONOS for their project to convert local central offices into small data centres, known as CORD for Central Office Re-architected as Datacentre. Interestingly, they're using ONOS for the networking functions and OpenStack to manage the virtual machines and orchestrate the services.

AT&T has also shifted 2,000 engineers to work on SDN projects and started putting 130,000 other staff through devops training courses.

We've been talking a bit about small data centres. Schneider Electric has just launched a new line of prefabricated edge data centres.

An interesting checkpoint on HP's research into memory-centric computing.

Comverse buys Acision - is it for the WebRTC? Talky is open source. Twitter CEO quits

Well, this is interesting. Comverse just acquired Acision, the former Logitech division that makes most SMS infrastructure. Comverse is paying for it by selling their BSS business, which is what most people know them for, to Amdocs. Losing the BSS leaves Comverse making a $27m loss, so clearly there's a need for a new strategy here.

Tsahi Levent-Levi points out that Comverse already acquired RCS startup Solaimes, and Acision owns the well-regarded Crocodile WebRTC platform (they call it Forge), so it looks like a pivot towards new kinds of voice and messaging linked with Comverse's "monetisation" speciality.

Talkdesk is a cloud-based call centre based on Twilio.

The Talky video chat platform is being released as open source software, or at least its core components are.

Four stages of voice evolution, and is the next one "client-free communication"?

Calendar interoperability: could do better.

Twitter CEO quits.

And some companies have abolished voicemail.

Telekom Malaysia, L(3) in mammoth BGP leak; LastPass hacked

On Friday, Telekom Malaysia accidentally announced 176,000 Internet prefixes to its transit provider, the old Global Crossing network now part of Level(3). Both GBLX and L(3) propagated the bad routes to their customers, spreading the mayhem across much of the Internet.

loss-hkg-lon-level3.png

Ironically, Level(3) was a prominent signatory of the Routing Resilience Manifesto, which was meant to put a stop to all this.

The popular all-your-passwords-in-one-place app LastPass has had a security incident.

Twitter has deployed its own shared blacklist feature.

And is this the worst data leak yet? The US Federal Office of Personnel Management has lost all the security clearance forms, including some very personal data indeed.