GigaTWC, first neutrality complaint, Altice, Nokia, Spark, Apple: Telco 2.0 News Review

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Backing out of the price war? Sprint upgrade forever delayed; Comcas-T denied; TWC gigabit cable; 5G timeline

Last week, T-Mobile stopped offering its $100/mo share plans. This week, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure suggested that their next move on pricing might be upwards, at least for their unlimited plan. Is this evidence that US carriers are looking for an exit from the price wars? Perhaps. T-Mobile added 2GB of tethering data to its unlimited plan this week, making the plan marginally more generous at the same price point and demonstrating just how flexible the term "unlimited" is.

Sprint is also boasting that it tied with Verizon Wireless for No.1 spot in Kansas City and promising that it will soon have "the best network". FierceWireless rounds up all the times Sprint managers have promised that their 2.5GHz spectrum was about to kick in and give them the best network over the last 10 years.

Is there going to be another twist about T-Mobile? DTAG CEO Timotheus Höttges has previously said he would prefer a cableco deal to one with DISH. It makes sense, too, as we pointed out in this Telco 2.0 Executive Briefing. This week, Höttges seemed to suggest one with Comcast was on the table - but Comcast has since denied it.

Back at the ranch, Comcast pushed on this week with its FTTH rollout. 1.5m homes are planned to get 2Gbps service in Michigan.

Last week, we noted the city of LA's RFP for a gigabit muni-network. This week, Time Warner Cable was the first to answer the call. Interestingly, they propose to deliver it with DOCSIS 3.1 cable rather than fibre, building on last year's upgrade that took their speeds in the city to 300Mbps. We think that would be the first production gigabit cable network, and the first cable-based municipal broadband network too.

In-depth Telco 2.0 coverage is here

Another way of looking at Verizon Wireless's sale of its towers: it was worth two weeks of their revenue or one year's interest on their debt.

With two days to go, 190,000 customers were still active on the old MetroPCS CDMA network T-Mobile was shutting down this weekend.

T-Mobile spokesman Martin McBride told FierceWireless that T-Mobile expects the 190,000 figure to fall dramatically once the actual migration starts and customers lose CDMA service

I guess you could say that. It's about time; this week, in San Diego, ITU-R finalised the timetable for the 5G standardisation. The preliminary studies report into WRC-15 this October, and the key Technical Performance Requirements work stream is planned to take up 2016 and report in Q1 2017, with the final decision in 2020.

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Week one of net neutrality: mostly about peering. AT&T stung $100m. LTE-LAA spectrum arguments.

The first official net neutrality complaint has been filed, and it's against Time Warner Cable. Commercial Network Services, a company that hosts webcams, feels itself disadvantaged by the fact TWC doesn't peer with it and therefore it needs to buy transit, and it apparently reads Title II reclassification to mean that it has a right to peering anywhere it wants.

Sprint might have managed to beat that, but they chose to stop throttling down unlimited data users during peak hours, just before the rules came into force. AT&T Mobility, meanwhile, has been fined $100m for misleading customers.

In fact, the early impact has been on peering rather than end-user issues. It looks like there's been a rush to settle some of the Internet's longest-running peering disputes. The notoriously aggressive IP transit price leader, Cogent, has signed agreements with AT&T and Verizon, while Level(3) has created or renewed peering deals with Verizon, AT&T, Telefonica Wholesale, and Comcast. There might also be a Cogent-Comcast agreement in the works, too.

This moves Cogent substantially closer to Tier-1 status, if anyone still cares, and improves its margins (and reputation) quite a bit, while L(3) benefits a bit and the Internet in general should be more stable.

Last week saw another John Legere rant against AT&T. This week saw AT&T pushing back, claiming it didn't have that much low-band spectrum after all and therefore there was no need to reserve any 600MHz for smaller carriers.

Nick Hunn argues that opening up the guard bands and the 2.3GHz threatens to encroach on the 2.4GHz ISM band and wreck a lot of IoT applications. It's not as if there isn't already so much pollution in there...

So far, 36 organisations have responded to the FCC's consultation on LTE-LAA. Unsurprisingly, AT&T thinks it's basically OK, Nokia Networks thinks it's really bad but their latest technology can fix it, and Google doesn't like it at all.

New York City has audited commitments made by Verizon when it got its licence to deploy FiOS, and finds them lacking. VZ blames the unions. Meanwhile, Cablevision is suing VZ, after they fell out about a Cablevision ad that claims FiOS isn't really fibre. It's the "Virgin Media is totally fibre!" story upside down.

Altice with another megabid; Euregulators say no; German spectrum raises €5bn; new boss for Vodafone.de

Patrick Drahi's Altice has thrown another merger, back in France this time, making an €10bn offer for Bouygues Telecom. This would of course mean taking the French market back down from 4 to 3 operators. Bouygues would apparently like more money, but the gap is only €1bn and bankers seem to love lending to Altice.

The real obstacle will be regulatory. The French government's minister of economic affairs, Gabriel Macron, says outright that he rejects consolidation or a competition/investment tradeoff, and the European competition commissioner Margerethe Vestager said something similar last week.

11 major telcos wrote to the European Council asking for "urgent reforms to remove regulatory barriers to more investment in digital infrastructure" this week, but Macron and Vestager's comments show quite clearly that this is far from an uncontroversial position.

France's 700MHz auction is going ahead, with applications to be filed by the end of Q3 for an auction in Q4 2015. The reserve price is €2.5bn and the blocks are expected to become available from April 2016-2019. Spectrum will be sold in 2.5MHz blocks, with a maximum of 3 for any one operator and a cap of 2x30MHz per operator across the 700, 800, and 900 bands. A similar coverage obligation will apply as for the 800MHz.

The French have no doubt been encouraged by the German mega-auction, which raised €5bn after 181 rounds. Vodafone was the biggest spender at €2.1bn for 2x40MHz paired and 20MHz unpaired. That included 2x10MHz of 700MHz, but perhaps more interestingly, also included no less than 2x25MHz of 1800MHz spectrum, the key 2G/4G band.

Last week, we were all wondering if Vodafone might swap the German operation with Liberty Global to get their hands on Virgin Media. This week, Vodafone has appointed a new CEO for the division, and they went relatively heavyweight, picking Hannes Amesreitner, the former CEO of Telekom Austria Group.

Huawei seems very keen to get closer to German industry, DTAG, and European regulators under its Industry 4.0 strategy.

We analyse some of the issues involved in this Telco 2.0 Executive Briefing

Vivendi apparently wants Telecom Italia to sell up its stake in TIM Brasil and go home. First, it's going to load up on more TI stock.

Actility, a startup based on the LoRa IoT network technology, has raised €22m from investors including Orange, Swisscom, KPN, and Foxconn.

And Facebook Moments, the feature that uses face recognition to surface interesting photos you'd forgotten about, won't be available in Europe for regulatory reasons. As in, there's no off switch.

BT+EE = "digital champion"; VMED's new rollout rolls; cable upgrades hit in Q4?

BT and EE made their pitch for regulatory clearance this week, arguing that consolidation means investment (ask the French, or the Eurocrats above?) and that it would create a "digital champion". Olaf Swantee, interestingly, tips his hand a bit by saying he expects 5G "in the market" by 2018. "Backhaul" doesn't get a mention.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media's £3bn expansion build takes a step forward.It begins in Manchester, with 150,000 more premises passed with 150Mbps cable. Construction begins this week on the first 20,000. When the project is complete, VMED will have population coverage of about two-thirds of the UK.

In case you're wondering, a 300Mbps tier is coming soon and DOCSIS 3.1 trials are expected to begin in Q4.

After EE's Harrier low-cost 4G smartphone, now Vodafone UK has one.

It looks like half the FTTH that eventually gets deployed by BT under the BDUK program will be in Cornwall, with 85,000 homes passed with fibre. The reason is that Cornwall has a lot of homes on long exchange-only lines and FTTC is out of the question.

And here's a faint chance to have your dinner on top of the BT Tower, which will briefly re-open for 1,400 guests on the occasion of its 50th birthday. SIgn up at the link to get into the ballot.

Nokia back into the devices business? Automakers preferred for HERE or maybe not. Elop's exit from MSFT

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri is quoted by a German magazine(Manager) saying they want back into the devices business as soon as the noncompete agreement with Microsoft runs out in H2 2016.

Exactly what Suri meant isn't quite clear - he seems to say Nokia would licence the brand, but also that they would design the devices, which sounds more like being a vendor with outsourced manufacturing than just licensing a name. Also, he says this in the context of Microsoft. It would be good to know if he spoke in German, and if not, what his original words in English were.

He also said that anyone who would stick with the HERE maps business for the long run would be a good buyer. Manager took this to mean he didn't have any preference for the German automakers' bid for the division.

However, later in the week, Bloomberg said Nokia certainly did, and some other bidders had pulled out because of this. Bloomberg also quoted Suri as saying they might not sell HERE at all in the end.

Stephen Elop, meanwhile, the architect of Nokia's exit from the smartphone business and Microsoft's entry to it, has departed Microsoft after a major reorganisation that put the Devices group under the Windows one.

Horace argues that the growth of PCs plus iPads has stalled and smartphones - really, the iPhone 6 - are cannibalising the iPad. What will Apple do?

Google x Tesco Clubcard, SDN; IBM, AWS get into Spark; AT&T releases NFV designs

Google is a bidder for Dunnhumby, the storied data-analytics firm spun out of Tesco responsible for their famous Clubcard promotions. There's a deal based on valuable data that actually makes sense!

Up in the cloud, meanwhile, Google provided some detail of its data-centre networks and the underlying virtualisation technology.

Here's an interesting piece on DuckDuckGo's startling growth.

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IBM is making a huge commitment to the open-source Apache Spark data analytics/machine learning engine. They're contributing their own SystemML technology as open-source software, retasking 3,500 engineers to work on the project, and offering Spark as a service in their Bluemix cloud.

Spark is also coming to Amazon Web Services. The blog post announcing it gives a pretty good explanation of why it matters.

And AT&T is releasing the NFV setup for its GigaPower FTTH under the Open Compute Project licence.

Apple Music gets told; Microsoft WiFi; Facebook rising in video ads?

Apple was planning not to bother paying musicians for anything its customers listened to during their three months' free trial of Apple Music. Now, Apple has backed down after being called out on Tumblr by Taylor Swift.

A British court has decided, after all these years, that you shouldn't rip CDs.

The record industry has been trying to get at file sharers by suing CDNs, DNS operators, and similar infrastructure. CloudFlare turns to the EFF for support.

Microsoft has let slip it's planning a major expansion of Skype WiFi.

Facebook seems to be catching up with Google for video ads, although this is still soft data.

Google Trends is now available in near real-time.

Terrible Samsung bug. Terrible Apple bug. Hacked drug pump. Don't have nightmares

Basically all Samsung Android devices are at risk from the manufacturer's keyboard app. It runs as the system user, and therefore has almost unlimited privileges and can't be uninstalled without rooting the device. And it gets updates over clear text HTTP, so anyone with a WiFi access point could feed it malicious code. Oy.

Meanwhile, there's a zero-day exploit threatening the Apple Keychain, with multiple possible attacks on OS X and one against iOS.

If you connect a drug pump to the Internet you better be very confident of its security. Or very complacent. Guess which one it was.

Level(3) reckons the US has more botnet control servers than anywhere else.

The UK's federated, privacy-positive ID system is potentially incredibly insecure.

An in-depth look into the disaster at the US Federal Office of Personnel Management.

Heinz failed to renew the domain some QR codes pointed at. Embarrassment ensued.

And Let's Encrypt launches on the 14th of September.