January 23, 2013

ITU and Internet Regulations: a fine mess

A few weeks ago, we published a post examining what to expect from the ITU WCIT conference in Dubai, which was set up to re-write the ITRs (International Telecoms Regulations) for the first time since 1988. We foresaw quite a lot of trouble, especially around the ITU’s proposed new role of regulating the Internet, in terms of both governance and business models.

If anything, the final outcome was even more dramatic than we expected. After two weeks of mostly plodding bureaucracy and behind-closed-doors horsetrading, the final result was an almighty row, a lot of uncertainty and ill-feeling - and perhaps a reduction in the ITU’s credibility. [Ed. We’ll be looking at market issues at the Silicon Valley Brainstorm, 19-20 March, San Francisco, and also at the EMEA Brainstorm in London, 5-6 June, and welcome your comments in the meantime.]

Despite the intention by the ITU Secretary General to avoid divisive votes and find “consensus”, in the end the outcome was decided by a numerical majority of countries supporting the new ITRs, and the distinct possibility of the globe’s telecoms regulations splitting (roughly) down authoritarian/libertarian lines into two domains.

Of the 144 states present and eligible to vote at the event in Dubai, 89 countries signed up at the time for the revised ITRs (final version here) - primarily developing-world nations from Africa, Asia, Latin America & Arabia. But 55 states did not, mostly developed economies from European, North America and the Pacific Rim, plus a few extras like India, Kenya and Chile. Another 50-odd countries either were not present, or couldn’t vote for technical reasons such as unpaid membership fees. While some signatories may not ratify the signed agreements in their parliaments, and some others may decide to sign up later after more consideration, it is clear that “consensus” is certainly not the outcome.

Represented graphically, the OECD+extras vs. Asia & Africa picture becomes more clear:

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July 6, 2011

The Privacy Bomb - How to Tame and Feed ‘Big Data’ (Guest Post)

Ed: A guest post below from Dr. John Clippinger, Co-Director of the Law Lab, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University describing the importance of the Obama administration’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace policy and the US Dept of Commerce’s Privacy Paper. Telco 2.0 has been working with John for the last 18 months as part of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Re-thinking Personal Data’ project. John will also be a ‘stimulus speaker’ at our ‘M-Commerce 2.0’ event in New York on 5-6 October.

Many hope that the “privacy problem” will simply go away. There is just too much money to be made keeping the status quo. But that won’t happen. The “privacy bomb” is about to go off leveling business models and ambitions with a “big bang” to be heard around the globe.

The last major privacy legislation in the U.S. was 37 years ago. In computer years, that is the Stone Age. Back then, there were no PCs, mobile phones, video cameras, sensors, satellite cameras, or Internet. Regulation was about protecting comparatively small bits of personal information from governments and corporations. Now there is the Internet, boundless and mobile computing resources, and unfathomable quantities of data being processed in milliseconds. We are at the dawn of the “Big Data” Era.

Indeed data are the oil of the 21st century. Yet the unbridled use of data poses significant risks to all free societies.

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September 17, 2010

Net Neutrality 2.0: Don’t Block the Pipe, Lubricate the Market

Telco 2.0’s response to the issue of ‘Net Neutrality’ is now available in full on our Research website here.


‘Net Neutrality’ has gathered increasing momentum as a market issue, with AT&T, Verizon, major European telcos and Google and others all making their points in advance of the Ofcom, EC, and FCC consultation processes.

‘Net Neutrality 2.0: Don’t Block the Pipe, Lubricate the Market’ is our input to these processes.

Telco 2.0’s Position in Summary

We recommend that the appropriate general response to concerns over ‘Net Neutrality’ is to make it easier for customers to understand what they should expect, and what they actually get, from their broadband service, rather than impose strict technical rules or regulation about how ISPs should manage their networks.

The paper summarises the issues, analyses the causes and effects, and gives our recommendations on ‘best practice’ in traffic management and how to regulate it.

Next Steps

We’ll be discussing ‘Net Neutrality’, and working through key traffic management ‘Use Cases’ identified in the paper, at the next Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorms - Americas Los Angeles, October 27-28, and EMEA, London, November 9-10, 2010.

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October 30, 2009

The Pirate Plan for Voice

Ed. - To warm us up for the forthcoming Telco 2.0 Exec Brainstorms on new business models (next week in London and 9-10 Dec in Orlando, Florida), Telco 2.0 is blogging from eComm this week. Below are some more highlights…

If there was a Telco 2.0 coup at the world’s regulators, and they were taken over by crazy extremists determined to revolutionise the industry as fast as possible, what might happen? As you might expect, eComm is a good place to find out. It would probably be a good place to plan the coup, too. Most of the usual suspects are right here.

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June 24, 2009

Digital Britain: Too Large a Scope

Any UK citizen would applaud the ambition of the Digital Britain Report:
“to secure the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading digital knowledge economies”

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May 29, 2009

Mobile Standards Processes: Inhibiting business model innovation?

(This is a modified version of an article first published by Dean Bubley, an Associate of the Telco 2.0 Initiative, on his Disruptive Wireless blog)

An important area for Telco 2.0 strategists to consider is the way that technical standards are created in the communications industry, and the direct and indirect impact this has on future business models.

Either by deliberate intent by “traditionalists”, or accidental inertia, standards often tend to entrench Telco 1.0 thinking and processes. Going forward, it will be important to influence the way standards (and requirements) are developed, in order to ensure that business model innovation is not “frozen” out of future technlogical deployments.

Attendance at the recent LTE Summit in Amsterdam stimulated this article, as various presentations and offline discussions highlighted the way that standards bodies operate (notably 3GPP). Various examples showed risks that could delay ecosystem development, entrenching legacy business models for operators and others.

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October 20, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 20th October 2008

Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in: Siemens shows a concept phone using the “big touchscreen” iPhone design meme to include a large solar panel in the device. Nice; but hasn’t Siemens given up making phones?

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September 22, 2008

Ring! Ring! 22nd September 2008

In Today’s Issue: Symbian bashes mobile Linux; LiMo counterbashes; Cisco buys Jabber, threatens protocol switch; new Nokia E-series; iTrojan; building stuff for the BlackBerry; data roaming price war in Asia; Reding insists on open access to NGNs; Nortel exits optical Ethernet; EU telecoms packet in trouble; Vodafone+Vodacom; RIP Mobilink CFO

Department of “He would say that, wouldn’t he?”: Symbian claims there’s no hope for Linux on mobile devices, LiMo disagrees, and Google is accused of deliberately causing fragmentation to boost cross-platform and Web apps.

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September 15, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 15th September 2008

In Today’s Issue: Nobody wants landlines; Apple zaps apps, caps AppStore competitors, Winer flaps; Open Hack Day@Yahoo!; implementation of sci-fi dystopia for the iPhone; Vodafone deckchair redeployment; T-Mobile Android phone; C&W builds non-virtual GSM operator for Tesco; free airtime for ad viewers, human or not; attack of the terminators; 3UK says no; KPN-Bouygues MVNO deal; the Internet interprets America as damage and routes around it; screen-scanning check-in; warrants needed for LBS snooping

A sign of the times: David Isenberg points out that the University of Kentucky has stopped providing fixed phone lines in the halls of residence, as nobody wants them. And before mobile operators start to gloat, don’t think those same students will forever tolerate voice and messaging services that in no way integrate with the rest of their online lives. Where are the voice and messaging applications of the future?

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August 4, 2008

BT fibre roll-out: Do the numbers add up?

BT is at last moving on fibre. This is of interest because BT don’t own a cellular network, and their current residential copper access network is functionally separated — a very ‘Telco 2.0’ horizontal model. Is it possible to make money on new network builds without complete vertical integration and a monopoly on services?

We dig into the numbers, and work out whether BT’s shareholders should be concerned, or delighted.

The details are more than a little sketchy at the moment, but we can be fairly certain of some points:

  1. Both FTTC and FTTH are in prospect.
  2. Speeds are to be “up to 100MBits/s” for the FTTH element, 40-60Mbits/s for the FTTC element.
  3. The service will be available wholesale.
  4. The project is costed at £1.5bn over five years.

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July 28, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 28th July 2008

In Today’s Issue: All the Vodafone that’s fit to print; just what’s in that tall glass of mobile data?; the Spanish builder menace; AT&T discovers principled objection to mergers, porcine aviator sighted; Sprint flogs towers; Sprint’s multi-gigabit radio backhaul, departure from the NGMN; is MediaFLO short of spectrum?; frantic open-source activity; Nokia pays for friends; Intel dumps Ubuntu from its mobilinux; Win95 on a Nokia N810; better voicemail for all; Bundesnetzagentur’s odd idea of regulation; BT begins to move on fibre

Vodafone found that once the stock market doesn’t like you, there’s very little you can do about it this week. You wouldn’t imagine that interim results including the phrases “first-quarter £9.1bn revenue” and “expecting full-year profits around £11bn” could scare the markets, but that’s what happened — vodashares were marked down by around 11 per cent. The monster carrier responded by offering to buy back a billion pounds’ worth of stock. Yet if the best repartee is a parliamentary majority, as Prime Minister Disraeli once suggested, the best trading statement is usually a bag of cash.

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June 19, 2008

Prospects for FTTH in Britain: considered slow

So, with two major US carriers rolling out fibre to the home, a string of European cities doing the municipal-fibre thing, Iliad fibreing-up their own network in France, and Japan and Korea having long started wiring up whole apartment buildings, how soon will the UK get cracking? Telco 2.0 went to the Broadband Stakeholder Group’s conference to find out.

Background to the issue

The broadband incentive problem tells us how there’s little incentive for network owners to invest in networks when they can’t capture much of the incremental value of the traffic. One way out would be to make a radical cut in the underlying incremental costs of bandwidth, and to stretch budgets further. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing all over the world, as operators upgrade in order to substitute new CAPEX for old OPEX.

There are many ways of doing this: deploying fibre, DOCSIS 3 cable systems, and advanced wireless in the access loop; moving to technologies like Carrier Ethernet inside their networks; and substituting peering for transit whereever possible. Mobile operators are increasingly pulling fibre to their cell-sites in order to cope with a rising tide of data traffic encouraged by the arrival of megabit-plus radio links.

Verizon estimates that it saves up to 70% of OPEX on every link it converts to FiOS. So you’d think the pressure would be on to get the fibre out there in Britain, a country criss-crossed with high-maintenance copper in a damp climate. The UK is also perhaps the guinea pig for the broadband incentive problem. But FTTH is further behind in the UK than almost anywhere else in Europe. So far there is literally no SOHO fibre access anywhere in Britain. What’s going on?

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June 16, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 16th June 2008

In Today’s Issue: Mobile spam horror looms; Gyahoo will eat your ad business anyway; Nokia starts its own ad platform; open-source unicomms for prison warders shames telco engineers; roaming in Africa; Reding on the rampage again; Swedish military intervention; MTN-Reliance sporked by brothers’ brawl; Clearwire’s world domination plan; Nortel ducks for LTE; Sprint-powered jukebox; the end of WAP; Carphone in trouble; AT&T caps hogs; BT fibre - not all it’s cracked up to be; when number portability works too well

Computerworld asks - are we on the edge of a mobile advertising disaster comparable to the spam phenomenon? A close reading of the story would suggest that their definition of a disaster might be quite close to a mobile advertiser’s definition of success - however, Telco 2.0 would point out that in telco terms, advertising alone is just not that big a deal and operators need to look to facilitating a far wider set of interactions between users and enterprises.

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June 2, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 2nd June 2008

In Today’s Issue: More spy scandal at DTAG - Ricke implicated; your insecure mobile; iPhones that look like Windows!; killer photos hack RAZRs; “Safari” browsing, not browsing with Safari; FeliCa hacked; shareholder revolt at ALU; Isenberg on teleconferencing; Google’s app store; BREWidgets; Intel - they’re back; UK WiMAX delays; it’s Christmas for Openreach; Phorm demonstrations; Virgin Media adds more limits to unlimited broadband; KPN launches mobile TV - sort of; mobile phone shipments sink in Europe

Oh dear, oh dear; the Deutsche Telekom spy scandal takes another turn for the worse, as it turns out the spy was receiving money from the firm as recently as early last month, although the company had claimed it had all ended in early 2007. DTAG management, of course, claims that they were paying for something different and entirely aboveboard…they just don’t seem clear what. Interestingly, the spying included the mapping of targets’ movements using the mobile CDR stream — now that’s what we call a location-based service.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, meanwhile, claims that the spying project’s bills were sent to the same cost centre as the then CEO Kai-Uwe Ricke’s office.

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April 14, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 14th April 2008

In Today’s Issue: Data surge at 3UK; price war in Sweden; Vodafone (powered by BT); what next after Big Ben?; more Phorm horrors; Carphone vs BT vs OFCOM; BT vs WiMAX; UK 2.5GHz auction coming; Qualcomm: Is a Telco; flying femtocells and Truphone; bad science at NTT; Apple zaps SDKs; Opera for Android; mystery MVNOs; Sonopia is toast; Embarq embarks on Telco 2.0; big chip merger; Safaricom caught fibbing about subscribers; mobile banking hits Orascom

There’s been a surge in data traffic and revenue at 3UK after they launched their wave of HSPA dongles last year; can anyone guess their secret? That’s right, they radically cut prices, and guess what, demand went way up. While it’s certainly good news for anyone who wants mobile Hovisnet service (it’s the Net wi’ nowt taken out), how long will it be before they find themselves stuck between raging demand and yet another trip to see the nice man from Ericsson?

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March 3, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 3rd March 2008

In Today’s Issue: Mobile apps RIP? And are mobile RIAs the killer? Control your private plane with a Nokia N810; or develop for IMS. It’s your choice. NEC pushes “It’s not IMS”. Sprint = Telco USSR? British ISPs; how not to do it. Comcast: much the same. iPhones; hacked again. Hackers deploy platform strategy. menace rises. Big changes ahead at Telecom Italia. Nokia GPS-tags photos. Virgin Mobile in India. EU “worse than communism”. And cancerogenic BTS doesn’t exist after all.

Have downloadable mobile applications died the death, to be replaced by a Web-based future? Former Palm and Apple exec Michael Mace thinks so; Carlo Longino agrees. The argument is that the diversity of possible platforms, the difficulty telcos (especially) and vendors have relating to the developer world, and the restrictive terms of business they apply, have rendered it just too difficult for a real developer ecosystem to emerge. Meanwhile, the surge in things like Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe AIR, and JavaFX means that the richness of applications that run in a browser is beginning to challenge what you can achieve reasonably quickly in a native application. This is a significant change in the balance of power between the Web 2.0 players and telcos, since you don’t need a special (telco-issued) digital certificate or pre-installation for web applications.

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February 25, 2008

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 25th February 2008

In Today’s Issue:: Flat-rate menaces US cellcos, mobile voice volume booms, COLT feels the pain, Voda/Orange mast-share, OFCOM after the fibre, mobile filth disappoints, DVD Jon turns on mobiles, Pakistan breaks the Internet, GSM crypto cracked, BlackBerry down again, Facebook loses traffic, microwave spectrum in demand, France resists Reding, pretty PDFs, and Sprint-Nextel goes all Telco 2.0…

It was the week of flat-rate: all US national mobile operators are now offering flat-rate calling plans, as well as flat-rate data plans. Some day this war’s gonna end. We knew T-Mobile USA’s UMTS rollout would boost competition; we just didn’t think it would happen quite that quickly. Broadband incentive problem, meet US MNOs; US MNOs, meet broadband incentive problem…as Telegeography points out, this is ugly news for the landline world as well.

Here we go; mobile voice minutes of use in Europe are expected to whizz past fixed any time now.

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January 15, 2008

What’s Next in EU Regulation

Profit in telecoms has often been as result of pleasing regulators as much as paying customers. Our many non-European readers may be unfamiliar with the interesting shifting dynamic of the European regulatory scene. Traditionally, national regulators have retained most of the regulatory levers; there is no real European equivalent of the relatively powerless state Public Utilities Commissions in the US, but the relationship between the states and the Feds is mirrored by that between the national governments and the European Union. Despite this, the politics could hardly be more different.

The first three years of the current European Commission (the EU’s executive branch) have been marked by unexpected activism on the part of its regulators, especially in telecoms and anti-trust. Many observers had expected that the Barroso commission would be marked by conservatism and slow decision making, as the commissioners struggled to get their confirmation hearings complete at the European Parliament. Parliamentary objections looked like they might hedge much of the activity of several commissioners; two appointments were turned down flat, and Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes was forced to promise to recuse herself from a very long list of issues due to her conflicting interests, which included directorships of every significant company in the Netherlands and a few others besides.

Amid all the fuss, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Viviane Reding would turn out to be a reasonably uncontroversial steward of the union’s Directorate-General for Media and the Information Society; certainly no-one was particularly incensed at the Luxemburgish journalist’s appointment. However, neither conflicts or obscurity held them back; Kroes and Reding have probably been the most visible and effective of the commissioners, and their confrontations with the telecoms and IT industries have been positively bruising.

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