TelecomTV *Raw

The best of TelecomTV, plus (un)related junk from the site’s Director of Content

Blog Watch: Friday August 29th

Jay FairesImage via Wikipedia

Money for old rope, throttling the 3G package, and twits all round… when will the silly season end?

Dan Rayburn writes about a new Content Delivery Network that has received funding this week. Yes, another one! According to Dan, VC funding for CDN and P2P delivery networks has already exceeded $325 million in the past 18 months. Enter Conviva, formerly Rinera Networks, which has raised $20 million:

The one thing I really dislike, more than anything else, is a company that talks a big game while delivering nothing more than marketing speak. Instead of Conviva quietly raising the money and not coming to the market and pitching editors on the company until after they have a real story, customers, and product to talk about, they make a big deal now about the company, even though there is nothing to talk about.

And for marketeers reading this (‘marketeers’; what an awful word), why not crib some of the buzzwords in Conviva’s product details on their web site. As Dan Rayburn says:

It reads like a dictionary of the most popular buzz terms in the market today. They manage to get nearly all of them into just a few sentences including “greater brand loyalty”, “engage audience”, “site stickiness”, “monetize perishable content”, “target advertising”, “new platform” and “real-time Intelligence”.

Over at AppleInsider, it’s red faces at Orange. 3G iPhone users in France have accused Orange of intentionally capping 3G download speeds.

Many were furious, arguing that artificial limitation was in direct violation of the service agreements shared between the carrier and its iPhone customers, which theoretically should have allowed HSDPA speeds approaching 7.2Mbps. When contacted by FranceInfo, an Orange representative reportedly confirmed that that the carrier has been deliberately limiting speeds for all 3G capable phones on its network to 384Kbps, saying the move was aimed at ‘preserving the stability of the network.’ Following a meeting on Monday at its Paris headquarters, Orange said it will raise the download cap for iPhone users from 384Kbps to 1Mbps by September 15th.

Meanwhile, in Hollywoodland… The hit AMC series ‘Mad Men‘ is at the centre of an interesting case of viral marketing. Some of the fictional 1960s characters, including Dan Draper and Peggy Olson, are apparently Twittering away like crazy. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told the Silicon Alley Insider website that it has received DMCA takedown notices.

We’re assuming that means the notice was sent from AMC, and that the cable channel lodged some kind of copyright infringement claim. But can you claim a copyright on a character’s name? What if someone whose name is Don Draper actually wanted to use a Twitter account himself? Someone liked ‘Mad Men’ enough to create Twitter aliases for the show, and to proselytize on its behalf — and that AMC wants it stopped.

Happily, big bad Hollywood soon called off the dogs and saw sense. In an update:

Deep Focus, the Web marketing group that works for AMC, tells us that they gently nudged their client into rescinding the DMCA takedown notice they’d sent to Twitter. See, in Web marketing parlance, the Twitterers assuming the names of Mad Men characters are actually ‘brand ambassadors’ meant to be cultivated, not thwarted. “Better to embrace the community than negate their efforts,” says a Deep Focus spokesman. We agree!

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Friday, 29 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

The Annual TelecomTV Treasure Hunt

Conclusive winners of the first annual TelecomTV staff treasure hunt fun day out. Congrats to Sean, Martyn and myself, who finished first by a country mile. In fact, we’re now sitting outside the Three Tuns in Great Halmead sipping our victory beers whilst waiting for the next team to arrive. For the record we finished at 12.59. It is now 1.16 and not a sign of any of the other teams. Says a lot about the people we employ!!!! And by the way, we are here with our 2m cannabis plant (legal) and a live crayfish (caught with a length of string and a paperclip! Cheers. UPDATE: next team to arrive get here at 2.20!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

EXCLUSIVE: US adviser’s Iraq warning – Progress too slow!

BaghdadImage via Wikipedia

Full story on the main TelecomTV website, but here’s the highlight:

26/08/2008 12:33:00 – by CommsDay

A leading US adviser to the Iraqi telecommunications network reconstruction effort is circulating an extensive critique of progress there, charging that Iraq badly lags on development of core fibre infrastructure, faces a massive ICT training shortfall and has erred in rewarding politically-influential US vendors with supply contracts.

Bob Fonow, who completed a 18-month stint as senior consultant, telecoms and IT at the US State Department in Baghdad earlier this year, also charges that the recent military surge has seen the US Department of Defense command excessive influence in telecom reconstruction, often in areas where it has insufficient expertise.

(((Incidentally, this was reposted using the WordPress “Press This” bookmarklet, by way of a test. Only a selection of text from the page was chosen. It was later re-edited in WordPress, in order to use the added extras offered by Zemanta. By the way, adding a new tag within the Press This stage didn’t work…)))

TelecomTV – TelecomTV One – News.

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Tuesday, 26 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Blog Watch: Friday August 21

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

It’s been a busy week on the blogging front, with a vast amount of reporting on news from Google.

The Googlewatch site provided some analysis of Google’s campaign to reuse analogue TV spectrum in the US. It has launched a “Free the Airwaves” website, specifically to use the “white spaces” between bands. According to Google:

Today more than three-quarters of those radio airwaves, or “white space” spectrum, are completely unused. This vast public resource could offer a revolution in wireless services of all kinds, including universal wireless Internet. The FCC will soon decide whether to open this unused spectrum for general usage, and your voice matters — a lot. So if you agree that freeing the white spaces represents a vote for the future of the Internet, please sign our petition and help spread the word about this campaign.

Google of course has a strong interest in increasing web usage, especially with its forthcoming Android platform:

We also want to be transparent about our involvement: Google has a clear business interest in expanding access to the Web. There’s no doubt that if these airwaves are opened up to unlicensed use, more people will be using the Internet. That’s certainly good for Google (not to mention many of our industry peers) but we also think that it’s good for consumers.

Meanwhile, Android developers are on the point of rebellion, according to Macworld.

The company’s actions — including restricting access to key development tools and allegedly treading on open source principles — have created, if not a full-fledged revolt, at least a sense of disappointment and disillusionment among many in the tightly knit Android development community, which numbers perhaps 2,000. Some developers have threatened to shift their attention to other mobile platforms.

The reason for the discontent: the Android Software Developers Kit. As Macworld says, in a very lengthy report which is well worth reading:

In July, Google announced that the latest SDK would be released first to the 50 winners of its Android Developer Challenge, a US$10 million contest that the company is using to find the best and most innovative Android applications — “cool apps that surprise and delight mobile users,” as Google says. While many developers cried foul, Google claims its SDK decision was designed to help the development community.

AppleInsider, one of the many Apple blogs keeping a watchful eye on Android, picked up on a New York Times report, that suggested a HTC-manufactured handset would be on sale at the end of this year:

The HTC-manufacturered handset, know amongst Internet circles as the “Dream,” will go on sale by the holidays — possibly even earlier depending on how long it takes the Federal Communications Commission to weigh in with approval. It’s expected to be the only Android phone available in the U.S. this year and will be sold exclusively through T-Mobile.

AppleInsider ran a video of the supposed device making the rounds on the Internet is said to match the one seen by the Times’sources, confirming its authenticity.

Salvation for mobile Twitterers may be at hand. The Mashable blog notes that alternative provider 3jam is stepping up to the plate:

3jam, a company specializing in Web and SMS communications, is launching a new service tonight that they sent us the scoop on. The service is looking to act as a replacement to the recently deceased capability for Twitter to send messages to users’ mobile devices. As Don Reisinger noted, “Twitter said that it simply can’t afford to support long-distance SMS Twittering anymore and the company claims “it could cost Twitter about $1,000 per user per year to send SMS outside of Canada, India, or the US. At the moment, the site doesn’t appear to be live yet, but they say it’ll be available at this URLbefore the night is up.

With the weekend ahead, time to brush up on economic theory. Wired editor Chris Anderson recently had a piece in Newsweek about the role of technology on inflation. However, Anderson says that:

Newsweek’s website does such a poor job with magazine content that it’s practically unfindable.

And so he helpful reprints the entire essay, “Unleash The World’s Engineers”, on his personal blog. He believes that the price-cutting power of technology can still bring nations relief if only bureaucrats will allow it to.

And finally this week, our thanks to Wired for picking out a site that provides a bit of fun for Manga fans. Face Your Manga does exactly what it says on the tin.

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Thursday, 21 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Mobile Phones in Afghanistan

We’ve got a new video up at TelecomTV. We’re going to be uploading extended sequences from the Mobile Planet documentary, throughout the year, with added up-to-the-minute information and footage. These will be part of the Assignment video series (following last month’s feature on Google’s Android).

First up, Afghanistan. An incredible place, and I really do hope that mobile and communications play a positive part in helping the country become more secure and stable. We meet some wonderful people during our stay.

Anyway, here’s the blurb:

Decades of war and civil unrest had virtually destroyed telecoms in Afghanistan. During Taliban rule, only one person in a hundred had access to a telephone. There were no reliable landlines, and no mobile networks. Given the mountainous terrain, mobile was the only solution for rapidly providing Afghanistan with a modern communications system. Exclusive TelecomTV report from Kabul, Afghanistan

Watch it here

Tuesday, 19 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog Watch is Back

Last year, TelecomTV published a daily “Best of the Blogs” post, highlighting some of the most interesting and thought-provoking articles that we come across as we research the top stories of the day. The Mobile Planet documentary film put paid to that. But now that colossal project is nearing completion, it’s time to resume normal service, albeit on a more civilized weekly basis.

The conflict in Georgia starts us off. Dean Takahasi on Venture Beat has an excellent summary of how the five day Georgia-Russia war spilled over into cyberspace:

Georgian web sites buckled under overwhelming waves of bogus traffic, sent from huge swarms of compromised computers. The attacks began as probes as early as July 20, according to Internet experts. As the war began on Friday, millions of extraneous requests — a so-called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack — took down Georgia’s banking and government sites … The first attacks reported by the Russian press noted that the web site of the South Ossetian government had been hit with a DDoS attack, just hours after the shooting started on Aug. 8. On Aug. 9, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site was defaced, with photographs of Georgian president Mikheil Saaskashvili juxtaposed with Adolf Hitler’s image. A group called the South Ossetia Hack Crew claimed responsibility for the defacements.

He included a comment from Gadi Evron, a security expert, who wrote a post-mortem on the Estonia experience.

“Does an Internet attack warrant a reaction from NATO? What about the UN? Is there such a thing as a ‘just’ Internet war and what is a country’s right to defend itself against one?”

Moving away from malicious attacks on the Net to just plain-old traffic overload; will the ISPs really buckle under the weight? According to a report from Cogent, highlighted on the DSL Reports blog, no they won’t. Or at least, not at the moment, as Cogent has just seen its first ever quarterly traffic volume decline.

The decline is blamed in part on normal lower seasonal use, but the company says they also “saw a series of video and social networking sites exhibit much more modest traffic growth than they had been.” Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer even goes so far as to proclaim “we’ve not seen a massive migration of video consumption over the Internet.” He notes that the average consumer still watches online video for 4.5 minutes per day and traditional broadcast television for 4.5 hours per day.

One for aspiring start-ups now. VC blogger Fred Wilson knows a thing or two about investing in young Internet firms. On a trip to the UK this week, he asked a group of entrepreneurs from the North of England to list their top funding questions. Full notes and comments over at his blog, but the list (as Fred remembers it) is as follows:

1) How do you evaluate a new investment opportunity?
2) What is going on with the US economy and how will it impact the global economy?
3) What do you make of technology platforms and software as a service business models?
4) How do you evaluate management teams before and after you invest in them?
5) What’s next for the web and web-based businesses?
6) What are the limits of advertising based business models and are they sustainable?

There is clearly a great deal of unease in the entrepreneur community about the economy and the reliance on advertising based business models. I got a distinct sense that everyone is looking for other areas and business models for inspiration.

Paid Content’s Rafat Ali interviewed Jim Keyes, the CEO of bricks and mortar DVD movie rental company Blockbuster. With online rental services, such as iTunes and Netflix, growing in popularity, a drop in trading numbers for Blockbuster comes as no surprise. But the former boss of the 7-Eleven convenience store chain still has faith in physical distribution.:

Q: This is a hypothetical one. Would you be ever interested in buying Netflix?

Keyes: Not really. Netflix doesn’t really have or do anything that we can’t and don’t already do ourselves. So, there’s really no advantage in buying. We think we can compete and play effectively on our own because what they don’t and couldn’t have very easily anyway is the depth of physical presence that we have. This is the key question: is everybody going to buy everything electronically in the future or for quite some time into the future, is there going to be a good balance between physical and electronic? If physical still has a role or any period of time into the future, we’re far better positioned to leverage that advantage.

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Friday, 15 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Dumbest Event of the Year

DhakaImage via Wikipedia

Congratulations and Good Luck to Terrapin, who are busy advertising their latest telecoms conference, Telecoms World. They’ll need the luck, as they are hosting it in Bangladesh in October.

Here’s what I learned from filming in Dhaka in October last year — 12 months exactly from their event dates:

  1. Dhaka is one of the most crowded cities on the planet
  2. It has extreme poverty
  3. Add the above together and you get terrible logistical problems, travel in the city is very difficult
  4. Watch out for Ramadan. This year it’s in September and the event just misses it. This triples the effect of point 3 above
  5. There are only a couple of really good hotels in Dhaka
  6. Even then, you can still get robbed: our hotel room safe was broken into and money and jewelery stolen — and this was the Sheraton, on the Club Floor! — and they still haven’t admitted liability… Shame on you, Sheraton Dhaka. You’ve lost a previously loyal customer.
  7. The airport is a hell hole. Do not, under any circumstances, arrive at the airport more than two hours before your flight — they don’t let you into the building, and you’ll have to wait with 10 million locals who all crowd around outside.
  8. Pay heed to point 7 and burn it into your brain
  9. It will probably rain. A lot.
  10. The roads are terrible. Leave the city and you’ll find out. If you suffer from a bad back, don’t go.
  11. The drivers are even worse than the roads. There are no lanes, left or right, take your pick.
  12. Buses and trucks travel fast and DO NOT SLOW DOWN. Just get out of the way fast.
  13. Lovely people (except for one, who I can’t mention for legal reasons….), struggling to make the most of what they’ve got. But I’m afraid that can’t make up for the other 12 above.

So there you are. 13 reasons why I won’t be attending. And I’m not spending two birthdays in a row in Dhaka, thank you very much.

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Wednesday, 6 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Qualcomm COO Sanjay Jha becomes new Motorola co-CEO

Motorola Inc.Image via Wikipedia

This just in from Silicon Alley Insider; Qualcomm COO becomes new co-CEO of Motorola:

Motorola (MOT) finally has its turnaround man: The company named Dr. Sanjay Jha co-CEO and CEO of its Mobile Devices business this morning. Jha will lead the company’s cellphone spinoff, scheduled for Q3 2008, and will be tasked with making the once-great cellphone company profitable again.

Greg Brown, who’s been Motorola’s CEO since Ed Zander left last year, is now co-CEO of the company, and will continue to lead Motorola’s infrastructure businesses, which include wireless network gear and cable set-top boxes.

Jha, 45, was a rising star at Qualcomm — most recently as COO, which he was promoted to in December, 2006. He has an engineering background and recently led development of Qualcomm’s Flarion group — a WiMax competitor

[From Motorola Hires New Cellphone CEO: Qualcomm’s Sanjay Jha (MOT)]

Also, from Qualcomm’s website:

Qualcomm Incorporated announced today that Dr. Sanjay Jha, chief operating officer and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), is leaving Qualcomm and will become co-CEO of Motorola, Inc. and CEO of Motorola Mobile Devices. Len Lauer, executive vice president of Qualcomm and group president, is promoted to chief operating officer and Steve Mollenkopf, executive vice president of QCT, is promoted to president of QCT. In addition, Jim Lederer was recently promoted to executive vice president of business planning and finance for QCT

“Sanjay’s leadership has been instrumental in growing QCT into the number one wireless semiconductor supplier,” said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm. “I’d like to personally thank Sanjay for his many years of service for Qualcomm and look forward to continuing to work with him in his role at one of Qualcomm’s key customers. I wish Sanjay the best in his new position.”

The most recent TelecomTV interview with Sanjay — a year ago — can be seen by clicking the link.

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Monday, 4 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

College Classes on Virus Writing

The Schultz Information Center.Image via Wikipedia

This one is interesting. Newsweek story picked up by Techdirt on colleges teaching students how to write computer viruses. On the face of it, not a god idea. But look again. I’ve never had any joy with anti-virus programs, one of the reasons I’m Mac-based now. “Know your enemy”? Maybe it’ll work:

Theodp writes in to let us know about an article in Newsweek about a course being taught at Sonoma State University by George Ledin, where students are tasked with creating their own malware. Once again, various security companies are condemning the technique, even sinking so low as to compare Ledin to A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology to North Korea. They even insist they won’t hire his students — which seems particularly short-sighted. As Ledin points out, it appears that this is really more about the security companies wanting to keep the world more scared than they need to be of malware, so as to pretend that they’re the only ones who can solve the “problem” — when the truth is they’re not very effective at it. He complains that anti-virus firms keep their code secret (thank you, DMCA). He points out that if they were willing to open it up, and let lots of folks work on improving it, it would get much, much better. All he’s trying to do is help more people understand the enemy without first having to work at one of those companies that’s been so ineffective in stopping malware — in the hopes that maybe some of his students can actually come up with a better soltuion.

[From College Classes On Malware Writing Still Piss Off Anti-Virus Firms]

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Monday, 4 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Venture Fund Economics: Gross and Net Returns

Banknotes from all around the World donated by...Image via Wikipedia

A very informative posting from Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures on his VC blog yesterday. If there are any would-be start-ups out there, or younger companies looking for venture capital, his post is essential reading. Here’s a snippet, but there is a load more info over at his site:

The returns venture firms get on their investments are called “gross returns”. I said 2x was the lowest attractive return on a venture fund and I meant net to the LPs. That means if you invest a dollar in the fund, you get two dollars back.

However, the fund has to get a lot more than $2 back on its investments to get its investors $2 back. That’s because before the investors get their money back, the fund takes a management fee. And if there are profits, the managers of the fund take a carried interest on the profits. Our fund takes 20% and that is the carried interest that most funds take.

The management fees don’t go directly to the fund managers. They pay for the costs of running the business. On small funds, that’s about all they pay for. On big funds, the management fees can get large enough to pay very significant salaries to the fund managers. Management fees are all over the map but range from 1.5% per year for large funds to 2.5% per year for smaller funds.

The carried interest is only paid on gains. So if they fund makes no money, no carried interest is paid. But if the gains are large, the carry will be large too.

So to make it really simple, a fund needs to get 4x on its investments to generate 2.5x in distributions to its limited partners.

The differences between gross returns and net returns are large in the venture and private equity business and it’s important to understand them and be clear about what numbers you are using when you talk about returns.

[From Venture Fund Economics: Gross and Net Returns]

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Monday, 4 August 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment