TelecomTV *Raw

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

Blogwatch: Nortel gives up on 4G, ITV gives up on 3G, whilst India clings on to 2G

Hugh Cornwell, former singer and guitarist wit...

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More woes for Nortel, monkey business for Sony Ericsson, our undying love of trade shows, mobile comes to India’s aid, UK TV boss sticks it to the telecoms industry, whilst ex-Stranglers frontman shows Feargal Sharkey and his Canute-like chums how to adapt to the digital age. TelecomTV trawls the blogs for your delectation and delight.

There I was, sitting on the beaches, looking at the peaches… golden brown, texture like sun…. No wait, that’s an acid flashback to my youth as a Stranglers fan. There we were, crammed into a university bar, watching Jet Black on drums, that crazy French guy, the keyboard bloke, and Hugh Cornwell on vocals. Where are they now? Well, Hugh Cornwell is most definitely not driving a taxi…

Long story, recommend you read it at TechDirt. But briefly, back in 2001, Cornwell was shown Napster and he was very much against his studio recorded songs being on it, saying:

“I cannot condone the posting of music that I spent money making, being given away for free…. But then there are other people who are getting it for free, they are not giving me anything, and there has to be some sort of royalty paid or I’ll have to become a cab driver.”

Seven years on, and TechDirt explains that:

He’s offering up his latest album as a completely free download. However, he’s pairing that with a much more complete business model. Like Trent Reznor, Cornwell is also offering a few different options for those who want tangible (scarce) goods as well — such as a CD, DVD or vinyl. But Cornwell seems to be going even further in recognizing the power of selling scarcities. The DVD mentioned above is actually a film showing much of the recording process that went into the album. However, the film itself was also shown in some theaters — with Cornwell attending each of the showings and doing a Q&A session at the end of each one. In other words, he’s recognized yet another important “scarcity”: access to the artists and (once again) that means much more than touring, as seen here.

At least that’s one former 70s music icon that gets it. Unlike Feargal Sharkey of the Undertones, who is now the head of recording industry’s trade association British Music Rights. TelecomTV invited Mr Teenage Kicks into the studio to try to understand his protectionist views, but his aid replied that:

“He’s simply too busy at the moment.”

Er, so that told us then…

Incidentally, we also requested an interview with Jeremy Banks, the head of the Internet Anti-Piracy Unit at the IFPI. The IFPI (and that’s ‘P’ as in Phonographic, you have to be careful with that):

represents the recording industry worldwide with some 1400 members in 73 countries and affiliated industry associations in 48 countries. IFPI’s mission: Promote the value of recorded music; Safeguard the rights of record producers; Expand the commercial uses of recorded music.

His aid declined and replied that:

“The ICT industry is very aware of our position on online copyright infringement through direct conversations.”

At the risk of repeating ourselves… Er, so that told us then…

***

The music industry, of course, is not the only one trying to come to terms with the impact of telecoms and digital convergence. Take the broadcast world…

Michael Grade; love him, loathe him. Fans of Doctor Who loathe him as he axed the original run of the show when he was Director General of the BBC. But now he is Executive Chairman of the BBC’s commercial rival, ITV. But a year into his job, ITV is still stuck in the financial mire. So it’s not surprising that he blames everyone else. At this week’s IBC broadcast event in Amsterdam, he lashed out at 3G, Google and YouTube:

“Google and YouTube are just parasites. The day they start spending £1 billion a year on content is the day I’ll start worrying.”

He went on to say:

“Mobile will have to wait (because) it’s clunky, it’s slow and 3G streaming seems usually not to work.”

You can watch and hear what the BBC have to say about the many positives of cross-platform content on our weekly NewsDesk programme, which is ready to watch right now.

The Paid Content blog noted that ITV has just appointed a new boss for its international distribution arm:

It’s true to say there’s plenty of ITV’s material on YouTube right now. But, whilst the likes of BBC Worldwide, form partnerships with the video sharer, Grade appears to fight the site. What ITV Worldwide’s new digital director Jason Binks will make of the comments, we don’t know. Hired last week, Binks’ remit, ITV said, is to strike distribution agreements with the likes of Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and iTunes. By the same logic as that used to judge YouTube, can these platforms, too, be considered “parasites”… ?

***

“Trade shows are boring”. Oh, how many of us long to have the cojones to say that ourselves! But we don’t… Trade shows are good. Trade shows are our friends. Trade shows give meaning to our humble existence… But not Andy Abramson over at VoIP Watch:

I was at CTIA yesterday and walked the floor around some meetings that I had. It was boring. Very boring. The life has been sucked out of the trade shows and companies which are spending money are getting wise to it. The original rules put on the exhibitors, all designed originally to inspire companies to out do one another have now become almost like a prescription for an antiseptic bath.

***

Less than a week to go before Google and T-Mobile officially launch the first Android handset, with HTC. So we’ll lay off the Android news this week and instead turn our attention to The Development Platform That Time Forgot. Mind you, it wasn’t that long ago that Sony Ericsson announced its Capuchin project, but it has manifestly failed to catch the interest of the skeptical tech press.

However, VisionMobile hasn’t given up on the little monkey (it’s Friday, puns are allowed…). Thomas Menguy has posted a transcript of a webcast, complete with graphics, giving a huge amount of detail of the application environment:

At least now we have some information about Capuchin, and I’ll sum it up for our beloved busy executives:

A technology that allows developers to make the UI using Flash Lite and code the business logic and access to the platform services with Java (ME).

A development environment with PC based tools (Adobe CS plugin for flash and Eclipse plugin for Java), simulators and a specific runtime embedded in SEMC phones.

The deployment is done using the well in place Java deployment environment (jar are used, same signature, etc).

So there you have it, you busy executives. Next…

***

The use of mobile in the developing world is of keen interest to me (having spent most of the past year working on the Mobile Planet documentary film, and yes, it will be available to buy or watch online very soon…). The very useful Mobile Active blog is a great resource for these stories. It picked up an excellent report from One India this week, on how mobile phones are used after the devastating floods in Bihar, India:

Through cell phones the marnooed people were able to remain connected with the district officials to guide them about their need and the urgency of rescuing them. But as the days passed by, the non-availability of electricity in large areas had posed great problem towards charging the mobile sets.

“This had forced us to form several groups within the locality to convey the news of our well being to outsiders in a relay system by using only one cell for all,” said Mr Sushil Kumar of Barhigaon village in Madhepura.

Those who took shelter on the rooftops were also in touch with the rescue teams through mobile phones, as they were able to guide them to the right direction to trace them in the midst of vast sheet of water, said a mobile phone owner after being rescued by the local authorities. Many others also used their mobile phones to inform the local television channels and newspaper offices about their plight.

***

And so we come to Nortel… This week it announced a preliminary third quarter results and revised its full year 2008 outlook. Now, regular TelecomTV readers will know that we tend to bash companies that under-perform, or have idiotic strategies that threaten the well-being of their employees at the expense of fat bonuses for a handful of so-called executives that ought not to be let out into society, etc etc. Anyway, back to Nortel… Let’s face it, Nortel has had its fair share of self-imposed problems, and it looks like there are more troubles in store — but this time, the directors can quote President Clinton’s anti-Bush slogan and say “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” Well, here’s what they actually say, in their press statement:

With a sustained and expanding economic downturn, the Company is experiencing significant pressure as Carrier customers cut back their capital expenditures further than previously expected…

“It is clear that the business environment in which we operate requires additional immediate and decisive actions,” said Nortel President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Zafirovski.

Cryptic, perhaps? The plot is about to thicken:

As part of the review, planning is underway for further restructuring and other cost reduction initiatives to significantly reduce the Company’s cost base to achieve a more competitive business structure as well as to mitigate the risks associated with the Company’s 4th generation carrier wireless investments.

So it wants to sell off its LTE business? Should we be surprised? After all, it failed to corner the market with GSM, 3G or indeed WiMAX. Plus, it has also announced that it wants rid of its Metro Ethernet business. Our old pal Ray Le Maistre at Unstrung took some quotes from the subsequent analyst conference call:

When asked what actions Nortel might take regarding its 4G developments, CEO Mike Zafirovski said the company is looking for “opportunities to de-risk” its investment. “Future consolidation is necessary in wireless. We’re exploring options for 4G that will be best” for Nortel, its customers, and the industry, said the CEO, unhelpfully. Zafirovski said that “what we did with UMTS and Wimax” are examples of what might happen. Nortel’s WiMax strategy is now tied up in the Alvarion relationship, while it sold its 3G UMTS infrastructure business to Alcatel in late 2006.

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Friday, 19 September 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Testing Links

Integrating NetnewsWire with MarsEdit to reblog list of tabbed RSS entries:

Monday, 15 September 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Internet For The Other 3 Billion

From Martin Sauter’s blog. testing out new reblogging tools.

Internet For The Other 3 Billion: “

Heise News reported recently about O3b Networks, a new satellite operator who’s mission statement is to connect ‘The Other 3 Billion’ to the Internet. Hence, their name O3b. It was probably worth a post as one of the investors is a certain Google Inc. The company’s web site doesn’t yet contain a lot of material but what they’ve already put there makes some interesting reading. Heise reports that the company aims to put 16 satellites built by Thales Alenia aerospace into orbit with a total of 2300 transponders. Each transponder has an uplink/downlink bandwidth of 216 MHz, which delivers a throughput of 600 MBit/s in each direction. The company targets fixed line and mobile networks in the developing world for backhaul services and says there system is designed for significant savings over previous backhaul transport in regions where laying a fiber is no option. It would be interesting to get some hard numbers in terms of dollars per month. Latency of the system is given at 65 milliseconds, quite important for real time services such as voice and interactive services such as web browsing. The company also positions itself for emergency scenarios and says they can get bandwidth to any place around the globe +/- 45 degrees of the equator within 10 minutes. The satellites have yet to be brought into orbit which is foreseen around 2010. An ambitious and exciting project!

(Via Martin Sauter’s Mobile Technology Page.)

Monday, 15 September 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blogwatch: Is Telecom Cool?

From ambient awareness to the economics of the cloud; how the web gurus are trying to make telecoms cool.

Cool or uncool? Let’s face it, we all want to be cool, or to be seen to be working in a cool industry. Or at least, that what our kids want. But can the industry that brought us synchronous optical networking and time division multiplexing really become hip and trendy?

Rudolf van der Berg asks this question on his Internet Thought blog.

Top Gear, the hugely successful BBC car program, has an item called the Cool Wall. Its the most subjective way of dividing cars up from subzero, via cool, uncool to seriously uncool. I thought I do the same for the telecom industry.

So what’s on Rudolph’s Cool Wall?

Free (France): 30 euro a month buys you 28mbit/s DSL (design their own DSL modems), free calling in France and to fixed numbers in 50+ countries, IP-TV, HD-TV, recorder, TV-Perso + native IPv6 (thanks Jap), etc. It has redefined the French broadband market by teaching marketeers that its not about new services that generate new revenues, but that it’s about delivering more for the same money.

Internet Exchanges (mostly Europe and Asia): Most internet exchanges are cool… People working for Internet Exchanges are also good for having a beer with that’s bonus points.

Internet Network Geeks: Beards, T-shirs and Sandals. Most of these men are great to have a beer with. They know why the network works.

And Seriously Uncool?

Incumbents: Almost by definition they’re uncool. Some even seriously uncool. They’ve been given this great asset and a perennial monopoly, that is impossible to crush. But instead of using it in a benevolent anti-competitive way (the way KPN works) most of them are just plain evil.

Mobile companies (and the GSMA): In Europe all of them are money hogging, price fixing, cartel supported, marketing companies. It’s not even about telecoms anymore.

Deutsche Telekom: In 1994 my student room had more bandwidth (10mbit/s) to the internet than all German universities together.

Strong stuff (the views of the author do not reflect blah blah blah…) From cool wall to cool names. Ambient Awareness is the tallest cool phrase of the moment, according to the New York Times. It’s all to do with RSS feeds and how to get the most out of the myriad of different news sources all fighting to be heard on the Web. The article suggests it all started with Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg:

He developed something he called News Feed, a built-in service that would actively broadcast changes in a user’s page to every one of his or her friends. Students would no longer need to spend their time zipping around to examine each friend’s page, checking to see if there was any new information. Instead, they would just log into Facebook, and News Feed would appear: a single page that — like a social gazette from the 18th century — delivered a long list of up-to-the-minute gossip about their friends, around the clock, all in one place. “A stream of everything that’s going on in their lives,” as Zuckerberg put it.

There’s a collection of readers views on ambient awareness over at the NYT website. Meanwhile TechDirt adds its views to the debate:

It’s not so much about telling everyone everything you’re doing, or knowing everything that everyone is doing, but it does give you an amazing ambient view into what’s going on in the lives of whoever you follow, and in an odd way makes you feel much more connected to them than you might otherwise.

The GigaOM site continues the cool theme, with the Ten Laws of Cloudonomics. Yes, economics, wikinomics and now… cloudonomics. Putting aside the ridiculous name (perhaps we should also jump on the bandwagon — how about telecomonomics?), the article, by Joe Weinman of AT&T, posits that public utility cloud services differ from traditional data centre environments (and private enterprise clouds) in three fundamental ways:

First, they provide true on-demand services, by multiplexing demand from numerous enterprises into a common pool of dynamically allocated resources. Second, large cloud providers operate at a scale much greater than even the largest private enterprises. Third, while enterprise data centers are naturally driven to reduce cost via consolidation and concentration, clouds benefit from dispersion.

He then argues that these three key differences enable “the sustainable strategic competitive advantage of clouds through what I’ll call the 10 Laws of Cloudonomics”. So there. Warning, he cites the “classic military strategist” Carl von Clausewitz in the same article as physicists Einstein and Minkowski…

From 10 laws of speculative musings, to 20 top research reports for development telecoms. Lirne Net picks up on a new list from the GSMA Development Fund.

The GSMA Development Fund… has compiled and published a list of the best research reports on the economic and social impact of mobile communications in developing countries. Selection was based on content, relevance, originality and credibility. GSMA notes that although not an exhaustive and scientifically developed list, “it illustrates the work that we feel is most important at the moment and highlights key conclusions on the impact of mobile technology in developing countries.”

Apple watchers don’t miss out this week. IntoMobile has a report on Apple’s latest patent filings for a multi-touch and gesture-based interface, complete with tantilizing sketches.

Apple proposes, in their latest patent application, that future multi-touch technologies will integrate almost all foreseeable input modalities to complement touch-based multi-touch. Mechanical manipulations could be assigned to touch-based commands, while voice commands are relegated to functions that require choosing an option from a list. Futhermore, Apple envisions future multi-touch setups incorporating finger-recognition that would allow the user to assign different functions to each finger – which would allow for more complex commands to be issued. Gaze-vector tracking could allow your future laptop or mobile phone to recognize which menu you’d like to select and automatically drill down to the appropriate category.

And finally, in the week that the UK Broadband Stakeholders Group revealed that it would cost an incredible £29 billion to roll out Fibre to the Home to every citizen (that’s about XXXXXXXX per head), the Communications Breakdown blog came across a bizarre announcement from New Zealand operator TelstraClear.

This is a remarkable statement coming from an alternative operator, TelstraClear of New Zealand. The telco says the main result of faster broadband links to the home may be more downloads of pornography and movies rather than improvements to productivity, quotes the New Zealand Herald. “At the moment we don’t believe that putting fibre into every home is economic or necessary.”

Site author Tim Poulus comments that FTTH is the only viable future route, and cites these reasons (among others);

Cablecos are upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0. If you want to keep up, you might as well leap ahead of them and acknowledge that FTTH is the end-game; The build-out of a nationwide FTTH network takes at least 10 years to reach a good portion of the population. So, you better start today; Many applications require symmetric connections. Only FTTH will be able to offer that.

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Friday, 12 September 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Blogwatch: You wait years for an Apps Store, then 3 come at once

On Blogwatch this week; Google keeps on dominating the blogs, with news of its Android Application Store and Cloud browser, and the evolution of 3G comes in for scrutiny.

It was inevitable that having seen the success of Apple’s iPhone Apps Store, that rivals would seek to emulate the model. First up, Google. The Internet giant announced its plans for an application store this week. Silicon Alley Insider investigates the difference between the “Android Market” and the Apple store.

The big difference: Apple runs it own store with a pretty firm hand. If you want in, you’ve got play by their rules. But Google has an open door policy: Developers who want to put their program on the market just register, upload, and they’re in business. Good news for developers, right? Open access to a platform supported by the biggest player in tech? You bet. But there is a downside: While everything on Apple app store has the Steve Jobs seal of approval, Google’s shop is going to be a caveat emptor proposition. Which means that a bunch of Android users are likely to get some bum apps. If that happens too often, that’s going to diminish Android’s appeal, and have developers begging for a firm hand.

Rival site Valleywag has it’s own take on the news:

Don’t call it an app store — it’s an open content distribution system. Android Market will be Google’s version of the iPhone App Store. A PR-speak description of the site emphasizes that posting apps for sale will be a lot like uploading videos to YouTube. But with iPhone app developers already posing as punk-rock heroes, how much more developer-friendly does Google really need to be? A screenshot from the not-yet-launched store seems designed to appeal to wonky coders, not the mass market of non-technical buyers Google will need to attract.

This from Googlewatch:

All the pieces are coming together. Several programmers have written Android apps. Two weeks ago, Android launched an SDK and OS road map, and unveiled Market, a place to buy the apps. What’s missing? Oh yeah, the devices. Until the HTC Dream and other Android-based smart phones of its ilk come to the fore in the fall, it’s hard to get too excited about these supporting ecosystem moves. I look forward to the first gadgets based on Android and hope for Google’s sake that they are comparable to the first iPhone in user experience. If they are subpar, Android will be deemed a failure and Google will swallow a bitter pill. Gadgetheads are a merciless lot and will show the search engine no quarter if Android phones aren’t as good as, if not better than, the best handhelds from Apple, Nokia, RIM, Palm and Microsoft.

MoCoNews adds its two cents:

On the business side of the house, details are foggy. Google said that the first phones will have a beta version of Android market, and at the minimum, it will support free applications. After launch, Google will work towards adding paid content and more features, such as being able to upload a new version of the application. But who knows what kind of revenue splits we are talking about.

Not to be outdone, news breaks that Microsoft (remember them?) is also getting into the game. Anyone want a job with the “Skymarket”? If so, time to brush up your CV and get your skates on, as Apple Insider believes Microsoft is hiring:

The project, tentatively called “Skymarket,” was revealed in a job listing Microsoft posted earlier today at computerjobs.com for a Senior Product Manager to oversee a marketplace service for Windows Mobile. According to the job listing, Microsoft doesn’t plan to commercially launch Skymarket until the release of Windows Mobile 7, slated for late 2009. However, the company does hope to find someone who can handle “driving the cross group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall.” The posting also indicates Microsoft hasn’t made much progress so far about its conceptual goals for the store. It calls for an applicant who can assume responsibilities for “definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace ‘the place to be’ for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications.”

The full report is lengthy, and we recommend you pop on over to AppleInsider and read it in full.

Meanwhile, Dean Bubley’s Disruptive Wireless blog notes that the GSMA is now “toning down the rhetoric towards reality”. Strong words Dean, but we know what you mean. The whole industry is guilty of “bigging up” the abilities of new technology. Remember when the ITU claimed that 3G (or rather, IMT-2000) would give us an incredible 1Gbit/s of bandwidth in static mode? Well yes, but only if you were the sole user on a desert island, standing right next to the tower, and theoretical mathematics magically became reality. But back to Dean…

I saw this headline (“Mobile to reach 100Mbps before fixed-line, claims GSMA“) and was about to write a pithy response, mentioning awkward facts such as HongKong Broadband Network’s residential Symmetric Gigabit service having been available for a year or so. Then I read the full article, which includes sensible commentary from Dan Warren saying “obviously you never get the top speed and they vary with distance from the base station and interference”. Further, the GSMA’s recent press release of 50m HSPA subscribers cites “peak data speeds over HSPA are currently between 3.6Mbps and 7.2Mbps. This translates to an end user speed of more than 1Mbps”. In other words, the GSMA is actually being realistic about real-world speeds for mobile broadband

He’s also written a piece on the threat that 3G in the 3.5GHz band poses to WiMAX. Incidentally, the WiMAX community should be banged to rights over its ludicrous hyping of the technology as some kind of 3G-killer. But I digress…

One thing that 3GPP has been very good at is rolling out support for new frequency bands – arguably too good, some might say, as the number of available 3G/LTE bands now far outstrips the ability of chipsets to support all of them. The latest in line is 3500MHz (and also 2300MHz), which until now has been the preserve of WiMAX and other similar fixed-wireless technologies. I suggested last November that this was a likely counter-strike by the invasion of the 2.5/2.6GHz band by WiMAX. With the continued push towards a TDD profile for LTE, my view is that the WiMAX community is in danger of being further squeezed in some markets in terms of spectrum allocation.

Sticking with next-generation wireless, Martin Sauter has an update on LTE. He’s spotted an air interface primer on Agilent’s website that is worth a look:

Lots of interesting material can be found at Agilent’s LTE Network Testing web page. I especially like the LTE (Air Interface) introduction whitepaper. Although I am already aware of many things discussed in the paper, its always good to read about things from an author that looks at the topic from a different perspective.

And finally, some personal news. I have finally managed to receive a Broadband Migration Authorisation Code from my local ISP, the increasingly-bad Pipex. It only took six premium-rate phone calls and an email before I could speak to a human being — at a total call cost estimated at around £27, which is more than a month’s fee for my 8Gbit/s (reality = 2.1Gbit/s on a good day) uncapped service. Note the “uncapped”.  Strange then, that I can only access a web page at home for about 30 seconds every five minutes…. Is someone Throttling My Package? My apologies to all the long-serving staff of Pipex, if there are any left, as I point the finger of blame at new parent company Tiscali. Meanwhile, one call to tiny independent ISP Andrews and Arnold was answered in seconds by a (shock horror) knowledgeable and friendly person who gave me a lot of information and advice and seemed genuinely pleased that I was about to give them my business. There is a moral in this story; it’s just a shame that most telecoms companies couldn’t give a toss.

Friday, 5 September 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment