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

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