Tuesday, January 30, 2007

There's news, and then there's not news

This item doesn't seem to have found its way on to KPN's corporate website yet. KPN's German fiber assets (presumably dating back to the good old Bubble 1.0 days of KPNQwest) are to be jointly marketed with those of Wingas, which happens to be 50% owned by Gazprom and apparently has aspirations of being a pan-European long-haul fiber player.

Dart in the PAN

Just got an intriguing press release from Motorola, which states that its venture unit has made an investment in Dart Devices, heretofore unknown company (to me anyway), which describes itself as being in stealth mode. The release states that Dart will be making a demo at Demo 2007, so if anyone there has anything to share, I'm all ears. I stumbled into the customer area of the Dart site and found an interesting list of companies (including Vodafone, misspelled) there, along with more description, which sounds very much like a piece of the vision I heard from Motorola's own John Waclawsky back at Telco 2.0:

"DART combines a group of connected devices into one virtual device with all the collective software, hardware and content of the devices available to all the devices. Any device running the DartPlayer middleware can run Dart software applications, called "dapps," which can securely spread their execution across heterogeneous devices, operating systems and communications protocols.

The net effect is truly seamless interoperability between devices without any need for prior knowledge about the other devices or what software they contain. DART makes it easy to build new types of self-distributing software 'Social Applications' which can synchronize content and operations across any number of devices. This adds an important new dimension to existing interoperability technologies and standards."

A bit of reading material

If I ever get a break from the day-to-day grind, I'm going to get caught up on my reading. Add to the already long list this 203-page feasibility study on FTTP in San Francisco kindly sent in by a Palladium Club mega-uber value reader. Interestingly, one conclusion is that the initial FTTP deployment in the enterprise district be extended city-wide, as an open network, which would be "competition-enhancing." This last bit seems to pretty well capture the mood both Stateside and increasingly in Europe.

Should you manage to make it through the document and still have energy for a bit more, these are the slides (torrent) I presented at the Telecom Finance conference late last Friday afternoon, as Deutsche Telekom was no doubt discussing the most awkward timing for this year's first profit warning (yes, Sunday mid-day was a lovely choice). Due to a late start and an increase in panel size from three to five, I basically had to try to get my message across in seven minutes or so. The best moment for me was when I said that telcos should expect that everyone is in competition with them. As an example, I asked for a show of hands from those who thought that Adobe should be counted among the field of telco competitors. Not a single hand rose, but later, when I touched on the deal with Verisign, I could see some wincing going on, and when I closed with the Acrobat 8 news (which no one seemed to have clocked), I was rewarded with the smiling and head-shaking disbelief that I usually aim to see at least once in a presentation.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Chapter and U-Verse

If you're either a bull or bear on FTTN, take some time and read this exceedingly detailed and interesting first-hand review of AT&T's U-Verse service, including tons of screengrabs. No matter what your view, you'll probably find something that confirms it here - there are plenty of positives, but also some glaring negatives (single HD stream only, highly compressed VOD signal) which I, as a bear, focus on. Despite the pretty balanced views of the reviewer, the final assessment is a damning one:

"This is still a beta service and for some reason they decided to roll it out unfinished. They should not be charging for the service as it is now... U-Verse is just a band aid for what AT&T really needs to do, and that would be fiber to the home."

(Thanks to the Mother of All Palladium Club mega-uber value readers for drawing my attention to this.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Over my dead copper

Another busy day looms ahead of me, but I wanted to draw your attention to the excellent piece which our EuroTelcofriends at T-Regs have done on OPTA's letter of yesterday outlining its current thinking on the KPN all-IP migration. If you're not a Dutch speaker, but interested in developments in the Dutch market and regulatory complexities of next-gen network deployment, then you will find this immensely helpful.

It would appear that OPTA has come to the same conclusions that others and I (perhaps somewhat uncharitably) expressed doubts about previously:

"...the studies conducted, and input received from alternative operators, indicate that it is not sufficiently clear that a fully fledged alternative [to copper MDF access] would be sufficiently guaranteed..."


"...it seems clear that the study concludes that the threshold for economic viability for an alternative operator using sub-loop unbundling from street cabinets is unlikely to be achieved by any alternative operator unless it reaches an enormous market share (in a market that is characterised by major presence of cable networks) or can operate on the basis of sub-loop unbundling very selectively whilst having a larger global broadband market share than Dutch alternative operators currently control, and under the assumption of considerably increased average revenue per user."

I am also personally puzzled by the reference made to OPTA's unexplained decision to back away from a focus on coordinated infrastructure deployment, which, indeed as T-Regs notes, is completely at odds with the stance of the French regulator (and possibly common sense, in my humble opinion).

Lastly, I'm looking forward to the publication next month of OPTA's study of the Openreach model and its possible implications in the Dutch market.

UPDATE: My cyberbuddy and coopetitor Tim Poulus has made a very fine post on this issue, where he goes through the views of each market participant. Check the bombshell at the end, where Vodafone is apparently urging OPTA to examine the case for structural separation.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Access is Golden

I see that Golden Telecom's Moscow WiFi network is set to go live next week. They claim 50,000 signed up for the beta, with 20k active and 6k per day on average. Coverage of the staggering 6,700 access points is claimed to be 800k households, of which the company aims to take 300 - 400k as customers by 2010. Coming only a month after the company's FTTH acquisition, this is looking to me like Iliadsky. I occasionally get mega-uber value readers from Moscow - if you have any first-hand experience to share, then please get in touch.

Fiber to the Midlands

An eagle-eyed mega-uber value reader alerts me to developments in, of all places, Walsall in the West Midlands. I've never considered living there previously, but the idea is starting to appeal.

Another day, another fiber build...

As bad as yesterday was for a certain French company, the sun shone on at least a few parts of Paris (namely the communes of Bagnolet, Bobigny, Drancy, Le Blanc-Mesnil, Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, Livry-Gargan, Nanterre, Nogent sur-Marne, Noisy-le-Sec, Romainville, Thiais, Villeneuve-le-Roi, Villemomble), as NeufCegetel group company LD Collectivités announced a 20-year program of FTTH deployment. These 13 communities house 500,000 inhabitants, and phase one of the build will aim to connect 22,400 households in the next two years. (Thanks to the Prix D'Or mega-uber value reader who tipped me off!)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday tidbits

Trying to dig myself out of a pit today, so blogging takes a backseat - unless something really interesting happens. So here are a couple of things to keep you busy. A Platinum Class mega-uber value reader points to the recently added English translation of an article on approaches to fiber written late last year by ARCEP member Gabrielle Gauthey. The salient passage for me, is unsurprisingly:

"It is necessary to understand that the passive network involves a long-term investment with a long-term rate of return (more than 20 years). This can pose a problem for the private operator who derives his profit from an active network and needs to turn a short-term profit (3 to 5 years). Operators must control and own their active network equipment because it’s only at the active level that operators can differentiate themselves and be competitive. However, private operators can easily share the passive network – ducts and dark fibre.

The ways of implementing network sharing can lead to very different investment models, which might risk in some cases recreating monopolies, even local ones. [EuroTelcoblog - this local monopoly scenario is a potential regulator headache I have previously written about - glad to see it being echoed here.]

In one model, the operator is vertically integrated and installs a closed network, or a slightly open network with only resale offers. This is the preferred model of incumbents in the United States.

In another model, long-term investors, who are associated if necessary with local governments, from the start adopt an open-access model, sell passive network capacity without necessarily becoming themselves operators."

You might also want to have a look at the latest from the folks at BackChannel, who have turned their sights to the US primary dedicated access market, to find it more concentrated than in the UK (registration required).

Friday, January 19, 2007

Absolutely Fabviral

Wish I'd been in Amsterdam today, where I am told that a couple of hours ago there was a press briefing around the release of the Fabplayer beta. A mega-uber value reader previously pointed me to this example - unfortunately, I can't see it, because the IT Nazis have locked down MySpace, but I look forward to checking it out at home. Anyway, this is a brilliant piece of viral thinking for Fabchannel, using the interface familiar to users via Flickr! badges, etc., to allow users to personalize the video streams they want to broadcast to the world - expanding awareness of Fabchannel in the process. I will try to embed one on Chaotica and see how it looks. Exciting stuff from Europe!

UPDATE: I have installed the player on Chaotica. Depending on your display size and resolution settings, it may end up at the bottom the screen. I think the video quality is stunning.

UPDATE 2: Back at home this evening and watching the player through the Chaotica site, even on my pathetic 4Mbps cable connection, I am very impressed by the stability of the streams (better than in my office, I have to admit). Looking at my bandwidth meter, though, they do seem very bursty - I'm seeing everything from 300kbps to over 4Mbps during a given clip. This sort of observation feeds my growing bandwidth obsession.


I got an invitation to the Babelgum beta yesterday. Here are a few first impressions. I'd be interested to hear anyone else's comparisons with Joost.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Shameless self-promotion - now reduced!

Calling out to all mega-uber value readers everywhere (I find this map incredibly gratifying), the good people over at Telco 2.0 central have kindly extended to me five (5) tickets to the upcoming Telco 2.0 event, at a 25% discount. (They've even been so kind as to put a picture of me on their website, though they apparently used some sort of bizarre distorting lens which makes my face look chubby, when we all know that I really look like this). They've been working hard day and night on putting together a killer cocktail of presentations and workstreams to rival the first event, which I think everyone in attendance agreed was something truly special. Anyway, the fastest five fingers claim the discounted tickets on a first come, first served basis.

Can't stand still

A Palladium Class mega-uber value reader in the Netherlands alerts me to the fact that UPC's appeal of the previous negative ruling in its petition for a standstill of the Amsterdam fiber project has been rejected today. Given Liberty Global's recent tendency to exit mature markets which have gotten too hot and redeploy capital where returns might be better, I have to wonder if this is another step towards an eventual exit from the homebase? I know it sounds ridiculous, but with the other two cable majors having taken the private equity exit, and with fiber hell breaking loose around it, how long does one wait before valuations really take a beating?

UPDATE: A Palladium Club mega-uber value reader points out that indeed rumors of a super-troika merger between UPC and the PE-backed Casema and Essent were spreading even as I wrote the above.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

One man's broadband Utopia is another man's environmental catastrophy

A while back I made a couple of partially tongue-in-cheek posts about environmental concerns which bring me back to earth when I get too excited about the wonderful world of web services. A few mega-uber value readers wrote in to respond that they thought it was a very significant point, particularly when we consider the potential externalities of the situation - e.g., the carbon impacts of a popular service might fall disproportionately hard on the residents of California when the user base is actually global. Now I see that the nice folks at the Cavell Group are building a practice around the issue of telecom/IT and their environmental impacts. Very interesting statistics on page 7. Now stop reading this blog and switch your computer off.


There are quite a few financial institutions which turn up in this site on a regular basis, which I find interesting and gratifying, but today I saw one I haven't seen before from the Bulge Bracket all over the site like a bad rash. Hello from the impoverished edge!

Timing the tipping point

A couple of previous posts on this blog were intended to give a flavor of how conventional bandwidth demand projections might be upset, or their time frames compressed, by "unforeseen developments". As one example, BSkyB has publicly stated a working assumption that end-user bandwidth demand may double every five years. Yet I have to question how these kinds of assumptions are arrived at, and how closely connected the forecasters are to the end-user behaviors driving the changes (check out this article on Joost from NRC Handelsblad, in which the CTO complains that provisioning fiber to the development office in Leiden took an eternity because the vendor couldn't grasp why anyone would possibly need so much bandwidth).

Just looking at the issue from a historical perspective also makes me very uneasy with some of the projections out there. (Here I am uncomfortably reminded of other previous industry predictions which proved wide of the mark - "no one will ever need or want their own computer," "SMS has no potential as a consumer service," "mobile penetration will peak at 20%," "the public internet will never support acceptable quality for voice," etc.) Five years ago, broadband in most of Europe meant typically 512k or 1Mbps, but today in France it may mean 28Mbps. It's still hugely asymmetrical, which is a big problem in my view, but nevertheless, theoretical downstream capacity has grown by a factor of as much as 56 times.

Capacity is not the same thing as consumption, but it is still noteworthy that the "capacity to consume" has grown many times faster over the past five years than the rate projected by BSkyB for the next five. I'm not singling out Sky for abuse here, rather it's just a convenient example, but I don't understand why future expectations should be more conservative than has been the case historically, when the evidence I have seen seems to point to something more steeply linear. Nor do I think there is any fundamental difference between French and UK internet users which suggests that the UK needs less bandwidth. Yet one view in the UK is of demand doubling every five years, while in France we already see a case for jumping straight to FTTH.

I think the attempt to measure rates of change, to define the critical tipping point, will be a hotly debated issue over the next couple of years. And where there is fodder for debate and industry/investor anxiety, there will be dramatic research, such as this newly released survey from ABI Research, which appears to cover different approaches to addressing the "bandwidth crunch," and concludes that MSOs will need to spend $80bn globally to remedy it.

I certainly agree with the drivers they identify, and I am not in a position to confirm or dispute the numbers, but the last sentence caught my eye: "In practice, says the study, network upgrades will naturally start in the major urban centers and gradually spread to less densely-populated regions." This may be true for the established players in cable, but this very bias would seem to offer incentives for projects of the kind we have seen in the smaller Dutch towns of Hillegom and Nuenen - where entrepreneurial capital and local consensus have converged to leapfrog offerings by the telco/cable duopoly, and apparently generate fiber envy in neighboring areas.

So let's add to the list of potential "unforseen developments" driving higher bandwidth consumption the idea, often covered on this blog, that local self-determination also has a role to play. (Incidentally, I recently came into contact with a company with a very interesting model for addressing just this space - please contact me if you are interested in speaking with them.)It's not necessarily all in the hands of the incumbents to determine what our demands will be and deliver supply in an incrementalist trickle.

UPDATE: Interesting article from Level3 here seems very much in line with my sentiments.

UPDATE ON 25TH JANUARY: Read this one and weep!

Gumming up your pipes

This BBC article on Joost mentions another P2P TV startup, called Babelgum. So I Googled it and found that, interestingly, it is founded by none other than Silvio Scaglia, the man behind Fastweb, the first entrepreneurial European exponent of both FTTH and IPTV, who has sold down some of his stake in the company to finance Babelgum. The Italian political scene is very familiar with no confidence votes, but for an integrated-services-over-fat-pipe veteran of this stature to become a convert to the "parasitic applications" camp is amazing.

UPDATE: Eurovalley has an interview with Babelgum's CEO which is worth reading.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Shameless self-promotion 4.0

Well, another year means another few thousand industry events, and as usual I will be making the odd appearance here and there. On the near term radar screen are Telecom Finance, where I'll be testing the endurance of the audience in the final session on the final day, and the FTTH Council Europe's shindig (I guess being fiber, that should be trenchdig) in Barcelona, where I will be sharing the podium with three friends - collectively we are being billed as "Four Horsemen of Telepocalypse". Come and join the fun - this conference thing can't last forever!

Feeling Joost

The Venice Project has a new name - Joost - and more importantly, is open to further beta testers. Yesterday a mega-uber value reader and fellow beta tester alerted me to the fact that he had received 25 additional tokens, versus two at a time previously. This backs up Fredrik de Wahl's email statement which I received this morning: "We've been somewhat conservative about expanding our beta - but that's going to change pretty rapidly now." I assume the plan is to get the network as robustly seeded as possible ASAP, then bring on much more content (I have heard about deals which are not visible yet), and then to increase picture resolution. In the age of HD by any means necessary, I don't believe the current resolution offers a sustainable competitive advantage (even though the client itself rocks), but I also assume that the Joost architects have understood and anticipated this from day one. Oh my aching backbone!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Creaking pipes

About nine months back, I published a note for clients which focused on some trends in bandwidth consumption, and went through a list of factors which could make current projections of demand appear far too conservative. One of these was my expectation that HD content would inevitably flood onto BitTorrent aggregation sites - a serious bandwidth issue for telcos given the massively larger file sizes involved. Well, it's only the 15th day of this new year, the HD DVD crypto has been compromised, and the first HD DVD has been ripped and uploaded. File size - 19.6GB - 10x the typical file size of a standard definition feature length film. Ouch! [via TorrentFreak]

Friday, January 12, 2007

My own private Idaho

Some people say that the Swedes don't possess much of a sense of humor. I would argue that, in fact, their sense of humor is alive and well, if highly sophisticated and very, very dry. The Pirate Bay seeks to become a country. Inspired. I only hope they have their immigration policy ironed out, and have enough money to hire some traffic cops.

Hedging Net Neutrality

Just a couple of thoughts on a busy Friday to illustrate that it may be overly simplistic to assume that Net Neutrality is a zero-sum game, as it is often framed.

Last night I fired up the Venice Project client for the first time in a few days, and was prompted to download the new build (which, it turns out, appears to launch without displaying the "lobbycard" style credits which I covered here). Anyway, after the preview piece runs (which I presume gives the client time to contact other nodes and cache some of the most popular content in anticipation of viewer demand?), the sponsorship bumper came up to reveal - wait for it - "brought to you by T-Mobile."

I nearly fell off my seat, as, I assume, did any T-Com manager who might have seen the same. This followed the discovery, thanks to a comment by one of the Venice Project engineers in an online forum (which I refrain from linking to in respect for the contributor's wishes), that Venice's main transit provider is none other than BT Group. (Probably little comfort in this knowledge for the team launching BT Vision.) This confirms some recent traffic analysis done by a mega-uber value reader, who observed that he was connected to several nodes identified as "Infonet Belgium" (BT owns Infonet).

So, in the haze of a Friday mid-morning, I'm thinking that the most draconian incarnation of Net non-neutrality only works if all the pieces of the telco are pulling together - which has never been the case, even in the companies which attract the most scorn. My gut feeling is that Venice and similar applications actually increase the organizational polarization exponentially, possibly to the point of irreconcilable differences, which usually culminates in divorce.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ranking full stop

I've been messing around with the ISP comparison tool available for the UK market, which uses customer ratings to rank up to six players at a time. It yields some interesting results. (By the way, wherever you are in the world, if a similar tool exists for your local market, please send in a link, regardless of the language.)

So let's start with the top six incumbent players in the space: BT, NTL/Telewest, AOL (I know it's been sold), Tiscali, Orange, and Pipex. Keep in mind that this chart may look different when you access it, assuming it is going to continue to be updated. The result: NTL and Pipex fare the best here overall, but notice that ratings generally are nothing to write home about - particularly customer service, where 60% approval is a real triumph.

Next a group I guess we could consider challengers: Be (Telefonica), Demon (Thus), Eclipse, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin. The result: Telefonica seems to have bought a strong franchise, and Demon and Eclipse both perform well.

I also think it's interesting to compare the relative ratings of acquirers and their acquired franchises. TalkTalk/AOL shows, as we would expect, a significant disparity in customer views. Ditto for Tiscali/HomeChoice, particularly on customer care. Pipex/Bulldog show a similar relationship, though there is an alarming convergence here, in the wrong direction. Also of interest is Sky/UKOnline - significant differences despite being the same company. BT/PlusNet appear strikingly similar, and I guess well-suited.

Lastly, and most provocatively, let's look at six smaller, perhaps nimbler, names: altoHiway, Be (again), Clara.net, supanet, Twang.net, and Zen. The result: recall all the 40 - 60% scores we saw in the earlier examples. Here 70% speed ratings and 80% levels for reliability and customer care are the norm. To put things in perspective, contrast three from this group with the top three in the market.

Admittedly, this is not the most scientific of exercises, but it intrigues me nevertheless. Is broadband customer satisfaction really a scalable proposition?

UPDATE: A fair-dinkum Australian mega-uber value reader rises to the EuroTelcoblog challenge and submits the local consumer broadband resource site for our perusal.

UPDATE 2: A Norwegian mega-uber value reader submits the local comparison site here.

Step right up

If you happen to be in Sweden and looking to pick up a butt-load of TD-CDMA kit on the cheap, try here. I gather that A2C Accelerated Wireless has gone into liquidation, but I don't actually know anything about the company. I see references in the regulator website from late last year, but Swedish is, well, Greek to me. Any Swedish mega-uber value readers willing to lend a hand would be warmly welcomed.

UPDATE: A number of mega-uber value readers have chipped in on this one. The clearest version of the story runs like this: "Accelerated Wireless built a UMTS-TDD network in the southeast part of Sweden, covering the municipality of Kalmar with surroundings. The Swedish government has been funding a lot of broadband network buildouts in the last couple of years and AW were supposed to get 60 MSEK in subsidies for their network. The project was severely delayed and in the end the municipalities cancelled the agreement with AW and went with TeliaSonera instead, freezing the subsidies and forcing AW into liquidation. The initial idea was to find a buyer for the network that was already deployed, but it seems like nobody was interested in that..."

Calling all analysts

The teams at Redmonk and Freeform Dynamics have started an open source and alternative analysis wiki which looks really interesting. Brokers - time to get out the garlic and crosses.

Data-mining 2.0

Good old Keith McMahon - in my opinion the greatest addition to the telcoblogorama in 2006 - continues to tirelessly devote himself to proper open-source analysis. Check out his latest post on Carphone Warehouse mobile sales, which has some interesting analysis and conclusions indeed. One interesting follow-on question arises - where does this data come from? The answer, which I find very amusing, is that if you open up the Powerpoint version of slides, such as these from the last set of annual results, go to slide 12 ("Free broadband - recruitment channels"), and click on the chart, you will find a treasure trove of data behind, which I assume the company would probably rather not have you see. But get it while it's hot, I expect we may see some alterations to these slides in the near future.

UPDATE: It's now 3:15 PM and if you're wondering why the link to the Powerpoint no longer works, it's because the company has pulled them from the site.

Who's minding the store?

Over the wires this morning came the news that Telio's CEO Arild Nilsen has resigned, to be replaced on an interim basis by CTO Alan Duric. I count Alan among my friends from the VoIP-o-sphere, and I consider him to be one of the brightest, and rightly one of the most respected, minds in the business. From my knowledge of him, however, he is happiest as an innovator focused on projects, so I don't envy his having to take on the responsibility of day-to-day operations. For his sake and the sake of innovation in the VoIP space, I hope Telio lands a full-time CEO quickly. Innovation matters more now than ever, not least because my Norwegian sources tell me that the Norwegian regulator's decision to relocate operations to a remote backwater has been greeted by mass resignations, which some sources put at up to (unconfirmed) 95% of total staff.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Alice in Deutschland

There's an old joke I heard many years ago from a World War II veteran which went something like: "How can you tell an Italian tank? It's the one with reverse lights." I keep running into speculation that Telecom Italia is looking to sell BBNed in the Netherlands, though I see no evidence of that, and when I see the deal with QSC to expand ADSL 2+ coverage to another 100 cities/towns in Germany on top of the AOL Germany acquisition, it appears to me that Telecom Italia's European DSL strategy is indeed a serious one. I wonder if something is on the cards in the UK market at some point, say Tiscali, for example?

Cutting room floor

My cryptic reference in the previous post was to the fact that I expected to be part of this Channel 4 evening news story on mobile VoIP. Certainly when I accepted their invitation to be interviewed I believed that to be the case, but when I arrived home last night, my elder daughter greeted me with the news that I seem to have been edited out. Then again, I can understand the editorial imperative - it was a busy news day with lots of British class warfare issues to delve into ad nauseum.

This is sadly indicative of much of my recent contact with mainstream media. More than once have I agreed to lengthy interviews with print journalists working on a major feature piece, only to be edited out subsequently. What I have noticed invariably is that the content of these interviews nevertheless turns up in the final version as useful, unattributed "background," thus making the sometimes clue-challenged journalists look better informed than is actually the case.

That's all part of the game, obviously, but what I find irksome is the sheer time-wasting aspect. C4 contacted me last week, saying they would turn up at my office at 9:30 AM. Over the weekend the segment producer called to ask if I could go to Canary Wharf instead. I said no. Then yesterday I got a call saying they would need to push back until 10:00 AM. Fine. Then another call to say they were running behind. Eventually they arrived. After the cameraman indiscriminately unplugged the computer of one of my colleagues without asking and set up his kit, we started shooting at 11:45, did about 20 minutes of what I thought was decent footage, and they were gone by 12:15 - but so was half of my day.

I don't think I'll bother with this sort of trivia in future, and to be honest I'm appalled that I allowed myself to fall for the allure of an appearance on broadcast TV. I guess I'm showing my age here. Anyway, it's certainly good coverage for the Truphone team, and is certainly good for promoting general awareness of what's possible in an IP world.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Do not adjust your television set

If you're in the UK, or otherwise have access to UK terrestrial TV from outside the country (by whatever means), there's a chance you may see me tonight for a few seconds between 7:00 and 8:00 PM, hopefully edited so that I appear to be making sense. Let me know if you happen to see it.

So you wanna be a rock-n-roll star?

My friend Dean Elwood has written a very interesting and informative piece on how to build a VoIP network, based on both his own experience with VoIPUser, as well as observations of others in the industry. While it's actually quite technical in nature, he stresses some very down-to-earth messages, my favorite being: "...the majority of people that build VoIP networks as a business fail because they either do not have a Unique Selling Point, or they over-value the one that they do have. Don't let it be you."

Venice tokens

I have received two more Venice Project invitation tokens, for the first two mega-uber value readers to get in touch.

UPDATE: Both tokens have now been claimed, establishing two new nodes on the Venice network in the UK and Northern California. I would very much like to ensure that more exotic corners of the globe get their fair share next time around. Should I receive any more tokens, I'll once more offer these up on a first-come, first-served basis.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I have several resolutions for the new year, but one I can share with you is my intention to post more frequently to Chaotica, the red-headed stepchild of this humble bloglet. Feel free to chide me if I start to backslide.

UK unbundling update, again

Recently I've been thinking that being a telco analyst is a little like camping at the edge of a glacier and meticulously monitoring the rate of melt. I feel much the same way about the progress of LLU in the UK (not to trivialize what is a very complex business), but monitoring it is a part of the job nevertheless. This month we learn that the 1.3m line mark has been achieved, with a 94% right-first-time rate, though full unbundling (the sweet spot for any serious market disruptor) is only achieving right-first-time a little more than 2/3 of the time. So, it's too early to gloat, but we can probably fairly say that this sort of continuing improvement in results will drive more Euro regulator attention towards an Openreach-style solution for access.

10 Things x 1000

I continue to be frankly astonished by the apparent enduring interest in/probable disdain for my Telco 2.0 presentation back in October. At present, the Google query "Ten Things I Hate About You" turns up the explanatory blog post as number six, even ahead of the Yahoo! Movies listing. A visitor to the site today from a Korean telco arrived via the search query "enck telco hate," and recently I have seen other similar queries from equally unlikely places, which suggests some sort of international word-of-mouth campaign. Downloads of the accompanying slides now stand at 965 (9% of which have been BitTorrent downloads, impressively enough), and we should hit 1,000 in the next few days. What can I say? Thanks, for a start, but beyond that I remain a bit befuddled.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Mega-uber value visitors to this site and its little brother Chaotica from today will notice a slight change. I've started using Snap's Snap Preview Anywhere code in the sites. What this does is just provide a miniature screen grab of whatever it is I'm linking to - not at all necessary, but it livens the site up visually and I just think it's downright cool. Let me know what you think.

UPDATE: I'm really pleased with this thing, I have to say. It indexes all the links in a new post very damned fast, and it also seems to re-index non-specific links (like company home pages) every day, because in looking back at a few such links from yesterday, they have definitely been updated. I am a bit confused by a couple of things, however. It doesn't seem to have crawled back beyond one month, at least not so far. Maybe it populates the rest of the links over time, or perhaps this is just the way it's set up to run. The other thing is that it doesn't work for self-referential links, i.e., links to other items within the blog. I guess that's not really necessary, but I am curious as to why it is the case. Anyway, on balance, I think it rocks.

Talk about edgy!

My friend Thomas Anglero has started the new year in ebullient form (and I know he has some interesting things up his sleeve for the year - but more on that later), stumbling across this interesting post on running an Asterisk server straight from a Linksys WiFi router. Inspired! I think his advice for FON would apply equally well to Iliad, which, like FON partner NeufCegetel, is pursuing an MVNO/stealth WiFi strategy, but which is also a great champion of homebrew and open standards.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy new year

A hearty new year greeting to all mega-uber value readers everywhere. I feel sure 2007 is going to be even more interesting than 2006, both personally and from the standpoint of this beloved industry of ours. I was in a self-imposed internet hiatus over the holidays, and so have had limited newsflow and much to catch up on. However, I haven't had to read much to determine that the first annual EuroTelcoblog Golden Scrooge award goes to the brilliant team at AT&T for an excellent game of semantic chess with the FCC. It's interesting in reading articles on the subject, such as this one from the WSJ, that a number of journalists are inclined to think this somehow represents a setback for AT&T - curious given that the journalist herself notes that exemptions were given to U-verse and Cingular (i.e., the only parts of AT&T's consumer business that really matter for the future). I am reminded of the Braer Rabbit and the Briar Patch story my grandfather told me as a child (I'm sure folks in San Antonio are familiar with this one). Rather than disappointment at the outcome, I have it on authority that Mr. Whitacre did this little dance upon receiving the news - okay not really, but I am a firm believer that an absurd situation merits a surreal response.