Tuesday, January 30, 2007
"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."
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
"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
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
Monday, January 22, 2007
"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
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.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
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
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!
UPDATE: Eurovalley has an interview with Babelgum's CEO which is worth reading.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
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
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.
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..."
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.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
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
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
Thursday, January 04, 2007
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.