28 September 2007


After the summer lull there's so much going on now it's gone crazy. Where TT is concerned, a key event will be when our online team heads off to the Broadband World Forum in Berlin in a couple of weeks, so look out for the daily news service coming from the show.

Rainy Reading

Verizon Business clearly does not subscribe to the saying, "If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed." The US-based enterprise services group held its annual media event in the Berkshire town of Reading this week, where former MCI had its European HQ. But the number of UK journalists attending the event dwindled down to the committed few (all from the trade press) on the day... next year probably best to stick to London really. Also, the corporate taxis are still holding up signs saying "MCI".

23 August 2007

Egg in the face

So, online financial services Web site Egg is down, to the frustration of thousands of savers and credit-card users. Reports say Egg is blaming it all on C&W, which apparently has been unable to find a solution yet to fix the server problem. And Egg is not the only one to be affected, it seems. Not good news for C&W, which really doesn't need this kind of bad publicity right now!

17 July 2007


So tomorrow the EC will issue a formal statement of intent on making DVB-H the preferred standard for mobile broadcast TV in Europe. It has even ruled in making the standard mandatory from 2008.

The potential ramifications of such a move make the mind boggle. What does it mean for all those other competing standards, for one thing? Will operators be allowed to use tdTV, for example?

Of course the spectrum conundrum is far from resolved and there is a sense of "too little, too late" on the part of the EU. We are already seeing the development of a fragmented mobile TV market as technologies such as DVB-H and mediaFLO have been delayed by the lack of available spectrum and DMB and DAB-IP have muscled in. The EC wants the 27 Member States to work together to develop an EU-wide approach to UHF spectrum that will be freed up after digital switchover. But this flies in the face of the so-called technology-neutrality approach the EU professes to adopt. Wonder what technology-neutral Ofcom will make of it all.

The "digital dividend" is extremely valuable spectrum that has been fought over by broadcasters, operators and many, many others in the past two years or so.

But clearly for mobile TV to take off a unified approach is very desirable. You can see the reasoning behind it - but the feeling is that this should have been done much, much earlier.

13 May 2007

The Dragon - and Centrino Pro

HP proudly launched one of its latest "laptops" at the event in Shanghai, dubbed "The Dragon". The term laptop has to be used advisedly here: this machine weighs in at 15 pounds and has a 20-inch acreen, and no one is going to be carrying this monster round. HP is positioning it as a desktop replacement - a moveable home entertainment system. But it's unlikely anyone will be running it off battery power or taking it on long-haul flights. The Dragon, also known as the HP Pavilion HDX, runs on Intel's new Centrino Pro (Santa Rosa) technology that also includes the draft specification for the 802.11n WiFi standard.

Apparently the "Santa Rosa" codename for the latest generation of the Centrino technology will be branded Centrino Pro for businesses and Centrino Duo for consumers. Centrino Pro will also include Active Management Technology (AMT) that enables IT staff to take control of a problem notebook, even when the PC's Windows operating system is down.

At this week's event in Shanghai Intel's head of marketing Sean Maloney said he expects WiMAX technology to be included in chipsets in 1-2 years.

Chinese walls

Incredibly slow Internet access made life a lot more difficult for journalists needing to post stories while in China. All journalists at the event in Shanghai have commented on it and most have attributed it to the firewall that data has to go through. It's also been noted that some Web sites just aren't accessible from here - forget looking up anything on Wikipedia, for example! Interestingly, you can access conversapedia.com - the self-proclaimed "encyclopedia you can trust". Freedom of information is still a major issue here.

Some journalists, even though specially invited by HP for this event, were simply unable to get visas to come. We all had to submit forms with details of professional equipment, and some journalists were met at the airport and had their equipment confiscated - all this is of course was heard on the ground here at the HP event.

China's still got a long way to go on many levels, that much is clear.

09 May 2007

It's a long way to go to Shanghai....

...especially to be stood up by a BT executive!

Yes, here I am in Shanghai, venue for this year's Hewlett-Packard mobility summit. It's certainly a sign of how things are changing across the industry when HP starts getting more of the pure telecoms press involved in their major events. But it's interesting also that a lot of their presentations deal with the very basics of telecoms ("has everyone here heard of 3G?" I just heard one executive ask.) The presentation by the BT guy (I'll mention no names) was also extremely basic ("in the UK we have a service called Fusion").

Well, of course not everyone that follows HP's fortunes is also going to know a lot about telecoms and service providers. The PC manufacturer certainly launched a few products today - notebook computers supporting the draft 802.11n WiFi standard as well as existing WiFi standards. Six of the seven business notebooks presented (four of which yet to ship) at the event also had added capability for 3G broadband including both cdma2000 and UMTS. Overall the company unveiled 13 new notebooks models.

There were no new wireless iPaq launches, just more on the iPaq 510 that was already launched at 3GSM and supports UMA and also has a SIP client for business users. BT has already committed to offering that with Business Fusion.

The overall message is that HP wants to increase its mobility offering and it wants to play a role in FMC.

10 April 2007


New reports are coming out about femtocells and if some are to be believed these little base stations could rock the mobile world - this time in favour of the mobile operators. Of course we get such claims about new technology all the time. But analysts really seem intrigued at the possibilities of femtos. Many hurdles have yet to be overcome - eg not least to find out how operators would implement millions of these things into their networks, plus work out the best business case. But trials are quietly going on and the predictions are that we will see limited rollouts late this year or early next year. Personally I can't wait: I have terrible mobile reception where I live and would benefit hugely from having my own indoor base station. I'd even pay for it.

Qualcomm v Nokia

So as it appeared Nokia had unilaterally decided on an amount to pay Qualcomm. Qualcomm is now seeking arbitration to force Nokia to recognise that it is continuing with its old agreement to pay the San Diego company royalties for using CDMA payments. This case ain't going to be resolved any time soon. Next move: Nokia.

05 April 2007

Nokia and Qualcomm

It's 9 April on Monday - for some it's just another Easter Monday but for Qualcomm and Nokia it's when their existing agreement on CDMA royalty payments comes to an end. Negotiations seem to have got messy, with Paul Jacobs saying at 3GSM that the parties were fairly far apart and looked unlikely to come to an agreement before the expiry date. Meanwhile Nokia said today that it has paid Qualcomm US$20 million for patent licences covering Q2 2007, but it's not clear if this sum has been agreed with Qualcomm or not. Nokia made it clear that the payment is not related to the old agreement. I haven't had any comments back from Qualcomm about this as yet...apparently once San Diego wakes up today there may be some reaction.

Nokia Siemens Networks

So the coming together of Nokia Networks with the carrier networks business of Siemens finally came to pass on 1 April. The company has certainly kept up the momentum this week with various press announcements: after confirming the merger was now effective NSN also said it would support the MVNO operation of Blyk in the UK, and has formed a WiMAX alliance with Pipex to support service rollout also in the UK market. It must be a relief to NSN to finally be able to reveal concrete deals and plans. A more nervous set of executives at the 3GSM press conference in February I have yet to see...!

28 February 2007

Digital Dividend Review

Some interesting presentations were made at an eWestminster forum today with relation to the digital switchover and the resulting so-called "digital dividend review" in the UK. Broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV made it clear that they fear for the future development of HDTV if some of the DDR spectrum is not handed over for this purpose. Arqiva, which was meant to give an idiot's guide to spectrum as the first presentation, instead used it as an opportunity to lambast Ofcom once again over its unyielding stance on the whole DDR process. Mobile operators were conspicuous by their absence on the various panels, which I thought was strange given that they have been lobbying hard for mobile TV spectrum - indeed I think DVB-H was mentioned about once all day. The focus really was on broadcast and HD, while PMSE was presented as an industry that could be destroyed if it is not assured of spectrum after switchover.

One consultant noted that kit you can buy now that says it is "HD-ready" actually supports MPEG2, not MPEG4, which is what "true" HDTV would be based on. The BBC spokesman noted that you'd have to look for the "HDTV" symbol rather than "HD ready". Apparently there would be some sort of common interface that would enable an MPEG4 module to be added, but still, it's worth knowing as a consumer...!

Fears were raised that if digital terrestrial TV does not have sufficient HD services freely available to current Freeview users, then we could see the emergence of another "digital divide" - ie HD vs SD. One panellist said this could eventually seem like the difference between VHS and DVD quality now...

The plan to hold an auction was also much discussed and disputed, as were the ideas of technology neutrality and market-led approaches. Basically, Ofcom will upset someone whichever way it goes. The regulator is sticking to its guns and remains adamant that its approach is the best one available in view of its requirement to try to ensure the best use of the spectrum in the interests of UK consumers.

14 February 2007


It's day three at the annual mobile networking event here in Barcelona, and we're all starting to feel a little frayed around the edges. It's even bigger than ever, and the stands aren't getting any smaller either. All the major vendors seem to be trying to outdo each other with ever larger hospitality suites...

But as usual it's been an interesting week, with announcements ranging from results of mobile TV trials (MediaFLO and BSkyB) through to the usual array of new handset launches (new DVB-H handset from Nokia, to name but one) and demos of technologies yet to come, such as LTE.

Nokia Siemens Networks is presenting a united front at the event for the first time, with a single logo and stand. But the company is still unable to provide a date for when the merger will be completed. The press conference on Monday seemed generally lacking in anything really concrete - there is a sense of being in limbo.

Meanwhile the Nokia/Qualcomm spat over patent rights continues, and all eyes will be on the two companies if 9th April comes and goes with no agreement.

Paul Jacobs seemed to take a certain amount of pleasure in the fact that LG beat off Nokia in the GSMA's "3G for all" tender. LG is also using Qualcomm chips. Nokia wouldn't have done...

Why is it though that we still have to complain about appalling WiFi Internet access at the event...? Some things never seem to change...

09 February 2007

Orange UK MVNOs

Orange UK looks set to sign its first significant MVNO deal this year. The operator has been bolstered by the 2G roaming deal it signed with 3 last year and is stepping up its wholesale activities. Company sources say the mobile operator is in talks with a number of parties and hopes to sign at least one deal this year.

Orange has clearly defined definitions of the different MVNO "models", ranging from companies that manage their own SIMs through to companies that provide little more than a brand. The operator is largely considering supporting two MVNO models, and is also interested in working with MVNEs as it sees them as facilitators of the virtual operators.

The operator already has MVNO deals in France.