Tag: telcos

US FCC wants to reform big data to help poor telcos

The Republican head of the Federal Communications Commission wants to ease regulatory requirements in the $45 billion business data services market.

This is a win for AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon but a problem for outfits like Sprint who think prices for business data are too high and backed a plan under President Barack Obama that would have cut prices.

Small businesses, schools, libraries and others rely on business data services, or special-access lines, to transmit large amounts of data quickly, for instance connecting banks to ATM machines or gasoline pump credit card readers. Wireless carriers rely on them for the backhaul of mobile traffic.

Writing in his bog FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the commission will vote April 20 to reform the rule that telecommunications experts say would deregulate the market in most of the country but would retain regulations in some places.

“Where this competition exists, we will relax unnecessary regulation, thereby creating greater incentives for the private sector to invest in next-generation networks. But where competition is still lacking, we’ll preserve regulations necessary to prevent anti-competitive price increases,” Pai said.

However consumer groups such as the Public Knowledge and Consumer Federation of America called Pai’s proposal a “bonanza” for big telecommunications companies that “will drain consumer pocketbooks of tens of billions of dollars per year”.

Under President Barack Obama, the then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed a reform plan for business data services that aimed to reduce prices paid.

Wheeler wanted to keep and lowering lower price caps using legacy data systems with a one-time 11 percent reduction in prices phased in over three years.

Sprint liked the idea said that thousands of large and small businesses across the country are paying far too much for broadband because of inadequate competition.

Sprint argued:  “A small handful of companies are overcharging the very investors and employers that are critical to our economic growth and are using anticompetitive tactics to ensure that these businesses never have access to competitive alternatives.”

However AT&T argued Wheeler’s plan was “little more than a wealth transfer to companies that have chosen not to invest in last mile fibre infrastructure”.


Telcos try to blackmail the EU

KraysEuropean telcos are having a go at blackmailing the EU by saying they will only bring in 5G if the community abandons its net neutrality rules.

A group of 20 major telcos including Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, Vodafone, and BT has said that it will launch 5G networks in every country in the European Union by 2020 — so long as governments decide to weaken net neutrality rules.

In a pretty blunt and open extortion plan called the “5G Action Plan.” They say that 5G will change the world giving shedloads of benefits in cars, health, public safety, smart city, and entertainment scenarios by 2018. To add insult to injury they also want the EU to invest in it.

However the companies are also pushing for what they call the “right regulatory environment,” which would involve addressing the “dangers” that would come with open internet policies.

“The EU must reconcile the need for open Internet with pragmatic rules that foster innovation. The telecom industry warns that current net neutrality guidelines, as put forward by BEREC [the Body of European Regulators], create significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment. Investments are therefore likely to be delayed unless regulators take a positive stance on innovation and stick to it.”

“The EU must reconcile the need for open internet with pragmatic rules that foster innovation.””

So far the EU has already told the telcos to sling their hook and rejected amendments to legislation passed last fall that would have protected net neutrality in Europe. The laws currently feature loopholes that allow so-called “specialised services” like self-driving cars and medical operation to hop onto internet fast lanes.

So far supporters of the manifesto include companies like Airbus, Siemens, and Phillips. The EU’s Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Gunther Oettinger, praised the document, stating, “The manifesto is a valuable input for the 5G action plan that will be presented in September, together with the proposal for the review of the telecom regulatory framework.”

However, we are not quite sure if he read it properly. Unless the telcos can make commissioners interested in their plan to hold the web hostage it is pretty likely that the EU will see it in the following manner – the telcos will make a fortune out of 5G and it is in their competitive interest to adopt the technology as soon as possible. They can did this with or without an open internet and it is better for EU citizens to have an open internet.

This does not apply to the UK of course. Now it has Brexited, it no longer has any protection from the telco gangsters.


BT burger hits out at USA

the-pot-calling-the-kettle-blacBT has attacked the US telecoms cartel with its paid politicians as being against the free market.

Bas Burger, president of the British company’s American wing,  called for the United States to make its telecommunications companies  allow access to their networks at regulated prices, similar to rules in place in the United Kingdom.

Burger said that a lack of regulation has hampered competition in the United States to the point where AT&T and Verizon control 80 percent of the telephone and broadband lines used by homes and businesses.

This means that BT must charge customers more because it has to pay large fees to the US rivals to carry data over these wires. Even then they can sit on their hands whenever there is an outage and watch their rival’s suffer.

Burger called for regulation to guarantee a minimum quality of service, he said. For example, the U.S. companies have no specific time frame for fixing an outage that takes down one of BT’s networks.

Ironically, the British telecom regulator, Ofcom is considering a breakup of BT, the country’s dominant provider, after its rivals accused it of abusing its market position and failing to invest in the broadband networks that the rivals rely on.

US telecoms industry betrayed by “puppet”

uktv-captain-scarlet-and-the-mysterons-1When FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler took over there were some of us who felt that it was not appropriate for a former telco spinner to be in charge of watching over his former bosses.

There were some who implied that Wheeler was a puppet who would do whatever the telcos told him. Industry officials had initially hailed Wheeler’s nomination in 2013 as an “exceptional choice.” Comcast itself commended Wheeler’s “vast knowledge” and “proven leadership”.

Now everyone is having to eat their words as Comcast’s spectacular failure to close its $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable has proved us all wrong.

Wheeler is being credited with the collapse of the Comcast merger and 17 months into his tenure, Wheeler’s FCC has emerged as one of the most aggressive regulators in US history.

The merger was expected to be rubber stamped however in September, Wheeler gave a speech in which he said the country lacked sufficient competition in the broadband industry. He said that most people had only two providers to choose from when purchasing the fastest types of Internet service.

Then, in January, the FCC he raised the threshold for what is considered “high-speed” Internet which meant that Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable would have given it control of more than half the US broadband market.

In February Wheeler slapped new restrictions on Internet providers as part of its net neutrality rules, which banned broadband companies from unfairly slowing down or blocking consumers’ access to Web sites. And it made it illegal to speed up Web sites in exchange for payments from content providers.

Observers say that Wheeler, 69, does not need to seek another job when he departs the FCC so he can do what he thinks is right. The Washington Post quoted him as saying: “When I was at CTIA and NCTA, I was an advocate for those interests and I hope I did a very good job as an advocate for them,” Wheeler said. “Today, I have a different client. My client is the American people, and I want to be the best damn advocate they can get.”

GiffGaff network suffers outage

GiffGaff, the O2 supported phone network, has had network problems starting from between 7-8pm and still continuing – but only just acknowledged.

Some members have noted that GiffGaff’s service has been out for over three hours as of 10PM GMT. 

Voice, SMS, and data have all been out for some time, though data seems to have come back at time of publication.

GiffGaff has said: “Sorry – we are still having a few issues with the network we use, members aren’t able to receive / make calls or send texts, members can still receive texts. We’re working on the fix, please bear with us, for updates check the community”.

On Twitter, customer @miimii_Original said: “Giff gaff need to fix their bulls**t network I mean you’re a part of O2 and they’ve been there already why you gotta go down too”, while @hannah_mayhew said: “Giffgaff is a pile of w**k. Send my texts you a**hole!”

Mystery telcos push EC to investigate Apple

Apple risks being held under the scrutiny of the European Commission over its practices selling the iPad and iPhone, if a group of unnamed phone operators get their way.

European telcos are urging the EC to launch an antitrust investigation looking into Apple’s contracts with operators, claiming the company’s contracts are too strict. However, Commissioner Joaquin Almunia insisted that there is not yet a formal investigation, Macworld UK reports.

The terms of the contracts are blurry. If or when an investigation opens we are likely to get some further clarity about the concerns. A source allegedly told Reuters that Apple demands a “certain level of subsidies and marketing for the iPhone”.

An Apple spokesperson insisted to the Independent that the company’s contracts “fully comply with local laws wherever we do business, including the EU”.

Apple is not a stranger to the scrutiny of the pesky European Commission. Late last year, it dropped a case against Apple and four other publishers over accusations of ebook price fixing.  

The company has run afoul of other watchdogs, including in Belgium which accused Apple of promoting AppleCare rather than acknowledging existing European consumer law.  

Britain won't get 4G until 2015

The UK will not get a 4G network until 2015, according to plans from telecoms watchdog Ofcom which will mean that the Olympic games will have long gone.

In its draft annual plan for 2012/2013, Ofcom thinks that the roll-out of 4G mobile services will begin in 2013/14 and that “wide availability” will be achieved in 2015.

This pours chilled water on the hope that foreign visitors to the London Olympic games might be able to use the 4G phones they have at home in London.

The spectrum required for the 4G network was due to be auctioned off to network providers some time in 2012, but Ofcom has pushed that back to 2013.

The reason for the delay is nothing to do with the regulator and more to do with comms companies arguing about who gets what.

In November, a parliamentary committee has slammed mobile operators for scrapping over how to share the next-generation 4G spectrum.

MP John Whittingdale, the committee’s chair, said at the time that Ofcom had a difficult job adjudicating between competing and polarised interests. He was concerned that constant disagreement from the mobile network operators appears to have further delayed the spectrum auction.

Ofcom wants Three to remain as a competitor to the major networks, and set in place assurances to give Three a slice of the 4G spectrum at a discounted rate. But O2 and Vodafone have threatened legal action over the auction, claiming that “state-aid” would have them at an unfair disadvantage.

All this means that while the rest of the world moves to faster 4G, the UK will lag behind.  Thanks, O2 and Vodaphone.


Telcos deny telling NOTW victims they have been hacked

There were more red faces in Scotland Yard as Blighty’s top telcos denied a top cop’s claim that they had contacted all potential victims of the News of the Screws voicemail hacking.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates told Parliament that “all reasonable steps” had been taken to pass on a warning to the 126 likely victims of hacking.

However, Britain’s biggest mobile phone networks said that this was news to them and they had not even been asked by the Met police to tell customers anything.

Vodafone, O2 and Orange/T-Mobile told MPs there had been no such contact with the Yard. Vodafone and Orange/T-Mobile actually wrote to the Met last year asking for a list of punters who had been hacked. The coppers seem never to have written back.

According to the Independent, the Metropolitan Police now says that Yates had acknowledged in previous evidence to MPs that more should have been done to tell victims of phone hacking and it was reviewing its correspondence with phone companies.

This does not appear to be what was the understanding of MPs,  who asked the telcos about the notification the next day of the hearing.

Yates was in charge of a 2009 re-examination of the phone-hacking scandal which found there were no grounds for a new investigation.

India's DoT ready to give up on Blackberry

At last, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given up on Blackberry – saying it cannot track about 15 communication services including Gmail and other email services.

Nothing new was decided at a high-level meeting where India’s top security officials were present. The DoT understands the only option would be to build technologies for intelligence agencies for monitoring and interception purposes.

It was pointed out by the DoT that in most countries, intelligence agencies build their own monitoring and interception capabilities, where feedback is provided by telcos. But, the Home Ministry has asked the service providers to ensure their services can be tracked on a real-time basis.

DoT sources said: “The DoT has come to a conclusion that to track blackberry services and intercepting encrypted communication, security agencies must build capabilities of decrypting the intercepted communication. The ball is now in the Home Ministry’s court as it has to decide whether to ban such communications now.”

The services listed by the DoT were video chats, internet telephony calls and push emails on high-end handsets.

A recent statement from the Press Information Bureau (PIB), India, reads: “The government is engaged with Research in Motion (RIM), the provider of Blackberry services, to find out a solution for the interception and monitoring of messenger chat and enterprise email using Blackberry phones.”

Blackberry maker RIM prefers to remain silent, declining to comment. But we do know it’s tearing its hair out.

Global broadband subscribers to soar in Q3 and Q4

Global broadband subscribers will grow in the third and fourth quarters of this year as China’s demand for high-speed internet access soars, according to market researcg company  iSuppli.

The company said that the market is bouncing back from a slight decline in the second quarter with the major segments of DSL, cable and fibre now growing thanks to growing broadband subscribers.

It said the number of new broadband subscribers worldwide in the third quarter is projected to rise by 5.8 percent to reach 16.5 million, overcoming the seasonal downward pull of the previous period when subscribers tumbled by 6.6 percent to 15.6 million.

iSuppli predicted that the projected third-quarter totals will show that the market nearly caught up to the first-quarter figure of 16.7 million. It said the bounce-back appears to be a prelude to even loftier levels predicted for the final quarter of 2010 as global broadband subscribers rise by 7.3 percent to reach 17.7 million.


Lee Ratliff, senior analyst for broadband and digital home at iSuppli, said: “Broadband subscriber additions declined in the second quarter because of normal seasonality as well as a poor performance in the North American market.

“However, Chinese consumers’ insatiable demand for high-speed Internet is so high that it will cause subscriber numbers to rise again in the second half of the year.”

He said China was adding broadband subscribers at a rapid rate with this quarter seeing the  addition of approximately 6.0 million subscribers, growth in the second quarter slowed only slightly with the addition of another 5.4 million. He added he did not expect any broadband slowdown world’s most populous country, and each of the final two quarters would see new subscribers numbering 5.7 million.

However, with the good comes the bad and in this case it’s a race between telcos and MSOs (multiservice operators). The company said although subscriber numbers to broadband are growing, the technology that underlies high-speed internet access is changing rapidly.

“As services bundling voice and data drive bandwidth demands higher, the market is transitioning from a broadband data paradigm to a so-called “wideband” multiservice and multimedia model. Data rates of 1 to 5 Mbit/Sec may have been adequate when web surfing was the broadband killer app, but 30 to 50Mbit/Sec. soon will be the norm as consumers migrate to data-intensive applications such as online gaming,” the company warned.

It said that because of this, a race to dominate the wideband market has flared up between the telcos and the multiservice cable operators.

This is most evident in the United States, where telcos such as AT&T and Verizon, and cable operators such as Time Warner, compete on a relatively even playing field, with both camps having near universal access to every American household.

Telcos took the lead in 2008 and extended their advantage into 2009, luring customers away with successful fibre deployments—U-verse in the case of AT&T and FiOS for Verizon.

However, cable operators fought back in 2009 and stayed there until the first half of 2010.