a week in wireless


Don’t Panic!

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The Informer was disappointed to learn this week that Facebook is not going to install a panic button on its network. Gripped as he often is by a nameless dread, it would have made his status updates so much easier. In fact, learning that there was to be no panic button, actually made the Informer panic. Right now he has everything more or less under control, though, which is handy because it’s not easy writing weekly wireless round ups when you’re quivering.

It seems to be rage that’s got Google shaking, though. As you know, readers, Google-owned YouTube is often pulled up for hosting copyrighted content which naughty users have posted to its servers. Fortunately for Google the law allows for the company to escape prosecution if it removes said content in a timely manner.

One of the companies that has been going after the firm big time for violation of the DMCA is Viacom, but this week YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine alleged that the studio has for years been secretly uploading its own content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. “It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses,” Google alleges.

In fact, Viacom’s “promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube itself, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement,” Google claims.

So omnipresent is Mountain View’s finest, and so rapidly increasing is that omnipresence, if indeed omnipresence can increase, that the Informer sometimes wonders whether or not he should just rename this newsletter A Week in Google. Not everyone likes the extent to which the firm’s sticky fingerprints turn up all over our lives, of course, including some of its own employees. Including, in fact, people that it has only just hired.

Tim Bray, co-creator of the XML mark-up language, is a fine example. Unveiled this week as developer advocate for Google’s Android handset platform, Bray joined from Oracle, or more accurately, from Sun Microsystems, which was recently acquired by Oracle. He evidently does not want to be seen as a Google fanboy, offering an unusual comment on his new employer on his personal blog.

“[Google is] now too big to be purely good,” he said, before accusing the firm whose corporate motto is ‘don’t’ be evil’ of evil. “I’m sure that tendrils of stupidity and evil are even now finding interstitial breeding grounds whence they will emerge to cause grief. And there are some Google initiatives that I feel no urge to go near,” he added. There speaks a man for whom lack of confidence in his employability is clearly not an issue.

There was an upside, though. “The reason I’m here is mostly Android,” Bray wrote, “which seems to me about as unambiguously a good thing as the tangled wrinkly human texture of the Net can sustain just now.” Not so the iPhone, apparently:

“The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger…”

Come on, Tim, let it out…

“I hate it. I hate it even though the iPhone hardware and software are great, because freedom’s not just another word for anything, nor is it an optional ingredient.”

Then he had a little cry and everything seemed much better after that.

Meanwhile the Nexus One handset appeared in a new iteration this week, for use in the 850MHz, 1900MHz and 2100MHz 3G bands, which should appeal to customers of AT&T, Rogers Wireless, Telus and Bell Canada. Along with the original Nexus One that supports four GSM radio frequencies (850/900/1800/1900) and three 3G bands (2100/AWS/900), the device now provides coverage for most major GSM mobile providers worldwide. It’s also known that a CDMA version is in the works and will be launched on the Verizon Wireless network in the US before too long (it says spring 2010 on the Google website). The handset’s UK launch has been delayed, however.

In other Android news, Spring Design, manufacturers of the Alex, an Android-based, dual-screen e-reader said this week that it will start shipping devices next month, hot on the heels of the launch of the Apple iPad. The Alex will retail for $399 when it debuts on April 14th.

US carrier Sprint, which has itself signed up for the Nexus One, this week announced that it has inked MVNO deals with four new partners since it launched a turnkey MVNO enabling package six months back. The firms are NPG Cable, Call One, Baja Broadband and Long Distance Consolidated Billing Company. The Informer’s no marketing guru, but Long Distance Consolidated Billing Company might want to think about a zappier brand for its mobile services.

And Sprint wasn’t the only one making virtual its reality this week, as Orange UK came out with a similar announcement. Orange has been working with pan-European enabler Transatel and revealed on Monday that it will be hosting three new UK MVNOs; Unicom, Catalyst and Axis Telecom. Unicom, a fixed line player, will launch as a B2B MVNO, selling initially to its existing base of some 80,000 customers. Catalyst will target niche groups such as students, ethnic minorities and SMEs and Axis Telecom will provide a mobile offering to its current customer base of over 14,000 businesses and residential customers through a number of SIM only deals, Orange said.

Over at Vodafone, meanwhile, the operator’s navigation strategy seems to have hit a dead end. Just over a year ago the carrier dropped €26m on Swedish LBS outfit Wayfinder. Since then, of course, Nokia has made its mapping service free and Google maps has gone from strength to strength. The upshot is that Vodafone is pulling the plug on Wayfinder and will instead look to partners to provide navigation services. How very sensible. “It’s almost become a hygiene factor to offer navigation. So it no longer made commercial sense to have it as a paid for service,” sighed a Vodafone suit.

Over in India, Qualcomm has confirmed its intention to bid in the upcoming auction for Broadband Wireless Access spectrum. Qualcomm’s been known before to dabble in this kind of behaviour when it wants to seed a new technology (think Inquam) and this time it’s all about TD-LTE. By participating in the auction, Qualcomm believes it can foster the accelerated deployment of TD-LTE in the 2.3 GHz band, which the firm says is the technology best suited to complement current and upcoming 3G deployments in India. If successful in the auction, Qualcomm said it will look for Indian partners in compliance with the country’s Foreign Direct Investment regulations, to embark on a venture for construction of a TD-LTE network.

And finally this week we’re in the land down under, where beer does flow and men get upset stomachs. Carrier Telstra has announced that it will begin trials of LTE in May, after signing supply deals with Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei. Telstra said it will spend the next three to six months testing the feasibility and technical capability of LTE for future commercialisation under the banner of its Next G strategy. The trial will be located in Victoria (that’s a place, not a person).

And that’s it for this week.

Take care

The Informer

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One comment

  1. Richard Deasington 19/03/2010 @ 4:40 pm

    Does that mean that Telstra’s LTE service will be found at G Spots in Victoria?

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