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 Monday, 17 June 2002

ITU has issued a press release: World Leaders must shape the direction of the 'Information Society'; United Nations General Assembly told that 'global strategy' needed, in preparation for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which will be held under the high patronage of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, with ITU taking the lead role in preparations. The first phase will be held in Geneva 10-12 December 2003 and the second phase in Tunis in 2005.  "The transformation to the Information Society is every bit as profound as the movement from agrarian to industrial societies and just as in the past, such change has led to winners and losers. ' Some countries have prospered, while others have fallen behind,'  Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, told the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. ' If we do not take any action. The gap between the information 'haves' and 'have nots' will continue to grow.'

Monday, 17 June 2002 19:06:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

[BBC]: Privacy worries fuel domain name concerns. Nominet, the .uk top level domain administrator, plans to introduce changes in its whois.

Monday, 17 June 2002 15:15:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Europa Press is reporting (Spanish) on the deliberate sabotage of telecommunication networks in the Madrid, Spain area. Spain's Telecommunications Committee has asked that security contingency plans be put immediately into effect. Spanish consumer and user associations have also joined in expressing their concern about the interruption of fundamental services.

Monday, 17 June 2002 11:24:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Australian has news about advances in quantum teleportation at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Using a process known as quantum entanglement, the researchers have disassembled a laser at one end of an optical communications system and recreated a replica a metre away. "The applications of teleportation for computers and communications over the next decade are very exciting" says physicist Ping Koy Lam, leader of the project. Some web pages at ANU explain some of the background on quantum teleportation.

Monday, 17 June 2002 10:37:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Legal Scholar Michael Geist, Commentator Lauren Weinstein, and ICANN counsel Joe Sims have engaged in a short debate on ICANN Reform on Dave Farber's IP mailing list and Declan McCullagh's Politech mailing list. It's an interesting read. Here's the exchange so far: (1) Geist post; (2) Sims Reply; (3) Geist Rebuttal; (4) Weinstein Comment; and (5) Joe Sims Reply to Weinstein. [icann.Blog]

Monday, 17 June 2002 08:29:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 15 June 2002

The end of the revolution. "Ruling the Root" documents the sorry tale of how the Internet was brought to heel. []

Saturday, 15 June 2002 09:03:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ICANN's Internationalized Domain Name Committee has posted two new discussion documents:

This comes after the recent announcement from VeriSign that they're getting ready launch some IDN resolution services on June 24, 2002. Some more details are in this ICANNWatch article.

Saturday, 15 June 2002 08:40:08 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ICANN Protocol Supporting Organization (PSO) General Assembly 2002 will take place on Wednesday afternoon, 19 June 2002, starting at 16:00 CET, at ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in conjunction with the ITU-T-Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group Meeting (17-21 June, 2002). The meeting will be webcast.

Saturday, 15 June 2002 08:12:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The mobile operator O2 is launching the XDA, an integrated phone and PDA based on the Pocket PC operating system with support for General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). It's already available in the Netherlands according to Infosync. Infosync has an article on the XDA's Action Engine service framework which offers a browser-like interface to various operator services.

Saturday, 15 June 2002 07:49:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ebone staff have announced that they've got a two week reprieve to keep their network operations going.

Saturday, 15 June 2002 02:04:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 14 June 2002

ITU-T Study Group 15, ITU-T's lead study group on optical networks, has agreed on a new global standard for Metro ‘Optical Fibre’ Networks that will expand the use of Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM) in metropolitan networks.

Friday, 14 June 2002 14:43:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Update on KPNQwest bankruptcy on Total Telecom: Key European, U.S. groups to bid for parts of KPNQwest network. Update on Ebone: Since June 6, 2002, the employees of Ebone (part of KPNQwest) have occupied the European Network Operations Centre in Hoeilaart, Belgium and are maintaining the Ebone network on an unpaid basis. Their web site provides a running update on the state of things.

Friday, 14 June 2002 13:36:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The days when being on an airplane meant being out of contact with the office are soon over. Boeing has already signed up Lufthansa and British Airways to provide its broadband Internet Connexion service on commercial flights, using leased satellite transponders. Inmarsat is rolling out a similar service.

Friday, 14 June 2002 12:53:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 13 June 2002
Thursday, 13 June 2002 17:21:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Commission yesterday refused to give the green light to the renegotiation of third generation mobile phone licences - despite pressure from the cash-strapped industry. However, Brussels left the door open to some licence changes in exceptional circumstances. It estimates European telecommunications companies have spent some €110bn ($104bn) in acquiring the 3G licences. [FT]

Thursday, 13 June 2002 12:55:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nearly 200 of the world's leading mobile operators, device and network suppliers, information technology companies and content providers have announced the formation of a the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA).  

Thursday, 13 June 2002 12:21:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 12 June 2002

New Architect Magazine has a pessimistic editorial view on ENUM. "Of course, no matter what the preferences, marketers are bound to abuse the directory just as they have the phone book, the Whois database, and any other public list of contact information." This echoes similar comments made by INTUG on ENUM: "The success of ENUM... will rely on millions of individuals being willing and enthusiastic about entering their details and maintaining their accuracy. Central to this will be confidence in the security and privacy of the records. If, as might happen, they are the subject of identity theft, of yet more junk mail or are the basis for slamming, then the systems will quickly be brought into disrepute and fail."

Wednesday, 12 June 2002 18:18:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The International Telecommunication Users Group (INTUG) has posted a submission it has made to ITU-T Study Group 3 concerning Termination of international calls to mobile networks. The executive summary claims:

  • an increasing number of mobile cellular operators are creating a separate tariff for the completion of international calls to their networks 
  • these wholesale prices can be as much as 1500% more expensive than calls to a fixed network in the same country
  • the mobile operators are leveraging their domestic power in the call termination market into foreign markets for call origination
  • with the growing importance of mobile cellular networks, other operators have no alternative but to connect, even when they are unable to negotiate and must pay the price levied by the terminating network
  • consequently retail prices to foreign mobile networks can be higher by 10 to 30 cents (Euro or US) per minute
  • consumers are frequently unaware of these higher prices
  • even if consumers do know that a call will be at a higher price, they frequently have no obvious alternative
  • INTUG wishes to see the principle of cost orientation applied to the termination of calls on mobile cellular networks 
  • INTUG also wishes to see signatories to the WTO GATS Reference Paper enforce implementation of their commitments to the interconnection of international calls to mobile cellular networks

Wednesday, 12 June 2002 16:41:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

CNN has an article on the deployment of 3G systems in Asia: "People have long been hearing about the brave new world of "3G" or "third-generation" technology, which enables users to take photographs, play full-color games or browse the Internet, all on a cell phone." 3G is part of ITU's IMT-2000 initiative, a vision of global wireless access in the 21st century.

Wednesday, 12 June 2002 13:24:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bret Fausett, who writes [icann.Blog], has written an insightful piece on what he would tell the US Congress if asked to testify in its hearings on ICANN on June 12, 2002. "The Internet's DNS is, and always will be, an international resource; if you try to nationalize it, it will slip through your fingers forever." The contrast with a stance reported today in Reuters "U.S. Should Control Internet Body, Senator Says" couldn't be more striking.

Wednesday, 12 June 2002 00:24:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 11 June 2002
Tuesday, 11 June 2002 19:17:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Tuesday, 11 June 2002 18:02:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Wind-up calls without the stress: "The wind-up radio, invented by the UK's Trevor Baylis, has become an icon of benign technology. Beloved of environmentalists and design gurus alike, it has already shifted over 3m units worldwide. Now the company that bought the idea from Baylis has moved into the mobile phone market" This month, Freeplay will launch a wind-up mobile phone charger... [Guardian

Tuesday, 11 June 2002 11:17:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 08 June 2002

Slashdot is reporting in its article KPNQWest Admins Keep Bankrupt Network Running on how some dedicated staff are keeping the KPNQwest network running (but for how long?). See the earlier article on this: "KPNQwest Crisis and a lesson about Critical Network Infrastructure". Some of the NOC folks have got some web pages up to show they're doing their best.

Friday, 07 June 2002 23:26:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 07 June 2002

Salon has an article Getting a lock on broadband discussing how the regulatory environment in the United States is shifting vis-à-vis broadband. []

Friday, 07 June 2002 18:52:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobilennium, the on-line newsletter of the UMTS Forum, reports in its June 2000 issue, on the debates in the UMTS Forum about a mobile-specific Internet top level domain (M-TLD). The article also mentions ENUM. The newsletter report is somewhat more positive than the 60 page initial internal report entitled Benefits and Drawbacks of Introducing a Dedicated Top Level Domain within the UMTS Environment (2 page executive summary also available). The report indicates that at this time "a majority of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) were reluctant to favour the concept". This follows reporting in an ICANNWatch article on a .gprs top level domain being used for the private DNS of a GPRS Roaming Exchange (GRX) network.

Friday, 07 June 2002 12:28:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 06 June 2002

In follow-up to my piece yesterday related to the last call on the IETF approach to implementing internationalized domain names, the Chinese Domain Name Consortium (CDNC), set up by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), Hong Kong Network Information Center (HKNIC) and Macau Network Information Center (MONIC)has rejected the approach taken by the IETF in the following statement:

  1. Currently, IETF IESG has begun Last Call on the set of core documents IDNA+NAMEPREP+PUNYCODE of IDN WG, but the architecture of IDN defined in the above three documents does not solve the traditional and simplified Chinese character variant problem: it’s a half-baked solution for Chinese users. That will cause serious delegation problem in the application of Chinese Domain Name.

  2. IETF IDN WG does not solve Chinese Domain Name technical problems. Under the current condition, if IETF approves these IDN drafts without publishing any complementary documents simultaneously, registrars will open Chinese Domain Name registration without considering the requirements of Chinese Domain Name and Chinese Domain Name will fall into confusion. This will damage Chinese Internet community seriously.

  3. What’s more, it stands a good chance that software vendors will not deploy or modify client software to support IDN too, because the current so-called IDN solution is a defective solution, which will be widely against end users, administrators and Chinese Internet communities, and bring them into much trouble.

For those who don't understand this problem (called the TC/SC equivalence problem), here's a greatly simplified explanation. Some languages, like Chinese, have more than one script: for example, traditional Chinese (TC), which is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and simplified Chinese (SC), which is generally used in mainland China (although the Chinese also use the traditional script in some cases). Most Chinese can recognize the origin of the simplified script as it orginates in the traditional more cursive characters. It is argued by some that there should be an equivalence between Chinese domain names whether in traditional or simplified scripts and therefore they should resolve to the same entity. To understand the thoughts behind this argument, see this Internet draft.

Thursday, 06 June 2002 14:04:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

NTT DoCoMo announced that it will begin selling the FOMA P2002 3G mobile phone equipped for DoCoMo's i-motion video clip distribution service on June 13, 2002. The i-motion service enables compatible FOMA handsets to download audio/video content at up to 384 Kbps (uplink at 64 Kbps) from sites accessed via DoCoMo's official portal. The model has a 2.2-inch, 65,536-color TFD LCD.

Thursday, 06 June 2002 12:53:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 05 June 2002

The Economist has a good piece on how the US high-tech industry is getting cosier with government and notes that the "free-wheeling, libertarian stance of the industry, always somewhat hypocritical, has been changing since the mid-1990s". Eli Noam pointed this out back in July 1997 in his wonderful opinion piece in the New York Times: An Unfettered Internet? Keep Dreaming.

Wednesday, 05 June 2002 19:33:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Is there a bottom in the telecoms onslaught? The sudden collapse of KPNQwest, who operated a large pan-European data network carrying an estimated 25-30% of Europe's IP traffic is a hot topic of discussion on Total Telecom. The collapse is going to have an unknown impact on Internet infrastructure and connectivity within Europe and internationally. Ebone and GTS, who KPNQwest acquired only in March 2002, appear to be casualties.

The rapid collapse of KPNQwest provides an interesting lesson vis-à-vis contingency planning of critical network infrastructure. Besides the large numbers of customers who'll be left stranded or scrambling for new providers, KPNQwest's infrastructure provided DNS services (secondaries through*) for a number of Internet country code top level domains (ccTLDs). Those ccTLDs may need to rapidly find out whether they have enough distributed secondaries if vanishes. Update: RIPE NCC has made an agreement with KPNQwest to temporarily take over the hosting of

This reminds me that less than a year ago there was a partial unavailability of one of the Internet's master root name servers, namely, located in PSInet's network infrastructure, when a large backbone provider, Cable & Wireless, disconnected PSINet's peering connections because they no longer met C&W’s requirements. The result was that C&W customers were unable to reach that root name server until the peering arrangement was reinstated.

*EUnet was acquired by Qwest in 1999 before KPNQwest was created.

Wednesday, 05 June 2002 18:08:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Thousands of recently registered "dot-name" domains violate regulations governing the new Web addresses, according to a study released by Ben Edelman of Harvard's Berkman Center For Internet & Society. Also see the related article in the Washington Post.

Wednesday, 05 June 2002 16:00:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) started last week its last call for comments on the results of the Internationalized Domain Name working group standardization activities. There are three related Internet drafts:

The thrust of the working group's hotly debated approach is to maintain an underlying ASCII representation, based on using "Punycode": an encoding technique that uniquely and reversibly transforms Unicode (an encoding of the world's language scripts) into ASCII strings. For an overview on why this particular approach was taken and how it works, see the ITU's briefing paper from its December 2001 joint seminar with WIPO on multilingual domain names. It should be emphasized that even when a technical standard emerges, it will be the beginning of a very long process. In fact, the policy and coordination issues are likely to be even more daunting than the already contentious technical work. ICANN's IDN committee has produced a related discussion paper but I think if anything, they've greatly underestimated the issues that are likely to arise. Update: It didn't take long to confirm that last statement: see follow-up Chinese Domain Name Consortium Reject IETF Approach.

Wednesday, 05 June 2002 14:31:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ICANN's Evolution and Reform Committee has published its recommendations for ICANN 2.0. [icann.Blog]

Wednesday, 05 June 2002 00:00:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 04 June 2002

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is discussing the policy and regulatory issues related to the implementation of ENUM in Australia. A study group was established in Australia by the ACA to look at the implications and possibilities of ENUM in the Australian telecommunications environment. To that end, a meeting was held last week in Melbourne. In a recent article, Telstra's Geoff Huston's has given his views on ENUM.

Tuesday, 04 June 2002 18:25:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 03 June 2002

For those of us who use both a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and a mobile phone, the Holy Grail is a single integrated device. I've always wondered which side of the market would drive convergence of devices. On the one hand, the Palm OS and Windows Pocket PC devices have slick intuitive user interfaces with thousands of applications. On the other hand, the market clout and distribution channels of the major mobile handset manufacturers (e.g., Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson) suggested they could eventually dominate. So I kept my eye out for the perfect personal device hoping that this would suggest which sector would eventually be in the driver's seat. When Ericsson released their R380 smartphone, based on the Symbian platform and an innovative new form factor, I thought this might be a winner. Ericsson kindly lent to me one of the first versions but I finally put it aside. Despite its definite coolness factor it was still too large to comfortably carry around, somewhat too fragile and the software crashed too often. Later, when Handspring announced their Treo communicator and I read some glowing reviews, I thought this might be my perfect device. However, after seeing and handling one I still wasn't convinced. Something still wasn't quite right.

I had noticed during my trips to Asia that handsets in those markets are small, beautifully made and often hang around necks on cords - they're more like fashion accessories than phones. Slowly, it's been dawning on me that the perfect personal device is more about form factor and quality than anything. Last year, I was in Stockholm and met with Göran Skyttval, Ericsson's Director of 2G and 3G Terminals and Applications. I explained to him the "quality" problems I had experienced with my R380 and we got onto the general topic of quality in manufacturing as well as specifically with respect to handsets. Interestingly, Göran had just come back from a stint in Japan where he was in charge of Ericsson's i-mode handset development for the Japanese market. Now anyone who has had to do business in Japan knows that the average Japanese consumer is very demanding about quality, packaging and design. In fact, many companies have had to completely redesign and repackage their products for the Japanese market. Göran discussed with me these Japanese concepts of quality and demonstrated subtle differences such as in the texture of materials. He explained how he was trying to introduce these higher standards into Ericsson's handset manufacturing. Subsequent to our meeting, Sony and Ericsson combined their handset manufacturing and marketing.

This is a round-about way to say that I think I've experienced directly the results of Göran's efforts. My latest personal device, the Sony Ericsson T39m, is beautifully made, synchronizes with my contact list and calendar in Outlook/Exchange, provides GSM tri-band support, has a POP3 email client, T9 predictive text input, Bluetooth, GPRS, a long-life battery, and best of all, it has a small and elegant form factor which just feels right. It fits in any pocket and really is the first device that I don't mind having with me anywhere, anytime. So the T39m has my vote as the current perfect personal device. Bravo to Ericsson.

Monday, 03 June 2002 12:05:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 31 May 2002

An article on Slashdot says that the European Union is moving toward legislation requiring specific opt-in to receive commercial email (errr... SPAM). Hooray. There's an increasing amount of legislative activity around the world to deal with SPAM such as the US Can SPAM act which prohibits sending unsolicited commercial e-mail "accompanied by header information that is materially or intentionally false or misleading". Let's hope the legislators eventually get it right and stamp this stuff out just like they did fairly effectively with unsolicited faxes.

Friday, 31 May 2002 13:03:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

This ITU information note to the press summarizes the progress being made on ENUM in ITU-T Study Group 2, ITU-T's lead Study Group on numbering issues. For ISOC's corresponding press release, see here. For information on delegations, see RIPE NCC's ENUM pages. For more information on ENUM, see the materials from a recent ITU tutorial workshop on ENUM and particularly Global Implementation of ENUM: A Tutorial Paper, much of which written by yours truly and the smart folks at Nominum, the authors of the latest version of BIND, the DNS software. The ITU Strategy and Policy Unit also maintains some information pages on ENUM.

Friday, 31 May 2002 12:16:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 30 May 2002

The Guardian: Mobile phone companies should be offering irresistible incentives to encourage would-be entrepreneurs to dream up new services for them. "The sooner they realise that the balance of power between content providers and delivery networks is about to change dramatically, the sooner they will discover what they crave - a long-term revenue source to pay for their huge investments."

Thursday, 30 May 2002 18:53:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 22 May 2002

The OECD is running a Broadband Workshop here in Seoul, Korea from 4-5 June 2002. Increasing broadband deployment is typically on the top of all developed country's telecom policy agendas. While much of the world's broadband deployment seems to be stalled or in the doldrums, Korea's deployment continues its phenomenal growth. I guess most government policy makers and regulators around the world are trying to understand how they can reproduce the magic that the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has found in building a knowledge-based Information Society.

Wednesday, 22 May 2002 20:16:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In case you haven't heard, Realnames is shutting down and this has quite an impact on resolution services for non-Latin character set Internet name resolution services, particularly in Asia-Pacific countries where keywords have found some popularity. The ITU and WIPO, in cooperation with MINC held a symposium in Geneva in December 2001 on the topic of internationalized domain names. Two keyword providers, Realnames and Netpia, also made presentations at the symposium. The (ex-)CEO of Realnames, Keith Teare, has been running a personal weblog on the shutdown of RealNames that includes his views as well as correspondence he's been having on the subject.

Wednesday, 22 May 2002 12:57:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Our workshop in Seoul, Korea has finished today and it was a nice success. Lots of thought provoking ideas on how to globally improve information systems security and network infrastructure protection. Korea has been an excellent place to hold the workshop as they have made tremendous progress here on the technical, policy, legislative and enforcement fronts. There was a much consensus that there was a need for better international standards and implementation, information sharing, halting cyber-attacks in progress, coordinating legal systems, and providing assistance to developing countries. The workshop site is being updated with the papers and presentations made during the last two and a half days. The Chairman's report should also be available there shortly.

Wednesday, 22 May 2002 11:40:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dr. Steven Bryen  of Aurora Defense presented at our workshop that closed today a paper entitled A Collective Security Approach To Protecting The Global Critical Infrastructure. The paper makes a brief mention of Echelon and it was interesting to run across this article published on Cyrptome that recently appeared in the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet. It reports to be an interview with one of the architects of Echelon II.

Wednesday, 22 May 2002 10:06:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Proponents of the open source software movement have found a new hero in Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nuñez, Congressman in Peru. In his letter to the General Manager of Microsoft, Peru, concerning a pending bill on "Free Software in Public Administration", he makes some convincing and eloquent arguments, particularly, in my opinion, vis-à-vis the security of nations:

"To guarantee national security or the security of the State, it is indispensable to be able to rely on systems without elements which allow control from a distance or the undesired transmission of information to third parties. Systems with source code freely accessible to the public are required to allow their inspection by the State itself, by the citizens, and by a large number of independent experts throughout the world. Our proposal brings further security, since the knowledge of the source code will eliminate the growing number of programs with *spy code*."

There's an interesting follow-up article at Linux Today.

Wednesday, 22 May 2002 06:35:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |