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 Tuesday, July 02, 2002

The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) development of the MPEG-4 standard is widely seen as important to the availability of an open, cross-platform, interactive multimedia standard. For example, MPEG-4 functionality is being built into 3G mobile phones. For a detailed overview of MPEG-4, see here. The MPEG-4 Industry Forum (M4IF), who promote adoption of MPEG-4, held a workshop and exhibition last week in California. The keynote address, given by Rob Koenen, President of M4IF, provides an overview of the state of play of MPEG-4, including the thorny issue of licensing. The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) and ISO/IEC recently announced that they had formed a joint video team (JVT) to produce a next generation video coding standard, which will become part of the MPEG-4 standard.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002 2:33:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Tuesday, July 02, 2002 1:47:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Egyptians Flock to New Net Plan. Egypt scraps its old Internet subscription plan in favor of per-hour dial-up charges, resulting in an immediate and welcome spike in usage. [Wired News] This is an interesting model of access network revenue sharing with telcos, one method that national ministries or regulators, in this case the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), have used to stimulate Internet usage for their general population.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002 12:44:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the covergence file: The Register is reporting on Coming soon: SMS TV. For readers in countries who aren't aware of the popularity of text messaging over mobile phones, NUA gives one example by reporting that, according to the Swedish regulator, PTSSwedish mobile users sent over 1 billion SMS messages during 2001. [Only for statistics mavens: I always thought it'd be interesting to plot the growth of SMS messaging vis-à-vis Internet email traffic but I'm unaware of where to find any real good indicators on email traffic. Anyone who has an idea on how to estimate this is invited to contact me.]

Wednesday, June 26, 2002 12:18:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, June 25, 2002

News.com has a special report on spyware and adware being surreptitiously installed on users' PCs: "The Wild West days of cyberspace are over--and, like it or not, it's time for government to change its laissez-faire attitude toward the Internet and create laws that clearly prevent unscrupulous businesses from preying on unsuspecting consumers and seizing control of computers."

Tuesday, June 25, 2002 12:55:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Economist has an article on wireless telecoms: Four disruptive technologies are emerging that promise to render not only the next wave of so-called 3G wireless networks irrelevant, but possibly even their 4G successors. For me, the most fascinating wireless technology is the concept of mesh networks, similar to Peter Cochrane's concepts of 'parasitic networks' requiring zero infrastructure. This seems to me to offer the possibility of rapid organic network growth once the network is initially 'seeded'.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002 11:38:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 24, 2002

The Internet Protocol Journal has an good article on ENUM by Geoff Huston. He concludes: "It appears that the technical components of ENUM are generally the most straightforward part. The regulatory and social implications of ENUM are more of a concern..."

Monday, June 24, 2002 1:52:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cigref and ISOC France are hosting a conference NOM DE DOMAINE 2002 in Paris on the 4th of July, 2002. I plan to participate on behalf of ITU.

Monday, June 24, 2002 1:45:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Two years ago today right here in Bucharest, following a meeting on the topic of "Police of the XXIst century : Strengthening the protection of citizens' rights and new international threats against security", the conclusions of the meeting noted that "a Convention on Cyber Crime is in an advanced stage of preparation within the Council of Europe and call for the adoption of this Convention without delay". Since then a lot has happened. The Council of Europe's Convention on cybercrime is now the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks, dealing particularly with infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security. It also contains a series of powers and procedures such as the search of computer networks and interception. Its main objective is to pursue a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime, especially by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international cooperation. The Convention is the product of four years of work by Council of Europe experts, but also by Canada, Japan, the United States and other countries, who are not members of the organization. It is somewhat unusual in that it is open to signature and accession by non-EU member states.

Monday, June 24, 2002 1:30:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Korea has the highest Internet broadband penetration per capita in the world and by a very large margin (the runner-ups are not even close). It's always interesting to look at how technology leaders address policy issues as it indicates where other countries might be heading. For example, as I explained in my earlier mention of "Cyber-Crime and Cyber-Terrorism in Korea", the government is attacking a wide range of hacking and cyber-crime issues. In its latest initiative, this article in the Korea Herald explains how the the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has now unveiled plans for tough new laws dealing with SPAM.

Monday, June 24, 2002 12:29:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 21, 2002

XML-Signature XPath Filter Last Call Published. The joint IETF/W3C XML Signature Working Group has released a Last Call Working Draft of XML-Signature XPath Filter 2.0. Comments are welcome through 11 July. The draft defines a means to digitally sign a document subset using XPath, the language for addressing parts of an XML document. [The World Wide Web Consortium]. For a primer on XML Signatures, see here. You might also want to see the the XML Signature working group web pages.

Friday, June 21, 2002 3:18:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, June 20, 2002

The Markle Foundation has issued a statement (Word) on ICANN reform for submission to the US hearings on ICANN held on June 12, 2002 (see "US Congressional Testimony on ICANN").

Thursday, June 20, 2002 7:04:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

One sees lots of criticism in the press and elsewhere about the deployment of 3G mobile systems. This paper (Word, PDF) by Audrey Selian of the ITU provides some good perspective on the historical development of GSM and how we are moving to IMT-2000 (3G) mobile systems. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of GSM naysayers in its early days, just as there are today for IMT-2000 systems.

Thursday, June 20, 2002 5:11:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Reuters is reporting on British engineers who have have invented a revolutionary tooth implant that works like a mobile phone. The 'tooth phone', designed by James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, consists of a tiny vibrator and a radio wave receiver implanted into a tooth during routine dental surgery. Even more bizarre, this comes at the same time that Reuters is reporting studies that show that mobile phone radiation can cause changes in human cells that might affect the brain.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002 10:45:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the myth-bashing department: Reason has an interview with Larry Lessig. In this interview, he repeats his arguments from his book, The Future of Ideas, concerning his views on the importance of the "end-to-end design principle", repeating a common mantra of Internet techies, who argue that the Internet is obviously a superior design to the telephone network because "the intelligence is at the end nodes and not inside the network". These theories are blindly parroted and even applied to cyber-political theory, typically as variations of David S. Isenberg's stupid network theme. Showing that the populist view often does not bear scrutiny, in this posting back in March 2000 on the Cybertelecom-L mailing list (no archives), Fred Goldstein takes the opposite view and argues convincingly, that on the contrary, "The telephone network has even more content-neutrality than the Internet, because as a circuit-switched network, it has zero visibility of the bearer channels. Once the call's set up, bits is bits. No firewalls, censorware, caches, or other content-invasive intermediaries a la the Internet as people tend to see it nowadays. Thus the amount of intelligence in the Internet's switches (routers) is many orders of magnitude above what goes into a telephone switch, even a huge one."

Whoops, so much for the stupid network theory...

Wednesday, June 19, 2002 10:27:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), a regional intergovernmental telecommunication organization, in its preparation of common proposals to the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, 23 September - 18 October 2002, includes a proposal from APT members concerning the Role of Member Administrations in the Management of Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) and Addresses (Word), which would include an instruction to the ITU Secretary-General to promote effectively the role of Member States in the internationalization of domain names and address of their respective languages.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002 7:30:06 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ITU-T is organizing a workshop on IP and Optical networks in Chitose, Japan from 9-11 July 2002. Participation is open to non ITU-T members. The relevant ITU-T Study Groups (SG13 and SG15) have made available their respective general work plans for IP networks (Word, PDF) and Optical Transport Networks.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002 6:58:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Every dial you take. The FBI is asking for more information about what you do on the phone, and no one is saying no.  [Salon.com]. On a related note, remember that VeriSign recently announced the somewhat unusually-named NetDiscovery Service "enabling carriers to meet June 30 CALEA Deadline with Minimum Expense", taking "full advantage of VeriSign's core expertise in security and bridges our telecom, PKI, and IP network assets".

Wednesday, June 19, 2002 1:37:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Wednesday, June 19, 2002 12:23:29 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, June 18, 2002

This Internet-draft from Neustar staff is a great primer on numbering portability in the Public/Global Switched Telephone Network (PSTN/GSTN). Service provider portability, meaning the ability to switch service providers and retain existing numbering resources, is an important component of any pro-competitive telecom market liberalization. The concepts behind number portability, preventing service lock-in, is what made the IAHC propose a similar model for the generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) marketplace back in 1996 (as well as the pioneering work of Nominet in the split registry/registrar model). As an original member of the IAHC who pushed for this, there are times, five years later, when I wonder whether the regulatory costs of mandating portability and overseeing a large number of competing registrars are worth it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002 5:09:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

[New York Times: Technology]: Telecom Outlook: First the Bad News, Then the Bad News. In light of a wave of bad news last week, some analysts say the telecommunications industry's problems could become worse before they become better. "This confluence of negative news, combined with the languishing bankruptcy proceedings of Global Crossing and persistent concern over giants like WorldCom, have prompted some analysts to forecast a more severe crisis in the industry, which has already endured the erasing of an estimated $2 trillion in the market value of its constituent companies since the telecommunications slump began about two years ago."  

Tuesday, June 18, 2002 11:20:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

George Gilder listened to the technology, and became guru of the telecosm. The markets listened to his newsletter, and followed him into the Global Crossing abyss. [Wired]. "None exemplifies Gilder's rise and fall more than Global Crossing, which filed for bankruptcy - the fourth-largest ever - in January. Even in a portfolio of flops, the scope and depth of this particular debacle stands out. ... I would've been willing to bet my house against it." In effect he did. Just a few years ago, he was the toast of Wall Street and commanded as much as $100,000 per speech. Now, he confesses, he's broke and has a lien against his home."

Tuesday, June 18, 2002 11:10:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

U.N. Conference Says Digital Divide Still Growing. The digital divide between rich and poor countries is growing despite the many efforts to help developing nations break into the global economy via computers. "Some countries have prospered while others have fallen behind,'' said Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union.  "If we do not take any action, the gap between the information 'haves' and 'have nots' will continue to grow.'' Utsumi said "information poverty'' remained a reality for much of the world. More than 80 countries had fewer than 10 telephone lines for every 100 inhabitants. And in three out of five countries, fewer than one out of 100 people used the Internet, he said. [New York Times: Technology]

Tuesday, June 18, 2002 9:11:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

There's been considerable debate on the IETF main discussion list about whether it'd be appropriate to deploy a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) on top of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). As there is no single rooted deployed PKI system with a single root certificate authority (CA), this has lead to a deeper debate about what really is the right underlying model: the single root as argued for the DNS in RFC 2826 or some form of cross-recognition scheme across roots as pursued in the PKI world. (As background, this ITU paper from 1999 explains why there exists widely different approaches to PKI). The debate has deftly exposed a fundamental inconsistency in people's reasoning: there is wide acceptance of multiple root CAs but total intolerance of a multiple rooted DNS. In this post, Peter Deutsch was brave enough to point out the logical fallacy of holding both views simultaneously.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002 9:05:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 17, 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, June 17, 2002 7:06:09 PM (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, June 17, 2002 3:15:33 PM (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, June 17, 2002 11:24:14 AM (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, June 17, 2002 10:37:45 AM (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, June 17, 2002 8:29:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, June 15, 2002

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

Saturday, June 15, 2002 9:03:16 AM (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, June 15, 2002 8:40:08 AM (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, June 15, 2002 8:12:13 AM (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, June 15, 2002 7:49:38 AM (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, June 15, 2002 2:04:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 14, 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, June 14, 2002 2:43:14 PM (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, June 14, 2002 1:36:47 PM (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, June 14, 2002 12:53:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, June 13, 2002
Thursday, June 13, 2002 5:21:45 PM (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, June 13, 2002 12:55:34 PM (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, June 13, 2002 12:21:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, June 12, 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, June 12, 2002 6:18:53 PM (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, June 12, 2002 4:41:47 PM (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, June 12, 2002 1:24:43 PM (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, June 12, 2002 12:24:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Tuesday, June 11, 2002 7:17:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Tuesday, June 11, 2002 6:02:09 PM (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, June 11, 2002 11:17:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |