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 Thursday, 11 July 2002

From the cool new NTT Docomo FOMA 3G devices front: NTT Docomo has announced that it will market a new 3G-compatible two-part terminal, the SH2101V, with a PDA base unit that communicates through Bluetooth with a separate wireless handset. The base unit has a built-in camera that enables 64kbps real-time videoconferencing - while the wireless handset is used for voice communication. The handset can also be used, via the PDA, as a simple voice phone or for checking e-mail (even when the PDA is folded away) or as a remote control when playing downloaded music on the PDA.

Thursday, 11 July 2002 14:23:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

O.K., it's a busy news day for predictive text input. Further to my note earlier on "Dasher", the Economist today just happens to have an article entitled More Power to the Thumb, discussing a new text input method from Eatoni Ergonomics called Letterwise. The Economist says it's a worthy competitor to T9, who is owned by AOL.

Thursday, 11 July 2002 01:04:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 10 July 2002

Although more and more of us are carrying around smartphones or PDAs, I've always been frustrated that we can't just point our devices at what we want and instantly pull information out of magazines, off advertising posters, or dump train or flight schedules into our calendar applications. Because most smartphones and PDAs of the future will have cameras built into them (like this or this or this), it was just a matter of time before someone would recognize a market opportunity. As reported in Wireless Week, International Wireless and have recently announced they will use CodePoint so that users can point a handset at a bar code and deliver content directly into a device. Hope something like this will be available in every handset in the future.

Wednesday, 10 July 2002 16:00:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In the search for the optimum input method where a keyboard is not practical (e.g., PDAs, mobile Internet handsets), there's been some novel research going on at the University of Cambridge. The Dasher project has produced an unusual text-entry interface driven by pointing gestures. A prototype version can be downloaded for a Pocket PC. There's work going on to produce an eye-tracking version which they hope would allow users to visually write text as fast as normal handwriting. It's also now an open source project at

Wednesday, 10 July 2002 14:35:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

BBC News has an interesting update on Sealand, the offshore data haven based on an old concrete anti-aircraft tower off the east coast of England. Slashdot also has a related discussion thread.

Wednesday, 10 July 2002 12:48:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 09 July 2002

The OECD has released Information Technology Outlook 2002. It can be ordered from the OECD bookshop but highlights of the report are available online (PDF).

Tuesday, 09 July 2002 17:31:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nokia to Join With I.B.M. in 2 Ventures on Software: Nokia and IBM. will develop digital rights management software for what wireless operators call light content — ring tones, games, logos and pictures. For example, portions of popular songs can be downloaded for a small fee and used as the ring tone on a cellphone. The current market exists mainly in Europe and Japan, where wireless services are more advanced than in the United States, and among young people, 25 and under. In Europe, the market for such light content is $500 million a year. [New York Times: Technology]

Tuesday, 09 July 2002 13:16:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 08 July 2002

A new Internet draft, The E.164 to URI DDDS Application, has been published. This forms the basis of a document intended to replace RFC 2916, which describes the ENUM protocol.

Monday, 08 July 2002 19:00:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Internet's root name servers are seen as a possible soft target for distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks (in fact, they already are as described in this paper). A possible method to deal with this vulnerability that's getting some serious consideration is the use of IPv4 anycasting, as first conceptualized in RFC 1546. A recently released primer on anycast from Cisco can be found here (PDF). The application of anycasting to providing DNS services was explored in a number of Internet drafts which eventually became the informational RFC 3258: Distributing Authoritative Name Servers via Shared Unicast Addresses. RFC 3258 describes how authoritative name servers with the same IP address could be replicated at different locations. The route to these servers would be advertised for each location and the routing protocols would direct traffic to the topologically nearest server. As an example of how anycasting for the root name servers could possible work, there's already a project, named AS112, that uses anycast to distribute the load for bogus requests for private address space (as described in RFC 1918, also see description of problem here). A possible benefit of using anycast for the root name service is that it may solve both some technical security issues as well as some political issues (i.e., better geo-political distribution of the root name servers). On the other hand, it may make it much harder to deploy DNSSEC. It'll be interesting to watch this play out...

Monday, 08 July 2002 17:52:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 05 July 2002

Now That Ringing Cellphone May Be a Telemarketer's Call. Cellphones have long been safe from the marketing that bombards kitchen phones and e-mail in-boxes. But that electronic cocoon is starting to fray. [New York Times: Technology]

Friday, 05 July 2002 11:26:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 04 July 2002

I'm on my flight back from Paris where I participated in Nom de Domaine 2002 (in English, Domain Name 2002), which supposedly will become an annual event. ISOC France and Cigref, the organizers, brought together quite a number of speakers for an interesting programme and workshops. I gave a talk (PowerPoint) this morning in a session on internationalized domain names and ENUM. I'm told that all the presentations and speeches given will eventually become available on the conference web site. Last night, the organizers hosted a dinner in a restaurant near the Champs-Elysées which helped the speakers to get to know each other. It was interesting to see many of the same people in last week's ICANN meeting in Bucharest, the "World Summit on the Information Society preparatory meetings" in Geneva, and at this meeting in Paris.

Thursday, 04 July 2002 22:39:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Updated: The ITU is taking the leading role in the organization of the World Summit on the Information Society, which will be held in Geneva in December 2003 and Tunis in 2005. The Summit is being held under the high patronage of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. The anticipated outcome of the Summit is to develop and foster a clear statement of political will and a concrete plan of action for achieving the goals of a global Information Society. As part of the preparatory process for the Summit at the global level, three preparatory committee meetings are to be held. The first, PrepCom-1, is taking place this week in Geneva (1-5 July 2002) as described in this ITU press release. News highlights of the discussions at this preparatory meeting are made available at the end of each day: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5. The closing ITU press release Global Strategy for the Information Society Takes Successful First Steps can be found here.

Thursday, 04 July 2002 22:06:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 03 July 2002

The demise of CIX was announced last January according to the bottom of this press release from a new entitity called the United States Internet Service Provider Association, which according to the press release says "The US ISPA was created from the former Commercial Internet eXchange ('CIX'), which announced today that it was disbanding and being reconstituted with an entirely new membership group and Internet focus under the US ISPA name." It's the surprising end of an era. The Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX) was founded in 1991 to provide a commercial interconnection point so that commercial traffic could be exchanged without compromising the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) of NSFNET. Later, CIX became a trade association and lobbying force for ISPs in the US and it's somewhat surprising that it didn't manage to rally enough support to survive. In general, I've been surprised that ISPs have never been able to collectively front very effective trade associations that defend their interests, a topic which Scott Mace discusses in his two articles on Who Speaks for the ISPs?: part 1part 2.

Wednesday, 03 July 2002 21:40:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bret Fausett's icann.Blog notices it first: The ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) secretariat has now posted the materials it presented to the ICANN Board in Bucharest. The Bucharest communique is here, and the GAC's Statement on ICANN Reform is here. We've been asked by a number of people why, in Annex 2 of the GAC statement on Reform, there is the statement "The International Telecommunication Union disassociates itself from portions of this document." The explanation is that based on a number of discussions among Member States within the ITU on ICANN and ICANN reform, there are clearly a wide range of views. Under these circumstances, the ITU Secretariat has to reflect this and disassociate itself from a number of the substantive statements made in the GAC document.  These will be later specifically documented for the minutes of this GAC meeting.

Wednesday, 03 July 2002 21:12:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

It seems that it's finally all over for Ebone.

Wednesday, 03 July 2002 07:49:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 02 July 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, 02 July 2002 14:33:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Tuesday, 02 July 2002 13:47:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 26 June 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, 26 June 2002 00:44:55 (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, 26 June 2002 00:18:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 25 June 2002 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, 25 June 2002 12:55:52 (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, 25 June 2002 11:38:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 24 June 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, 24 June 2002 01:52:41 (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, 24 June 2002 01:45:09 (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, 24 June 2002 01:30:00 (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, 24 June 2002 00:29:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 21 June 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, 21 June 2002 15:18:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 20 June 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, 20 June 2002 19:04:46 (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, 20 June 2002 17:11:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 19 June 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, 19 June 2002 22:45:35 (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, 19 June 2002 22:27:32 (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, 19 June 2002 19:30:06 (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, 19 June 2002 18:58:31 (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.  []. 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, 19 June 2002 13:37:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Wednesday, 19 June 2002 12:23:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |