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 Thursday, 25 July 2002

In a follow-up to my note last month referencing the INTUG paper on Mobile Termination Rates, the UK telecommunications regulator, OFTEL, has formally asked the UK Competition Commission to investigate whether the charges that the four mobile network operators make for connecting calls to their networks are too high.

Thursday, 25 July 2002 17:16:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Talk about timely. CommsDesign has a recent piece on the development by Motorola of an "isochronous network, developed with input from Nintendo Co. Ltd., Sony Corp. and other game platform developers, [that] will be extended into other markets to serve as a "feeder" for future ad-hoc mesh-based piconets that use 802.11 wireless technology as their underlying infrastructure". Slashdot also has a related thread. Isochronous ad-hoc mesh-based piconets? This almost seems like it could have been generated by

Thursday, 25 July 2002 14:27:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Last month, in Watch this airspace and parasitic networks, we flagged the emergence of mesh networks, where end user devices can also be routing devices. Wired Magazine has a short article: A New Spin on the Wireless Web this month and mentions the interesting start-up Mesh Networks.  Mesh networks, where user devices and routing nodes can get co-mingled, might be an interesting twist on Metcalfe's law, which says the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users or nodes. Think about it. Where all user devices are also routing devices, it's pretty obvious that, at least for the beginning part of the 'S' innovation curve, the value of network externalities is even greater. This has some interesting implications for seeding 'core' networks by seeding the 'edges'.

Thursday, 25 July 2002 14:11:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Last month, I mentioned the arrival of "Wind-up Mobile". There's now a first review of the Motorola Freecharge in ZDNet UK. Just like prepaid rechargeable GSM cards, I imagine this will become very popular in developing countries.

Thursday, 25 July 2002 12:49:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 23 July 2002

Ken Binmore, the designer of the exceptionally lucrative UK 3G mobile phone auction two years ago, has slammed telecom executives for "whingeing" that they paid too much and dismissed calls for the consumer to foot the bill. [Ananova]

Tuesday, 23 July 2002 13:06:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Lawmakers Seek Rules to Stop Redistribution of Digital TV [New York Times: Technology] This is interesting on two levels. First, it's interesting that they argue this is within the FCC's mandate. Second, even if the FCC did do something, it'll be easy to eventually remove the 'broadcast flag'.

Tuesday, 23 July 2002 12:21:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 22 July 2002

Readers will have noticed that I've had a link to the works of Andrew Odlyzko for some time at the bottom right. That's because I like his research, particulary his work on debunking of Internet growth rates (PDF). This week, The Economist has also picked up on his research in a piece"It was an essential ingredient of dotcom business plans and conference slide-shows: Internet traffic, went the industry's favourite statistic, doubles every 100 days...". Unfortunately, it wasn't true.

Monday, 22 July 2002 17:01:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Eli Noam has penned an interesting opinion piece in the Financial Times showing why competition and deregulation über alles as a telecoms policy goal is very likely to change.

Monday, 22 July 2002 16:27:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Motivating the Masses, Wirelessly: The term smart mobs has been coined by the author Howard Rheingold to describe groups of people equipped with high-tech communications devices that allow them to act in concert — whether they know each other or not. [New York Times: Technology]

Monday, 22 July 2002 12:44:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 19 July 2002

Infosync has got a review of the new colour display Nokia 7650 that's got an integrated digital camera for picture taking and sending, support for the MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) that's a step up over SMS, a photo album for storing pictures, GPRS, Java support, joystick navigation and a  Symbian-based user interface.

Friday, 19 July 2002 17:58:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nairobi will play host to the first East African Internet Forum, to be held 6-8 August 2002.

Friday, 19 July 2002 13:57:12 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 16 July 2002
 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)  #     |