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 Tuesday, January 17, 2006

From MarketWatch comes additional confirmation that a multi-tiered internet or IP-enabled NGNs, where content providers pay for differentiated service levels is emerging:

"BellSouth Corp. confirmed Monday that it is pursuing discussions with Internet content companies to levy charges to reliably and speedily deliver their content and services.

Bill Smith, chief technology officer at BellSouth, justified content charging companies by saying they are using the telco's network without paying for it.

"Higher usage for broadband services drives more costs that we have to recover," he said in a telephone interview.

He suggested that Apple Computer might be asked to pay a nickel or a dime to insure the complete and rapid transmission of a song via the Internet, which is being used for more and more content-intensive purposes. He cited Yahoo Inc.'s plans to stream reality TV shows as an example.

"It's the shipping business of the digital age," Smith said, arguing that consumers should welcome the pay-for-delivery concept.

BellSouth has discussed its idea with MovieLink, a film-download service. He called MovieLink an example of the kind of company that wants customers to have a good experience and would view costs incurred in the strengthening of BellSouth's Internet capacity as worthwhile. Smith also said online game companies are likely candidates for charges.

Over the weekend, Internet entrepreneur and NBA team owner Mark Cuban wrote on his blog at BlogMaverick.com that such fees are critical to the survival of the Internet. "Our ability to consume bandwidth is growing far, far faster than the speed at which it is being added," he said. "The more bandwidth we consume, the more Internet traffic jams we have."

Cuban wants telephone and cable and wireless companies to work out a way to deliver traffic at various levels of service quality. "Yes, that will mean some content will cost more if we want it faster," he conceded. "But that will be our choice."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 9:20:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to the ITU-T NGN web portal, the ITU-T Focus Group on Next Generation Networks (FGNGN) proceeding are now available:

Additional background on the proceedings

ITU-T Focus Group on Next Generation Networks (FGNGN) was created under ITU-T Study Group 13 in June 2004 to address the emerging needs for global standards for Next Generation Networks (NGN). FGNGN was made-up of seven working groups:

  • Services and capabilities
  • Functional architecture and requirements
  • Quality of service (QoS)
  • Control aspects
  • Security issues
  • Migration of current networks into NGN
  • Future packet based network requirements

During the 18-month life-time of FGNGN, nine meetings were organized, with more than 1,200 input documents and 1,400 participants. FGNGN deliverables cover all those seven fundamental framework areas of NGN. Its final output was a total of 30 documents that will be transferred to the relevant ITU-T Study Groups for their further consideration. Deliverables are classified by release concept. Proceedings contain the deliverables, each with its status indication. The proceedings are now available freely in two parts:

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 1:44:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The International Telecommunication Union is pleased to announce the 2006 ITU Young Minds in Telecoms competition.

The essay topics for this year's Young Minds competition are:

  • What are the key opportunities and threats raised by the growing use of services over IP, such as voice (VoIP) and television (i.e. IPTV)?
  • What are, in your view, the most important regulatory challenges raised by an increasingly wireless world?
  • What does the term "internet governance" mean to you? What needs to change as a result of the World Summit on the Information Society outcomes?
  • What, in your view, are the most important mechanisms available today for bridging the digital divide by bringing connectivity to underserved areas of the world?
  • How can the interests of end-users in the information society (e.g. affordability, privacy protection) be balanced with the interests of business (bottom line, rapid innovation)?

Information on eligibility and how to apply can be accessed on the link below.

Deadline for applications is 17 March 2006.

Click here to learn more about the 2006 ITU Young Minds in Telecoms competition.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 1:40:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Another take on marketing the Internet of Things (via IP). The source can be found here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 9:55:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, January 16, 2006

Two recent articles on the growing influence of national governments over the internet.

  1. Legal Affairs has just published Digital Borders By Jack Goldsmith and Timothy Wu. The article is an excerpt from the book Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World

In this provocative new book, Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu tell the fascinating story of the Internet's challenge to governmental rule in the 1990s, and the ensuing battles with governments around the world. It's a book about the fate of one idea--that the Internet might liberate us forever from government, borders, and even our physical selves. We learn of Google's struggles with the French government and Yahoo's capitulation to the Chinese regime; of how the European Union sets privacy standards on the Net for the entire world; and of eBay's struggles with fraud and how it slowly learned to trust the FBI. In a decade of events the original vision is uprooted, as governments time and time again assert their power to direct the future of the Internet. The destiny of the Internet over the next decades, argue Goldsmith and Wu, will reflect the interests of powerful nations and the conflicts within and between them.

While acknowledging the many attractions of the earliest visions of the Internet, the authors describe the new order, and speaking to both its surprising virtues and unavoidable vices. Far from destroying the Internet, the experience of the last decade has lead to a quiet rediscovery of some of the oldest functions and justifications for territorial government. While territorial governments have unavoidable problems, it has proven hard to replace what legitimacy governments have, and harder yet to replace the system of rule of law that controls the unchecked evils of anarchy. While the Net will change some of the ways that territorial states govern, it will not diminish the oldest and most fundamental roles of government and challenges of governance.

  1. First Monday has published The filtering matrix: Integrated mechanisms of information control and the demarcation of borders in cyberspace by Nart Villeneuve.

Increasingly, states are adopting practices aimed at regulating and controlling the Internet as it passes through their borders. Seeking to assert information sovereignty over their cyber–territory, governments are implementing Internet content filtering technology at the national level. The implementation of national filtering is most often conducted in secrecy and lacks openness, transparency, and accountability. Policy–makers are seemingly unaware of significant unintended consequences, such as the locking of content that was never intended to be blocked. Once a national filtering system is in place, governments may be tempted to use it as a tool of political censorship or as a technological "quick fix" to problems that stem from larger social and political issues. As non–transparent filtering practices meld into forms of censorship the effect on democratic practices and the open character of the Internet are discernible. States are increasingly using Internet filtering to control the environment of political speech in fundamental opposition to civil liberties, freedom of speech, and free expression. The consequences of political filtering directly impact democratic practices and can be considered a violation of human rights.

Monday, January 16, 2006 9:19:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Announcements on the ITU-T Newslog include:

  • ITU-T in cooperation with Light Reading is organizing an NGN Free Online Seminar on January 23 2006. The event will be hosted by Light Reading and feature key players in ITU’s work on NGN. For further information, see this announcement.
  • An NGN Technology and Standardization workshop sponsored by ITU-T and the US Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA from 19 to 20 March 2006 in conjunction with the TelecomNEXT event. For more details, see this announcement.
Monday, January 16, 2006 2:38:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Let There Be Wi-Fi: Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century—and much of America is being left in the dark, by Robert McChesney and John Podesta

Two decades ago, the chattering classes fretted about economic upheaval rising from Japan and the Asian Tigers. They feared an invasion of cars, microchips, and Karaoke that would take away American jobs, take over U.S.-dominated industries, and shift cultural norms. In the 1990s, America responded with a boom in high technology and Hollywood exports. But a revolution is again brewing in places like Japan and South Korea. This time it's about “broadband”—a technology that, in terms of powering economies, could be the 21st century equivalent of electricity. But rather than relive the jingoism of the 1980s, American policy makers would be wise to take a cue from the Asian innovators and implement new policies to close the digital divide at home and with the rest of the world.

The article cites ITU broadband research such as this and this.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 4:05:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

At the second phase of WSIS in Tunis, the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society called for the establishment of an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in paragraphs 72 - 79. The first meeting of the IGF will take place in Greece in 2006.

The first consultations on the convening of the IGF will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on 16 and 17 February 2006. The meeting will take place at the United Nations and be chaired by Mr Nitin Desai, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for WSIS, who will assist the Secretary-General in preparing the convening of the IGF. Additional information can be found at www.intgovforum.org.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 12:48:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, January 06, 2006

Light Reading is reporting that some of the best-known names in the VOIP peering business including VeriSign Inc., XConnect Global Networks Ltd., Arbinet-thexchange Inc., NeuStar Inc., Stealth Communications Inc., and InfiniRoute Networks Inc.  have replied to CableLabs' request for information (RFI) for technologies to enable cable operators to share Voice over IP (VoIP) traffic directly over their IP networks; otherwise known as VoIP Peering. The original RFI can be found here.

Friday, January 06, 2006 2:54:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Asia-Pacific maintains its lead in providing the best broadband bargains to be found worldwide. The latest ITU research comparing international prices for broadband access confirms that the three cheapest broadband economies are in Asia, with Japan still the cheapest at just 7 U.S. cents per 100 kbit/s followed by Korea. Both Japan and Korea offer the highest speeds for the cheapest prices per 100 kbit/s.

Prices among the cheapest fifteen broadband economies continued to fall and nearly halved, falling by 46.6 per cent from 2004-2005. Other countries are following Asia’s lead in bargain-value pricing. In 2004, just five economies offered broadband access under 1 USD per 100 kbit/s (which included four from Asia). In 2005, eleven economies offered cut-price access, including six from Europe. The good news for operators is that such pricing strategies seem to build market share. Eleven of the fifteen cheapest economies also rank in the fifteen economies with the highest broadband penetration. This implies that operators are successfully winning customers through cheaper pricing plans. Whether strong market shares can be translated into profit is another question, however. Bargain-value pricing builds subscriber bases at the expense of profit margins, which are likely to be eroded.

Source: ITU research, based on data available in the Statistical Annex to ITU Internet Report 2005: The Internet of Things, November 2005.

Friday, January 06, 2006 2:43:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) runs public consultation on Issues relating to Convergence and Competition in Broadcasting and Telecommunications. Written comments on the issues raised may please be furnished to Secretary, TRAI by 30th January, 2006.

The consultation paper published on 2nd January 2006 is available here.

The mainr issues for consultation include:

1) Comprehensive Legal Framework

Keeping in view the various convergence related issues discussed in the Consultation paper and as a measure to facilitate competition and promote efficiency in operation of telecom services so as to facilitate growth in such services.
a) Whether there is a need for having a comprehensive legal framework to deal with various issues arising out of convergence of technologies and services? If so
b) Whether, the legal framework must be developed around the Communication Convergence Bill, 2001? If so.
c) Whether changes may be required in the Bill especially taking into account TRAI’s unified licensing recommendations dated 13th January, 2005.
d) Whether regulation of carriage and content should be separated, as the skill sets required for the two are grossly different?

2) Unified Licensing

To ensure the compatibility of comprehensive legal frame work and the Unified Licensing Regime as recommended by the TRAI vide its recommendations dated 13th January 2005 and also after taking into account the subsequent developments should there be changes required in Unified Licensing ?

3) Spectrum related issues

Whether there should be flexibility in spectrum allocation to take full advantage of new services and new technologies for existing services that may evolve with time?

4) Rationalisation of Differential Custom Duty Regime

Whether changes should be made in customs duties as proposed by the Committee to promote effective competition amongst telecom and cable operators?

5) Restriction on use of Protocols

Whether call termination should be permitted on Customer Premise Equipments (CPEs) using any protocol recommended by ITU/IETF?

6) Institutional funding

Whether the Government should intercede with the banks and financial institutions to emphasize the importance of these projects in building up the country’s communication infrastructure and to provide funds to the cable industry wherever found commercially feasible?

7) FDI Limits

Whether there is a need to undertake a complete review of the FDI policy for the various sub sectors in telecommunications and broadcasting so that there is consistency in policy and a level playing field between competing technologies?

8) Right of Way

Right of Way to Cable operators providing digital services has already been recommended in TRAI recommendations dated 14th September 2005 on Digitalisation of Cable Television. Pending these amendments whether further action should be taken as proposed by the Committee?

 

Friday, January 06, 2006 10:58:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ofcom commissioned Spectrum Strategy Consultants to help develop the scope of a new NGN industry body which it does in a report linked from this page, as proposed in this consultation. Spectrum’s recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of Ofcom. Ofcom continues to discuss a range of issues in relation to NGNs with industry stakeholders. These discussions include the scope and role of any NGN industry body.

From the Executive Summary of the report.

Introduction

In its “Next Generation Networks: Further consultation”, held between 30 June and 12 August 2005 , Ofcom proposed the creation of an industry body tasked with the co-ordination of the UK telecoms industry’s transition to NGN core networks. The respondents to the consultation generally agreed that there was a need to address NGN issues that are currently not being covered by existing bodies. However, there was less consensus as to how to do this, and many respondents questioned what the purpose, scope and mechanics of a new NGN Body would be.

This report outlines a proposal for the purpose and role of an NGN Body. It also sets out a proposed organisational and governance structure. It does not include a review of Ofcom’s proposal to establish an Operational Adjudicator.

The recommendations in this document are based on a series of 32 interviews with representatives from the industry, Ofcom, and other industry bodies. We have endeavoured to reflect the views of the majority of stakeholders interviewed and to suggest pragmatic solutions to concerns raised. We expect that the proposals set out in this report will be refined as Ofcom embarks on further engagement with key stakeholders in the NGN transition.

Summary of recommendations

We recommend that Ofcom and the stakeholders in the UK telecoms industry proceed with setting up an NGN Body. We believe that such a body would benefit all stakeholders in the transition of the UK telecommunications industry to NGNs and help to ensure a smooth transition for both industry and end-users.

We propose the creation of an NGN Body in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • The body’s purpose should be to develop a joint vision and framework for the transition to NGNs that encompasses commercial, technical and operational issues
  • It will issue recommendations to the industry
  • In order to function effectively, the body will require a stringent governance and organisational structure:

    • its membership should be inclusive; stakeholders will be able to participate in workgroups on specific issues independent of size and degree of infrastructure ownership
    • in order to function effectively, the NGN body will need a strong figurehead as a chairman supported by a well-resourced management team equipped with strategic, technical and programme management expertise
    • a board consisting of 8-10 industry representatives needs to be appointed to approve the body’s recommendations and to drive its agenda forward
    • the organisation will be independent, accountable only to its members
    • Ofcom should adopt the role of an active observer

  • The body should be owned and funded by industry in order to enable its independence. However, Ofcom will need to play a leading role during the set-up phase
  • The body is required as soon as possible and should be set up within the next six to seven months; it is expected to have a lifetime of 3-4 years
Thursday, January 05, 2006 4:42:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Malaysia has recently launched its latest 5 year ICT master plan called MyICMS 886.

[Via James Seng's blog]

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 2:14:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, December 23, 2005

The European Regional Seminar on Regulatory and Economic Aspects of VoIP and Broadband Promotion for Central Eastern European countries (CEE), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Baltic States took place from the 29 to 30 November 2005, in Istanbul, Turkey. The agenda and presentations made at the meeting are available.

Friday, December 23, 2005 1:45:42 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Tides in Communication Politics? About Shifting Involvements and Technologies of Freedom and the Relevance of Albert Hirschman and Ithiel de Sola Pool for Today’s Communication Studies, by Willem Hulsink, former editor of Trends in Communications.

So like the tides, we can see swings of involvement in shaping the information and communication technologies of the past and the future: initially these technologies are mechanisms of freedom, questioning existing roles and practices, and keeping the hope alive for a better world, but at a later stage, when we realize both their possibilities and complications in real life, these technologies may end in the regulatory domain, provided that they generate perverse effects (e.g. one of Internet’s byproducts, unsolicited mail – spam – is now being addressed by the regulators).

Friday, December 23, 2005 12:43:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ITU-T Study Group 2 has approved at its December 2005 meeting, ITU-T Recommendation E.910: Procedures for Registration with the Domain ".int". This Recommendation clarifies the principles and procedures for the registration of names under the Internet top-level domain ".int" and the process by which qualified international organizations can register for domain names under ".int".

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 4:20:06 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Net's basic flaws cost firms billions, impede innovation, and threaten national security. It's time for a clean-slate approach, says MIT's Dave Clark. This article, the cover story in Technology Review’s December 2005/January 2006 print issue, is divided into three parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. [via James Seng]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 9:34:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, December 16, 2005

James Seng points to an article recapping 30 years of personal computer (PC) history.

Friday, December 16, 2005 9:53:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The European Commission has released a new draft proposal to update the EU's "TV without Frontiers" Directive. In a press release, the Commission notes the proposal is intended to keep pace with rapid technological and market developments in Europe’s audiovisual sector. Highlights from the press release:

  • The proposal will create a level playing field for all companies that offer TV-like services, irrespective of the technology used to deliver them (e.g. broadcast, high-speed broadband, third generation mobiles).
  • The Commission proposes replacing disparate national rules on protection of minors, against incitement to racial hatred and against surreptitious advertising with a basic, EU-wide minimum standard of protection for audiovisual on demand services.
  • Under the Commission proposal, the modernised TV without Frontiers Directive would govern TV and TV-like services. To open up the present EU rules to technological developments, the proposal distinguishes between “linear” services (e.g. scheduled broadcasting via traditional TV, the internet, or mobile phones, which “pushes” content to viewers), and “non-linear” ones, such as on-demand films or news, which the viewer “pulls” from a network. Today’s TV broadcasting rules would apply to linear services in a modernised, more flexible form, whereas non-linear ones would be subject only to a basic set of minimum principles, e.g. to protect minors, prevent incitement to racial hatred and outlaw surreptitious advertising.
  • More flexible advertising rules: For scheduled broadcasting, the Commission proposes to remove red tape, make existing rules more flexible for new forms of advertising, and encourage self- and co-regulation. Instead of detailed prescriptions on how often and under which conditions programmes may be interrupted by advertising, the modernised Directive would simplify the existing EU rules. In the future, broadcasters would be able to choose the best moment to insert advertising in programmes, rather than being obliged, as they are now, to allow at least 20 minutes between advertising breaks. However, the quantity of advertising would not be allowed to increase as the Commission proposes to maintain the existing 12 minutes per hour ceiling.
  • The new Directive would also support new forms of advertising, such as split-screen, virtual and interactive advertising. Product placement would, for the first time, be explicitly defined and provided with a clear legal framework. Except in news, current affairs and children’s programmes, clearly identified product placement would be permitted in Europe, both in linear and non-linear audiovisual services. To prevent surreptitious advertising, consumers would be informed at the start of a programme that product placement is in use. These new rules should remove legal uncertainty, provide additional funding for European productions and thus enhance the competitiveness of Europe’s audiovisual sector.

[Via Roger Darlington's blog

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 12:23:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The internet as we know it is set to transform radically, according to a new ITU Internet Report entitled The Internet of Things, specially prepared to coincide with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in November 2005. From an academic network for the chosen few created in the late 1960s, the internet is now a mass-market, consumer-oriented network being accessed by over 900 million people worldwide, through personal computers, mobile phones and other wireless devices. But this is only the beginning. According to ITU’s report, we are standing on the brink of a new ubiquitous computing and communication era, one that will radically transform the Internet, and with it, our corporate, community, and personal spheres. The new ITU report looks at key enabling technologies for ubiquity (e.g. RFID, sensors and sensor networks, telematics, robotics, nanotechnology) and how they might impact the future human and technological landscape.

At WSIS, the report was launched at a Press Conference and Panel Debate moderated by Kenn Cukier of The Economist. The lively debate included the following speakers and panelists: Nicholas Negroponte - MIT Media Lab, Olivier Baujard - CTO of Alcatel, Hitomi Murakami - VP General Manager of KDDI (Japan), Jonathan Murray - VP and CTO, Microsoft EMEA, Walid Moneimne, Senior VP and Head of EMEA Networks - Nokia, John Gage, Chief Researcher and Director of the Science Office - Sun Microsystems, and from the ITU, Lara Srivastava, lead author of the report.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 4:59:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dr. Roger Marks, the Chair of the IEEE 802.16 Working Group on Broadband Wireless Access has announced that a mobile version of IEEE 802.16 has been approved (now officially called IEEE Std 802.16-2004). The amended standard specifies a system for combined fixed and mobile BWA supporting subscriber stations moving at vehicular speeds in licensed bands under 6 GHz. The official press release announcement can be found here. The WiMAX Forum will now expand their certification process to include mobile as well as fixed systems.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 2:22:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, December 12, 2005

"Computer security isn't a technological problem -- it's an economic one." That is the message Bruce Schneier, Counterpane Internet Security, emphasized in his presentation at an infoSecurity Conference according to an article in InternetNews.com.

"The future of security is getting harder to predict". Industry professionals "must start paying attention to the economics of security if they hoped for technology to keep pace." "To understand the difference it's necessary to understand the basic economic incentives of companies and how businesses are affected by liabilities" Mr. Schneier pointed out in his presentation. "The problem is that most of the costs of insecure software fall on the users." In economics, this is known as an externality: an effect of a decision not borne by the decision maker", according to Schneier. "When a company leaks data they are not the victim -- you as a user are."

"Depending on where you put liability, security improves or it doesn't," Mr. Schneier added. "Put the liability on the responsible party than we can do something," he said. That liability usually comes through legislation or lawsuits, according to Schneier. Mr. Schneier also pointed out that "Security is a process, it is not a product," he said.

Access the full article here.

Monday, December 12, 2005 2:06:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Call for input on the forthcoming review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications and services, including review of the Recommendation on relevant markets! Deadline 31 January 2006

The Commission Services invite interested parties to give their views on possible changes to the five EP and Council directives that constitute the current EU framework for electronic communications, and to the Recommendation on relevant markets.

The consultation document can be found here.

A public workshop is provisionally planned for Tuesday 24 January 2006 in Brussels. The workshop will be open to all interested parties, but prior registration is required. A registration form can be found here.

For more information, please click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 5:15:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |