Telecom Timeout

A blog

July 9, 2009  6:47 PM

Will Verizon’s LTE rollout stumble over a little DoJ review?

Posted by: WPeterson
DOJ, LTE, smartphones, Verizon

Tom Nolle certainly thinks LTE could face delays as a result of the Department of Justice review, but he also decries the media for “sensationalizing” the story of the investigation. To allow a little more nuance (and maybe just to be fair to Tom), he did state his concerns were regarding a serious inquiry, and this latest kerfluffle seems anything but, as antitrust lawyer Matthew S. Wild explained:

Despite the increased regulatory scrutiny, this is just the earliest stage of the DOJ’s investigation, and Wild said it will probably come to nothing. In many ways, investigations into text pricing or device exclusivity are par for the course for big business.

“These deals only begin to pose a problem if they foreclose a substantial amount of competition,” he said. “Unless there is a deal between AT&T and Verizon, for example, or Nokia and Apple — horizontal competitors — it’s not much of a concern.”

The investigation is in such early stages that AT&T reportedly didn’t even know it was being investigated. Wild said for public companies, such an investigation would count as a “material fact” about corporate well-being, and AT&T (and any other telecoms involved) would have to disclose the information.

So what’s your take? Tempest in a teapot or a sign of big government gunning for big telcom players?

July 8, 2009  4:33 PM

DOJ aims at AT&T, Verizon but is much at stake?

Posted by: WPeterson
anti-trust, Department of Justice, iPhone, wireless

For telecoms, the jury is out on Obama, but the judge might soon stroll in for them: The Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun an investigation into whether service providers are abusing market power, as part of a strong anti-trust stance the administration has been generally taking.

But do carriers, wireless and landline alike, really have much to worry about? The initial media flurry makes it sound like Attorney General Eric Holder just wants his (and everyone else’s) iPhone on Verizon or any other network of their choice, and if that’s the goal, the end result will likely be negligible. Carriers like Verizon have promised open networks already. Are they dragging their feet? Absolutely, but if there’s anything to make telecoms look nimble, it’s the pace of federal bureaucracy. This is, after all, the same government that just found time to confirm the new FCC head Julius Genachowski a little over a week ago, despite sterling credentials and little pushback.

By the time device/network independence is mandated, and the government figures out exactly how bad it will muck it up, service providers will be on LTE and WiMax, both of which have promised the exact same model of device independence. In the meantime, as BusinessWeek’s Stephen Wildstrom reports, U.S. technical standards and implementations make it almost impossible for users to switch their phones across networks willy-nilly anyways, and if they do, they are likely to be rewarded with greatly reduced performance.

So what is it that Holder, and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), want from telecoms? The Wall Street Journal’s article is maddeningly scarce on details, but we’ll take a close look at the major players involved over the next few days as we try to parse exactly what the battle brewing between AT&T, Verizon, and the DOJ could look like.

June 29, 2009  8:28 PM

Could Iran’s censorship be net neutrality’s back door?

Posted by: WPeterson

A coalition of Net Neutrality backers are hoping to use Iran’s censorship as a rally for net neutrality, as DSLReports picked up. Generally, I’ve been hearing less from neutrality advocates as former champions like Google work closer with telecoms, but with a pro-Net Neutrality President Obama, nothing’s off the table.

I don’t see this time around as getting much farther than previous attempts, but it’s interesting to see that the agitators are singling out deep packet inspection (DPI). After noting a Wall Street Journal article on Western technology used in Iran, a letter from the coalition that includes the ACLU and Open Internet Coalition questions why similar technology goes largely unregulated domestically:

It has been reported that a bill will be introduced in the Senate that will sanction any company that sells technology aiding the Iranian regime in monitoring or blocking Internet connections or cell phone conversations.

Yet the deployment of deep packet inspection technology is occurring in the United States without full disclosure and government oversight.

We ask that Congress conduct hearings on this issue as soon as possible. The unfortunate situation in Iran provides chilling examples of the dangers of these new technologies. Policymakers must fully understand the implications of wide deployment of deep packet inspection technology so we can make the decisions to prevent its misuse in the United States.

The overall tone of the two-page release isn’t exactly alarmist and notes that service providers probably aren’t interested in directly meddling with political communications. Regardless, now might be a time for service providers to step forward and embrace the dialog: What exactly is DPI being used for, and what checks are in place? In discussion after discussion, I can’t help but think it’s the complete lack of transparency that gets service providers in trouble rather than the policies themselves, and this might be a great chance to educate and differentiate between what they’re doing to make sure your streaming videos arrive lag-free and what Iran is doing to crack down on dissent.

June 22, 2009  3:39 PM

RIM dissenters: Venezuelan & Chinese telecoms may break away

Posted by: WPeterson
BlackBerry, privacy, RIM

RIM has caught heat from national telecom companies before, with India demanding that BlackBerry servers be moved locally, but now, as Venezuelan Telecom Timeout reader e-mailed, Venezuela and China are trying to build their own BlackBerry competitor that doesn’t go through RIM’s Canada-based NOC.

We haven’t found any English-based news sources on the move yet, but Google Translate provides a passable rendition which I’ve tried to clean up:

The new device will be manufactured by Vetalcain, a joint venture of Venezeala and China’s ZTE State …

“There are two models being completed to access Movilnet: a mid-range model a [higher-end] model similar to a BlackBerry, but with the NOC in Venezuela,” Venezuelan Minister Jesse Chacon told reporters. The launch date has not yet been finalized, he said.

BlackBerry’s always seen the strongest adoption in the North American market, but if it’s unable to address concerns about privacy (and presumably communications control) from service providers in countries like Venezuela and China, RIM could face a new competitor that’s more friendly to state-run telecommunication operators. With the overwhelming “data leakage” seen in Iran, such a device might already have whole new markets opening.

June 22, 2009  3:18 PM

Nortel wireless fire sale delivers North American footprint to NSN

Posted by: KateGerwig
4G, CDMA, Ericcson, Huawei, LTE, Nortel, NSN, wireless infrastructure

Nortel’s wireless carrier network infrastructure division may bring in a paltry $650 million if the Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) deal goes through. By all accounts, NSN — the joint venture of Nokia Corp and Siemens AG — will be getting a really good deal out of Nortel’s bankruptcy. The deal sets a low bar, according to The Wall Street Journal, which is pretty clear, considering Nortel was once valued at $250 billion.

NSN stands to gain Nortel’s CDMA and LTE assets. Nortel’s CDMA unit earned $700 million a year – and that was while it was in decline, according to WSJ. The big 4G LTE migration is supposed to start next year, and NSN is gathering firepower for that.

Continued »

June 16, 2009  1:28 PM

When the going gets tough, Ciena gets going

Posted by: WPeterson
Ciena, equipment, hardware, stimulus

How do you find your customers when trade shows start drying up? Take the show booth to the customer. That’s Ciena’s idea, anyway, and while we know they’re not alone, they were the only ones to invite us aboard their 16-wheel demonstration booth when it recently stopped near’s Needham, Mass. offices.

Inside, potential customers (as well as’s Editorial Director Susan Fogarty and I) were presented with fairly standard racks to inspect Ciena’s latest (and classic) offerings, like the CN 3920 (pictured far right bottom on rack) and the CN 4200.

The truck roll gave Ray Patalano, Ciena’s senior manager of field marketing, a chance to showcase various features of Ciena’s hardware, but beyond walking us through a spec-sheet presentation, Ray shared some of his thoughts on telecom growth opportunities.

And where are these early green shoots to be found? No place other than the financial services industry, according to Ray.

“We lost some orders, no question about it,” he admitted, saying that even now sales are not near the heady pre-recession days. But he said Ciena is seeing an uptick again, particularly as the remaining finance players seek every possible advantage to stay afloat in tough times.

Continued »

June 14, 2009  8:57 PM

BT wants content providers to pay to play. Well, duh!

Posted by: KateGerwig
broadband, BT, content delivery, network providers, Telecom, tiered services

BT wants content providers to share the cost of providing their content, which makes total sense from BT’s point of view and doesn’t much interest content providers. As my mother always said: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? (a handy metaphorical construct for so many occasions).

In the last few weeks, BT faced accusations that it was limiting download speeds for the BBC’s video content player, the iPlayer. After some stalling, a BT spokesman came clean to Yes, BT was limiting video-steaming content on its basic service package. In truth, the truth makes a better point on BT’s behalf than keeping it quiet.

Continued »

June 12, 2009  7:23 PM

Dear gadget hounds: Wireless networks more than their phones

Posted by: WPeterson
AT&T, Palm, Sprint

I know, I know, it’s just the natural tides of media coverage chasing after the latest buzz, but really: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are more than their headline-grabbing devices.

As I blogged previously, the Palm Pre and Sprint aren’t fated together. Now we’re being told that AT&T’s iPhone fumbles are killing the carrier. Please.

The Apple iPhone and Palm Pre are amazing devices, even “game changing,” as long as we’re delving into marketing buzzwords. But they aren’t going to single-handedly decide the fate of a $155 billion dollar industry.

Just look at Verizon: The BlackBerry Storm has received the worst reviews of the three headlining devices (even T-Mobile’s G1 has gotten much more favorable coverage!) yet the company’s still in great shape. Point made.

June 12, 2009  1:17 AM

Sprint’s femtocell wholesale move – hoping for wireless for all takers

Posted by: KateGerwig
CDMA, femtocells, fixed mobile convergence (FMC), Sprint, wholesale services, Wi-Fi

For an interesting spin on who sells services to whom, Sprint will begin wholesaling femtocell solutions to wireless resale partners that include mobile virtual network operators (MNVOs), as well as its wireline brethren, which means landline telecom service providers and particularly cable companies that want to offer quadruple-play services and provide wireless coverage inside customer’s homes.

Continued »

June 8, 2009  7:49 PM

Green Cisco recycles ASR 9000 advertising campaign

Posted by: WPeterson
Advertising, ASR 9000, Cisco, mobile backhaul, Routers

If I weren’t such a fan of kitschy 50′s send-ups and if the economy weren’t so tough I might be less forgiving, but Cisco’s special Father’s Day ASR 9000 advert is still good for a geeky telecom equipment chuckle, even if it is a little too reminiscent of the Valentine’s Day ASR 9000 ad. At least it beats the bizarre flash game-vertisements network administrators get. For your viewing pleasure:
[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

And just for comparison’s sake, here’s the original Valentine’s Day spot:
[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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