Thursday, November 30, 2006

NTIA approves new .com domain name agreement 

The National Telecommunication & Information Agency (NTIA) issued the following press release today:

The agency retains oversight of .com domain with safeguards to protect consumers, and Internet stability and security

by approving a new .com agreement between ICANN and VeriSign Inc. This allows VeriSign to operate .com until 2012.

But the interesting point is the amendment negotiated by the Department of Commerce (DoC):
As a condition of approval, the Department negotiated an amendment to its existing Cooperative Agreement with VeriSign to address the competition and Internet security and stability issues identified during the review process. Under this amendment, the Department retains oversight over any changes to the pricing provisions of, or renewals of, the new .com registry agreement. Department approval of any renewal will occur only if it concludes that the approval will serve the public interest in the continued security and stability of the Internet domain name system and the operation of the .com registry, and the provision of registry services at reasonable prices, terms and conditions.
So what is left to ICANN?

Update: see also (in German)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Very Useful VoIP Implementation - A1 goes VoIP 

This week I participated at the IIR VoIP World Congress in Vienna. There where a lot of very excellent presentations and one could get a good impression of the current state-of-the-art of VoIP implementations by all kinds of operators - fixed, cable, mobile and virtual. It also covered wireless VoIP - WiFi and WiMAX.

Up to now VoIP was mainly done by virtual operators such as Skype, Vonage, sipgate, etc., and then by cable operators offering VoIP as third part of triple play. There was also a very interesting presentation of Italy's Fastweb, offering also triple play based on fiber and ADSL.

It was interesting to see how fixed and mobile operators are approaching VoIP. Up to now they acted very carefully, not to cannibalize their current voice business on the PSTN. Of course they all are planning to go All-IP sometimes between now (21CN) and 2010, and they all put a big effort in specifying NGN and IMS with the quiet hope that the outcome will allow them to continue their business models also in the next decade, but how long can you do this and put your head into the sand?

Some of them start to look around and try to find out what the customers really want:
  • Customers do not care about technology and networks, they care about end-user devices
  • The user interface must be simple
  • They want to be mobile and access their services and applications from everywhere
  • They want to be accessed by one identifier
  • They do not want to be ripped off.
This leads to fixed-mobile-convergence (FMC), all-IP and wireless access.

The mobile operators are nearly there with GSM-CS and HSPDA, so the first ones to break out were of course the fixed operators - e.g. T-Com with T-One. This product uses a dual-mode handset to make a fixed-line phone mobile. A draw-back of this solution is that the dual-mode handsets are not really mass-products yet and there is also problems with battery life.

Now we see it the other way round from mobile operators. Mobilkom Austria (Veronika Berger) presented their A1 Voice over IP Pilot.

The product is basically simple: what you need is a normal mobile subscription. You may then download a privately labeled and preconfigured CounterPath Softphone to you PC (but you may use any other Softphone also) and use your account to link the mobile phone to the Softphone and activate dual-ring.

Incoming calls to your mobile number will ring both your mobile phone and the softphone. For outgoing calls from the softphone you may either use phone numbers (a 200 minutes free package to national numbers is included) or sip URIs for free calls to other SIP clients (free peering)

This product is of course very nice for travellers to save incoming roaming charges, but it is also very useful nationally.

The pilot is currently limited for 2000 users (which were used-up in two days) and for free. Of course the service will be sold later as a package. Since it is implemented on a standard SIP user client, it can also be used on dual-mode handsets as they become stable.

The final product is planned to use IMS, but the pilot is running on an OpenSER.

Of course some other mobile operators in the audience raised the question of cannibalizing current voice revenues and especially loosing the roaming charges, but the answer came already in the presentation itself:

VoIP is a fact - act and make the best of it.

or said in another way: if you are not doing it, somebody else will do it and you lost a customer.

This product opens also up another chance for (User and Infrastructure) ENUM: If the pilot is really launched commercially in a similar way as it is now - you pay a flat fee for adding this functionality to you mobile service and you also get a free minute package for calls to phone numbers from the Softphone:

an ENUM lookup will save money for the operator if the calls to phone numbers can be completed on IP.

Friday, November 10, 2006

From IETF#67 San Diego 

Jonathan Rosenberg seeking for contributions.

Picture taken by Bernie Hoeneisen

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Internet Disconnect 

Another result of the American Vote 2006?

Former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, now President of the Benton
Foundation, forwards an article written by FCC Commissioner Michael
Copps for today's Washington Post.


Washington Post-11/08/07

Internet Disconnect

By Michael J. Copps
Wednesday, November 8, 2006; A27

America's record in expanding broadband communication is so poor that it
should be viewed as an outrage by every consumer and businessperson in
the country. Too few of us have broadband connections, and those who do
pay too much for service that is too slow. It's hurting our economy, and
things are only going to get worse if we don't do something about it.

The United States is 15th in the world in broadband penetration,
according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). When the
ITU measured a broader "digital opportunity" index (considering price
and other factors) we were 21st -- right after Estonia. Asian and
European customers get home connections of 25 to 100 megabits per second
(fast enough to stream high-definition video). Here, we pay almost twice
as much for connections that are one-twentieth the speed.

How have we fallen so far behind? Through lack of competition. As the
Congressional Research Service puts it, U.S. consumers face a "cable and
telephone broadband duopoly." And that's more like a best-case scenario:
Many households are hostage to a single broadband provider, and nearly
one-tenth have no broadband provider at all.

For businesses, it's just as bad. The telecom merger spree has left many
office buildings with a single provider -- leading to annual estimated
overcharges of $8 billion. Our broadband infrastructure should be a
reason companies want to do business in the United States, not just
another reason to go offshore.

The stakes for our economy could not be higher. Our broadband failure
places a ceiling over the productivity of far too much of the country.
Should we expect small-town businesses to enter the digital economy, and
students to enter the digital classroom, via a dial-up connection? The
Internet can bring life-changing opportunities to those who don't live
in large cities, but only if it is available and affordable.

Even in cities and suburbs, the fact that broadband is too slow, too
expensive and too poorly subscribed is a significant drag on our
economy. Some experts estimate that universal broadband adoption would
add $500 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.2 million jobs.

Future generations will ultimately pay for our missteps. Albert Einstein
reportedly quipped that compound interest is the most powerful force in
the universe. Investment in infrastructure is how a nation harnesses
this awesome multiplier. Consider that 80 percent of the growth in
fiber-to-the-home (super-high-speed) subscribers last year was not in
the United States but in Japan. One does not need Einstein's grasp of
mathematics to understand that we cannot keep pace on our current

I don't claim to have all the answers. But there are concrete steps
government must take now to reverse our slide into communications

To begin with, the Federal Communications Commission -- of which I am a
member -- must face up to the problem. Today the agency's reports seem
designed mostly to obscure the fact that we are falling behind the rest
of the world. The FCC still defines broadband as 200 kilobits per
second, assumes that if one person in a Zip code area has access to
broadband then everyone does and fails to gather any data on pricing.

The FCC needs to start working to lower prices and introduce
competition. We must start meeting our legislative mandate to get
advanced telecommunications out to all Americans at reasonable prices;
make new licensed and unlicensed spectrum available; authorize "smart
radios" that use spectrum more efficiently; and do a better job of
encouraging "third pipe" technologies such as wireless and broadband
over power lines. And we should recommend steps to Congress to ensure
the FCC's ability to implement long-term solutions.

We need a broadband strategy for America. Other industrialized countries
have developed national broadband strategies. In the United States we
have a campaign promise of universal broadband access by 2007, but no
strategy for getting there. With less than two months to go, we aren't
even within shouting distance.

The solution to our broadband crisis must ultimately involve
public-private initiatives like those that built the railroad, highway
and telephone systems. Combined with an overhaul of our universal
service system to make sure it is focusing on the needs of broadband,
this represents our best chance at recapturing our leadership position.

It seems plain enough that our present policies aren't working.
Inattention and muddling through may be the path of least resistance,
but they should not and must not represent our national policy on this
critical issue.

The writer is a Democratic member of the Federal Communications

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

OpenMoko announces the first truly open source cell phone 

Amsterdam, OPEN SOURCE IN MOBILE CONFERENCE (PRWeb) November 7, 2006

OpenMoko today announced the immediate availability of a completely integrated open source mobile communications platform in partnership with FIC, a world leader in motherboards, graphics cards, mobile solutions, and electronic devices. The announcement of the OpenMoko mobile communications platform coincides with the unveiling of FIC's Neo1973 smartphone, which utilizes the full OpenMoko platform and will be available in January 2007.

See also on the impact of this gadget at the Inquirer.

The only drawback: the current FIC's NEO1973 smartphone does support even GPS, but not WiFi - but this will be fixed soon.

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