Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas 

To all my readers, a Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ein Weihnachtsgedicht 

Der Gabentisch ist öd und leer,
die Kinder blicken blöd umher,
da lässt der Vater einen krachen,
die Kinder fangen an zu lachen.

So kann man auch mit kleinen Sachen
Beamtenkindern Freude machen.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Archeological Access Networks 

During an archeological search near Moscow at a depth of 10 meters, Russian scientists have found some relics of copper line. By provocation, they concluded publicly that Russian ancestors had a telephone network 1,000 years ago.

The Americans, to compete, decided to do a similar search, but at 20 meters deep. They found some trace of fiber glass. It turned out that it was 2,000 years old. The American scientists concluded that their ancestors deployed a fiber-to-the-home-network for digital communication. And this, a thousand years before the Russians!

One week later, in Salzburg, some Austrian scientists published the following: “Following searches in Hallein at a depth of 50 meters, we did not find anything. We conclude that the ancestors of the Celts had a Wifi network more than 5,000 years ago.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ENUM in Ireland +353 

On March 22, 2006 I posted:

The Irish Commision for Communication Regulation (ComReg) announced today officially that an Irish-Austrian Consortium wins competition for the provision of ENUM services in Ireland.

I expected that after two or three month ENUM would go into operation in Ireland, because ...

... how long can you negotiate a contract?

Now we know:

Niall O'Reilly, Chair of the ENUM +353 Policy Advisory Board, posted the following message today:

ComReg and IENUM signed the +353 Tier-1 commercial-service contract yesterday afternoon. ComReg's media release is on their web site:

The press release states:

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) today announced that a commercial ENUM service will open in Ireland in first quarter of 2007.

Now this I can believe, because the registry is done be Austrians ;-)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why cell phone outage reports are secret in the US 

From the Red Tape Chronicles: Why cell phone outage reports are secret.

Consumers have no idea how reliable their cell phone service will be when they buy a phone and sign a long-term contract. The Federal Communications Commission could offer some guidance, but it won't. The agency refuses to make public a detailed database of cell phone provider outages that it has maintained since 2004.

A federal Freedom of Information Act request for the data, filed in August by, has been rejected by the agency. The stated reasons: Release of the information could help terrorists plan attacks against the United States, and it would harm the companies involved.


In the beginning, the reports all were from "wire line" telephone providers and were available to the public. But in 2004, the commission ordered wireless firms to supply outage reports as well. But at the same time, it removed all outage reports from public view and exempted them from the Freedom of Information Act.

It is really interesting what you can do now in the US in the name of Homeland Security.

This leads BTW to another interesting question regarding reliability of emegency services and VoIP:

How reliable are emergency services on "wire line" and especially "wire less"?

Experience on QoS in Internet2 

One argument by telcos why NGN and IMS is required is that there is no QoS on the Internet.

Internet2 is a not-for-profit partnership of 208 universities, 70 companies, and 51 affiliated organizations, including some federal agencies and laboratories. The mission is to advance the state of the Internet, primarily by operating a very advanced, private, ultra-high-speed research and education network called Abilene. By providing very high speed pipes – 10,000 times faster than home broadband, in our backbone – Abilene enables the members to try new uses of the network, develop new applications and experiment with new forms of communications.

Gary R. Bachula, the Vice-President of Internet2, stated at the hearing on Net Neutrality before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Sience and Transportation regarding QoS:

Our experience. Having deployed an advanced broadband network to over five million users for some seven years now, we at Internet2 believe our experience will interest Congress as you consider important telecommunications legislation.

We are aware that some providers argue against net neutrality, saying that they must give priority to certain kinds of Internet bits, such as video, in order to assure a high quality experience for their customer. Others argue that they want to use such discrimination among bits as a basis for a business model. Let me tell you about our experience at Internet.

When we first began to deploy our Abilene network, our engineers started with the assumption that we should find technical ways of prioritizing certain kinds of bits, such as streaming video, or video conferencing, in order to assure that they arrive without delay. For a number of years, we seriously explored various "quality of service" schemes, including having our engineers convene a Quality of Service Working Group. As it developed, though, all of our research and practical experience supported the conclusion that it was far more cost effective to simply provide more bandwidth. With enough bandwidth in the network, there is no congestion and video bits do not need preferential treatment. All of the bits arrive fast enough, even if intermingled.

Today our Abilene network does not give preferential treatment to anyone’s bits, but our users routinely experiment with streaming HDTV, hold thousands of high quality two-way video conferences simultaneously, and transfer huge files of scientific data around the globe without loss of packets.

We would argue that rather than introduce additional complexity into the network fabric, and additional costs to implement these prioritizing techniques, the telecom providers should focus on providing Americans with an abundance of bandwidth – and the quality problems will take care of themselves.

For example, if a provider simply brought a gigabit Ethernet connection to your home, you could connect that to your home computer with only a $15 card. If the provider insists on dividing up that bandwidth into various separate pipes for telephone and video and internet, the resulting set top box might cost as much as $150. Simple is cheaper. Complex is costly.

A simple design is not only less expensive: it enables and encourages innovation.
Nothing to add. Keep It Simple, Stupid is still valid.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Telecoms: The Next Decade? 

In the last decade the future of telecoms was ISDN and Intelligent Networks. This idea was quite sucessful in wireless networks e.g. GSM. The last killer application was SMS (and still nobody knows why).

In this decade the future is (was?) NGN, IMS and walled gardens = IN over IP. All incumbent standard bodies are very busy in specifying NGN and IMS - ITU-T, 3GPP, 3GPP2 and TISPAN.

Even the IETF got infected. They succeded in making SIP the standard voice protocol used by all other standard bodies - for the price of making it more complex then ISDN and SS7. ENUM WG is tumbling on the border between circuit-switching and Internet, but is used only in private networks. SPEERMINT is trying desperately to find solutions how to interconnect the walled gardens.

The basic idea here is:
  1. the public Internet cannot be used because it has no QoS and because it is dangerous (bad),
  2. nobody is allowed to know which users and numbers I host,
  3. I as a Service Provider interconnect only with a limited set of other SP - the ones I trust (to get money from).
In the meantime the Internet by-passed the Telcos right and left, startup companies like Yahoo, Google, Ebay, Skype, YouTube and thousands of others are overtaking the service oriented Telcos with their services - most of them in The Long Tail.

As my readers know, I was always sceptical about IMS:
  1. it is to complicated (=expensive), especially if implemented in a walled garden,
  2. it will never be finished or too late,
  3. all potential services are already available on the Internet (Me Too),
  4. QoS in the core is not necessary and in the access it will not work.
I told the Telcos to concentrate primarily on their core business:

provide access, because the current killer application is speed.

Now what IS the future of the Telcos in the next decade?:

Some of them seem to get the idea:

Reuters.UK is reporting from the ITU Telecom World 2006 two weeks ago, for the first time not taking place in Geneva, but in Hong Kong:

Telecom carriers go back to the basics: plumbing the Web.

Some statements:

The telecoms industry is struggling to adapt to the Internet age, and while some operators hope they can mimic the success of YouTube and Google, the bravest are toning down their ambitions and refocusing on plumbing the Web.

"The integrated telco model is broken. All innovation is coming from the edge of the Internet. It's coming from companies other than telecoms companies, from the likes of Google, Amazon," said James Enck, an analyst at Daiwa Securities in London

None of the big names in the Internet space have been born inside a telecoms company or, for that matter, any big corporation, observed Charles Dunstone, the chief executive of mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse at a communications conference in London.

"The existential crisis is that telcos are asking: what are we here for? Are we here to provide connectivity or are we here to provide all the other services?," said Stephen Young, analyst at market research group Ovum.

An operator like KPN from the Netherlands, a trend-setter in European telecommunications, is not even trying to make the elephant fly.
"Of course we need help from non-telco people, because it's a totally different world. We're not used to buying content, we're not used to set up the TV user interface and things like that," said Eelco Blok, responsible for the fixed line operations at KPN.

"We're leaving the walled garden behind us," said Frank Sixt at Hutchison Whampoa.

Another insight comes from the OFCOM conference Communications and Convergence:

where Ben Verwaayen CEO of BT made the following statements (citing John Horrocks):
  • there are real dilemmas in direction for telcos, are we seeing classical convergence of the start of a new industry?
  • 21C is a leap of faith without a safety net
  • investment lifetimes are falling from 20 years to 3 years and this is a huge commercial change
  • communications is about collaboration, lifestyle and productivity
  • unpredictable elements are user behaviour,
  • power is shifting to consumer over when, where, how information is delivered
  • networks need to be open (John's comment: please tell TISPAN!)
  • markets are international but not yet global
And LightReading is asking: Is the IMS honeymoon over?

and simply: IMS: Dead?

Light Reading published a column by Peter Heywood about a week ago, inviting vendors to submit IMS projects for an online album of case studies: Calling All IMS Vendors. The result? Not a single submission – and an email from an ex-CTO of an incumbent carrier questioning Heywood's sanity and stating:

"IMS is dead. What customers want is open voice over Internet… not a walled garden."

Of course all this insight may come too late already - or as Henry Sinnreich stated simply when I told him that some telcos might finally get the idea:

Yes, like the passengers on the TITANIC.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Broadband News from Western Styria 

Governor Schwarzenegger Announces Appointments to the Broadband Task Force

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of Ellis Berns, Rachelle Chong, William Geppert, Charles Giancarlo, Paul Hernandez, William Huber, Christine Kehoe, Wendy Lazarus, Lloyd Levine, Michael Liang, Bryan Martin, Timothy McCallion, Sunne Wright McPeak, Milo Medin, Peter Pardee, Peter Pennekamp, Debra Richardson, Rollin Richmond, Larry Smarr, Jonathan Taplin and Emy Tseng to the Broadband Task Force.

The Broadband Task Force will bring together public and private stakeholders to remove barriers to broadband access, identify opportunities for increased broadband adoption and enable the creation and deployment of new advanced communication technologies.

In October, the Governor signed an Executive Order to clear the government red tape for expanding broadband networks and to create the Broadband Task Force, which was expanded to 21 members earlier this month.

"California is No. 1 in so many different things, whether it is biotechnology, stem cell research, protecting our environment, creating jobs or our university system. The Golden State must remain competitive in the telecommunication revolution so that we can continue to attract the best, the brightest and the most creative workforce in the world," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Broadband will help build California so we can grow our economy, create great jobs and stay ahead in the global marketplace."

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