26/08/2005

Telewest/NTL Merger Delayed?

Telewest/NTL Merger Delayed?

The merger may not be delayed just on price, there are tax implications and the possibility the merged company will have SMP (significant market power). If it's deemed they do have SMP, then they can be regulated like BT and they'll have to open the network to 3rd parties, which brings on a completely new set of issues.

Intel rediscovers networking over powerlines - vnunet.com

Intel rediscovers networking over powerlines - vnunet.com

Intel are jumping on to as many networking technologies as they can. They've been hyping WiMAX like there's nothing else out there, but then they build chips and they build WiMAX chips.

They pulled out of Homeplug in 2000, but now have rejoined what's become the HomePlug and Powerline Alliance.

Though broadband speeds are increasing, the real jumps are going to be made in home networks both in wired and wireless technologies so people can distribute music and high-definition (HD) TV around their homes.

Though wireless is useful is doesn't penetrate thicks or metal walls. Most houses already have wires going everywhere, supplying electricity. The HPA is promoting technology and standards to utilise the existing electricity cabling to be a network within the home, as well as using the powerlines coming into the home for supplying the broadband itself.

It's only another chip off the block for Intel of course.

PlusNet's ADSL Auto-Disconnects

PlusNet's ADSL Auto-Disconnects

This is probably the first of a tranch of ISPs to implement idle time-outs. It's nothing to do with congestion really, but session limits on the IPStream service.

IPStream is the BT Wholesale service that many UK ISPs resell. When BT introduced capacity based charging the price to the ISP for the end user connection was fixed (about £8) and was no longer related to connection speed. The price of the backhaul increase by a magnitude from about £30,000pa to £300,000pa.

For larger ISPs that doesn't matter as the backhaul is shared between lots of users, so the cost becomes less significant. ISPs can over contend the service whereby they add more users sharing the same bandwidth. This is why ISPs tend to give away DSL modems rather than routers, so when the user shuts-down the PC the connection stops.

It's similar to the old modem days when ISPs knew people would disconnect after surfing because the call charges were prohibitive, so they could have more users than modems.

Unfortunately in the broadband world, connections don't have to close and people keep their PCs on all the time, and that's problematic for the ISP, not due to the contention as when the connection isn't being used as there's little or no traffic being generated, but because there are session limits i.e. the total number of users connecting to the ISP simulaneously.

It's all to do with L2TP (layer 2 tunneling protocol) which IPStream uses, and for a 255Mb/s pipe (backhaul) the session limit was about 12,000 i.e. 12,000 connected customers per pipe.
That's OK if all your customers are 2Mb/s (about 6000 sessions used), but at 512Kb/s the pipe should support upto 25,000 users.

Companies splash out millions on IP networks - LANs - Breaking Business and Technology News at silicon.com

Companies splash out millions on IP networks - LANs - Breaking Business and Technology News at silicon.com

3 large companies migrating to a converged IP network. They're spending a fair bit of money, but they are all multi-site companies. That's where VoIP can make real savings (no inter site telephony charges) and there's only a single infrastructure to manage.

VoIP doesn't make sense for a lot of companies, converging networks is expensive and just migrating away from BT to an alternative supplier using IDA (indirect access) or CPS (carrier preselect) can reduce bills significantly.

When migrating to VoIP and/or converged networks work out the economics out first and only if they stack-up consider the change. Changing just for technology sake is likely to be expensive and generate severe headaches.

25/08/2005

Digit Online news - PSP 2.0 firmware update: Ten days late

Digit Online news - PSP 2.0 firmware update: Ten days late

Japanese users have had the 2.0 firmware for a while, it adds new features such as a decent web browser (so no more having to utilise Wipeout Pure's browser and skewed DNS entries), new video codecs such as H.264, unprotected AAC and WAV audio. They've also added new security features which are designed to stop people installing software they've written and upgraded the WiFi side to support WPA-PSK.

Some US users are downloading the Japanese firmware and installing that, though Sony advises against that.

Digit Online news - Adobe, Macromedia takeover approved

Digit Online news - Adobe, Macromedia takeover approved

Adobe has won shareholder approval to takeover Macromedia. Though not expected to complete until later this year, it's already had an effect with Macromedia not including Freehand in their latest Studio offer.


The combination of Adobe and Macromedia in the digital media space will create a strong company. Adobe is known for Illustrator and Photoshop (and though they have web packages they are not strong in that area) while Macromedia are known for Flash, Dreamweaver and to some extent Contribute.

It's likely the converged company will contain the best bits of Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver with complete integration between all the packages (like Adobe have done with their own software). This will create a pretty indispensible set of software.

24/08/2005

BT reveals scale of business broadband failure - ZDNet UK News

BT reveals scale of business broadband failure - ZDNet UK News

It seems take-up of BT's SDSL service has been very low, with a high percentage of the 729 SDSL enabled exchanges having NO SDSL customers at all.

BT are cutting pricing for SDSL in November by 30%, but have stopped enabling new exchanges until the market picks up (they were meant to enable 800 in total) and will see how things progress by Jan 2006.

LLU operators are achieving better SDSL take-up, but their pricing is better suited to the market.

Ofcom Website | Background and context to the report on Ultra Wide Band interference on Broadband Fixed Wireless Access

Ofcom Website | Background and context to the report on Ultra Wide Band interference on Broadband Fixed Wireless Access

UWB or ultra wideband is a technology that spreads the signals across a wide range of frequncies. Signals are duplicated and error correction is used which makes the system very resistant to interference and allows very high data rates (hundreds of Mb/s if not higher).

Currently UWB is illegal in the UK and Ofcom has commissioned various independent bodies to carry out economic studies on the benefits and UWB.

Initial costings look very positive with great benefit to the UK economy, however there is a downside in that it might interfere with fixed wireless access (FWA) licenses therefore producing some negative costings to them, however these can be mitigated by ensuring the UWB systems would "listen" and not transmit on those frequencies where they "heard" other transmissions taking place.

In the US the FCC has already allowed the use of (low power) UWB and it looks like Ofcom would like to do the same, however they'd use an ETSI (European Telecoms Standards Institute) spectrum mask instead of the FCC one.

This would require a harmonised European approach and Ofcom have submitted their findings and analysis to various EU regulatory bodies and will submit their proposals for UWB in the next few months.

Google Talk

Google Talk

Google have launched an IM (instant messaging) service based nn the XMPP protocol (also known as Jabber) which is also used by Apple's iChat and others. Since Google have only made a Windows client it's possible to use other clients with the Google server (though voice chat is currently only available with the Google client).

Google talk also links in with Google Mail (GMail) and shows when new mail arrives etc. It will also use your GMail contacts.

Google are seriously starting to make dents into other markets that are not traditionally Google (or search) related, their recent release of Google Desktop (beta) 2 which now has Outlook etc integration allowing searching directly within a Microsoft program (though not using MS search technology).

23/08/2005

ElectricNews.net:News:Google uses Sidebar to sideline rivals

ElectricNews.net:News:Google uses Sidebar to sideline rivals

Google is taking another hit at the PC desktop, it's sidebar product (which incorporated Google Desktop) will automatically pull content that it "thinks" the user is interested in (though these features can be turned off for the privacy concerned).

Though it's a definate dig at Yahoo and other search companies, it also poses at least an annoyance to Microsoft as it doesn't require a browser and offers direct access to applications (when a search requires opening a document etc).

Google are getting everywhere and their technology works. They'll be buying Microsoft soon.

T-Mobile promises 'true mobile broadband' for UK - vnunet.com

T-Mobile promises 'true mobile broadband' for UK - vnunet.com

T-Mobile is rolling out HSDPA in the UK (Germany and the Netherlands) which will offer 2Mb/s downstream connections (i.e. from the network to the handset). This is what 3G should have offered in the first place, though data usage on 3G has been disappointing so far.

"3" though supporting data, only support a walled garden approach with no connectivity outside their services and targetted squarely at consumers.

The traditional (GSM) operators have tried to attack the business markets for 3G data services, but as yet take-up is low and they're not achieving nearly as much data traffic as they'd like. This is partly because data rates have never really matched what was promised, but HSDPA may resolve this.

Pipex fires up UK WiMax trial - vnunet.com

Pipex fires up UK WiMax trial - vnunet.com

Pipex acquired a 3.5GHz national license through an acquisition it made a while back. So far it hasn't really done anything with the license as equipment has been expensive for both basestations and customer premises. However WiMAX changes that and prices are falling.

Whether Pipex actually utilise the spectrum themselves or, under the new spectrum trading regulations. sell it off is another matter, but making trial noises will increase its value.

It's rumoured that BT have already offered £5m for it, but Pipex said no and they've had to go back to the BT board to get some more.

However since wireless broadband isn't really Pipex's main business it's likely they'll want to sell it, but gaining as much value for themselves in doing so. Running a trial show's the spectrum has value.

22/08/2005

Demon's Consumer Broadband all at 2M



Demon have dropped all consumer variants of broadband below 2Mb/s (and everyone who's on a service below 2M is being upgraded automatically). The pricing for the "Home" service is £19.99 inc VAT per month (no caps) and the "HomeOffice" (no caps, static IP and a few extra frills) £24.99 inc VAT per month.

When is BT going to offer 8Mb/s ADSL (MaxDSL)?

Microsoft makes a fortune out of Apple

Microsoft makes a fortune out of Apple

This isn;t really news at all. A while back Microsoft invested $250m in Apple to stop it going down the tubes. Why? Because

i) Microsoft didn't want to be the only OS for PC's (this is before Linux was but a techie toy) as they'd be hit with monopolistic problems.

ii) Mac software accounted for a considerable chunk of revenue and MS has the biggest Mac dev team outside of Apple.

There's somewhere in the region of 7m copies of Office for Mac out there, which is a LOT of dollars.

Techworld.com - Sun open sources digital rights technology

Techworld.com - Sun open sources digital rights technology

Sun open sourcing another technology (they've previously released Solaris as Open Solaris), well now there's the DReaM project.

DRM is extremely complicated and there are several competing standards (Apple uses one for iTunes, Microsoft another for Windows Media, Real another for their servers and music store) along with a multitude of others.

If Sun can get DReaM adopted by the Open Source movement, it might be an acceptable way forward (many people object to DRM as it limits what they can do with content they "own", however the media industry is never going to want to give their content away) and drive user support for DRM.

Vispa Internet Suffers DOS Attack

Vispa Internet Suffers DOS Attack

Stopping Denial of Service (DoS) or DDoS (Distributed DoS) attacks can be very difficult, especially for larger providers who have to check traffic at multiple entry points into their network and coordinate checks with other entry points to ensure that it really is a DoS attack, not just heavy traffic i.e. say there's a popular website (linked to a TV show) traffic may be negligable but when the show goes on air (or just after) traffic to the site increases by magnitudes. That can easily look like a DoS attack.

Once the DoS attack is detected, it can be even harder to stop as traffic will still be entering the network and even if it can be stopped at the edge (or upstream provider) the loading on the network boxes increases dramatically.

There are commercial systems out there which are designed specifically to monitor and sensibly block DoS attacks but they tend to be extremely expensive to implement. However many commercial sites who are prone to be the recipients are starting to demand DoS protection as part of their hosting services.

Cisco loosens grip on router market - vnunet.com

Cisco loosens grip on router market - vnunet.com

Cisco still dominates the core router market with a market share of around 78%, but Juniper have increased their share from 13% to 16%. It could be argued that Juniper make better equipment (in terms of technical features and performance), but they don't have the name Cisco which is their biggest problem (Juniper powered network just doesn't have the "clout" of Cisco powered network).

Cisco also have such a large footprint that they can leverage their installed base and channels for cross deals, so they can go to an infrastructure provider and get them to buy Cisco on the promise they pass infrastructure deals from Cisco customers to them. That makes a huge difference.

However when Huwai really hit the markets, both Cisco and Juniper will suffer.

BBC NEWS | Business | Google $4bn share sale hits stock

BBC NEWS | Business | Google $4bn share sale hits stock

Google's share price fell slightly after it announced it was releasing shares to raise another $4bn.

It's likely they'll use the money to acquire companies in the international markets, though China companies are expected to be high on their list.

Google's going to be bigger than Microsoft soon, and their technology will be embedded in everyting from mobile phones/PDAs to the PC desktop and the first port of call for any Internet activity.

Net4Now :: v21 launch Telephone Service

Net4Now :: News Story

The ISP v21 has launched a FreeTalk service allowing customers to call each other for free and free local and national calls (not stated, but liley to be calls to 01/02/03) as well as cheap international calls.

The revenues for voice are decreasing by the day (i.e. approaching zero), will this force BT to offer unmetered calls when they launch their 21CN?

ADSLguide: BT SDSL roll-out enters a hold phase

ADSLguide: News Archive

BT is going to halt the roll-out of SDSL in Sept 2005, which means 93 exchanges wont be SDSL enabled this year. They might start rolling out again in 2006.

The take-up of SDSL has been slower than expected (probably due to BT's high pricing) and other technologies can offer better value for money especially in London such as leased lines or even LAN externsion services (LES) and of course there's competition from other LLU players.

Maybe BT will rethink their pricing (and Ofcom allowing) drop it to levels where it's a no brainer to utilise SDSL instead of another technologies.

Digit Online news - Sony launches 'jellybean' iPod Shuffle rival

Digit Online news - Sony launches 'jellybean' iPod Shuffle rival

Sony's new jellybean walkman is designed to attack the Apple iPod shuffle, but it's got advantages in having a single line OLED (organic light emitting diode) and the option of an FM radio. The 1GB version with radio costs about £100 and will be launched in October.

Apple's iPod is being attacked from all sides, they must have something coming out to knock out the competition again, unfortunately they are extremely tight-lipped about future products and wont discuss future product plans.

Digit Online news - Microsoft demos RSS features in IE 7

Digit Online news - Microsoft demos RSS features in IE 7

Microsoft are catching up with Apple again. IE7 will feature an easy to use RSS subscription system (Apple's Safari browser already supports this). Unfortunately Apple only account for a small proportion of the market and IE's support of RSS will make it available to a much larger percentage of the population (IE accounts for over 80% of browsers in use today).

Maybe Apple's support of Intel will increase their market share, but it will take a while. MacOS X is a vast improvement over Windows XP, it will be interesting to see how Longhorn (now Vista compares) when it actually launches.

Digit Online news - Canon launches 12.8mp SLR camera

Digit Online news - Canon launches 12.8mp SLR camera

Canon's new 12.8mp EOS5D has a full frame sensor (i.e. the same as a 35mm film camera) which means no adjustment on standard lenses (normally digital SLR camera users have to multiply the focal length by 1.6 so wider angle lenses lose their wide angle properties).

It can shoot at frames per second and store 60 images in internal memory before having to save to the external memory. It also features a 0.2s start-up time.

It also uses standard Canon EF lenses including the new 204-105mm lens announced at the same time as the camera.

Though a professional camera, it has pre-defined point and shoot modes so also fits the prosumer market.

It's not cheap at £2,159 for the body alone, but 12.8mp is approaching film, and electronic sensors generally have a better sensitivity range (i.e. iso setting) which allows them to be used in a greater range of light settings.

Since it uses the same DIGIC-II processor as in other cameras, these resolutions are bound to filter down to consumer variants very soon.