19/12/2006

Photoshop CS3 beta offers speed boost

Digit Online

Adobe have released a beta of Photoshop CS3. It will work for 2 days without a serial number, but it is completely functional. If a valid CS2 serial number is entered it will not expire (until the beta period ends in Spring of 2007 when the full product should be available).

It's a Universal Binary so will work natively on new Macs without going through Rosetta (Apple's PowerPC/Intel translator) which means a considerable speed increase.

It comes with Aobe Bridge and Device Central (which allows repurposing content to mobiles etc).

No pricing has been announced for the real product. Beta CS3 is also available in Windows format.

The biggest reason for Mac users not to upgrade has been the lack of Universal Binary Adobe products, this will not change and it'll be a good time to look for PowerBooks and G5's on Ebay.

ExpressCard 5-in-1 reader

Digit Online

GriffinTechnologies have announced an ExpressCard suitable for the Apple MacBook Pro that is a 5-in-1 memory card, it supports Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro, Secure Digital (SD), MultiMediaCard (MMC) and xD-Picture card formats and other formats with adapters.

It costs £19.99 in the UK.

ExpressCard is really PCIe on a PC Card format but there is a shortage of products at the moment. Mac users are looking forward to 3G data cards coming out in this format.

Comments from Steve Kennedy - Wifi news, WiMAX news, muni WiFi and wireless broadband news in Fierce

Comments from Steve Kennedy - Wifi news, WiMAX news, muni WiFi and wireless broadband news in Fierce

FierceWiFi published some WiMAX related info in their newsletter, I commented and this was a comment to their new piece (and comments).

Thanks to Ben the editor for publishing them.

14/12/2006

Digit Online

Digit Online

It's been a long time coming, but the RSC (Radio Spectrum Committee) which is made up of 22 EU member states has approved UWB in Europe. There are changes from the US approved version which was approved in 2002 (though no equipment is yet on the market).

Though the RSC has approved UWB it still has to go through EU formal legislation - which is expected in Feb 2007, member states then have 6 months to locally approve it.

It is still unclear on the restrictions that will be imposed on use, however it should allow short range equipment to operate at speeds of up to 480Mb/s suiting IPTV and other high bandwidth applications. It can be thought of as a short range wires replacement service.

Ofcom Website | 1785-1805 MHz in Ireland and Northern Ireland

Ofcom Website | 1785-1805 MHz in Ireland and Northern Ireland

This is a 20MHz unpaired band. Ofcom are publishing regulations for the band in conjunction with ComReg in Ireland.

Licensees will have to co-ordinate with GSM 1800 users who neighbour this band.

This only covers Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Switching broadband provider | Ofcom

Switching broadband provider | Ofcom

From Feb 14th 2007 broadband providers will have to supply consumers with a MAC upon request and free of charge. The MAC is the Migration Authorisation Code and allows a consumer to change broadband providers with minimal loss of service.

The new rules will mean that all wholesale providers must provide MAC codes to their customers – the retail broadband providers - upon request, regardless of any dispute.

This have been problematic to date and Ofcom found that though 83% of users found it relatively easy to change providers, 17% didn't.

There has been some resistance to this, but now wholesale broadband providers will not be able to refuse supplying the MAC.

Terms of Reference | Ofcom

Terms of Reference | Ofcom

Ofcom is conducting a review of premium rate services and whether the legislative regime should be changed, there should be more resources made available to concentrate on where consumer harm is greatest, revisions to the ICSTIS code and PRS conditions.

Ofcom will also hold a consultation next spring (2007) and then make recommendations/changes after.

Though Ofcom can tighten the regime, there are innovotive uses for PRS such as micro-payment solutions and their aim is to ensure consumers are protected while encouraging innovation.

11/12/2006

Digit news - EU approves sale of AOL UK

Digit news - EU approves sale of AOL UK

The EC (European Commission) has approved the sale of AOL UK to Carphone Warehouse (CPW), so the CPW should be able to leverage AOL's LLU service and provisioning systems.

CPW have been getting a lot of consumer flack for leaving lines without broadband or telephone service for weeks. If they can integrate AOLs systems they should be able to improve their customer service considerably.

They also gain IPTV and other content services from AOL.

Award of available spectrum: 2500-2690 MHz, 2010-2025 MHz and 2290-2300 MHz | Ofcom

Award of available spectrum: 2500-2690 MHz, 2010-2025 MHz and 2290-2300 MHz | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation on various frequency bands. The consultation closes in March 2007.

These are "prime" bands as there's a lot of spectrum available and they sit in the WiMAX frequency range and would suite 802.16e (i.e. Mobile WiMAX). BT have already expressed interest.

Unfortunately these bands are designated for 3G use and the 3G operators are likely to wish to utilise the spectrum since they paid £21bn for their original allocations.

Ofcom would like to offer them on a technology neutral basis, but there are EU harmonisation issues (they are harmonised bands allocated for 3G use).

If they can be moved away from purely 3G use, competition will be fierce.

05/12/2006

Telabria goes titsup, takes down So Broadband | The Register

Telabria goes titsup, takes down So Broadband | The Register: "OrbitalNetOrbitalNet"

Another WISP (wireless ISP) has gone down the tubes. Telabria set-up a while ago in the Canterbury area and made a big noise about WiMAX. It's unlikely they were really using WiMAX, but preWiMAX kit - and in 5.8GHz which has no interference protection.

Let's hope other (pre)WiMAX operators don't go the same way, or maybe they should and someone can start afresh buying kit in a firesale.

04/12/2006

7 foot balloon makes its first appearance



A while back I obtained a 7 foot diameter commercial helium balloon. It sat around for a long time while I tried to get someone to make a cover for it.

It took a while, but in the last 2 weeks it materialised (thanks to the Bristol lot). It was fireproof with a nice velcro slit to allow the balloon to be inserted and removed.

On Saturday it made its first public appearance at Whirl-y-gig and all seemed well.

Unfortunately some idiots decided to sit on it and find the only non-covered bit (a small circle where the strips were sown together and where it could be tied) and put a cigarette through the nylon and puncture it. The jump also slightly tore the cover, so back to Bristol it's gone for repair.



When all is fixed and it makes a clubbing return it will have to be secured between letting loose so idiots cant touch it.

I tried filling with helium, but it eats a lot and it's not practicle unless spending lots of money.

Digit news - UK cities in spat over metro Wi-Fi claims

Digit news - UK cities in spat over metro Wi-Fi claims

Bt's launching it's wired cities, the Cloud are going nowhere fast and Cityspace are extending Bristol and Islington zones.

Much of it is hype as WiFi just doesn't scale well, it was never designed to operate that way and as networks grow bigger, they suffer more interference and performance degrades rapidly.

It's rumoured the Cloud were using lamposts with WiFi mesh systems in them, unfortunately though they got permission from the Council to use them, the electricity company didn't, so they've got all these boxes sitting there but not plugged in.

Parallels beta works with Boot Camp partition

Parallels beta works with Boot Camp partition

Parallels, the software that supports virtual machines under Intel versions of MacOS X has launched a new beta that allows it also to work with Apple's boot camp partitions (which allows dual booting of Windows XP).

There are also lots of new features: -

* New Look and Feel and Improved Usability. Completely redesigned windows and dialogues to make them even easier and smooth. Too many changes to describe – just check them out yourselves

* Virtual Machines Catalogue. A very useful feature for those having more than one VM – now all of them are available through centralized VM catalogue which appears on each Parallels Desktop for Mac instance start in case you have more than one VM

* One-click Virtual Machine Aliases:
- Automatically created by OS installation assistant or by drag-and-drop from title bar pressing Command-Option keys combination
- Clicking on Alias automatically starts the Virtual Machine
- Shutting down the VM automatically closes Parallels Desktop for Mac application

* Resizable Main Window. Resize Parallels Desktop for Mac main window as you do with any other Mac application

* Auto-Adjusting Screen Resolution. Your Windows auto-adjusts the screen resolution to the actual Main Window size.

* Drag and Drop files and folders between Windows and Mac. A long awaited feature that lets you seamlessly drag and drop files and folders from Windows to Mac OS X and vice versa.

* Read/Write BootCamp partition. Since this build, an Apple Boot Camp partition with Windows XP installed could be used as a virtual HDD for Parallels Desktop for Mac.

* Boot from BootCamp partition. Another long awaited feature that lets you boot your 32-bit Windows XP residing on Boot Camp partition directly in Parallels Desktop for Mac.
installation.

* Parallels Transporter Beta bundled. Migrate your Windows PC, VMware or Virtual PC VMs to Parallels virtual machines. Please visit Parallels Transporter forum for details.

* Coherence. Shows Windows applications as if they were Mac ones. Try it and enjoy best of both worlds truly at the same time. No more switching between Windows to Mac OS.

* Improved graphic performance. Up to 50% on different applications.

* Connect/disconnect USB devices schema improved. No more “wait 5-10 seconds” message on USB device connecting to Parallels Desktop for Mac.

* Up to 5 Virtual NICs. Now Virtual Machine can have up to five virtual network interfaces.

* Enhanced Shared Networking Mode. Run Cisco VPN and many other complicated networking applications in conjunction with Connection Sharing Mode.

* Switch between networking modes on-the-fly. Switch networking modes while the virtual machine is running.

* Transparent mapping of Command-AZXCV key combinations. Now you can also use Mac copy/paste key combinations in Windows.

* Power On/Power Off/Suspend/Resume/Pause animation. Just try and see. :) We’re very interested in your feedback about the feature.

* Shared folders configuration on-the-fly. Add/remove/configure shared folders on-the-fly via menu or Status Bar icon without the need to stop your Virtual Machine.

* Drag and Drop CD/FDD images and folders to the Parallels Desktop statusbar. Just drag and drop CD or floppy image you want to connect or Mac folder you want to share onto a respective statusbar icon.

People who use Parallels, swear by it. It has a very good reputation. It seems a big use is people running Outlook on XP in Parallels and Office for Mac for all the other MS applications.

Digit news - Sun enhances mobile delivery platform

Digit news - Sun enhances mobile delivery platform

Sun is poised to announce it's Sun Java System Content Delivery Server (CDS) at the International Telecommunication Union's Telecom World show in Hong Kong today.

It's a platform providing a common infrastructure for delivering all types of content, including Java applications, games, ringtones and wallpaper. It also lets operators create storefronts, viral marketing tools and payment systems.

This should allow operators and carriers to quickly develop applications etc and maybe provice new revenue streams for the 3G markets - which could help carriers pay for their 3G licenses.

The European Commission has today told Ofcom that mobile termination rates should not be set high to pay off the huge fees paid for licenses in the UK 3G auction.

Sun are also announcing various partnership deals with carriers etc.

Ofcom advertises DAB national radio multiplex licence | Ofcom

Ofcom advertises DAB national radio multiplex licence | Ofcom

Last week Ofcom started the process for a new UK wide (and Isle of Mann) DAB multiplex.

Consideration will need to be given to interference in coastal areas and Northern Ireland. Countries that may be affected are France, Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

Initially, some coastal areas in southern and south-eastern England, as well as parts of Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and parts of west Wales will not be able to receive this multiplex.

The closing date for the receipt of applications is 3.00 p.m. on 28 March 2007. A non-refundable fee of £50,000 will be payable for each application submitted.

So any budding radio operators - ged bidding for a new license.

Ofcom Licensing Centre services | Ofcom

Ofcom Licensing Centre services | Ofcom

Last week Ofcom launched an on-line licensing service for amateur radio and ship's licenses (these are lifetime licenses).

Users will have to register first, then they can access the on-line service.

This is in-line with the recent announcements of legalising low power FM transmitters etc.

30/11/2006

Digit news - Apple releases Mac OS X Security Update

Digit news - Apple releases Mac OS X Security Update

Apple have released a major security update for Macs. As well as fixing bugs in aplications like ATS, CFNetwork, Finder, Font Book, Font Importer, Installer, OpenSSL, PHP, PPP, Samba, Security Framework, VPN, WebKit, gnuzip, and perl it also fixes a major bug with the airport (WiFi) driver that allows remote execution or arbitary code.

The update is available through the normal Apple update services.

Digit news - Marvell chips speed mobile Web browsing

Digit news - Marvell chips speed mobile Web browsing:

Marvell acquired the Xscale series of processors from Intel and the new range PXA 300, PXA 310 and PXA 320 chips are the first fruits of the acquisition.

They are designed to be used in mobile devices where computing power is needed, but also good power consumption - they can adjust their processing speed as required.

The PXA 300 is designed for low cost applications, the 310 for numeric applications and the 320 for video.

They can run up to 1.2GHz, though current versions run at 800MHz.

Digit news - Intel readies 45nm quad-core chips

Digit news - Intel readies 45nm quad-core chips

Based on the same micro-architechture as the current Core 2 Due these chips use a new 45nm process (compared to the current 65nm process). This should allow faster, cooler chips and more chips can be put on the silicon per square inch.

Digit news - AMD debuts four-core "4x4" motherboard

Digit news - AMD debuts four-core "4x4" motherboard

AMD has launched a motherboard capabable of taking two dual-core Athlon 64 FX-70 series chips and uses Nvidia's 680a chipset.

Some might say it's not true 4x4 but running 2x dual core. However it will be compatible with future true quad core designs being released next year. It's aimed at high end gamers.

It also shows AMD are retaining their relationship with Nvidia even though they acquired ATI earlier this year.

Digit news - Matrox offers Mac users Head2Go

Digit news - Matrox offers Mac users Head2Go

Matrix have released Mac software for their DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go external boxes that allow 2 or 3 monitors respectively to be connected to the video output of a Matrix graphics card through the single display port. This allows resolutions up to 2,560-x-10,241 and 3,840-x-10,241 performing like a single ultra widescreen monitor.

The dual head box costs £89 +VAT and the triple head £170 +VAT.

25/11/2006

Pico GSM cells, what's the fuss all about? | The Register

Pico GSM cells, what's the fuss all about? | The Register: "1781.7-1785MHz paired with 1876.7-1880MHz (known as the GSM Guard bands)1781.7-1785MHz paired with 1876.7-1880MHz (known as the GSM Guard bands)"

The GSM Guard bands were put in place as the seperate the GSM bands from the DECT bands. 20 years ago radio kit tended to bleed into neighbouring areas, so Ofcom reserved these chunks of 3.3MHz to ensure that there would be no interference with DECT.

Nowadays radio kit is much better and doesn't, so Ofcom auctioned off the spectrum and made £3.8m for the government in the process (peanuts compared to the £22bn they made on 3G, but it's some cash to pay for a tank in Iraq or something).

The major advantage is that all GSM phones will "listen" on those frequencies as their normal behaviour, so in theory easy to run a low power GSM network and use off-the-shelf phones. Of course there's more to it than that and the article goes on to explain that.

Ofcom flicks switch on iPod FM | The Register

Ofcom flicks switch on iPod FM | The Register

My article on legalising low power transmitters and other things.

21/11/2006

Review of the wholesale broadband access markets 2006/07 | Ofcom

Review of the wholesale broadband access markets 2006/07 | Ofcom

Ofcom are holding a consultation on the Wholesale Broadband Access (WBA) market. This is to ensure other players have equal access to WBA and can offer their own services.

This really affects BT and Kingston Communications (who are the sole comms provider in Hull) as they both have Significant Market Power (SMP) in various areas.

The consultation closes on 13/02/07.

Ofcom will publish their findings in mid 2007 and further review the situation.

Higher power limits for licence-exempt devices | Ofcom

Higher power limits for licence-exempt devices | Ofcom

Ofcom held a consultation to raise power limits in both the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz bands. There were 30 responses from a wide range of organisations.

Since broadband is now available (at speeds of at least 512Kb/s) in most of the UK and there are possible interference effects when raising the power of 2.4GHz in rural areas Ofcom has decided not to proceed with changing the 2.4Ghz limits.

In 5.8GHz there was general agreement that power limits could be raised, so Ofcom are planning to change the licensing so higher power limits can be used nationally (with the constraints that 5.8GHz is a lightly licensed band).

Ofcom also asked whether conducted power rather than radiated power levels should be used as the basis for regulation, there was a mixed response which went towards supporting this across Europe, so Ofcom will make any such changes through the European Regulatory regime.

20/11/2006

Digit news - Powerful Mac admin utility updated

Digit news - Powerful Mac admin utility updated

Though the utility looks nice, Xupport costs US$19.90. Onyx which does very similar functions if free.

O2 picocells to send mobile calls via LANs - 20 Nov 2006 - IT Week

O2 picocells to send mobile calls via LANs - 20 Nov 2006 - IT Week

It seems O2 are going to use their GSM Guard Band license to offer in-building GSM, using ADSL as backhaul.

They say they have a combined GSM/DSL router for less than Euro 100. They have a huge advantage against other Guard Band operators in that they can just plug into their own GSM network, without risk of interference to existing cells. Hand-off when outside the pico-cell will just work.

If they can really produce equipment this cheaply, then even normal ADSL will support a couple of voice calls (GSM uses a 13Kb/s codec and even after converting to VoIP may only use around 21Kb/s). Most ADSL upstream supports at least 256Kb/s, though it's contended.

It makes sense in offices, but could also attract home users, who get cheaper calls when using their own cell. As O2 recently bought Be (the local loop unbundler) they'll have a network to run the system over, though they have limited coverage at the moment.

Vodafone fesses to premium rate SMS overcharging | The Register

Vodafone fesses to premium rate SMS overcharging | The Register

Here's an article I wrote about Vodafone overcharging some Pay as You Talk customers for premium rate SMS.

Funny that The Metro has an almost identical article.

16/11/2006

Starbucks Card

Though I hate to say it, it's an impressive system. You get a card (any card) and then top it up with cash. You can then use the card in stores in the UK and abroad and use them to buy stuff from Starbucks.

You can also register the card on the Starbucks website (and it then becomes a loyalty card and they're meant to offer freebies etc - though as it has just launched, yet to be seen). When you register the card, the card balance and what you've spent show up on the site. What's amazing is how quickly. Having bought a coffee the transaction showed up on the site within 10 minutes (the time taken walking from the store home).

Another way for Big Brother to track you, but as long as they give free coffee you can stay awake thinking about everyone spying on you.

Review of General Condition 18 – Number portability | Ofcom

Review of General Condition 18 – Number portability | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation to allow rapid porting of numbers across networks, both in the fixed and mobile arenas. Fixed networks will be expected to port numbers within 1 working day and mobile networks within 3.

There will be an all-call query of a common database of numbers (“ACQ/CDB”) solution both for fixed and mobile networks (mobile networks already utilise something similar) which will aid in routing calls.

Currently fixed networks use completely static routes that are preprogrammed into each telephone exchange which makes tasks like porting extremely complex and time consuming.

As fixed networks move to Next Generation Networks, this will also fit in well with NGN topologies.

Unfortunately it's a slow process and will not be implemented until 2009.

Digit news - Apple boosts RAW support for digital cameras

Digit news - Apple boosts RAW support for digital cameras

The new update supports the Canon EOS400 and Nikon D80 amongst other and fixes problems with large Canon RAW (.crw) and Adobe Digital Negative format (.DNG).

The update is on Apple's site.

Apple have also issued an update to their X11 software 2006 1.1.3.

14/11/2006

Digit news - The 300GB DVD debuts

Digit news - The 300GB DVD debuts

Hitachi Maxell is producing a 300GB holographic DVD. It will be initially available to the entertainment industry, but a consumer variant can be expected within 2 years. Disks currently cost about $100.

In 2008 they will develop a read/write version with a capacity of 800GB and by 2010 this will increase to 1.6TB.

Very soon consumers will be able to put their current complete DVD and audio collections on a single disk.

Digit news - Intel bids for rebound with quad-core chips

Digit news - Intel bids for rebound with quad-core chips

Intel is launching various Quad Core CPU's. The Xeon 5300 range are designed for high-end workstations and servers, while the Core 2 Duo Extreme is a plug-in replacement for the Core 2 Duo and is more suited to gamers.

The Xeon's use less power (from 80W at 1.66GHz to 120W at 2.66GHz) while the Core 2 Due Extreme (2.66GHz) uses 130W.

Pricing for the Core 2 Duo Extreme is $999 while the highest spec Xeon is $1,172 (both in 1,000 quantity).

AMD will launch quad cores next year.

Apple does iPods on planes

Apple has announced plans with Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United to put iPod docks into plane seats. They will connect into the audio and seat-back video display to display any stored videos on the display. Service is expected to start in 2007.

They have also announced a deal with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (who are also looking at offering a replacement for the Boing Connexion service), so maybe it will be possible to buy movies and audio from iTunes while on a flight.

This could be a major plus for Apple and continue their iPod dominance.

Ofcom silent on VoIP regulation - Telecoms - Breaking Business and Technology News at silicon.com

Ofcom silent on VoIP regulation - Telecoms - Breaking Business and Technology News at silicon.com

Ofcom was meant to publish regulation on VoIP in August, but it's been delayed. It seems they will now publish by the end of November, but there's no mention of it on any Ofcom publications or their site.

Traditional voice has been regulated for a long time, but Ofcom has taken a light-handed approach to VoIP, which should allow for competition in next generation networks. However it may also give BT (the encumbant) the flexibility they are not allowed under the current regulatory environment.

08/11/2006

MacBooks now Core 2 Duo

Apple today updated the MacBooks to the Core 2 Duo CPU. They now come standard with 1GB of RAM and bigger hard disks (they now support up to 160GB 5400RPM SATA disks or 200GB using a 4200RPM disk).

The only thing they need now is an updated graphics card (which doesn't share the system memory) and they'll be almost perfect.

Ofcom to lightly license 71-76GHz & 81-86GHz Bands.

Ofcom is going to lightly license the 71-76GHz & 81-86GHz Bands, allowing fixed point to point high bandwidth links. There will be an unlimited number of licenses and no interference protection from licensed users (i.e. they'll have to fight it out between themselves).

Issue Policy
Available Spectrum Ofcom will make available two bands, specifically 71.125-75.875 GHz and 81.125-85.875 GHz for broadband point to point fixed wireless links.

Block/Channel Size - A 4.75 GHz block in each band.

Licence - An unlimited number of non-exclusive national licences will be available, subject to revocation on a standard 5 year notice period. Each licence may contain an unlimited number of assignments.

Fees Licence fee - free of charge.
- Each link assignment £50 per link registered per year or part year (where applicable).

Licensing Process - Light licensed and e-enabled link registration process. To open the band at the earliest possible time, an interim procedure will be implemented while Ofcom’s online facility (currently under development) is completed.
- Links will be registered on a publicly accessible register with first in time priority.

Coordination between links - Links will be self co-ordinated i.e. coordinating between links will be the responsibility of the licence holder.

Trading - All forms of transfer will be permitted.

Frequency Block Clearance - The Spectrum Bands have been block cleared to permit fast track frequency clearance (see OfW 197) i.e. link assignments will not be required to undergo the full three week National Frequency Assignment Panel (NFAP) process and be considered at NFAP meetings.

Site Clearance - Links breaching thresholds given in OfW 191 will require site clearance. Licensees will be required to declare that site clearance thresholds are met/ links have been site cleared before a registration can be made.

Equipment and Antennas - Must conform to essential requirements of the RTTE Directive and UK Interface Requirement 2000.

Maximum EIRP - Maximum Radio Regulations limit, 55dBW.

Max Transmit - Power delivered to the antenna 0 dBW

Other Users of the Band - Ofcom will permit the operation of the Amateur and Amateur Satellite allocations on a primary basis within the upper guard band of the 71-76 GHz block i.e. 75.875-76 GHz band. Amateur and Amateur Satellite use between 75.5 – 75.875 GHz will be permitted on a secondary basis.

Review of the interference approach - It is intended that a review of the interference approach is undertaken when sufficient experience has been gained to assess if any refinements to the approach are necessary

Though Ofcom are making this a lightly licensed band, equipment costs are going to be high, so it's only likely to be of use to companies that need short range, high bandwidth links.

1m unbundled lines

The independent Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA) has announced that there are now one million unbundled lines.

When 1.5m lines have been unbundled (or April 2007 whichever comes first), BT Wholesale can set new pricing for DSL services, which means they are likely to plummet. This is good for the consumer, but it means the economics for Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) operators will mean even larger scale is needed as margins are liable to drop further. This will see further consolidation and there'll be an even smaller number of big players, which eventually leads back to the old market with BT and maybe one or two large players left.

07/11/2006

LLU not hitting rural areas

IT Week quoted me again re rural broadband and who's going to survive the broadband consolidation wars.

02/11/2006

Windows CE 6.0 released

Microsoft have released Windows CE 6.0, this is also available under their Shared Source Initiative which allows developers to customise the kernel and other parts for their particular application.

New enhancements include increased virtual memory (from 32MB to 2GB), more processes (32,000 from 32) which will allow for expanded devices.

Devices aren't likely to appear until next year with the new OS.

Dell and AMD now bed partners

Dell has released a notebook based on AMD CPUs.

The Inspiron 1501, allows configuration options of a Sempron, mobile Turion 64, and dual-core Turion 64 X2 chips.

Dell joins a long list of other notebook vendors using AMD. Dell have previously announced servers with AMD CPU's, which completely went against their Intel only stance.

It looks likely they've have a complete range of Intel and AMD based systems and users can decide.

WirelessHD

A new wireless protocol is being developed, WirelessHD which is HDMI over wireless.

Designed to remove the need for cables between systems, it will use 60GHz radios and support about 10m range. Equipment doesn't need to be line of site.

It's just an agreement at the moment to produce a specification, but it's got some big names behind it (Sony, LG, Samsung etc).

Unfortunately 60GHz is unlicensed everywhere, so there may be some regulatory hurdles to get the standard actually out there.

U3 USB/Flash drive software

U3 is a really clever system whereby applications are modified to work with U3 and when say a USB drive is inserted into a PC the apps are ready to use with all the configuration data. When the drive is removed the application/configuration data goes with it, so nothing is left on the PC.

If it all works, it could make remote working much easier as a user just needs to take their USB drive with them and plug into a Windows based PC.

There's a fair few apps that have been made U3 aware, including OpenOffice, PuTTY, WinSCP, Skype, Trillian and many more that can be purchased.

Now they need a Mac version.

30/10/2006

Adobe CS3 to be universal

Though Adobe's Soundbooth will only run on Intel based machines (Windows or MacOS X), Adobe's next generation of Creative Suite tools wont have that limitation and will run on both PowerPC and Intel architechtures as a Universal Binary.

Adobe still have a lot of customers utilising PowerPC machines and it would seem unwise to not give them an upgrade path.

24/10/2006

Demon up for sale

As reported by the Daily Telegraph Demon are up for sale. It's looks like THUS are following C&W's lead in "concentrating on business customers". Could it also be that margin on broadband is rapidly decreasing and so it's all about value add service, which traditional ISPs don't really supply (they're all about access).

It will be a shame as Demon were the first real consumer ISP in the UK, but THUS as a business has to consider what's best for its shareholders and getting rid of a low margin product is probably the way forward.

19/10/2006

UK Skype users get free calls

Well almost, Skype's Talk for Britain campaign offers free calls to UK landlines (geographic numbers) for 6 months. However UK users have to purchase £10 worth of Skype credit in order to get the offer.

That credit can then be used for other services (like SMS, calls to mobiles etc).

When most companies are charging £10 per month for unlimited UK calls, it's a reasonable price.

Orange's UK network falls over due to human error

It seems Orange's network outage was due to network upgrade that went wrong, someone put an acl on the wrong system or interface which triggered a routing update that locked out a load of devices and the network fell over.

Maybe that person doesn't have such a bright future?

BT going to bid for 2.5GHz UK spectrum?

BT is expected to be a front runner in the bidding for the 2.5GHz license that Ofcom expects to make available next year, though it wont actually be available until 2008.

That is almost perfect timing as BT will be mid 21CN roll-out and it will fit in with being able to offer high speed broadband services to rural areas where ADSL2+ wont reach using WiMAX.

They could just cut to the chase and just buy Pipex which would give them an extra 600K users and a wireless license.

Bryce for $6

DAZ 3D have announced the next version of Bryce (v6) and Platinum club members can purchase it for the pricely sum of $6.

Bryce has a dedicated set of followers and can produce reasonably realistic landscapes, but it has a slightly weird interface.

But for $6 who cares?

16/10/2006

Ofcom issue new guidelines for radio test licenses

Ofcom have published guidelines for radio test licenses. These can be for equipment that is used to demonstrate new radio technology and such like or for tempory use in exhibitions or research and development.

The licenses cost: -

Non-Operational Temporary Use (GBP) £50 for each channel per location each month

Non-Operational Development Use (GBP) £50 for each station or apparatus per location pa.

However there are strict conditions under which test licenses will be issued, so they don't interfere with licensed users.

Sony fights back at Apple

Sony is to include noise cancelling technology in it's Walkman music players. They contain a microphone which reduce noise in the 100Hz to 1KHz range (which tends to be mechanical noise such as from aircraft, trains etc).

They will also contain technology to better seperate stereo and boost base.

Whether that's enough to dent Apple domination is another matter completely.

Intel debuts Core 2 Quad in November

Intel is releasing it's new Core 2 Quad CPU in November at an HP event. HP are aiming at high end users (CAD, analysis etc) but the mainstream CPU's wont actually be in major production until next year.

Meanwhile will ship Core 2 Extreme's this year aimed at gaming enthusiasts to test the quad core market. Intel has lined up 13 gaming machine manufacturers to supply systems with the new chips.

AMD is aso launching quad core CPUs, but not until the middle of next year. AMD is saying they are better designs and will outperform Intel, but Intel will soon have working chips in the market.

E-Frontier announces Poser 7

Poser is a 3D character animation program that's been around for a long time. The new version contains two new models, but apart from that details are scarce.

If the product is pre-ordered users get a High Stakes pack too which contains clothing and props for the new figures.

Upgrades cost $129 (from certain previous versions).

Flapjax - not eddible

A new language called Flapjax is now available which should make programming with AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) much easier.

It was designed by people at Brown University and they host a Flapjax server which allows users to upload and test code, they've also released the code under a BSD license allowing others to implement it.

It looks quite cool if you're into flashy dynamic websites.

Fry's - get a bargain

Fry's is an amazing store, it's got lots of stuff and some at amazing pricing.

This wekend they had a special offer on Seagate 400GB disks, PATA (IDE) were $119 and SATA $129.

750GB disks were $339 which is a pretty good price.

They were also selling a Pentium D950 for $139 which is a silly price (in the UK they average about £200).

They now have an on-line store too (which is really Outpost.com, but now with Fry's branding).

Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse

It's a great mouse. The wired version does everything you could want, the wireless one makes life so much easier - especially with a laptop.

It's got two front-buttons (though you just push the shell of the mouse) a scroll wheel that works both horizontally and vertically - it also works as a button and a rear button.

If you use a Mac get one.

Arqiva Limited wins 412MHz spectrum

Arqiva Limited one the UK spectrum award for all 4 UK areas of 412.0 MHz-414.0 MHz and 422.0 MHz-424.0 MHz, they paid £1,500,025.

Other companies in the bidding were

AirRadio Limited offered £200,037 for any of the licenses (i.e. 1 to 4 or all licenses).

Motorola Ltd offered £205,000

T-Mobile (UK) Ltd offered £250,239 for all of the licenses.

The Joint Radio Company Limited offered £113,146 for some licenses.

Ventura Team Spectrum One Limited offered £387,700 for all for various combinations of the 4 licenses.

12/10/2006

C&W consolidates Bulldog staff

It seems anyone in the Bulldog division who competes with a C&W employee directly is to loose their job.

Who's going to go at AOL now they're owned by Carphone Warehouse?

Tiscali already seem to have moved everyone out of the VideoNetworks building and into Tiscali (and maybe out the door). When Tiscali get bought, that'll be another lot consolidated too.

Internet in the air for free

Flying to the US (west coast) is normally not an exciting experience, though you do get to watch lots of movies you wouldn't normally.

SAS have Boeing's Connexion service which is WiFi in the plane and then some mysterious connection to the rest of the net (assume satellite). Normally this incurs a charge, but as they are shutting the service down they're giving it away. You still have to register as though you're signing up for the full service, but it costs 0.0 per hour (billing records in case you do something dubious).

The seat also had power, so the laptop got a full charge.

Download speeds of 70KB/s were pretty good and a Mac Office upgrade (50MB) didn't take too long at all. Round trip times were around 600ms. Most applications seemed to work, including MSN and Skype.

The best part of the journey was lending my Apple Powerbook to the nice lady sitting next to me, who happened to work for Microsoft, she could read her Email and let her husband know what time to pick her up. The HP laptop running XP couldn't find a wireless network.

11/10/2006

Carphone Warehouse buys AOL UK for £370m

Carphone Warehouse (CPW) has purchased the UK division of AOL for £370m. This may seem expensive (some £200+ per customer) but it's reasonably cheap for what they're getting. Since CPW have not yet unbundled many (if any) exchanges, being able to move their customers over and off IPStream is a huge saving for them (WLR + IPStream for 20 quid a month, they're losing lots of money per customer). AOL will already have booked to go into x00 more exchanges, while CPW starting from scratch will be
looking at an extended (time) roll-out, just because it takes so long for BT to get access.

Now CPW have 1.5m + 700K'ish broadband customers, it makes them the 3rd largest provider of broadband in the UK (BT Retail and NTL larger), plus they have 2m+ phone customers.

Though they now expect to make a big loss next year, they've got those customers away from BT and BT will find it difficult to get them back (assuming they fix their support/provisioning etc, which they are bound to do - actually purchasing AOL effectively gives them a working provisioning/CRM system).

LLU/broadband is all about scale and now CPW have it on a massive scale.

Tiscali UK are next to go (BSkyB/BT are though to be front runners though maybe CPW will also bid). Then the smaller providers will be swallowed up.

09/10/2006

Confirmed, YouTube sells out to Google

Google have acquired YouTube for $1.65bn, their biggest purchase to date.

Both companies feel each other will be a good fit.

Intel to buy NVidia

AMD is buying ATI (the Canadian graphics chip manufacturer) and now Intel is rumoured to be buying NVidia.

NVidia makes high performance chipsets for motherboards (their NForce range) which currently get the best peformance out of AMD CPU's.

Intel make their own graphic chipsets, but they have always been considered low-end and underpowered. The purchase of NVidia would give them a boost in this area, and also may hurt AMD in the process.

MAX from Microsoft

Microsoft have released (codename) MAX which is designed to let users share photo albums. Though it can do that, it also has the ability to read RSS and ATOM feeds in a very nice format.

It requires the .NET v3 framework (which will be downloaded if needed) and runs on XP. It wont currently run on Vista.

There's a lot of album sharing software and sites out there, like Google's Picasa, and does the world need another? The RSS/ATOM reader is very well done though.

Google to buy YouTube?

Google are rumoured to be after YouTube making them an offer of $1.6bn. Google Video hasn't proved that popular, while YouTube is one (if not the) most visited sites on the web. Google could then utilise their on-line advertising skills to make YouTube turn a profit (or even make some money).

The directors of YouTube (who left Ebay to start it) can expect to make several hundred million each if the deal goes through.

Google have over $10bn to spend on acquisitions.

JahShaka v3 released

JahShaka is an open source real-time video editing package that uses OpenGL as its underlying strength (which also supports hardware acceleration and effects).

JahPlayer has also been released which supports 2K and 4K video formats.

The system has been designed to be multi-platform using Trolltech's open source Qt libraries and works under Windows, Linux and MacOS.

It's a very powerfull package and free, but whether it will dent sales of things like Apple's Final Cut (Express) is yet to be seen.

05/10/2006

Fonality buys Tribox

Fonality sells IP PBX systems based on the open source Asterisk system.

Tribox is an open source effort which puts a GUI on top of Asterisk and also links it in to other open source software such as MySQL and SugarCRM. Tribox was known as AMP and makes configuring Asterisk very simple and painless.

Hopefully the Fonality buyout will give the Tribox resources to make the system easy to use and install and not go in another direction which would limit Tribox as it could be seen as a competitor to Fonalities products.

Wibree, the next generation of PAN

Nokia is trying to introduce a new low power wireless networking standard called Wibree (WiFi, Bluetooth and Zigbee). It will support up to 1Mb/s.

WiFi supports much higher data rates, but is expensive in terms of power consumption, Bluetooth can now support higher rates but is limited and ZigBee supports large networks, but at low data rates (but using extremely low power).

ZigBee actually makes a lot of sense since it's self configuring and allows devices to go to sleep when not used.

The new standard seems to combine the best of all the technologies, which should allow in-home personal networking to be easy to use.

Nokia have set-up a Wibree with more information.

Book this act

Navaku are a "circus" type act who work with ropes and bars.

Sophie Richards is diminutive in size, but don't pick a fight, she has more muscles than you.

Venice Project the next Skype

The founders of Kazaa and Skype have now annouced the Venice Project (named after a film of the same name). This will utilise a secure P2P network to distribute film type content. All content is copy protected. Users will need to download a client that makes the content available in a secure manner, and content suppliers will be provided with tools to upload content.

All content will allow for de-authorisation which means it becomes unavailable for viewing.

As the content is uploaded it is "atomised" like in the BitTorrent protocol and then split across multiple P2P sites.

The client then accesses the small chunks and downloads them, however to the user it appears as if the content is streamed.

They seem to have made agreements with various Hollywood studios and it may actually come to something.

Opinion seems to be that it may conflict with their work at Ebay (who purchased Skype), but it seems a perfect application to marry with PayPal (also owned by Ebay) so users can pay for the content.

Low power FM transmitters legal (soon)

Ofcom is proposing to legalise the use of low power FM transmitters (i.e. the type used to link portable music devices such as MP3 players to in-car stereos). The full document is available from the Ofcom site.

It also covers: -

* Citizens’ Band (CB) radio. There are about 20,000 licensed users, this band will become license excempt.

* “micro” FM transmitters. Ofcom will allow these (the EU has already recommended legalising such devices, so it really fits in with EU policy).

The following will allow a range of new technologies and novel applications of radio and users wont need a license: -

* Inmarsat BGAN and High Density Fixed Satellite Service (HDFSS) satellite terminals.

* narrow band use of 24 GHz for short-range radar (including automotive applications).

* Radar Level Gauges.

* digital PMR 446 (“walkie talkies”).

Ofcom received 69 responses to the consultation and most were positive, especially for the microPower FM devices.

Ofcom actually seem to be taking public demand into consideration, especially since devices like microPower FM transmitters are available for sale, and though illegal many people are using them anyway.

03/10/2006

Nintendo up profits by 20%

Nintendo have increased their expected profit figures by 20% on increased sales of the DS(lite) and games. They are also included forcasts for the Wii which will be in stores by Xmas.

The Wii, though lower spec than either the Xbox360 or PS3, is cheap and there will be a lot of content/games for it. As Sony have revised their figures and expected production numbers, many consumers may jump on to the Wii instead.

Ofcom figures show's BT dominance falling (but not by a huge ammount)

Ofcom's figures show that the number of lines, call minutes etc handled by BT compared to the rest of the industry are falling.

Where BT had (on average) about 71% of all calls, that's now dropped to 68%. So a 3 to 4% drop in most areas (2004/2005/Q1 2006).

This is likely to increase with wholesale line rental and local loop unbundlers making a bigger impact, but it shows BT is still dominant in the retail space.

02/10/2006

Unique from Orange to rival Fusion from BT

It's not quite Unique as Orange are copying BT, but their service will work on WiFi not Bluetooth (like BT's corporate Fusion service).

Orange's service will use dual-mode WiFi/GSM handsets and work over an Orange broadband connection, but it should work over existing ADSL connections.

Up to 6 handsets may be registered with the service and pricing will start at £50 pm.

Services like this reduce the reliance on a land line number, however ADSL is provisioned over a BT line, so they don't get rid of them. If Orange announce sensible pricing so calls cost significantly less than mobile when on the WiFi network there could be a large take-up.

See Orange's site.

Vonage on the go

Vonage will be offering UK customers a USB dongle which has the Vonage software (soft-phone) pre-installed. When first used it asks the user to select a (telephone)number which will be associated with the soft-phone. The dongle has a socket for the provided microphone and headset.

Currently it only works on Windows and will cost around £20.

Toshibe announced slimline laptop HD DVD writer

Toshiba's SD-L902A will fit in a laptop and writes HD DVD. DVD and CD formats.

Samples will ship to manufacturers by the end of this year and real product can be expected early next year.

No pricing has been announced.

Each layer on a HD DVD disk can hold 15GB compared to Blu-Ray's 25GB, but having product may advance one standard over the other.

MacOS 10.4.8 released

Apple have released updates for both the client and server of MacOS X so it's now at 10.4.8. Nothing really major, just bug fixes and a couple of enhancements.

Apple have also released Aperture 1.5 which integrates better with iLife and iWork '06 as well as improved filters and other enhancements.

Aperture is a significant program for photographers who want to have a sensible workflow and process. It's only real competition is Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom which is still in beta.

Telewest TVDrive dies

On Sunday my Telewest TVDrive stopped working with HD. Phone up Telewest and after 30 minutes someone eventually answered (well it answered instantly, but 30 minutes of hold music on an 0845 number).

The person at the other end went through the process of getting me to reboot the box, while setting various output settings (trying to get HDMI working). None to any avail. Luckily SCART output still worked, so the service was not completely unavailable. This took around 45 minutes (the TVDrive box isn't very fast going through its boot sequence).

An engineer isn't available until Thursday, so we'll see what happens then (probably a new box).

29/09/2006

Auntie Beeb in dicussion with Microsoft

The BBC has been holding discussions with Microsoft to ensure their iPlayer (based on the Real Networks Helix player) will work on Vista.

Maybe Microsoft is attempting to get the beeb to to move to Windows Media.

28/09/2006

Tiscali UK to dump 40% of staff

It's not actually as bad as it sounds as they are getting rid of 40% of the combined Tiscali and Video Networks staff (who they acquired last month - known as HomeChoice) but it's bound not to be good.

Tiscali are also borrowing money (at 11%) from SilverPoint.

The tie-up with HomeChoice should give Tiscali the edge by allowing them to offer video over broadband, but margins are ever decreasing as is pressure from other UK competitors.

The word is that Tiscali UK is up for sale and BSkyB and BT are the top bidders.

Another broadband provider falls into the consildation mess.

ViaMichelin X-980T

Yesterday ViaMichelin announced the X-980T SatNav unit. It's got maps of Western Europe, uses the Sirf Star III GPS unit and has built-in TMC (traffic info). They also give you UK speed cameras (sorry safety cameras) with unlimited updates.

The unit isn't particularly pretty (it's about 6" by 4" by 3/4"), but it will fit in your pocket (well a big pocket).

It does have a nice feature of showing a 3D map as well as a 2D close-up side to side.

It also has info on 51,000 hotels and restaurants from the Michelin Guide and also 19,000 tourist and cultural sites from the Michelin Green Guide (both across Europe). More useful to a business user or when planning a holiday. The information has ratings from the Guides and also telephone numbers which can be automatically dial via your Bluetooth phone.

Full'ish review here

26/09/2006

Ofcom announces qualified applicants for 412-414 MHz paired with 422-424 MHz

Ofcom today announced the list of qualified applicants for the use of the spectrum bands 412-414 MHz paired with 422-424 MHz.

The applicants who can go through to the single round auction are: -

AirRadio Ltd

Arqiva Limited

Motorola Ltd

The Joint Radio Company Limited

T-Mobile (UK) Ltd

Ventura Team Spectrum One Ltd

The license is for 2 x 2MHz channels and is a national license (the licensee must coordinate with radar establishments such as Flyingdales).

Increasing the supply of mobile numbers

Ofcom held a consultation that closed in July 2006 about opening new mobile number ranges (071-075). They have now published a statement on what they intend to do.

The 075 range will become available immediately, with the rest to follow so mobile operators can request numbers in this range (i.e. they are available on the number order form).

Nothing really exciting here, just shows mobile use is still growing.

25/09/2006

iTunes v7

Though Apple have added lots of new (nice) features, on Windows XP it's definately buggy and very slow doing certain things.

It's a shame as otherwise it's a very polished product.

Hopefully they'll fix things with a dot release.

Low-end PS3 to have HDMI

Sony's PS3 will come in two versions one with a 60GB disk and one with 20GB. Both have Blu-Ray disk support. Initially Sony decided the lower end version shouldn't have HDMI, but now it will like its bigger brother.

The HDMI port is v1.3 which support 1080p video as well as multi-channel audio. Most HD systems are only HDMI v1.2 which supports stereo sound.

New Canon Wideformat printer

Canon's imagePrograf iPF8000 supports 44inch printing using it's Lucia 12-colour pigment ink system.

There are two high density printheads with 32,000 nozzles which increase print speed.

Canon also supply a Photoshop plugging for direct printing of 16bit images with no change of colour gamut.

It will ship in November, though pricing has not yet been announced.

Lightroom Beta4 now available

As well as announcing the 4th beta of Lightroom, Adobe's photographic package, it also has a new name Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Available for both Mac and Windows this is a professional system for taking digital photographs and working with them in a consistant workflow approach, it competes with Apple's Apperture.

22/09/2006

The fight for AOL UK continues and now Tiscali UK comes into the foray

AOL's UK business is up for sale, rumours have been flying round (including Vodafone being in the bidding), but now it seems the battle is between BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse.

Tiscali UK also seems up for grabs (having recently purchased Home Choice/Video Networks) and BSkyB and BT may be in the battle for them.

The consolidation wars continue and the big broadband players seem to be: -

BT Retail (2m+ broadband customers)
NTL:Telewest (2m broadband customers)
Carphone Warehouse (600-700K+)
BSkyB (Easynet) (?)
Orange (?, peaking at 12,000 per day sign-up)
Pipex (570K)

Vodafone will be interesting to watch as they have just done a deal with BT.
T-Mobile - who knows.
O2 bought Be, but they are tiny (only 40,000 customers - but now they have the resources to grow the company and infrastructure).

21/09/2006

Google Analytics

WOW, they are very impressive. Easy to set-up (if you've already got a Google Mail account, just add it to your services). Then Google give you some code and you paste it into your web page, Google does all the rest.

It's all graphically represented, nice pie charts/graphs/etc. The overlay piece is very cool. It shows where people are coming from, how they got there, what they're looking at and more.

If you want to be anal about your site statistics, Google Analytics is the way to go. Really WOW.

18/09/2006

Canon's new Ixii (Ixuses)

Canon has announced some new cameras in their Ixus range.

The Ti900 has an all titanium body, 10MP sensor and the new DIGIC III processor which supports noise reduction and face-detection technology for £315 +VAT.

The i7 replaces the tiny iZoom, it also uses the DIGIC III processor and has a 7.1MP sensor. It costs £210.

Apple updates Bootcamp

Bootcamp 1.1.1 is available for download. It now supports the new Core 2 Duo processors in Apple's new iMac and MacPro's.

Download here

Adobe update Creative Suite

Adobe are updating Creative Suite Premium to version 2.3, however it's a cost upgrade (around $159).

It will contain Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX as well as Acrobat v8 which now has shared authoring capability (but at a cost to subscribe to the service).

It should be available in October.

CSR develops WiFi VoIP chip

CSR the chipset designers have developed a reference Wireless VoIP phone (UniVox) which has a bill of materials of about £11.

The phone supports 802.11b and g and 802.11i, WEP and WPA security.

As well as supporting SIP it also supports IAX2 (Inter Asterisk Protocol) which traverses NAT in a friendly manner.

It will allow the production of cheap WiFi phones.

14/09/2006

Ofcom forces BT to connect to everyone

Anyone can offer a communication service offering voice and other services, this is known as a PECN (public electronic communications network). Many new entrants, such as VoIP players, have found it difficult to get interconnection directly with BT who make it as difficult possible.

Ofcom have now ruled that BT must interconnect with any PECN and in a reasonable manner including paying call termination charges to them.

The statement is here.

This should allow VoIP players to directly connect to BT (it can currently take over 6 months to get a BT wholesale connection) without going through intermediaries.

Ofcom reviewing wholesale SMS termination

Wholesale SMS termination is when an SMS terminates on a mobile network from another network. This affects all operators as they exchange SMS traffic between networks.

However this also affects fixed networks (it's possible to send and receive SMSs through BT phone lines) and also companies that offer SMS applications (ringtones, advertising, alerts and such like). Currently operators (in the UK) are highly resistive to non-operators utilising telecoms links such as SS7 to send SMS traffic, and even if one operator agrees there is no guarantee that another will. Ofcom has been pushed heavily to allow this kind of service so operators are forced to act in a neutral manner to both operators and fixed line operators and application services.

The review is expected to take 12 to 18 months and there may be several consultations.

Ofcom consulting on extending mobile termination price controls

Ofcom is Consulting on proposals to maintain mobile termination price controls when the current ones expire on March 2007.

Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange termination charges should reduce to 5.3ppm for 2G and 3G networks by 2010/11, while 3 get to charge 6.0ppm also by the same time. These controls will expire in 2011.

Ofcom wants views on how quickly the pricing should be implemented and how the controls should be put in place.

The mobile operators will want current pricing to remain as high as possible for as long as possible with minimal controls, while fixed line operators and others will want termination reduced as quickly as possible with maximum controls.

12/09/2006

Satellite Broadband on Trains

Ofcom has issued a statement on new licensing for the use of broadband on trains using satellite.

This covers the 14 – 14.25 GHz band (already used in ships and planes), the systems must have at least a 0.6m aerial and a max 2 degree beam.

This will hopefully encourage more UK train operators to offer WiFi in trains.

Fring, free calls on your mobile

Well OK Fring isn't free, but uses VoIP and P2P technologies utilising the data aspects of a mobile to transport voice i.e. free with a sensible data plan.

The client currently works on various Nokia handsets, but support for others is planned. Register your number and you get an SMS with an embedded link to download the software which then installs once the link is clicked.

On "3" it took several attempts for the software to register with the Fring service, but it eventually got there.

Fring can be used just with other Fring users using VoIP, but also supports GoogleTalk and Skype, they also took a few attempts at registering.

Trying Skype wasn't too pleasant, there were long delays and the user (in the US) heard echo - though it did work. The clarity on the phone seemed much better. Didn't manage to test GoogleTalk.

Running this on a network with an unlimited data plan could save a lot of money, but would it be considered "fair use" and will they start blocking it? If the operators don't want to lose voice revenue (which is the mainstay of their business) then they'll have to do something, but for now it does seem a pretty good service.

11/09/2006

Wii hits Broadway

IBM has started shipping the new Broadway chip (the CPU for the Wii) to Nintendo in volume. It's based on the Gekko chip used in the GameCube, but uses a 90nm process rather than 180nm. It's also faster and uses 20% less power, coming from IBM it's
Power Architechture - but not much else has been released.

IBM now owns the cores for all the major gaming platforms (XBox360, Cell for PS3 and now the Wii), Apple must be counting their blessings that they moved away from IBM as they would be such a small market for them and IBM would be able to deliver little effort into making the G5 (and successors) doing what Apple wanted them to.

The Cell is a complicated chip and optimising games will be a challenge for some time to come to make use of the multi-core design. Microsoft and Nintendo's cores are much simpler so should produce much more optimised games more quickly.

Since IBM are shipping now, Nintendo should have volume units available by the end of the year, Sony have already said there will only be 100,000 PS3 available at launch in Japan, 400,000 in the US and Europe has been delayed until at least March.

HD, HD-DVD disk developed

Toshiba and Memory-Tech have developed a 3 layer hybrid disk that can be read by both traditional DVD players and new HD-DVD players. The movie is stored in each format on different layers to that they are read by their respective players in native format.

Currently it's a prototype and not approved by the DVD forum, but this may give the HD-DVD group a jump over Blu-Ray who are currently winning the format battle.

TIM for the clock

Telecom Italia Mobile may lose the Telecom Italia monica as they seem to want to sell the mobile business.

Telecom Italia already have triple play solutions and were seen to be one of the front-runners in the fixed-mobile convergence game. Now they want to concentrate on delivering content over traditional broadband.

Rupert Murdoch may be in talks about acquisition.

Vodafone to offer broadband package

It seems Vodafone has stuck a deal with BT Group to offer a broadband package to its 16m UK subscribers. This follows earlier moves by Orange (with their Wanadoo, now branded Orange, service) and O2 who bought Be a while back.

Vodafone have aggressively denied they were moving into the fixed space, though it was inevitable with broadband being seen as the hook to triple, quad or even more plays.

Vodafone are also rumoured to be front runners for buying AOL UK.

07/09/2006

Skype Free the French

Skype have announced that French Skype users can call any French landline for free (until the end of December).

Skype requires broadband and many broadband providers in France already offer a bundle of free national calls so though it's a nice gesture it's not really a big thing.

Pipex buy Bulldog and Tucan

Another 2 broadband providers fall to the consolidation in the telecoms/ISP markets with Tucan and Bulldog being acquired by Pipex who now claim around 570,000 broadband customers.

Tucan's purchase isn't really suprising as margins for consumer broadband are diminishing, more so now with broadband being given away free as part of other offerings.

C&W have also being looking for a way to dispose of their Bulldog retail customers as they have been unable to compete in this business (especially since the launch of Carphone Warehouse's TalkTalk3 package). Pipex also gain the use of the Bulldog name.

It makes a lot of sense for C&W to do this as they can now concentrate on a wholesale offering (which is a turn-around as they stopped offering one when they acquired Bulldog), and gain Pipex as a wholesale customer.

Consumer broadband and local loop unbundling is all about economies of scale. There are several LLU operators all competing for the customers in near enough the same (expected) 1,000 local exchanges that are being unbundled. If a wholesale provider could gain enough market traction the unbundler's could utilise them instead of unbundling themselves. This would potentially allow a greater number of exchanges to be unbundled with a greater number of users per exchange which would mean the economics become much more favourable. Unfortunately this requires companies in a highly competetive market working with each other, which is the stumbling block which rapidly degrades into telco politics.

Apple iMacs go Core 2 and 24 inch

Apple has announced that all iMac models will have an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. CPU speeds come in 1.8, 2.0, 2.16 and 2.3GHz with up to 3GB of RAM.

The new 24" model supports up to 1920 x 1200 pixels supports the higher end CPU (2.3GHz) and an option of a nVidia GeForce 7600GT instead of the 7300GT which is on the other models, a 250GB is standard though that can be upgraded to 500GB at order time. There's also a Firewire 800 port (in addition to the Firewire 400 ports). As with all new Macs they come with Tiger (10.4.7), iLife and Frontrow.

As the Core 2 Duo CPU is 64bit MacOS 10 really operates in 64bit mode (on the MacBooks and old Intel iMacs it's only working in 32bit).

The iMac is still one of the prettier PC's out there and for an all in one unit the new 24" system will be hard to beat - though there are probably cheaper systems out there. Macs just work

04/09/2006

Blu-Ray HDDVD battle hots up

TDK have announced a prototype for a Blu-Ray disk supporting 200GB. The current disks support 25GB per layer i.e. 50GB per disk.

HDDVD also has the capability for higher capacities, but they are currently lower than Blu-Ray.

This will make a huge difference for storing HD (high definition) movies which require huge capacities.

Samsung updates Q1

The new machine called the Q1P adds HSPDA (high speed download packet access), a new battery giving the system 5 hours of use and a processor from VIA rather than Intel. There are other new features, but Samsung haven't gone into details yet.

Another IT Week mention

IT Week mentioned me on the front page of this week's edition re Open Source routers and their limitations.

Maybe I should do this professionally?

01/09/2006

VoIP players already failing

It's seems Freetalk the VoIP service provided by Dixons is shutting shop a year after having started the service, users can migrate to Vonage though pricing stays the same they will require new Vonage equipment. Gossiptel seem to have disappeared into the mists too - even their website is gone.

VoIP isn't the panacea everyone hoped for, especially since normal telephony tariffs are plummeting and bundle deals are becoming normal (BT Retail has now had price restrictions lifted).

Unless a VoIP player has significant volume their future is limited.

Megalaser 120mW laser

Megalaser are now selling 120mW green lasers mounted in a handy laserpointer.

Of course they aren't laser pointers, they are just industrial lasers mounted for convenient transport.

Green lasers are very bright anyway and 120mW will carry the beam visibly for 10's of miles, but they are dangerous (they'll burn holes in plastic bags) and shouldn't be pointed directly (or reflected) into people's eyes.

They probably shouldn't be used near airports or such like too.

Canon announces EOD400D

This is the successor to the hugely popular EOS350D. It has got a 10.1MP sensor with cleaning technology that shakes the dust off it.

It has a 2.5 inch LCD display supporting 230,000 pixels and a viewing angle of 160 degrees.

In burst mode it can shoot 3fps and store up to 10 RAW or 27 JPEGs.

All EF and EF-S (over 60) lenses are supported as well as Speedlite EX flash units.

Pricing is expected to be competetive to the Sony Alpha but seems to be about £649 for the body only or around £719 with an EF-S 18-55mm lens.

Star Letter in T3

T3 published my letter re HD TV.

I get another Slim Devices Squeezebox3, oh what fun.

29/08/2006

Google beta Business hosted apps

Google have just launched a beta version of hosted Email/Calendar and Google Talk but under your own domain.

Though only beta it could offer a real challenge to Microsoft as companies can completely dump problematic applications (like Exchange) and use Google instead.

It's currently free and anyone accepted on the beta, it looks to remain free too.

Ebay choose Google for advertising

Google's press release has some details.

Advertising on Ebay isn't unexpected, though sellers may have concern that adverts will appear offering competing goods. What's odd is the "click to talk" announcement where buyers can talk to sellers - but using Skype OR GoogleTalk.

Ebay paid a lot of money for Skype (they own it) so promoting a competing (beta) service would seem strange.

Maybe it's all to stop Microsoft getting a foothold.

24/08/2006

Windows Live WiFi Center

This is being made available to a select number of Office 2007 beta testers. It allows users to find WiFi hotspots as well as find out what's actively around them. Users can then select "free" or paid for services and mark them as favourites.

It will then ease the set-up of virtual private networks (VPN) to ensure the connection is secure.

It's all part of Microsoft's Windows Live services.

Bryce 5 for free

Daz is offering free downloads of the 3D World software Bryce version 5.

It's available for Mac and Windows, though v5 won't work on MacOS 10.4, version 5 will ($119 upgrade, though by joining Artzone there's a $100 discount available.

Bryce can produce see, land, tree, skys and even planets and even beginners can produce amazing results.

It's a big download, but it will keep the kids amused. NOTE rendering can take a very long time and is extremely CPU intensive.

19/08/2006

Gillette Fusion

5 blades, well 6 really as there's one on the back for trimming.

It feels like a razor should and actually seems to work pretty well. It looks pretty funky too.

The 5 blades do seem to make the razor glide over your face and give a very smooth shave.

Better than the Mach 3.

18/08/2006

Internet for planes scrapped

Boeing has dropped plans to launch its Connexion service which offered high-speed Internet access to planes.

Though intial trials went well and high-speed access was made available via satellite connections, it failed to attract enough interest from the airlines as passengers didn't want to spend between $10 and $30 for service.

Airlines are probably waiting for cheaper services with newly auctioned in-flight air-to-ground services which could also offer Internet access.

17/08/2006

Ofcom Website | Making it easier to switch broadband provider

Ofcom are proposing new regulations to  allow users to easily switch broadband providers by forcing them to supply the Migration Authorisation Code (MAC). If the provider doesn't offer the code it will be made available from a 3rd party.

This should simply things and hopefully make it easier for customers to migrate to new services with a minimum of downtime.

Currently this is a consultation which closes on 5 October 2006

Link to Ofcom Website | Making it easier to switch broadband provider

Slim Devices Transporter

The Register have my review of the Transporter on their site.

It's a high end audiophile streamer. It looks to be a very nice (although expensive) system.

Micosoft Blogging tool

Windows Live Writer is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) blog authoring tool. It's designed to work with Windows Spaces, but will work with other services such as Blogger, Wordpress etc.

It supports standard text as well as photos and integrating maps. There's a full SDK (software development kit) so it can be extended too.

This is all part of Microsoft's Live environment where they are trying to make a dent into an already crowded market, but it does seem they are coming out with useful tools.

16/08/2006

Leap Wireless chooses Huawei

Leap Wireless an operator in the US has chosen Huawei to provide CDMA2000 technology for networks in Spokane, WA., Boise, ID, and Reno, NV.

Huawei first became known for making Cisco clones, while charging considerably less. Their big rise to fame came when they won a contract with British Telecom for their 21st Century Network, which crippled Marconi who were counting on getting in on the deal.

They have a huge range of equipment that will encroach every area (ISP, telecoms, SME networking, etc) other players are going to struggle to compete.

Huawei are definately a company to watch.

14/08/2006

nVidia supports Quad SLI

nVidia SLI technology allows multiple cards to cooperate by splitting the screen real-estate between cards. Until now only two cards have been supported, but now quad SLI can work.

Currently dual GeForce 7950 cards work (as they already have two graphics controllers on board).

Gamers also need a very high spec system as the display must support 2,560 by 1,600 pixels.

Convert an old rotary phone into a Cellphone

Sparkfun have an article on how to convert an old rotary phone into a mobile phone.

It may not be very practical, but probably very trendy with those into retro fashion.

IEEE 802.11n delayed again

The IEEE is the standards body for Ethernet and it's wireless equivalents. In May the group that dealt with the new 802.11n standard couldn't reach consensus and there were over 12,000 comments to the draft 1.0 proposal. Even so manufacturers raced to announce product based on what has become known as pre802.11n which is unfortunate as there could still be major changes to the specification which may mean firmware updates aren't enough.

Current vendors silicon may not interoperate when operating in 802.11n (sorry pre802.11n) mode, though it will fall back to 802.11g which should work. Some vendors are selling hardware based on different chipsets so this can be a problem.

The next vote on the draft has now been pushed back until January 2007, which means real 802.11n devices are unlikely until at least 2008.

IEEE 802.11n delayed again

The IEEE is the standards body for Ethernet and it's wireless equivalents. In May the group that dealt with the new 802.11n standard couldn't reach consensus and there were over 12,000 comments to the draft 1.0 proposal. Even so manufacturers raced to announce product based on what has become known as pre802.11n which is unfortunate as there could still be major changes to the specification which may mean firmware updates aren't enough.

Current vendors silicon may not interoperate when operating in 802.11n (sorry pre802.11n) mode, though it will fall back to 802.11g which should work. Some vendors are selling hardware based on different chipsets so this can be a problem.

The next vote on the draft has now been pushed back until January 2007, which means real 802.11n devices are unlikely until at least 2008.

IT Week

Thanks to Martin Veitch for quoting Euro Tech News in his article on increased power limits for 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz in last weeks IT week

Microsoft opens Xbox 360 gaming

Microsoft is going to offer XNA Game Studio Express as a free Windows XP download which will allow gaming development for the Xbox 360. This wont allow games to be distributed, but MS may allow games developed under XNA to be modified and uploaded to Xbox Live where they can be downloaded and played by others. Autodesk has said it will make 3D Studio Max compatible output.

There's a $99 pa program that gives developers access to a wealth of Xb0x 360 information.

The Express version should beta this month.

There will be Professional version early next year which should allow real distributable games.

This is a potential blow to Sony who's PSP3 is due for launch later this year, but at very high pricing (Blu-Ray costs and expensive chips) as Microsoft could get a real lead from amateur developers.

09/08/2006

Bay Area

I'm just about to head to the San Francisco airport and head back to London.

Bay Area has been fun (check out Kennedy's Pub and Curry House in SF at the end of the cable car to Pier 39, fun bar and REAL curry).

Went to see Infrant and Slim Devices yesterday and that was cool, today went to Yahoo! for lunch, huge site - 7000 employees. If they ever move out, there's going to be a lot of purple chairs on the market.

I missed Google, but saw the old Netscape building (now Verisign) and the original Netscape building (now AOL, but with a very old AOL America logo). Sun's site in Menlo Park is very tame by comparison.

I'll miss both Bay Area and Seattle, they both inspired me in terms of how start-ups can work, more on that another time.

Thanks to Kelly and Tricia for putting up with me in Seattle (I already miss the coffee) and Paul and Cheri for my time in Belmont.

Slim Devices Transporter

This is the new high end "audiophile" system, it's really there and the specs are very impressive.

It's using really nice DACs (Digital Audio Converters), a switch-mode power supply to start the thing up and power the display/CPU while the audio section is powered by a very clean linear power supply.

There's now two digital displays, so stereo spectrum graphs etc.

Digital inputs and outputs are of course there, with optical, digital phono and co-ax. There's phono and balanced analogue.

The new remote is also very nice, much more compact and though initially looking too small, it feels great to use and grows on you.

They seem to have a good relationship with the opensource community, who contribute to the SLIM Server. The only thing closed source is the binary for the players. However much of the Transporter has at least parts contributed by community who Slim Devices hired.

Slim Devices are a really cool company, watch out for some really nice stuff coming out from them.

Infrant

Infrant make some great boxes if you're into NAS disk storage. The ReadyNAS NV is a home or small business system that supports 4 SATA disks and currently allows about 2TB of storage. It's incredibly easy to set-up and supports Linux, WIndows and Mac clients (NFS, CIFS/Windows File sharing and AFS).

Sam Feng, their marketing guy, was incredibly helpfull and they've got some exciting systems coming down the line.

Watch out for something coming supporting larger work systems.

07/08/2006

Apple WWDC

Definately a geekfest - but a trendy one held in the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Though I wasn't allowed in (my registration hadn't gone through), Apple announced the new features of MacOS X 10.5 Leopard for both Macs and servers.

They also completed their line-up with a 64bit desktop the Mac Pro and the new Xserve, both feature quad Xeon 64bit processors (actually 2 Core 2 Duo processors). The CPUs run up to 3GHz, with the Mac Pro support 16GB of RAM and the Xserve 32GB. The Mac Pro also supports 4 SATA II drives up to 500GB (up to 2TB) and the Xserve 2.25TB using SATA or SAS (serial attached SCSI). The Mac Pro is available now (though it's not yet in the SF Apple Store) - though it's now on Apple's site.

Leopard features enhanced versions of iChat and Mail and introduces Time Machine (an advanced back-up solution) and Spaces (allowing grouping applications for working on particular projects).

Time Machine will back-up everything to an external hard dis or an Xserve (also running Leopard) and a user can then get back anything they've deleted.

iChat now supports shared working with other iChat users. Mail supports stationary.

The server version supports Leopard clients and will automagically configure them so they use the Xserve for all their services (print, mail, calendaring, iChat etc). iChat server has been improved and now links into other XMPP networks (including GoogleTalk). Mail can be clustered if the Xserve is used with Apple XSan and Quicktime Streaming server supports the latest 3GPP standards for mobile streaming. There's also an adaptive firewall which can automatically monitor traffic and block IP addresses that are suspicious in nature.


The new Mac Pros are definately the way forward for desktops and though Leopard improves on Tiger, many of the new features could be just a gimmick.

Foveon still in the camera game

An industry insider reports that Foveon is still in the high end sensor market for digital cameras and something is going to be announced at PhotoKina - an evolution of the X3 sensor. Likely to be Sigma who have a camera based on it, though that was neither confirmed nor denied.

Also they are working on "other products", likely to be for the camera phone market - though currently in stealth mode.

Though the camera phone market is crowded, it's a huge space - so could be a very sensible move for Foveon.

03/08/2006

Canon announces compact HD camera

Canon's HV10 is smaller than Sony's HDR-HC3. It only weighs 500g including battery and tape (normal MiniDV type tapes, though data is stored in HDV format).

It supports 1080i at 1,920 pixels by 1,080 resolution.

It's expected to ship n September in the UK, though no UK pricing has been announced. In Japan it will cost £700.

nVidia launches beta program for Gelato

Gelato is nVidia's high end rendering package. The new version will plug into Maya and 3D Studio Max.

It off-loads rendering directly to nVidia graphics cards (which are optimised to do that kind of work anyway) rather than running on the hosts general purpose CPU.

If anyone has used the MAXtreme plugin for 3DS, the realtime rendering is pretty well real-time, compared to the output renderer which can take hours. Gelato will offer the same sort of speeds for final rendering.

Gelato has been speeded-up while using less memory than earlier versions.

Sony introduces GPS unit

Sony's GPS-CS1 is a portable 7cm unit that the user is expected to wear. It tracks their location and timestamps it every 15 minutes into memory (31MB i..e about 15 days worth). The unit runs of a single AA battery which lasts about 10 hours.

When using's Sony software on the PC, it then matches the GPS data to the timestamp taken from the EXIF data with the photo so can store the location.

It will cost about $150 in the US and Japan when launched in September, no European plans have been announced.

Monotype acquires Linotype

The two largest font foundries have combined forces, though they'll still maintain their seperate identities for now.

Linotype brings 6,000 fonts including Helvetica, Frutiger and Optima to the Monotype stable. They will keep all the independent designers working through their sites.

31/07/2006

NUKE is free

D2 have released a free version of the NUKE compositing tool. It only supports output of up to 640 x 480 and it's watermarked.

This is definately a trend whereby companies are releasing cut-down or even complete systems based on their very expensive commercial counterparts.

HP goes Duo

HP has introduced a workstation (xw4400) which is based around the Intel 975X Express chipset.

It can utilise the Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Extreme CPUs. The Due goes to 2.66GHz and the Extgreme 2.93GHz.

The workstations support up to 8GB of RAM, PCI Express graphics and serial attached SCSI.

Pricing from £700+ +VAT

29/07/2006

Core 2 Duo is here

Intel, under increasing pressure form AMD, have released new Core 2 Duo CPUs. They say they are the most significant thing since the launch of the Pentium 4.

They are based on their microarchitechture which replaces NetBurst (used in P4) which is already available in Woodcrest (used in newer Xeons).

The processors don't run as fast as existing P4s which means they run cooler, but they run more instructions per cycle.

The Core 2 Due also comes in an Extreme edition designed with gamers and creatives in mind.

a Toast to BluRay

Roxio have announced a new version of Toast 7 for the Mac that supports BluRay burners.

Currently only available to OEMs it will support writing 50GB of data onto BD-R or BD-RE discs.

As with Toast 7.1 it's a universal binary so will run on both PowerPC and Intel based Macs.

Roxio currently don't have plans to add BluRay support to the retail version of Toast.

Mighty Mouse goes wireless

Apple have released a Bluetooth 2.0 version of their mighty mouse. It uses one or two AA batteries and has power saving features that reduce power when not in use (i.e. moving). It also has an on/off switch.

Apple claim the new laser tracking technology is 20 times more sensitive than a conventional mouse.

It costs £40 (+VAT) from the Apple store.

ImageKind launches

A new site ImageKind has launched (in beta). Though other sites have been offering image galleries for a while, ImageKind is different as it allow users to print quality artwork from their images (utilising the latest printing technology without users having to worry about how the technology works), it's a social site so users can build up communities of work, users can sell their images and have control of how much they make, it's very easy to use and users can buy normal art just like in a "real" shop.

The printed artwork is professionally produced and touched by real people who'll do their best to actually make sure it all comes out right.

There are 3 types of service: -

* Create allows users to purely upload their own images and have them printed.

* Free allows a single gallery and is limited to 200MB storage and 200MB bandwidth per month.

* PRO has no storage limits, unlimited galleries and 400MB bandwidth per month.

Both Free and PRO accounts allow users to sell art and set their own pricing, PRO account users also get commission on any framed sold. PRO accounts cost $7.99 per month.

Though only in beta, it's a pretty slick site and worth a look. If you've got some interesting artwork, set-up an account and get selling.

Sony goes back into profit

Sony has posted a profit for the April to June quarter. Sales of laptops and TFT screens improved, though Plasmas and CRTs fell.

The DaVinci Code movie helped a lot too.

Playstation sales weren't that good, though that's exected to change when the PS3 is launched later this year.

Ofcom Telephone Numbering Statement

Ofcom revealed further details of its numbering plans for the UK.

There will be a new numbering range 03 which will be considered geographic and can be included in free-call plans etc. There will be no revenue share available on 03 numbers. It is expected that businesses will take up 03 numbers instead of 084/087 ranges so consumers understand the charges etc.

07 personal numbers are to be reviewed and ONLY allowable for personal numbering, any company who has fraudulantly used 07 personal numbers will not be allowed to use them in the future. Use will be monitored and they may be moved to a 06 range instead, so 07 will be completely reserved for mobile numbers.

24/07/2006

My rant on broadband pricing

> >Says download in eclipse's aup. And it's 50gig between 6-11pm. And
> >they don't ban you, just rate limit you if you go over it
> What's actually the problem with ISPs letting people download things
> unlimited??? Are they just capping things to charge us more money or
> is there actually a problem they're trying to control?

Because the redicuously low margins that ISPs make don't cover the infrastructure required to support GB's of international transit.

The "Internet" is a loose collection of around 40,000+ networks that "talk" to each other. ISPs and other organisations have "peering"
agreements at places like public Internet exchanges where they agree to exchange packets. LINX in the UK is one of the bigger exchanges, anyone can connect (for a fee), but everyone connecting has to make their own agreements to exchange traffic (so ISPa and ISPb have to make their own agreements), this is even more true as security is implemented so traffic cant be diverted to the wrong place.

Exchanging traffic locally doesn't actually cost anything (generally) so UK traffic is really just local to LINX, so having (a) fat enough
connection(s) to LINX means that's the basic cost of transferring traffic.

Getting out of the UK is another matter, and there are companies that just offer "transit" connections i.e. local peering is just swapping packets between your customers and those of the other end of the peer.
Transit connections allow traffic going to other places i.e. say to non-customers in say the US or EU.

Transit traffic is metered and charged by the MB (or GB or TB or whatever), and it's measured both ways (i.e. in and out).

In order to get good connectivity ISPs will have local peering agreements and transit peering agreements. Transit agreements cost real money. The more data transferred, the more the ISP has to pay.

When connections cost a lot of money (like leased lines, early broadband or even dial-up) the transit costs could easily be absorbed. With the ever increasing speeds of broadband and the ever decreasing revenues, those transit costs become increasingly apparent.

BT Wholesale charge something like GBP 8.25 per month per end-user connection, then add the capacity of the "fat-pipe" connecting the ISP to BTW (something like 300,000 pa for a 155Mb/s connection i.e. 25K per month - when that was supporting 512K customers that allowed about 16,000 customers per pipe i.e. it costs around 1.50 per month per customer), so 8.25 + 1.5 is about 9.75 per month per customer. Companies were charging say 20 quid per month so that left (inc VAT) so there's maybe 6 quid a month to pay for everything else and make a profit. When the customers move to 2Mb/s that costs about 6.50 per month - so suddenly most of the money has gone to pay for anything else. Take that to 8Mb/s and it's costing more ... OK, the backhaul pricing has changed, but they are still ballpark figures.

LLU operators have it better (like Easynet, Bulldog, Be etc) but the margins are incredibly low (Bulldog pulled out of retail as the marketing/cost to acquire a customer would eat most if not all of their profit and they couldn't compete with all the free offers, it took them several years to get ~100,000 customers, TalkTalk got 340,000+ in 3 months).

BT Wholesale are NOT allowed by Ofcom to reduce pricing until there are 1.5m LLU customers, this sounds reasonable to stimulate the market, but it's killing current BTW resellers as their margins are feable and they have to compete with the LLU players. When BTW can reduce costs, then the LLU operators will struggle as they'll have to match BTW in order to be competetive and price wars start again, margins potentially reduce further, more fire sales and ISPs (and indeed telcos) get bought or absorbed which then reduces competetiveness as there's less players.

BTW have something like 8m+ customers (through Openworld, Demon, etc etc), NTL (inc Telewest) about 4m, AOL 1.3m etc.

AOL's now up for sale, probably going to Orange or Sky.

It's just going to get worse.

> BTW I wrote to my MP about the article I posted to the list recently,
> about the idea to start charging for different streams of internet
> usage, and realised that if we start following the Merkin system
> that's so unfair - because the corporations' arguments (why shouldn't
> we charge for the infrastructure we've built to make the internet
> work) are mainly stemming from the US, where public opinion is
> different cos internet is free for users there anyway, isn't it.

It's potentially a good thing, and also very bad. It's a net-head vs bell-head argument. In the telecoms worls (bell-heads) data has always been metered (ignoring free "local" calls and things - even they were metered, just zero rated), in telephony terms you pay per minute/second/whatever, in data terms you pay for the size of the pipe (i.e. a 2Mb/s circuit costs less than an 8Mb/s or 155Mb/s pipe). In tjings like Frame Relay (which was popular before IP came along) you paid for the pipe and data sent through it.

The Internet changed all that and made connectivity flat-rate. However the "core" networks still charge per bit, and that's where the issues arise. Core networks tend to still be run by bell-heads and will continue to do so (telcos own fibre and the core networks). Therefore consumers are consuming bandwidth at ever increasing speed (sic) and no one's really paying for the increased infrastructure required.

As voice moves over the Internet, things will likely change as businesses etc will pay for quality (to ensure your voice path isn't congested), and quality costs. So there may well be 2 Internets, one which is flat rate and one which maintains quality metrics and people will pay for the quality version. Market forces will dictate how much goes where!!!!

Adobe releases Lightroom for Windows

It's still a beta, but Lightroom for Windows is now available to download. Users must have an Adobe/Macromedia ID to get to the download section, but anyone can register.

It's not clear when Lightroom will come out of beta, or how much it will cost.

MS Coming Zune to you

Microsoft have set-up an official site Coming Zune for their future range of products under the Zune brand. This will be their iPod killer supporting music, video and photos. The unit will also have WiFi and allow users to directly download tracks from Microsoft's download site.

Little information is available, though the unit is expected before the Xmas period. It will be designed and built by Microsoft like the Xbox and family, however they may license the design to others.

It's likely to integrate well to other Microsoft offerings.

AMD to buy ATI

AMD the chip manufacturer giving Intel a run for its money in the CPU wars has now agreed to purchase the Canadian graphics chip company ATI for $5.4 billion in cash and stock.

AMD just makes CPUs while rival Intel makes embedded graphics controllers for motherboards etc, with this purchase AMD get the capability and can better compete with Intel.

AMD also have agreements with NVidia a major rival to ATI but AMD say this will not effect the relationship.

If all goes well the deal should complete in the 4th quarter of this year.

17/07/2006

End-to-end connectivity

Ofcom Website | End-to-end connectivity

When a telecoms providers offers telephony service calls have to get on or off their network. As BT is the largest supplier of services in the UK, they are obligated to provide termination services, and make those services available to others.

This consultation considers whether other operators should have to provide similar termination services to all others, or can restrict who they offer termination to and make others go through BT.

Ofcom has identified four options for ensuring end-to-end connectivity:

* Option 1 – Do nothing;

* Option 2 – To publish new guidelines;

* Option 3 – To require all providers of a public electronic communications network(‘PECN’) to purchase wholesale narrowband (fixed and mobile voice and narrowband data) call termination services on reasonable terms and conditions from any other PECN who wishes to supply termination to it (and its customers);

* Option 4 – To require BT to purchase wholesale narrowband (fixed and mobile voice and narrowband data) call termination services on reasonable terms and conditions from any PECN who wishes to supply termination to BT (and its customers) on the basis that end-to-end connectivity will be ensured through an obligation on BT without the need to impose such an obligation on all PECNs.

Ofcom is proposing access-related condition will apply to BT only, and will require BT:

* to purchase wholesale narrowband (fixed and mobile voice and narrowband data) call termination services from any PECN that reasonably requests in writing that BT purchases such services (proposed condition 1.1);

* to ensure that the purchase of the wholesale narrowband (fixed and mobile voice and narrowband data) call termination services shall occur as soon as reasonably practicable and shall be on reasonable terms and conditions (including charges), and on such terms and conditions (including charges) as Ofcom may from time to time direct (proposed condition 1.2);

* to ensure that after purchasing wholesale narrowband (fixed and mobile voice and narrowband data) call termination services, BT will not be able to unreasonably change, withdraw or restrict access to an applicable Normal Telephone Number (proposed condition1.3);

* to comply with any direction Ofcom may make from time to time under this Condition (proposed condition 1.4).

The consultation runs until August 15th 2006.