17/12/2007

Removal of the requirement for pre-call announcements on 070 numbers | Ofcom

Removal of the requirement for pre-call announcements on 070 numbers | Ofcom

In a similar move to 087 numbers, Ofcom have just removed the requirement for operators of 070 personal number to have pre-call announcements (PCA) if the call rate is above 20p per minute.

Ofcom removed the limitation as alarm and other services use 070 numbers and the PCA caused some to time-out, which may endanger human life.

070 numbers are notoriously used for scams such as dialing mobile phones and dropping the call instataneously as users confuse the missed call with a mobile number (all mobile numbers start 07), so Ofcom are still considering moving personal numbers off the 070 range.

Controlled Premium Rate Services (“CPRS”) made on 070 numbers rather than 09 are still subject to PRS regulations and PhonepayPlus will take action on abusers of 070 services (above 10ppm charging).

06/12/2007

Regulation of VoIP Services: Access to the Emergency Services | Ofcom

Regulation of VoIP Services: Access to the Emergency Services | Ofcom

By September 2008 anyone providing VoIP services will need to provide access to the Emergency Services (in the UK 999 or 112). Previously only PATS (public access telephony services) were obliged to provide 999 services, now any PECS (public electronics cummincations system) provider will need to provide access to 999.

The only exemption is web-based "click to call" services as they can be seen as distinct and they do not have to provide access.

Licence-Exemption Framework Review | Ofcom

Licence-Exemption Framework Review | Ofcom

Ofcom has published a statement on the framework for managing spectrum used by licence-exempt devices.

This is a long document and is based on results of Ofcom's previous Spectrum Framework Review.

Much of it is to do with whether it's possible to regulate at all (like in the 2.4GHz band) and how other areas should be managed.

It also covers things like UWB which will become prevalent in the future.

Amendment to the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (11th Edition) | Ofcom

Amendment to the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (11th Edition) | Ofcom

Ofcom is consulting on the amendment to the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice (11th Edition) which closes on 5pm on 16 January 2008.

PhonepayPlus is the industry body formerly known as ICSTIS who are the industry body for Premium Rate Services.

Ofcom works with PhoneypayPlus for the regulation of PRS though they are independent organisations.

03/12/2007

Statement on the making of regulations in connection with the award of 10 GHz, 28 GHz, 32 GHz and 40 GHz | Ofcom

Statement on the making of regulations in connection with the award of 10 GHz, 28 GHz, 32 GHz and 40 GHz | Ofcom

Ofcom has made 4 statutory instruments which will come into force on December 21st 2007 relating to the 4 awards of spectrum. They are also expecting applications to be entered on the 16th Jan 2008 (which will be confirmed after the SIs come into force).

Various of these allocations didn't really amount to anything last time they were licensed (the 10GHz licenses returned their licenses), but with new technology available there may be renewed interest.

Ofcom sets industry deadline for two hour mobile number porting | Ofcom

Ofcom sets industry deadline for two hour mobile number porting | Ofcom

Ofcom has published timescales for mobile operators to implement 2 hour port times.

Ofcom has already published a date of April 2008 for moving the current 5 day period to 2 hours and now in September 2009 operators will have to reduce the porting time to 2 hours.

Ofcom are also making the operators implement a database for efficient porting and routing of calls.

All eyes on London as Ofcom plans spectrum use for the 2012 Olympics | Ofcom

All eyes on London as Ofcom plans spectrum use for the 2012 Olympics | Ofcom

Ofcom are consulting on spectrum for the London 2012 Olympics.

There is a requirement for Private Mobile Radio, audio links (commentary etc) and outside broadcasts.

Anyone wanting to participate should respond.

22/11/2007

UK Broadband application for licence variation | Ofcom

UK Broadband application for licence variation | Ofcom

Ofcom consulted on permitting a variation in UK Broadband's 3.5GHz license.

The variation asked that UK Broadband to allowed to: -

* use the license in a technology neutral manner (i.e. they can decide what technology to use).

* remove the limitation of only fixed terminals.

* increase the maximum in-band power level to +29dBW/MHz.

Ofcom are planning to grant the variation but limit mobile terminals to 5dBW/MHz and issue the new license as soon as is practical.

This may stimulate UK Broadband's growth, though they are still only offering limited coverage and limited areas.

21/11/2007

Skype make users change numbers

Introducing the 3 Skypephone

It seems users in the UK with 020 7 numbers are being forced to change them by mid December 2007, that's about 2 weeks.

When BT make changes they give about 2 years notice.

It seems the numbers allocated belong to Gamma Telecom, so has Skype had a falling out with them? Or did they change UK providers and they don't have a porting agreement with Gamma. Whatever the story is, users are not happy - especially users who have printed their SkypeIn details on business cards.

As Skype are not UK based, Ofcom who would normally stop things like this happening, cant really do much, though new EU regulations might change that as well as Ofcom regulations forcing anyone who operates in the UK to abide by UK regulations.

Upgrading Digital Terrestrial Television | Ofcom

Upgrading Digital Terrestrial Television | Ofcom

There are currently 6 DTT multiplexes and 3 are used for Public Service Broadcasting. Ofcom is planning to clear one of these mutliplexes (Multiplex B, licensed by Ofcom to BBC Free to View Ltd) by moving the existing programming to spare channels in other multiplexes.

Multiplex B will then utilise new standards DVB-T2 (instead of DVB-T which gives and improvement of about 30%) and MPEG4 (instead of MPEG2, a 50% saving in bandwidth).

This could be completed by late 2009/early 2010 in the Granada area while HD broadcasts could start by 2012, with the rest of the country as the digital switchover occurs.

Users could utilise their existing set-top-boxes to view existing channels, but the new channels would only be available to new boxes supporting the DVB-T2 and MPEG4 standards.

Ofcom proposes to invite organisations with Public Service Broadcaster status – principally the BBC, the Channel 3, 4 and 5 licensees and S4C – to set out how they would use the upgraded capacity on Multiplex B.

This is good news as it will allow HD broadcasts on a free-to-air platform. Unfortunately most users will need new STBs, Linux users will rejoice as platforms such as MythTV and other DTT systems can already decode MPEG4.

The consultation closes on 31/01/2008

15/11/2007

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

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

The consultation relates to broadband in the UK. Ofcom has segmented the UK into areas where BT or Kingston Commuications (KCOM) are the only providers of broadband and then were there are other operators in the exchanges.

The breakdown is: -

* those geographic areas covered by exchanges where KCOM is the only operator (“the Hull area”).

* those geographic areas covered by exchanges where BT is the only operator (“Market 1”);
those geographic areas covered by exchanges where there are 2 or 3 Principal Operators AND exchanges where there are 4 or more Principal Operators but where the exchange serves less than 10,000 premises (“Market 2”).

* those geographic areas covered by exchanges where there are 4 or more Principal Operators and where the exchange serves 10,000 or more premises (“Market 3”).

Ofcom has decided that it is a requirement to provide Network Access on reasonable requests, requirement not to discriminate unduly, requirement to publish a reference offer, requirement to notify terms and conditions, requirement to publish technical information, and requirement to have accounting separation.

The most significant bit is that in Market 3 areas Ofcom has decided that (in terms of broadband) BT no longer has significant market power (SMP) and it will be revoked in those areas.

14/11/2007

Raising Confidence in Telephone Numbers | Ofcom

Raising Confidence in Telephone Numbers | Ofcom

Ofcom introduced the 03 range (which are charged at local rate) to encourage companies to migrate from 0870 numbers. To this end, Ofcom were going to mandate the anyone using 0870 services would have to pre-announce the call rate before the call was connected to make the consumer aware of any charges. This was to have taken place in Feb 2007.

Ofcom have been made aware that some automatic emergency services (alarms etc) make use of 0870 numbers and these would be adversely affected by the pre-announcement (they would time out and therefore the call would not complete).

Ofcom are working with the affected service providers and hope to bring in the new regulations in the spring of next year.

Wireless Telegraphy Licence Exemption - Automotive Short Range Radar | Ofcom

Wireless Telegraphy Licence Exemption - Automotive Short Range Radar | Ofcom

Ofcom are consulting on the use of automotive short range radar that operates in the 24GHz band (21.65 to 26.65 GHz), following an EU directive to make this band available.

Automotive equipment may interfere with radio astronomy systems which also use this band, so Ofcom wish to have exclusion zones around radio astronomy sites and equipment must automatically or manually deactivate around such sites.

The consultation closes on 31St Decemeber 2007.

13/11/2007

Numbering Policy | Ofcom

Numbering Policy | Ofcom

In March 2007 Ofcom mandated that all next Sexual Enterntainment Services must use numbers starting with a 098 prefix and this came into force on Thu 08/11/07. Existing services running on 0909 and 0909 can continue to use these ranges, though no new 0908/0909 numbers will be allocated.

On Monday 09/11/07 Ofcom also opened up the 0902 and 0903 number ranges for PRS (premium rate services) which can be applied for using the S9 “The Numbering Application Form”.

Ofcom also announced that the new 03 number range is being used and there have been over 13 million numbers allocated to more than 80 providers. 03 numbers are expected to replace 084/087 numbers for public organisations etc.

06/11/2007

Open Handset Alliance

Open Handset Alliance

The Open Handset Alliance seems to have been launched on Nov 5th 2007 and the website is run by Google, so it looks like this will be the basis for the GPhone.

The core technology comes from Android (which was set-up by ex Danger i.e. SideKick management).

An SDK is going to be made available from the site on Nov 12th 2007. The software will be released under an Apache 2 style license (allowing licensees to modify the code without putting the modifications back) which is hopefully going to allow commercially different variants.

They have various partners including various handset manufacturers, so it looks like the GPhone may be a set of software services on a technology platform rather than specific hardware.

03/11/2007

LinkedIn going to Facebook

It's rumoured that LinkedIn is about to be snapped up by Facebook. The business networking market has dried up as Facebook dominates the social networking space, and LinkedIn is suffering.

A combined Facebook/LinkedIn would make a very powerful networking site, attracted business and youth markets. interesting times ahead.

30/10/2007

iPhone unleashed

An iPhone (8GB) arrived a week or so ago from the US, it's very pretty. Unfortunately a US iPhone is the UK is as useful as a slim shiny brick.

A friend unbricked it (using the commercial AnySIM package - not recommended for beginners, even though it's commercial, it's far from easy getting an iPhone into an unlocked state) and then installed the AppInstaller.

AppInstaller is a nice piece of software that manages 3rd party iPhone packages, it checks back with a repository and then pulls in whatever's required. It can also check for updated packages. At the moment any dependency checking is manual, but they're bound to fix it.

Then put all the settings in for the UK network, and it all worked. Seems there's quite a few E.D.G.E. cells around, though speeds are no where near 3G which is a shame.

The user interface is fantastic, especially the two fingered zoom and the rotating screen depending on the orientation of the phone.

It even works as a phone pretty well.

As an iPod it syncs with iTunes, but can sync all your contacts (from Address Book on Macs or Outlook on PCs), these are then all available through the phone itself. Though you can add address book entries, it doesn't seem to allow downloading vCards into the phone - which is a real shame.

Calendar entries are also synced.

Though it's a nice piece or ergnomic engineering, the total cost of ownership on an O2 contract is going to be off-putting.

Apple iLife/iWork '08 and Leopard

I recently upgraded my MacOS X 10.4(.11) PowerBook G4 with iLife '08 and iWork '08. Unfortunately Apple charge for these and OS upgrades don't always upgrade your original versions if you haven't upgraded.

Many of the changes are minor, but there are some big ones, there's now much tighter integration with .Mac (which requires a seperate subscription). iMovie doesn't upgrade unless you have a reasonably fast Mac (the G4 Powerbook didn't cut the mustard).

iWork '08 is a much more significant upgrade, there's a new application "Numbers" which is Apple's answer to Excel. It isn't there yet and it's not completely compatible, though supporting most of the basic features. It seems to be designed for marketing execs who like to produce all sorts of fancy graphs. Pages (the word processor) is also more suited to doing fancy sheets like flyers or greeting cards, though it will read MS Word (and other format) documents. Keynote (presentations) is a very sophisticated presentation tool in its own right, arguably it has more sophisticated animations and transitions that MS Powerpoint (and will happily read Powerpoint files too and export them). Apple use Keynote for all their public presentations and it's pretty slick, though Powerpoint users will have to go through a learning exercise to migrate.

Newbies (new users) will probably find all the iWork packages relatively easy to use if they haven't been sucked into using MS products already.

Briefly, Leopard (MacOS X 10.5.0) is a significant upgrade. There are some genuinely innovative features (however some bits look a lot like Vista). Coverflow can be used to scan for files (like iTunes artwork) but MacOS actually previews the content of the file while scanning and it supports a lot of formats, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint (or Keynote), Movies etc. If the 'space-bar' is hit while viewing a file, then then content of the document can be previewed (i.e. all the pages of a PDF or slides in a presentation seen). It isn't possible to actually edit the files unless you have the relevent package installed though.

Leopard can do the same thing across a network and scan both Windows PCs and other Macs (well public shares anyway). If a remote user is using iChat, then it can be used to send/receive files between users and remotely control the remote Mac (if the user allows it).

There are many low level enhancements and the OS is now truly 64bit (well almost). This should make things faster on 64 bit machines (G5's or newer Intel systems). There doesn't seem a noticable speed increase on the Powerbook G4, but a MacBook Pro did seem slightly more responsive.

Time machine is Apple's new back-up system. It can save a complete copy of the installed system on to a locally connected drive (internal on a MacPro, or externally on laptops via USB or Firewire), it will also save to an Xserve running Leopard server (in a workgroup situation). The drive needs to be significantly bigger than the drive that is backed-up as once the original data is saved, incremental back-ups are performed. It does this in a reasonably clever manner, so only changed files are saved, but looking at a back-up shows the complete directory structure as was on the disk at the time. Any file saved can easily be restored by just going back the time-line to before the delete occurred.

It's also possible to completely restore a Mac (say if the hard disk is replaced) as the OS now has a restore from Time Machine type option.

2 million copies of Leopard have been sold in the first weekend, which is pretty astounding feat for an operating system, older Macs will gain less of advantage than newer ones with 64bit CPUs and decent graphics systems.

N&S Admin Fees List 2007/08 | Ofcom

N&S Admin Fees List 2007/08 | Ofcom

Ofcom has published a list of Telecoms companies that pay admin fees to Ofcom, they are: -

Alternative Networks Plc
AT&T Global Network Services UK
Band X Ltd
Sky Subscriber Services Ltd
British Telecommunications Plc
Cable & Wireless Plc
Carphone Warehouse PLC
CityLink Telecommunications Ltd
Colt Telecom Group Ltd
Eckoh Technologies Plc
Eircom UK Ltd
Fibernet Ltd
France Telecom Network Services UK Ltd
Fujitsu Services Ltd
Gamma Telecommunications Ltd
Genesis Communications Ltd
Global Crossing (UK)
Globecast Northern Europe Ltd
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd
IDT Global Ltd
Intercity Mobile Communications Ltd
Interoute Communications Ltd
KDDI Europe Ltd
Kingston Communications Ltd
Level 3 Communications Ltd
MLL Telecom Ltd
National Grid Wireless Ltd
Net Services Plc
O2 UK Ltd
Opera Telecom Ltd
Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd
PageOne Communications Ltd
Pipex Communications Plc
Plusnet Plc
PNC Telecom Services Ltd
Primus Telecommunications Ltd
Reach Europe Ltd
Redstone Communications Ltd
RM Plc
Siemens Enterprise Communications Ltd
SingTel (Europe) Limited
Sprintlink UK Ltd
SSE Telecommunications Ltd
Stratos Global Holdings Ltd
Surf Telecoms Ltd
Telecom Direct Ltd
Telecom Italia UK Ltd
Telecom NZ (UK) Licenses Ltd
Telecom Plus Plc
Teleglobe International Ltd
TeliaSonera International Carrier UK Ltd
Tesco Stores Ltd
Thus plc
Tiscali UK Ltd
T-Mobile (UK) Ltd
Transcomm UK Ltd
Verizon UK Ltd (MCI)
Virgin Media Ltd
Vodafone Ltd
VTL (UK) Ltd
Zen Internet Ltd

Though Telecom License fees (as per the Telecommunications Act) were scrapped when the Communications Act came into force, bigger players and players that have "the code" (code powers as was, which allows them to dig - potentially without the landowners permission - by getting a court order) still have to pay fees.

As consolidation increases, the list will diminish.

24/10/2007

Mobile Communications onboard Aircraft - Consultation on the introduction of mobile services on aircraft | Ofcom

Mobile Communications onboard Aircraft - Consultation on the introduction of mobile services on aircraft | Ofcom

It's a bit old as the announcement got lost in the INBOX, however Ofcom is consulting on mobile services on aircraft (MCA).

This would involve putting one or more pico or femto cells on an aircraft which would then use satellite to connect back to a ground based BSC (basestation controller). Satellite phone on planes are already in-use, but this would allow for users to utilse their existing mobile phones - both voice and data could be supported.

Planes already have to use licensed spectrum for other services and these are managed by the CAA (under remit from Ofcom) and Ofcom are proposing that although a specific license would be required and issued by the CAA, no additional fees would be required.

Airlines would be able to get licenses on request and the technical and authorisation schemes would be agreed by ECC, ETSI and endorsed by RSC and COCOM.

MCA would be allocated non-geographic international mobile network codes issued by the ITU specific to aircraft services.

As an operator of telecoms services (or more precisely Electronic Communications Services) airlines would be subject to the standard obligations under the General Conditions of Entitlement (so they'd have to support wire-tapping for example).

The consultation closes on 30th Nov 2007.

22/10/2007

Wacom Cintiq 12WX

Wacom has launched a £700 tablet the Cintiq 12WX.

It has a 12.1" display and comes with a pressure sensitive pen, it's equivalent to a Intuous3 with an in-built display.

Aimed at professional users who want a realistic drawing surface, the display resolution is 1280 x 800, then pen has 1024 levels of sensitivity and there are several colour profiles.

It has a VGA and DVI interface so can act as a second or even third display for most systems (though it can be used as a primary display).

It can be used for "touching-up" graphics accurately, though white-boarding also seems a logical use.

£700 is considerably cheaper than previous models.

17/10/2007

Apple to unlock iPhone

Steve Jobs has announced that the iPhone will eventually allow 3rd party apps to be installed, but not just yet.

Apple are hoping to release an iPhone SDK in February 2008 but are still wary about exposing the phone to viruses, malware etc.

This seems an about turn and it looks like they're giving in to consumer pressure, though running MacOS X (though an embedded variant) means it's likely anyone who can program for MacOS X should can do so for the iPhone.

10/10/2007

LinkedIn hits 1m UK users

LinkedIn has hit 1m UK users. This is a pretty astounding achievement for a business networking site, it also means they must be running out of UK customers too.

Though other social networking sites are growing at a much faster rate (think Facebook), they are targetting a more generic audience.

LinkedIn is very good for connecting to business colleagues and keeping track of what they are doing, who's hiring etc.

04/10/2007

Bootcamp to expire

Apple's Bootcamp system (which allows Windows or MacOS X to run on Apple hardware) will expire when the next version of MacOS X 10.5 (Leopard) is launched.

Bootcamp is currently offered as a beta download.

Bootcamp differs from Parallels or VMWare's offering in that it encapsulates a Windows partition on the hard disk and allows a Windows operating system to boot or MacOS X. Parallels is a virtual machine which runs inside MacOS X, allowing a Windows OS to run in parallel with MacOS X (there's a reason why they called it Parallels).

BT invests in FON

BT has invested in the Spanish company FON. BT state this is to increase wireless coverage, but it could also be a way to increase use of their Fusion packages which haven't really taken off in a big way (Fusion is BT's converged mobile service which allows a mobile phone to roam on to a [Bluetooth in a home environment] WiFi gateway).

FON sells or gives away WiFi access points preconfigured to work with FON and these allow the user to set-up whether they'll give free or charged access to their broadband services.

O2 to allow "free" access to social networking sites

During October and November O2 is going to allow free mobile data access to social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, after which it will encourage users to sign-up to it's unlimited data plans (which aren't really unlimited at all, but nothing new there).

It's the old system of getting users hooked and then charging them for the service, but they'll probably attract quite a few users to their data plans this way.

O2 are also going to launch their broadband services soon (they bought Be a while back), some of which will be free if the monthly mobile spend is high enough.

3Com launches Asterisk based SMB IP PBX

3Com has launched a $1,600 30-user Asterisk appliance based IP PBX.

It's essentially just a resale of the Asterisk appliance by 3Com, but it's sold and supported by 3Com.

The Asterisk IP PBX is a great piece of software (it's available for download from the Asterisk website), but it's not for the feint hearted. It runs on Linux and is reasonably complex to set-up. Unfortunately documentation is severely lacking (though there are some good books out there from publishers like O'Reilly and various websites like VoIP Info) and often a response is "look in the code".

Having "real" vendors support Asterisk means it will get into the mainstream markets and that's likely to produce some good documentation.

As the 3Com unit is a pre-installed system, configuration is a lot simper and newer versions of Asterisk come with a web based configuration system. Though that takes some of the fun out of hand writing dial-plans - which may change the definition of fun.

Talklets, making the web speak

The world of cinema changed when silent movies became talkies, now the same is (slowly) happening with the web. A UK company Textics has developed Talklets accessibility enabling technology.

Talklets is actually a web based service that can perform text-to-speech and a website owner only needs to put Javascript tags on the site which enables a Talklets toolbar which controls the text-to-speech system. It also allows for other functionality such as "right-click" floating toolbars which can be configured per site, the standard toolbar will allow offer the user a dictionary or theasurus look-up on the word the mouse is over. In future it will also allow per site lexicons which can allow for local "buzzwords" to be explained.

Talkets can also take RSS feeds and convert them to MP3s, which is like having a local newsreader.

Textics is part of the Hidden Differences Group which is a company that is trying to make the web accessible, in the UK 20% of the population at least have reading difficulties. Developing countries have an even higher percentage that cant read but almost everyone can speak.

02/10/2007

RIPA goes live

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act has actually been live for a while, but from today all telecoms companies must store records of all phone calls (and mobile networks SMS messages) for a year.

Though the actual conversation are not recorded (and SMS messages are not saved), but the caller and called numbers (and how long they talked) must be stored, for SMS the origination and destination number are stored.

Telcos have always stored the data (they use it for billing), but it's now who has access to it which comes into force. Around 650 organisations will be able to request records under the RIP Act, from normal agencies such as government, police, security forces to councils and even the charity commission and various quangos.

It's been slipped through as "helping to fight terrorism" ...

Ofcom tries to ensure the future of Sitefinder

Sitefinder is Ofcom's database of mobile cell sites. The mobile network operators (MNOs) used to supply data on a voluntary basis which contained the location of cells.

Ofcom was forced to make extra data available that showed cell sectors and transmitter power etc. after a freedom of information request, though Ofcom resisted it went to the Information Tribunal and Ofcom lost.

Since Sitefinder is populated voluntarily, the MNOs felt they were giving away competetively sensitive information and have stopped providing new information.

Ofcom is urging the MNOs to continue populating Sitefinder and is also appealing the Information Tribunal’s decision so that in future sensitive information does not need to be released.

Sitefinder is an important database as it helps Ofcom conduct its duties as a regulator, having stale data reduces that usefulness.

27/09/2007

Ofcom fines GMTV £2m



Ofcom has today fined GMTV £2,000,000 for misconduct in viewer competitions between August 2003 and February 2007. This is the largest financial penalty to be imposed against a broadcaster by Ofcom.

GMTV was found in breach of the following rules:

Rule 2.11 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, which came into effect on 25 July
2005, “Competitions should be conducted fairly…”; and

Rule 8.2(b) of the ITC (Independent Television Commission) Code 2002 "Use of Premium Rate
Telephone Services in Programmes: The licensee must retain control of and responsibility
for the service arrangements....".

This is the highest fine ever imposed on a broadcaster in the UK.

Opal Telecom (the operator who actually ran the telecoms operation) were also fined £250,000.

Ofcom considers fast broadband outlook and pledges clarity for investors | Ofcom

Ofcom considers fast broadband outlook and pledges clarity for investors | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation into Next Generation Access (NGA). This is the ability to deliver high speed services into the home.

Though: -

- over ninety-nine per cent of the UK is connected to a broadband enabled exchange;
- over half of UK households have taken up broadband;
- almost three quarters have a choice of at least two broadband (ADSL and/or cable)
network providers;
- the average headline speed has doubled in a year to reach 4.6mb/s and broadband prices
have fallen by 9% in the last twelve months.

Ofcom want to continue to ensure that there is competetion in the market etc.

The consultation closes on Dec 5th 2007.

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry

If you're a fan of Stephen Fry, here's his blog - or more the rantings of of a very educated technogeek. It's not what you'd think. He appraises the current tranch of smartphones including Apple's iPhone.

As a dedicated Mac fan, he's not ashamed to blast its deficiencies as well as those from virtually every other smartphone vendor.

It's only his first post, so hopefully lots more to come.

25/09/2007

Application of spectrum liberalisation and trading to the mobile sector | Ofcom

Application of spectrum liberalisation and trading to the mobile sector | Ofcom

Ofcom, following a decision by the RSC (which sets radio spectrum policy in the EU and other areas) is consulting on what should be done with spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands.

900MHz is currently used by O2 and Vodafone, while 1800MHz is utilised by T-Mobile, Orange, O2 and Vodafone (though T-Mobile and Orange utilise the bulk of it).

Ofcom could re-allocate the spectrum in several ways (and have come out with 4 options, 1 through D where A is just re-use and D is complete re-allocation).

Since the characteristics of the 1800MHz band are similar to that of the 2.1GHz (2100MHz) and even 2.5/2.6GHz bands, the economic case for re-allocation (including disruption to existing operators) doesn't seem the best way forwards and Ofcom is proposing just to allow spectrum re-use (i.e. currently only 2G services can be utilised in this spectrum, but Ofcom is proposing that 3G services will also be allowed, but by the existing operators).

900MHz is much more valuable spectrum as it has very good propogation characteristics (especially in built-up areas). Ofcom are therefore proposing to revoke some spectrum from O2 and Vodafone's allocations. It is likely that O2 and Vodafone will complain bitterly, especially O2 as they are rolling-out an E.D.G.E. network (which is GSM based) to support Apple's iPhone and other terminals - so they are upgrading their existing network, only to be mandated to release spectrum.

By releasing two blocks of spectrum in the 900MHz band, Ofcom would allow 2 new entrants into the market who could offer 3G or wireless broadband services. This would increase competition and allow new services to be offered. There are already 3G networks running on 900MHz so equipment is readily available.

O2 and Vodafone will not be allowed to bid on the revoked spectrum.

Anyone wishing to respond to the consultation has until the 29th of November to do so.

18/09/2007

SCO files for Chapter 11

After losing its long-running battle for ownership of Unix copyrights last month, SCO has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Though SCO say their business isn't affected, their long standing argument over ownership of UNIX code and whether various Linux compenents have UNIX code in them, has made them unpopular very unpopular.

Many people wont be sad if they go under, though it will be a shame as they were pioneers when UNIX was originally being developed.

Sprint announced FemtoCell Airwave service

Sprint has announced its long awaited Airwave service using FemtoCells from Samsung (CDMA).

These are used in the home and utilise broadband for backhaul to Sprints network. When a user's Sprint mobile is in the vicinity of the cell it will use that instead of Sprint's main cell sites. Calls will be heavily discounted or free when in range of the femto cell.

More networks will adopt femto cells as they allow cheaper calls to be offered and high data rate services. The main issue with femto cells is they need licensed spectrum which is scarce in lots of countries.

Zimbra purchased by Yahoo

Zimbra who make the Zimbra Collaboration Suite (or ZCS) have announced they've been purchased by Yahoo.

ZCS is an Email/calendaring/etc suite with support for standard mail protocols and also plug-ins for Outlook etc. It also supports Microsoft's ActiveSync for over the air push Email.

ZCS comes in various flavours including an open source edition and they've stated this will continue to be the case even after the Yahoo purchase.

ZCS is a reasonable UN*X based competitor to Microsoft's Exchange, maybe Yahoo will give it the market distribution it deserves.

UK Apple iPhone deal announced

Steve Jobs was in Apple's UK Regent Street store to announce the deal with O2 for the iPhone which is going to be available on November 9th.

Suprisingly it's not a 3G phone, it will still only support E.D.G.E. as does the US variant. This will mean O2 have a lot of work to do to upgrade all their basestations to support E.D.G.E, though customers have reported that some cells are already showing E.D.G.E capability.

Pricing plans start at £35 per month for 200 minutes and 200 texts with unlimited data, this also gives unlimited WiFi access (via the Cloud). Higher rates give more voice minutes and texts.

Maybe the 16GB version will support 3G, which must be due soon ... giving Apple the ability to sell to the next generation of iPhone users and getting everyone who'se going to buy one at launch the opportunity to upgrade.

14/09/2007

Apple special event Sept 18th

Apple are inviting journalists to a special event on September the 18th.

Speculation is the announcement of the new European 3G iPhone and the EU partners (O2 in UK?).

13/09/2007

P2P GSM

A Swedish company TerraNet has developed a peer to peer GSM technology that can be built in to a standard handset.

This means that calls between TerraNet enabled handsets don't go through the normal GSM operators' networks, but directly between handsets.

Though range is limited between handsets (around 1Km), the system can mesh handsets and hop calls through multiple handsets. This is also true for connection to a standard GSM network, so if handset A is within range of a basestation it can relay calls through it and extend the distance.

Most countries are likely to prohibit P2P GSM as the operators' license covers the handsets as well (they transmit and receive radio communication, therefore each handset requires a license - under the UK regime anyway) and most operators aren't likely to support the technology as it's a very quick way to reduce their call revenue.

However in countries that have limited coverage, operators might encourage this use.

In the UK there is potentially a way forward as the low power GSM Guard Band licensees might well be able to offer this technology within their license which would be completely disruptive to the MNOs.

05/09/2007

Apple releases new iPods

As expected Apple announced updated and new iPods.

The Shuffle gains new colours.

The Nano's are now fully metal and support video as well as things like CoverFlow.

iPod Classic is now all metal in 80GB and 160GB (and thinner than current models and with longer battery life), also with CoverFlow.

The new iPod Touch comes in 8GB and 16GB models and includes WiFi (basically an iPhone without the phone).

The 4GB iPhone has been dropped and the 8GB version reduced by $200 to $399.

Apple have also done a deal with Starbucks which allows buying of the last 10 played songs via in-store WiFi. It's not clear whether the iPod/Phone will be able to use WiFi for anything else though (without paying for it).

As the iPod Touch comes in a 16GB version, it's likely the iPhone will too at some point.

28/08/2007

iPhone hacked

It looks like the iPhone can now work on non-ATandT SIMs.

However it also looks like Apple/ATandT may be getting their legal guns aimed and ready to fire on anyone offering software that will completely unlock the iPhone.

A UK company was going to sell software to unlock the iPhone, but a now rethinking after a call from ATandT lawayers at 3am UK time.

Though it would be fun to use an iPhone with a UK SIM, unless data rates drop considerably (though do-able on T-Mobile and 3) using an iPhone in the UK could prove a very costly business.

Better wait until O2 officially announce their deal with Apple for the UK and see what their pricing is.

Adobe updates Flash9 player

The updated player is available from Adobe Labs. It now supports H.264 video streaming which allows for HD content to be displayed (up to 1080p).

It's still a beta product, but Adobe is fending off other players.

Microsoft Releases HD Photo plug-in for Photoshop CS2/3

Microsoft have released a HD Photo plug-in for Adobe's Photoshop CS2 and CS3. It's available for both Windows XP/Vista and Apple MacOS X (10.4) on both Intel and PowerPC.

Currently it's still beta, though it's expected to be the final version.

It was known as Windows Media HD, though MS have submitted it to JPEG and it should become JPEG XR (XR is short for "extended range). MS are allowing the technology to be used in a royalty free manner and will submit all specifications allowing anyone to implement the format on any platform in any language.

Nikon announces D3 and D300

Nikon have announced the Nikon D3 Pro camera and D300 semi-pro (or prosumer) models. The D300 is based on the D series body, while the D3 is an upgrade to the D2.

The D3 has a 12.1 effective megapixel FX format (36.0-x-23.9mm) image sensor with 12-channel read out, a 9 fps frame rate, expandable ISO settings from 200-6400, a completely new 51-Point autofocus system, a three-inch VGA LCD screen with Live View (it shows what's being photographed, rather than just displaying saved photos). The camera supports CompactFlash cards and can support two simultaneously. Photos can be stored to both (mirrored, so there is always a back-up), photos can also be stored consequatively on both cards. A clever feature is that if the images are stored as both NEF (Nikon's raw format) and JPEG, NEF images can be stored on one card, and JPEG on the other.

The D300 has a 12.3 megapixel sensor, a 6fps frame advance, a self-cleaning sensor unit and high definition 3-inch VGA LCD display. It has a fast start-up (0.13s with a 45ms shutter lag). The sensor is self-cleaning (it vibrates to loosen dust) with an ISO range of 200-3200. The D300 also has an HDMI connector suitable for HD displays.

Both cameras use Nikon's new EXPEED processing chip which handles 14bit D/A with 16bit image processing.

The D300 with retail for around £1,100 plus VAT for the body only

22/08/2007

Number Availability | Ofcom

Number Availability | Ofcom

Ofcom are going to oen two new number ranges for Premium Rate Services (PRS): -

0902 for ’Special Services, time charged calls up to and including 60ppm and total call cost not greater then £5 or fixed fee up to £1 per call.

0903 for ‘Special Services, open ended time dependent charge or fixed fee up to £1.50 (open ended calls).

This is to increase the availability of number for PRS services.

09/08/2007

Decision to make The Wireless Telegraphy (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations 2007 | Ofcom

Decision to make The Wireless Telegraphy (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations 2007 | Ofcom

Ofcom will allow the use of UWB (Ultra-Wideband) equipment from 13th August 2007 when the exemption regulations come into force.

This is in accordance with European directives.

Any equipment will have to meet the published requirements and spectral masks.

This is a good step forwards and should allow new equipment to come on the market such as wireless HDTV distribution for in-home use and wireless USB.

06/08/2007

NOW up for sale

NOW the UK Wireless broadband operator from PCCW is up for sale. PCCW paid $14m for regional licenses which they are trying to convert to a single UK license (and to allow mobile use, which the licenses currently prohibit).

NOW have only 14,000 customers but losses of £23.3m. UK infrastructure is still expensive and providing a national network is unecomic unless there's huge scale involved or the company has a national network already.

Pipex was recently sold to Tiscali, though Pipex Wireless was excluded from the sale.

Both Pipex Wireless and NOW will compete for the same bidders.

BT has expressed an interested in the 2.5GHz spectrum, they may well make an offer for Pipex Wireless or NOW to gain their licenses.

Virgin attracts Liberty Global

Liberty Global may join the battle for Virgin Media with a bid of £11bn.

BSkyB asked to delay the court case with Virgin Media re the Sky channels which Sky withdrew over pricing, which means it wont be heard until next year at the earliest. Normally Virgin Media would have pushed to have the case heard as early as possible so they get the channels back and stop losing customers.

Unfortunately an in-court case could delay any sale pending the outcome. It's much better for Virgin Media to delay the case and let a sale go through, then deal with BSkyB.

Unfortunatey it's bad news for customers who aren't likely to get their Sky content back for a year.

02/08/2007

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

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

Ofcom are looking to make a considerable ammount of spectrum available. They are looking at 2 paired bands and a single unpaired band which would be suitable for WiMAX type services.

There is going to be a lot of interest in this spectrum (BT have already implied they will bid for it). As the band was originally going to be used for 3G, current 3G terminals will look for control channels in this band, and so there is also interest from 3G operators.

Ofcom are consulting now and will make a decision on the regulations etc by March or April 2008 and following invite applicants to participate in the award in the first quarter of 2008 and commence the bidding process as soon as possible thereafter.

Regulation of VoIP Services: Access to the Emergency Services | Ofcom

Regulation of VoIP Services: Access to the Emergency Services | Ofcom

Ofcom is proposing that all VoIP providers will need to provide access to 999 services since users of VoIP services are unaware or thought that services did privide access.

They are holding a consultation which closes on 20th Sept 2007.

If providers do provide 999 services they will be classed as PATS which may put further obligations on the provider.

Currently 999 services have the ability to tie a telephone number to an address (or to a cell site in terms of mobile calls - they Cell ID is passed as part of the call set-up), VoIP calls make this more difficult, however this is similar to US policy where VoIP providers have to meet E911 conditions.

23/07/2007

Nokia N800 Internet tablet

Small and feature packed. It works with Googletalk out the box and also now supports Skype (with the latest software upgrade).

It has a virtual keyboard that works pretty well, and web browsing seems to support most sites.

There are apps that can be downloaded to make it pretty useful like an ssh client (and server), VNC client etc.

It's just small enough to carry around, but not as small as a mobile phone.

It also has sensible settings for Email (like supporting different smtp servers for different connection profiles.

Google invests in Ubiquisys

Ubiquisys an Oxford based company have developed a 3G femtocell (known as Zonegate) using Picochip technology.

Google have invested around $10m of their $25m B round financing.

Google have also said they are looking at investing $4.6bn in the 700MHz wireless auction in the US (if the FCC holds the auction in a manner they consider fair).

It wouldn't be suprising if Google put money into the UK 2.5GHz auction that will happen next year, they may well also invest in a UK GSM Guard band license holder.

It seems Google believe licensed spectrum is the way forwards and are implementing that strategy.

20/07/2007

Facebook | Login

Facebook | Login

First time I've seen Facebook errors: -

"Hey, your account is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance. It should be available again within a few hours. We apologize for the inconvenience."

My photo albums disappeared and the homepage after login wasn't displaying the right info.

Looks like Facebook broke something badly, maybe they had to do an upgrade and it didn't work? Well it could be anything but coping with the growing number of users must be extremely difficult.

19/07/2007

BT feels the need for 50Mb speed | The Register

BT feels the need for 50Mb speed | The Register

BT have said they are considering putting equipment in the street cabinets, though it will be a costly business.

There will also be huge problems as then it's likely BT will have to unbundle the sub-loops (as the copper is known between the street cabinet and the home) as well as already having to unbundle the local loop (allowing 3rd parties to put kit in the exchange).

The unbundling stems from an EU directive which mandates unbundling of the local or sub loops.

If BT has to allow 3rd parties to put kit in their street cabinets it will open a huge can of worms. Maybe they'll be allowed to run the infrastructure, but open it to 3rd parties.

Though speeds of 50Mb/s are quoted, VDSL2/2+ actually allows speeds of up to 100Mb/s which is common in various Asian countries.

Disputes between T-Mobile and BT, O2 and BT, Hutchison 3G and BT and BT and each of Hutchison 3G, Orange Personal Communications Services and Vodafone relating to call termination rates | Ofcom

Disputes between T-Mobile and BT, O2 and BT, Hutchison 3G and BT and BT and each of Hutchison 3G, Orange Personal Communications Services and Vodafone relating to call termination rates | Ofcom

Ofcom has now closed this case and BT will have to pay termination charges to the various operators for the periods in dispute up to 27th March 2007.

On 27 March 2007, Ofcom published a statement concluding a market review into mobile call termination charges.

Ofcom determined that there would be no distinction to voice call termination whether on 2G or 3G networks for 4 years from 1 April 2007 (i.e. until 2011 when a further review may take place).

So the operators will gain some fees, but not as much as they'd hoped for.

18/07/2007

PC Pro: News: Facebook facing shutdown over 'stolen code' claim

PC Pro: News: Facebook facing shutdown over 'stolen code' claim

Whether the claim is true or not, it's unlikely Facebook could be shut down, their users would bitterly complain (including myself) and there's enough of them to make themselves heard.

Facebook seems to be gaining popularity at an increasing rate.

If you haven't used Facebook, try it. Though a social networking site, they are also gaining serious business networking professionals and their photo upload too is a joy to use.

17/07/2007

Arrangements for porting phone numbers when customers switch supplier | Ofcom

Arrangements for porting phone numbers when customers switch supplier | Ofcom

Ofcom wants mobile operators to speed up the porting process between operators.

Currently they are allowed 5 days which is seen as a barrier to changing operators, Ofcom want to reduce this to two days and then 2 hours.

Eventually this would rely on a central common porting database which all networks could query, this is known as All Calls Query/ Common Database (ACQ/CBD) and is being implemented for Next Generation Networks.

Ofcom has allowed 26 months for this to happen, but the UK 3G operator 3 has said it could be done in less than 12 months.

Some operators will be resistant to this as making it easy for customers to move away from their network is not in their best interest. It will also effect the new tranch of low power GSM (Guard Band entrants) who are already at looking how best to implement a porting mechanism with the 5 existing MNOs.

Ofcom would like to see a database implemented and populated by 31st Dec 2008, then direct routing and near instant porting by 1st Sep 2009 and achieve Direct Routing by ALL networks (including fixed line networks) by 31st Dec 2012. There are also other options, but this is Ofcoms preferred one.

If this can be implemented quickly it will make a huge difference to the mobile world enabling users to move networks easily, it will also help the low power operators who are currently battling the MNO's (in a nice way) to make their life easier.

Tiscali to buy Pipex

UK broadband consilidation continues with the acquisition of Pipex's fixed voice and broadband assets going to Tiscali (assuming it gains the approval of Pipex's shareholders and the UK OFT). This will add around 570,000 consumers and 100,000 business broadband customers. Tiscali will pay around £210m.

It looks like Pipex will maintain their hosting business (though it's a good guess they'll sell that off too) and Pipex Wireless who are starting to offer WiMAX based services (with a £21m injection from Intel).

Though Pipex Wireless are rolling out wireless services, they are ripe for a take-over and they may fetch as much as the fixed line assets of Pipex. Wireless is seen as the only real contender to fight BT's last mile hold. Pipex initially zero rated their wireless license on their books when they acquired Firstnet who also acquired the license from another operator. They must now be laughing all the way to the bank.

12/07/2007

Virgin loses 40,000 customers, Sky gains

Sky has reported better pay tv results this quarter, 90,000 new subs instead of the 50,000 expected.

VirginMedia has admitted it has lost 40,000 customers to Sky over the loss of basic Sky channels on its service.

Sky is not saying if the increased customer base is due to Virgin's loss, however they have also increased their broadband and voice customers.

If the loss continues VirginMedia will suffer greatly, which cant hurt Sky.

Quicktime 7.2

It seems Apple have added 2 new features to Quicktime 7.2, export to iPhone and export to iPhone (cellular) as well as fixing various security vulnerabilities.

The iPhone export supports .m4v (an MPEG 4 variant), while iPhone (cellular) supports the standardised .3gp format which produces smaller files.

Though the features are there, they're not mentioned in the release notes.

Quicktime 7.2 is available as a standalone download or part of the iTunes 7.3.1 download (which is a minor upgrade from iTunes 7.3 to 7.3.1 and fixes some iTunes library issues).

Spectrum Framework Review: the Public Sector | Ofcom

Spectrum Framework Review: the Public Sector | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation to make more spectrum available, either by directly licensing spectrum, by spectrum trading and other means.

Much of the spectrum below 15GHz is held by the MOD and public sector, the MOD is already conducting a review of its required spectrum and will make spectrum available after 2008. Ofcom is trying to make it easier for the public sector to do the same.

The Wireless Telegraphy Act is a very draconian piece of legislation which covers most spectrum allocations, however under the Communications Act some licenses have been transferred and allow more flexible use.

Ofcom is proposing that more spectrum be licensed under the Communications Act regime, which would allow spectrum trading.

11/07/2007

Disputes between T-Mobile and BT, O2 and BT, Hutchison 3G and BT and BT and each of Hutchison 3G, Orange Personal Communications Services and Vodafone relating to call termination rates | Ofcom

Disputes between T-Mobile and BT, O2 and BT, Hutchison 3G and BT and BT and each of Hutchison 3G, Orange Personal Communications Services and Vodafone relating to call termination rates | Ofcom

The mobile networks are saying it costs more to terminate calls on their 3G networks compared to the 2G (or GSM) networks and have either raised charges, or want to raise charges. BT has complained about the new charges.

Ofcom have received new information and are therefore extending the dispute.

Facebook is growing fast

Facebook is definately the new craze and is growing like mad. Everyone seems to be joining, the same faces from other social networking sites, interestingly business users and consumers alike.

The interface is much more organised than say MySpace and much easier to read/navigate around. It seems "more friendly" too.

Google's Orkut gained a huge popularity when they launched (invite only - which made it geeky cool), but it rapidly seemed to lose it's steam.

While MySpace is huge, Facebook must be catching up. Facebook also rarely has errors while accessing areas etc, so they've obviously thought hard and long about scalability from the beginning.

A major plus for Facebook is that they've opened it up so developers can access the gubbins below and build applications - techy heaven - but it also means stuff gets developed that users want (and that Facebook might not have resources to do themselves).

It looks like it's here to stay.

Nokia adds Skype to N800 Internet device

Nokia and Skype have added the Skype VoIP application to the N800 WiFi tablet. This will allow users to utilise the Skype application when connected through a nome or public WiFi hotspot.

The tablet seems more a techie toy rather than a useful Internet device.

04/07/2007

Apple iPhone soon to be hacked

Now that people have got their hands on an iPhone the hacking has started.

Using recovery images people have already found the CPU type, built-in users (and cracked the passwords).

The activation process has also been broken, so it doesn't need to go through the iTunes/AT&T services. This doesn't allow the phone to be used with a SIM though, however the PDA and Internet functions work using WiFi.

There's now intense activity on unlocking the SIM so it can be used with other GSM services. Time will tell if it's actually possible.

Of course when people do break things, Apple are bound to release a software update to implement new security measures which will render these cracks unusable and they'll add more functionality so people want to upgrade (iChat and ringtones are already rumoured).

20/06/2007

Programme-making and special events: future spectrum access | Ofcom

Programme-making and special events: future spectrum access | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation on the spectrum used by Program-making and special events users - they currently have access to about 2.5GHz of spectrum (compared say to 3G which has about 140MHz).

Some of the frequencies will clash when the digital switchover occurs, and though PMSE generally has second use of the frequencies, there are likely to be issues as the analogue spectrum will be auctioned off.

Ofcom want opinions on how the transition should take place.

18/06/2007

UK Broadband application for licence variation | Ofcom

UK Broadband application for licence variation | Ofcom

UK Broadband has applied to Ofcom to modify their 3.5GHz license to allow them

* technology and application neutrality.

* to increase the permitted power limits.

The first would put them in-line with existing policy which has come about since the Communications Act came into force, and Ofcom would like to move forward with this. What this really means is that UK Broadband can offer mobile WiMAX services as the existing license is only for FWA (fixed wireless access) services.

Ofcom would also like to allow UK Broadband to increase the power limits on fixed sites to +29 dBW/MHz and -5 dBW/MHz for mobile stations.

Whether UK Broadband has the resources necessary to roll-out a national network is debatable, however having the ability to offer fixed and mobile WiMAX services will increase the value of their license substationaly.

BT have indicated they are looking to purchase spectrum (2.5GHz when Ofcom hold an auction), but if it's cheaper to buy an existing network that's a commercially sensible route.

15/06/2007

SonyEricsson debut new phones

Yesterday SonyEricsson announced several new phones, including the W960 which is a walkman phone with 8GB of memory. It seems to improve on the W950 as it also has a camera.

The P1 is now also available on the SonyEricsson store which is their P990 replacement (it's actually phone sized rather than brick sized).

SonyEricsson are definately giving Nokia a run for their money and are up there with good styling and functionality.

13/06/2007

Sonos BU130 bundle

I should have written about this a long time ago, but now is the time for the Sonos kit to go.

The bundle consists of two ZP80 players and a controller, Sonos also threw in a controller cradle. The kit is very well built and feels very solid. Power supplies are built into the units, but are not auto-sensing, so ensure they're set to the right voltage or smoke will follow.

The Sonos software is relatively easy to install (it's a shame they don't support other streaming software like iTunes or Slimdevices Slimserver as they were already installed), however the software will pick-up iTunes playlists that have been created under iTunes.

The players work well, though they're not as good as the Slimdevices Transporter (but then they cost a lot less), however saying that, the Sonos controller is fantastic with a lovely display (that displays cover art) and "feels" like using an iPod.

The ZP80's need to be connected to amplifiers (they have analogue and digital outs - both optical and co-ax), there's also an analogue in that converts to digital formats (compressed and uncompressed).

Sonos also sent a ZP100 which has a built-in amplifier, it's very heavy!!! Again it feels like a quality unit and has four solid speaker posts to connect to speakers (Sonos supplied their SP100's which are very solid bookshelf type speakers). They are a bit on the high end and could do with a sub-woofer if heavy bass is required (the ZP100 has a sub-woofer output).

Various music services are directly supported by the controller (Rhapsody, Emusic and others) and it can also mount music stored on a NAS (network attached storage) using Microsoft file sharing (CIFS). Again it's a shame it doesn't directly support other streaming formats such as Slimserver, iTunes, UPaP etc as the NAS could directly output these and as the NAS was in a MS domain, mounting shares wasn't as easy as it could have been.

Altogether though the Sonos kit is recommended (though I still prefer the Slimdevices kit), though the controller beats the pants off the Slimdevices stuff. The BU130 bundle now retails for £699 (or $999 in the US) and would make a nice edition to any home.

12/06/2007

iPhone supports Web 2.0

Though Apple is not allowing 3rd party developers (yet) to install applications directly on the iPhone, they are fully supporting Web 2.0 so application developers can write server based systems.

This will mean there is interaction over air, but with US carrier pricing adopting unlimited data plans, this will allow highly interactive applications.

If the iPhone really is running MacOS X and the full set of application libraries it should allow developers to relatively easily port Mac application over to it, if Apple then allow them to be stored on the phone itself.

Apple to release Safari for Windows

Safari 3 has been released as a public beta for MacOS X and Windows. Safari 3 will come with Apple's MacOS X 10.5 known as Leopard.

Apple state Safari is siginificantly faster than other browsers on the Windows platform (2x IE7 and 1.6x Firefox v2), however Windows users may be slow to adopt Safari most people will use IE by default.

It does give developers (who don't use Macs) the opportunity to test their web pages on multiple browsers on Windows though, although that's a tiny market.

This seems more a dig at Microsoft than a real browser competitor.

11/06/2007

Sun hints at MacOS X Leopard file system

Sun have hinted that zfs (zettabyte file system) will be part of Leopard. Initially they commented that it would be the default file system, but later changed that to being a file system in Leopard.

ZFS was developed by Sun in 2004 and has been part of Solaris and OpenSolaris. However Solaris has only very recently been able to boot off a zfs disk system. MacOS may also be able to boot off a zfs disk system by the time it launches in October.

ZFS is an extremely flexible system using a 128bit pointers (compared to most file systems 64bit), it supports dynamic pools and journaling.

Steve Jobs may well announce something at the worldwide developers conference that opens today in San Francisco.

08/06/2007

Notice of Ofcom’s proposal to make (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations | Ofcom

Notice of Ofcom’s proposal to make (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations | Ofcom

In line with EU direction, Ofcom is planning on allowing UWB (Ultra-Wideband) Equipment license excempt (as are other bands such as 2.4GHz used for WiFi).

UWB works by spreading data across a very wide section of spectrum, the data is error corrected by duplication and other means. This allows very high data rates to be achieved. As UWB is very low power, it doesn't really cause interference and if another (non UWB) devices "hears" the UWB transmission it can generally be thought of as background noise.

As UWB operators across a large range, if other devices interfere with it, the data can be retrieved from another part of the transmission.

Unfortunately the EU's variant of UWB has slightly different characteristics from the US's already working version so US equipment can not be used in Europe. It will be a while for silicon to become available that meets the EU specification.

Ofcom are consulting on the proposal to make UWB use license excempt.

04/06/2007

EMI follows Apple's YouTube lead

EMI is putting up videos of artists on YouTube. This now means there are 4 labels supplying content.

Apple (who seem to be good friends with EMI with the recent announcement of high quality DRM free songs on iTunes) are making YouTube content available through Apple TV.

Viacom is still suing Google (YouTube's owners) for alleged copyright infringment.

Adobe supports Google 3D Warehouse

Adobe has launched a plugin for CS3 that allows users to access Google's 3D Warehouse which is the on-line model gallery for Google's Sketchup system.

Though there are limitations, it will allow users to directly utilise a model within CS3 using its 3D capabilities.

Goggle's 3D Warehouse is all about user generated content and there's a lot of it there, not all good ...

iPhone to go on sale June 29th

Apple's long awaited iPhone is to go on sale on the 29th of June 2007, though demand is likely to be high, there's a good chance that there wont be enough to go around with only around 200,000 expected for launch.

Currently it's not possible to install applications on the iPhone but Steve Jobs has stated it may be possible in the future, though he's not saying when.

AT&T have a 5 year exclusive on the iPhone, so other networks are looking for alternatives and the LG Prada is such an example.

The iPhone isn't expected in Europe until next year, when hopefully there'll be 3G support - though Steve Jobs doesn't expect content (like music downloads) to take place over air, they'll still require syncing with iTunes on a PC or Mac.

Maybe it's worth a trip to the US to buy one.

Public Call Boxes - Consent for non-uniform charging for geographic tariffing trials | Ofcom

Public Call Boxes - Consent for non-uniform charging for geographic tariffing trials | Ofcom

Ofcom are allowing BT to conduct trials of non-uniform pricing tariffs from BT call boxes (outside of Hull). There will be periodic trials over the next 3 years (until 2010).

BT have a universal service obligation (USO) to provide call boxes, though many of these are unprofitable. This would allow BT to charge more for calls to distant geographic locations (in the UK).

BT would prefer not to run remote call boxes at all and this is a comprimise from Ofcom.

01/06/2007

Raising confidence in telephone numbers: Amending General Condition 17 | Ofcom

Raising confidence in telephone numbers: Amending General Condition 17 | Ofcom

This document covers the new 03 range and ammends the 070 (personal numbering) range.

From 1st Sept 2007 all 070 calls that are over 20p per minute must provide a pre-answer (and pre-billed) announcement to indicate the rate.

03 numbers will be introduced which are considered local numbers. There will be no revenue sharing allowed on these numbers (to the number provider or end-user service). The main advantage to consumers is that they will be treated as geographic numbers and can be included in call plans (on both fixed and mobile networks) and are subjected to the same discounts too.

Various 03 numbers are reserved for public bodies and not for profit organisations (mainly memorable numbers), though the range will be offered to anyone at a later date.

This is good news for consumers. The 070 pre-announcement will also reduce the chance of the numbers being used fraudulantly (as they look like mobile numbers). Eventually all 070 numbers will be phased away from 070 to a PRS range.

Statement on power increase for 5.8 GHz FWA | Ofcom

Statement on power increase for 5.8 GHz FWA | Ofcom

Ofcom has increased the power limits from 2W EIRP to 4W EIRP for Band C in the 5GHz band (5725 - 5850 MHz) in all geographic areas. This doubling of power allowance should significantly increase the distance between radios i.e. users and basestations, which is potentially very good for rural areas.

Ofcom also looked at also increasing power in the 2.4GHz band, but this was rejected.

Ofcom have made changes to IR2007 which covers the 5GHz band to reflect the changes.

22/05/2007

Rumours of UK Google MVNO

There are rumours that Google is setting up an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) in the UK. Most MVNOs have been spectacular failures, apart from Virgin Mobile which as over 4m customers.

Google aren't going to have any physical presence and everything will be done on-line. They will sell Nokia phones with Google apps embedded.

Google has got the brand, but unless they can come out with some feature that stands out against all the other MNO offerings, they'll struggle. Some kind of unlimited data plan so users can make the most of Google's on-line apps might be the USP (unique selling point) that does it.

21/05/2007

Sky and Tiscali in talks?

It's rumoured that Sky is persuing Tiscali and they are in talks.

Tiscali have "on the market" for a while and though they purchased Home Choice for their video delivery capability, competition in broadband is constantly increasing and margins are decreasing.

Sky have always wanted to deliver video over their infrastructure, so Sky buying Tiscali could be a good deal for them.

If the deal goes through it's likely Easynet will take-over Tiscali's infrastructure which may not be good news for Tiscali staff.

Unfortunately this trend is going to continue in the UK and there are only going to be a few big telco/broadband players left in the market.

18/05/2007

Consumer protection test for telephone number allocation | Ofcom

Consumer protection test for telephone number allocation | Ofcom

Ofcom is consulting on ways to prevent numbers being allocated to businesses or individuals who have in the past abused their allocations in some way. This mainly concerns premium rate service (PRS) are personal numbers (070).

Ofcom wish to maintain a list and once on that list they cant have numbers allocated directly or indirectly.

The consultation closes on June 22nd 2007.

17/05/2007

Update on the award of the spectrum band 2500-2690 MHz and associated spectrum bands | Ofcom

Update on the award of the spectrum band 2500-2690 MHz and associated spectrum bands | Ofcom

Ofcom received 35 responses to the consultation and therefore is conducting further analysis and consultation before taking further action.

This needs to take into account SE42 working group of the CEPT which wull be mandated by the European Commission on July 29th 2007.

There are also recommendations from COCOM.

RSC will take into account the CEPT and COCOM decisions and come out with policies in October and December.

Therefore the auctions wont take place before early 2008.

SonyEricsson contribute to Sony's revenues

SonyEricsson profits have increased by 47% will revenue has increased by over 100%. This is due to their Walkman and Cybershot range of phones.

Sony must welcome the added revenues.

UK beats US in mobile internet use

It seems that the UK is beating the US for mobile access in terms of percentages of internet users.

In the UK 5.7 out of 30 million internet users access via some kind of mobile device. In the US it's only 30 out of 176 million.

The BBC seems to be the most accessed site.

15/05/2007

PRESS RELEASE: Motorola's new Qs - FierceWireless

PRESS RELEASE: Motorola's new Qs - FierceWireless

Motorola have announced the Moto Q 9 the latest generation of its smartphone. Supporting 3G and HSDPA at 3.6Mb/s.

They have also announced an new RAZR2 which is thinner than the original RAZR and uses new materials so it's a much stronger phone.

11/05/2007

Ofcom awards Northern Ireland spectrum licence to Personal Broadband UK Limited | Ofcom

Ofcom awards Northern Ireland spectrum licence to Personal Broadband UK Limited | Ofcom

Ofcom announced that Personal Broadband UK Limited has been awarded a Wireless Telegraphy Act Licence to use the 1785 MHz - 1805 MHz radio spectrum bands in Northern Ireland. This 20MHz block of spectrum is being released in a technology neutral and service basis.

The licence was auctioned through a sealed bid process on Wednesday 9 May. Personal Broadband UK Limited paid £352,000 for the licence, which was the amount bid by the unsuccessful bidder, Barablu Mobile Holding Limited. Personal Broadband UK Limited bid the higher amount of £501,001, securing the licence at the lower price according to the ‘second price rule’ of the auction.

On 27 April 2007 Personal Broadband UK Limited won the license for Ireland, so now they have both licenses (i.e. Ireland and Northern Ireland). This offers the opportunity for the development of services across the island of Ireland.

Ofcom’s research into the bands has identified a number of potential uses including:

* wireless broadband access

* mobile broadcast, such as wireless cameras for outside broadcasts

* video or closed-circuit television links

* extra capacity for the delivery of mobile services

This auction is part of a programme to release around 400 MHz of prime spectrum over the next few years, creating major opportunities for innovation in wireless services.

09/05/2007

BT charge ISPs for terminating users

Normally when a user gets ADSL, there are charges to set-up the line. That could be through BT Wholesale or via an LLU (local loop unbundling) operator. Those charges may be hidden by the ISP/etc or built in to the set-up charge.

If a user then migrates to another operator, that's fine too.

However if a user happens to cancel their PSTN service, say they move house, the ISP may be charged £33 for the "cease" request even though they've got no control of the user.

There must be a sensible rational behind it somewhere.

Xbox.com | Xbox News - Instant Messaging Comes to Xbox 360

Xbox.com | Xbox News - Instant Messaging Comes to Xbox 360

Xbox Live is being updated. There are a multitude of new features the main one being the inclusion of Windows Live Messenger, so users can chat with anyone on the Windows Live service.

Other updates include new video formats and support for progressive downloads. The system checks there is room on the disk before downloading something (and wont deduct points if it cant).

Though recent sales of the Xbox 360 have slowed down, Xbox Live is still much better than services from Sony or Nintendo (though that's bound to change over time). Microsoft are doing their best to stay in the lead.

The award of spectrum at 10, 28, 32 & 40 GHz | Ofcom

The award of spectrum at 10, 28, 32 & 40 GHz | Ofcom

Ofcom has released a report on the bands at 10GHz, 28GHz, 32GHz and 40GHz. The report shows there's very little interest in the 40GHz bands.

Broadcasters have a potential interest in 10GHz, while 10, 28 and 32 GHz could be used for fixed wireless broadband or backhaul or other similar technologies.

Broadcasters only require a single channel, while other applications would require 2 channels (paired bands) for duplex use.

Some of the report has been censored as it might influence the results of any auctions and/or processes.

10GHz was previously allocated (to THUS and NTL) but both gave the licenses back as they were not being used.

There have been auctions in 28GHz, but they weren't particularly successfull and only a few licensees are actually using their licenses.

NTL:Telewest Business up for sale?

VirginMedia which is a consumer focussed brand may dispose of NTL:Telewest Business, its business unit.

Though NTL:Telewest Business accounted for around £200m of VirginMedia's revenue it could be considered "non core". Allegedly there have been talks with Kingston Communications (the Hull based operator), but if that's true there have probably been talks with all the major players (C&W, Carphone Warehouse, THUS, etc).

The cash would allow VirginMedia to acquire content or produce more of its own channels which it's wanted to do for a while.

03/05/2007

Netgear acquire Infrant

Infrant are a great little company based in the Bay Area of California. They make network attached servers, supporting Windows, Macs and Linux.

They've just been acquired by Netgear and it looks like some of the Infrant people will be looking after the storage side of the Netgear business.

Hopefully this should be a great match as Netgear's storage products haven't been that great, but they do make interesting things like their media streaming boxes - which will be a great marriage. Infrant gets the worldwide distribution it's badly needed.

Apple fixes QuickTime hole after hack

Digital Arts

Apple has released a new version of Quicktime following a competition trying to "break into" a Mac without any apps running, when that failed through the browser.

The "hack" allows a malicious website to publish a java applet that can trigger the exploit in Quicktime.

The Quicktime update is available for both Windows and MacOS X, on Windows it can be obtained standalone or with iTunes. On MacOS it's available via the software update utility.

Availability of Numbering Resource | Ofcom

Availability of Numbering Resource | Ofcom

Ofcom held a consultation with respect to the UK numbering plan and conserving numbers.

91 geographic codes are now under conservation status and allocations will occur in blocks of 1000 instead of the older 10,000 number block allocations. This should ensure that these number ranges do not run out.

0872 and 0873 will be introduced to supplement 0871 and 0843 will supplement 0844 which are used in NTS (number translation services).

01/05/2007

Microsoft to open source part of Silverlight

Digit Online

Microsoft is expected to opensource at least parts of Silverlight, their in-browser media rich player which they hope will compete with Adobe's Flash.

Flash has several years head start and a plethera of programmers who can produce Flash output and though Microsoft's Expression tools will support Silverlight, they haven't been released yet (expected in June).

This could well be a Flash in the pan for Microsoft as Adobe are continually adding features to Flash and are unlikely to let Microsoft get a foothold.

30/04/2007

Ofcom completes investigation into BSkyB’s shareholding in ITV plc | Ofcom

Ofcom completes investigation into BSkyB’s shareholding in ITV plc | Ofcom

Ofcom has completed it's investigation into Sky's purchase of 17.9% of ITV plc and has warranted that there are public interest issues (in relation to sufficient plurality of news provision for both cross media and television news in the UK).

This has now been passed back to the Secretary of State who will now consider whether to take it to the Competition Commission. That decision will be announced by 26 May 2007.

Sky are doing their best thwarte Virgin Media, who were trying to buy ITV. Soon after Sky also pulled their basic channels from Virgin too.

25/04/2007

Apple Reports Second Quarter Results

Apple have posted their 2nd quarter results for the fiscal year 2007.

Earnings Grow 88 Percent Year-over-Year


The Company posted revenue of $5.26 billion and net quarterly profit of $770 million, or $.87 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $4.36 billion and net quarterly profit of $410 million, or $.47 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 35.1 percent, up from 29.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 43 percent of the quarter�s revenue.


Apple shipped 1,517,000 Macs and 10,549,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 36% growth in Macs and 24% growth in iPods over the year-ago quarter.


"The Mac is clearly gaining market share, with sales growing 36% more than three times the industry growth rate" said Steve Jobs "We're very excited about the upcoming launch of iPhone in late June, and are also hard at work on some other amazing new products in our pipeline."


Peter Oppenheimer, Apple CFO said it was "the most profitable March quarter in Apple's history".

Though Apple are growing, they still only account for a low percentage of the total number of PC's sold.

New version of Asterisk released

Following security announcements a new version of Asterisk has been released (both for the 1.2 and 1.4 branches). New versions of Zaptel are also available.

Asterisk is an open source PBX which has an incredible wealth of functionality, however it's not for the feint hearted.

XNA Game Studio Express Update - Xbox

XNA Game Studio Express Update - Xbox

Microsoft have updated their XNA Game Studio Express which allows developers a cost effective entry to developing Xbox360 games.

The refresh contains a packager allowing which can create both Xbox360 and PC games (only packing the game, not the source).

It also allows: -

* Official XNA Game Studio Express compatibility with Windows Vista

* Support for 3D audio using XACT

* Support for fonts in the XNA Framework

* Various other product enhancements and performance tuning

In order to share games, users must sign up to the XNA Creators Club which is available via Xbox LIVE Marketplace for $49 (U.S.) for 4 month sub, or $99 (U.S.) for 12 months.

By allowing smaller players (including home users) to develop games, there could be some interesting projects which could become a reality.

24/04/2007

Top Wireless Companies, FierceWireless - Fierce15, 2007 - FierceWireless

Top Wireless Companies, FierceWireless - Fierce15, 2007 - FierceWireless:

Firce Wireless have announced the 15 companies that are going to make the biggest difference to the wireless market. US market of course ...


Ecrio
Gogomo
Integrated Mobile
Interop Technologies
iSkoot
JumpTap
Metrico Wireless
Millennial Media
Neonode
Obopay
Omnilink Systems
SNAPin
Sonopia
TeleNav
Tensorcomm

Research In Motion

Research In Motion

RIM the makers of the Blackberry have announced there'll be a software version for Windows Mobile 6.0, though no specifics about which devices it will support.

RIM are unlikely to sell the product directly, but allow carriers to bundle it with Smartphones.

WM6 already supports Microsoft's push Email over ActiveSync from an Exchange server, but this will allow WM6 users to integrate directly into a familiar Blackbery environment.

It's also cheaper for RIM who don't have to continually develop new handsets.

Funny or Die

Funny or Die

Will Farrell (US comedian) has set this site up with backing from Sequoia ventures (who invested in YouTube).

Though Farrell and friends will contribute content, it's also user contributed and more importantly rated.

Any video that gets below a 1 rating goes into "The Crypt" and then can only be resurrected when 1,000 or more people request it - which should mean bad stuff gets relegated quickly and they save on huge storage costs.

Whether it can actually compete with YouTube is yet to be seen, though Farrell's "Landlord" video has been view 3m times already.

23/04/2007

Free Wi-Fi software nixes need for routers - Network World

Free Wi-Fi software nixes need for routers - Network World

The Technion Institute in Isreal has developed Wipeer software that links PCs using WiFi.

The software is available as a free download and connects indoors up to 300ft and 900ft outdoors.

Technion are also looking at adding cellular support in for even more connectivity options.

19/04/2007

Illegal Broadcasting | Ofcom

Illegal Broadcasting | Ofcom

Ofcom has published a report into illegal broadcasting in the UK (i.e. pirate radio stations).

Though Ofcom have to fight illegal broadcasting, they do have some interesting reports of activities in London specifically and have independently interviewed both listeners and broadcasters - who feel there is a need for pirate stations.

The annex of this report makes interesting reading - it shows that Ofcom's general readership don't understand modern terms at all :)

16/04/2007

Apple - Final Cut Studio 2

Apple - Final Cut Studio 2

Apple announced the new Final Cut Studio 2 at NAB in Las Vegas.

It comes with Final Cut Pro 6, Motion 3, Soundtrack Pro 2, Color, Compressor 3 and DVD Studio Pro 4.

These allow timeline editing of video (and audio). Motion produces impressive 3D motion graphics. Compressor supports many video formats which can be controlled by the click of a button and DVD Studio supports the production of SD and HD DVDs.

Apple have also released Final Cut Server which is a (templated) media asset system.

12/04/2007

Licence-Exemption Framework Review (LEFR) | Ofcom

Licence-Exemption Framework Review (LEFR) | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation on how they should approach License Exempt spectrum.

There are many issues: -

a) Should spectrum be reserved for exclusive licence-exempt use by a single wireless application (i.e. application-specific spectrum)? Or should multiple applications be allowed to share the spectrum (i.e. spectrum commons)?

b) What type of rules, if any, should be used to manage licence-exempt use of spectrum (e.g. rules of entry and operation within a spectrum commons)?

c) What is the relationship between light-licensing and licence-exemption? What are the circumstances under which one regime is preferable over the other?

d) Is there a frequency limit above which all spectrum use can be made exempt from licensing? If so, what is the value of this limit?

e) Is there a transmission power limit below which all emissions can be made exempt from licensing? If so, what is the value of this limit and how should it vary as a function of frequency?

f) What should our international stance towards licence-exemption be?

g) Should there be any degree of protection towards licence-exempt users of spectrum beyond our current legal obligations?

Ofcom also consider the commercial value of the spectrum and whether it would be better (more effectively) used in a license exempt or licensed manner.

The consultation closes on 21 June 2007.

Ofcom announced companies allowed to bid

Barablu Mobile Holding Limited and Personal Broadband UK Limited are eligable to bid for the 1785 - 1805 MHz Northern Ireland spectrum award.

05/04/2007

Apple launches quad core MacPros

Apple have released new MacPro desktop machines with quad core CPUs allowing up to 8 cores per machines.

They cost about £4,000 but they are bound to attract interest from the high end creatives.

Since Adobe have now launched CS3 (in various flavours) with native Mac/Intel support, the new machines will make a match in heaven for people using Photoshop and other applications that have a high pixel count etc.

Please find me one.

Joost is very cool

Joost have launched their service in beta, these are the guys that set-up Kazaa and then Skype. It's an IPTV system that uses P2P. There's a description of how it all works on the UKNOF site (Manchester/UKNOF7).

It's currently in beta and works on invites where every now and again beta users get to invite other users.

Quality is actually pretty good though navigation is a bid odd and needs getting used to.

It's going to be big.

02/04/2007

EMI to offer DRM free music through iTunes

EMI has ditched DRM for music sold through the iTunes store.

New music will be encoded at 256Kb/s (compared to current DRM encoded tracks at 128Kb/s), each track will cost 99p (compared to 79p for DRM encoded).

Users can automagically upgrade all their DRM tracks to non-DRM'ed tracks for 20p per track.

Future video content from EMI will not be DRM'ed and there will be no increase in price.

This is a major change for a big music label and hopefully is the way of things to come.

30/03/2007

Sony Computer Entertainment America Offers PSP(R)(PlayStation(R)Portable) Users T-Mobile(R) Hotspot Access

Sony Computer Entertainment America Offers PSP(R)(PlayStation(R)Portable) Users T-Mobile(R) Hotspot Access

Sony has announced a deal with T-Mobile so PSP users can access the Internet via T-Mobile hotspots. This requires firmware v3.3 for the PSP (now available) which also adds further functionality like full screen video.

The offer allows 6 months "free" WiFi access, then a special price plan for PSP users.

29/03/2007

Regulation of VoIP Services | Ofcom

Regulation of VoIP Services | Ofcom

Ofcom have today published initial regulations for VoIP providers.

The key points are: -

* If there is no 999 access the supplier must notify the user and get the user to SIGN to acknowledge it.

* If 999 services are not available there must be stickers/labels on hardware (or notices on software) which tell the user that they are not available.

* Ofcom wants everyone to offer 999 services. In doing so everyone will become PATS (public access telephony system). PATS means that they are compliant with various general conditions.

* Anyone offering a service in the UK is covered by the UK regulations whether operating from the UK or from a foreign country, however Ofcom does not have a solution for foreign operators who do not adhere to the regulations.

Anyone who is now PATS must accept porting requests immediately and can demand ports from any other PATS provider.

Ofcom is also going to consult on various other VoIP related issues in the coming months.

28/03/2007

71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz Self Coordinated Links | Ofcom

71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz Self Coordinated Links | Ofcom

Ofcom has made the 71-76 GHz paired with 81-86 GHz bands available for short range links. These paired bands are lightly licensed with a registration fee of £50 pa per link.

Anyone wishing to use equipment must first register the link (having obtained a license) in Ofcom's database. The license affords some measure of interference protection (though Ofcom will try not to get involved unless the interfering parties can not be contacted or resolve issues amongst themselves). A second link can not be registered if there is already a link in place. If a licensee complains of interference, Ofcom has the power to force a later (interfering) link to terminate operation.

The process of registration is currently manual, but this may change.

Though these bands have to potential to offer very high speed fixed links (there's 9GHz in each direction for a full-duplex operation) equipment is currently extremely expensive so it's unlikely to have widespread adoption. This is mainly due to exotic materials needing to be used as silicon does not function well (radio wise) above 10GHz.

There are also safety concerns as the radio waves are likely to be ionising.

However short-range point-to-point links can achieve multi-gigabit speeds suitable for LAN extension services.

27/03/2007

Adobe Creative Suite 3: Digit's in-depth guide

Digit Online

Adobe has announced what will be in the various CS3 packages.

The packages are: -

* Creative Suite 3 Design Standard. It includes InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, plus Acrobat 8 Professional which costs £760 plus VAT.

* The Design Premium bundle includes the above and the Extended version of Photoshop, and gains Dreamweaver and Flash Professional. It costs £1,199 plus VAT.

* Creative Suite 3 Web Standard is based around the ex-Macromedia core of Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Fireworks and Contribute. It costs £600 plus VAT.

* The Premium version includes the above and adds adds Photoshop Extended, Illustrator and Acrobat for £1,017 plus VAT.

* Creative Suite 3 Production Premium includes After Effects Professional, Premiere Pro, Soundbooth, Encore, OnLocation, Ultra, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator and Flash Professional for £1,199 plus VAT.

* Creative Suite 3 Master Collection includes InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Contribute, After Effects Professional, Premiere Pro, Soundbooth, Encore, OnLocation, Ultra, Acrobat, Bridge, Device Central CS3 for £1,675 plus VAT.

All Adobe software is version CS3 apart from Acrobat which is v8 (i.e. the currently released version).

The design and web versions will ship in April, Production Premium and Master Collection will ship late summer.

They'll run on MacOS X 10.4 (or higher) and XP and Vista. Some programs are Mac Intel only and some Windows only.

Community Audio Distribution Services (CADS): FAQs | Ofcom

Community Audio Distribution Services (CADS): FAQs | Ofcom

Ofcom has now made Community Audio Distribution Services (CADS) license exempt. CADS uses Citizen's Band Radio equipment and may be used to distribute live community events, such as religious services or council meetings. No commercial traffic/messages may be transmitted.

CB isn't as popular in the UK as in the US, but there are several tens of thousands of users.

BT OSS Separation | Ofcom

BT OSS Separation | Ofcom

As part of BT's agreement with Ofcom (when BT Openreach was set-up) they have to seperate their OSS (operational support systems) so Openreach have completely seperate systems. Ofcom are proposing an ammendment to Section 5 (separation of systems shared between Openreach and the rest of BT) of the Enterprise Act Undertakings given by BT to Ofcom.

BT have to: -

* Physically separate Openreach OSS from the rest of BT by 30th June 2010

* Design all new Openreach systems to be separate from the rest of BT

* In the interim, until full physical separation is achieved, deliver a logically separate OSS capability for certain product groups according to binding milestones

* Review regularly with Ofcom a roadmap for achieving physical separation

Ofcom have also set-out interim measures for milestones up to the 2010 completion.

The consultation closes on 11/05/2007.

Procedures for the Management of Satellite Filings | Ofcom

Procedures for the Management of Satellite Filings | Ofcom

Ofcom's document describes the procedures that must be followed by companies or other organisations located in the United Kingdom (UK), British Overseas Territories, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, wishing to submit applications through the UK for the management and processing of satellite filings. It includes details of coordination and registration, in order to achieve international recognition under the ITU procedures.

Not very exciting, but an important document for anyone wishing to use satellite services.

Ofcom announces new price controls on mobile operators

Ofcom has lowed the termination charges for mobile operators. O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone will now only be able to charge 5.1p per minute, while 3 will be able to charge 5.9p. It's the first time 3 have had termination charge controls.

BT has complained that the charges are still too high and the operators are subsidising their 3G licenses will termination revenue and that Ofcom has been pressurised by the operators. The EU has mandated that termination charges should be lowered and will look closely at Ofcom's business models to ensure that the pricing they set is realistic, if they feel Ofcom has favoured the operators the EU may force them to further lower termination charges.

This will take place from April 1st.

More importantly Ofcom are also going to hold a consultation into mobile number porting (MNP), currently mobile numbers can only be ported between the above "big 5" operators. There is a lot of industry interest in this as VoIP services come into play (mobile VoIP over wireless services) and also groups like the low power GSM (guard band) operators want porting, currently these types of players can not access the MNP systems.

Inquiry into premium rate telecoms services in television programmes | Ofcom

Inquiry into premium rate telecoms services in television programmes | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding an enquiry into premium rate services (PRS) in TV programs.

They will then publish results to ensure consumer confidence is restored.

Any PRS is already goverened by ICSTIS codes, but this is likely to expose some dubious practices by TV companies who use PRS for revenue generation.

Market investigation into the pay TV industry | Ofcom

Market investigation into the pay TV industry | Ofcom

Ofcom has received a submission from BT, Setanta, Top Up TV, and Virgin Media to investigate the pay TV industry and to consider whether they should be investigated by the Competition Commission under the Enterprise Act 2002.

Ofcom Consumer Panel and the National Consumer Council have also expressed concerned about BSkyB removing channels on Virgin Media's platform.

Sky have a virtual monopoly on a huge ammount of content and other payers want equal access. Sky will probably lose out in the long term, but in the meantime lots of Virgin Media customers are likely to migrate to Sky to gain access to prime shows like Lost, 24, BattleStar Galactica etc. Sky are even offering promotional pricing to attract cable customers. Virgin Media are not cash rich and losing droves of customers could put them in a very dangerous position in terms of city expectations.

Variation of UK Broadband Limited Wireless TelegraphyAct Licences

Last week Ofcom agreed to merge UK Broadband's 3 seperate 3.4GHz licenses into 1 national license. UK Broadband is owned by PCCW the Hong Kong company.

UK Broadband won 13 of the 15 regional 3.4GHz licenses, then acquired the other 2 and now these seperate licenses (which all the the same conditions etc, apart from region) will become a single license.

UK Broadband have also asked for the licenses to become technology neutral (as per Ofcom recent policy in-line with EU policy) and to change the conditions (which is likely to be to allow mobile/nomadic use - currently the license only allows fixed links).

Having a national license in the middle of the usable WiMAX spectrum range is a very valuable commodity, though PCCW may not have the resource to roll-out a national service (backhaul is extremely expensive), but as a single national license they could sell it on to another operator (like BT) who want to roll out mobility solutions (and high speed broadband to rural areas).