26/05/2011

Ofcom publishes possible 4G capacity gains

Ofcom the super regulator today published its report into what capacity gains that 4G networks could provide compared to existing capacity on 3G networks.

In summary compared to existing HSUPA 3G networks, there will be an increase of 3.3x which will increase to 5.5x by 2020 i.e. 3.3 to 5.5 times as much traffic can be put over the equivalent spectrum which will be opportune as data usage increases.

However network operators will need to manage the topology of their 4G networks more carefully than current 3G networks.

The statement may be found here.

Microsoft-Skype kills Skype for Asterisk

Many will know Asterisk the open source IP PBX (IP telephony system) that is commercially supported by Digium.

At Astricon in 2008 Digium announced a partnership with Skype that would allow an Asterisk system join the Skype network as a Skype client, though commercial (costing $66 per channel i.e. each concurrent call the Skype network requires a channel) many people used this to connect their internal VoIP systems to the outside world taking advantage of free Skype to Skype calls and cheap calls to the normal telephone networks using Skype-out.

Unfortunately the partnership is now dead as Skype (or now Microsoft Skype as Skype is to be known after their acquisition by the software giant) have decided to discontinue the licensing of Skype proprietary code that is included in the Skype for Asterisk product.

Customers can still purchase Skype for Asterisk until 26th July 2011 and Skype will continue to support the product until 2013 (and Skype "at their discretion" may continue support beyond that).

Though Skype for Asterisk only represents a small proportion of the Skype population, is this indicative of the way that Microsoft is taking the company as Asterisk and other open source solutions directly compete with some of Microsoft's offerings? If so it's a shame as it it's likely that only MS products will work with Skype and thus further locking customers into Microsoft's solutions.

Though to be fair, rumour has it that Skype was already looking at ways of ending the relationship with Digium.

Everything Everywhere and BT trial LTE800

BT and Everything Everywhere are trailing LTE (Long Term Evolution or 4G) on the 800MHz band in Cornwall. 100 mobile and 100 fixed users will take place.

800MHz is part of the spectrum that Ofcom are planning to auction this year which will is currently being used by analogue TV, though some areas have already switched over to digital so the frequencies are already clear. The whole of the UK will switch by 2012.

The trial will actually use 2 x 10MHz channels in the upper band (which Ofcom are considering how to license) and though LTE can theoretically speeds of up to 150Mb/s, Everything Everywhere have stated that users should expect between 2 and 40Mb/s.

The 800Mhz band is being auction in conjunction with the 2.6GHz band (with caps depending on what portions are being bid for) and there is expected to be considerable interest from both the existing mobile network operators and broadband providers (some of who will be new entrants).

Ofcom makes changes to telecoms law to benefit consumers

Ofcom the Super regulator that has responsibility for media, telecoms, radio and broadcasting has announced changes that telecoms companies will have to adopt in-line with European telecoms law.

Contracts

From May 26th 2011 telecoms operators are limited to providing 24 month contracts for telecoms services. Businesses and consumers must also be offered shorter 12 month contracts.

This will allow consumers to switch providers more easily which will allow users to chose beneficial pricing and services.

Emergency SMS


Ofcom plans to mandate the emergency SMS schmeme in the UK which allows users to text (or use the Short Message Service) to the ermgency services to 999 (or 112 the pan-European emergency services number).

Currently there is a registration scheme in operation with about 14,500 registered users. From May 26th 2011 all mobile operators will be obliged to make the scheme available on a permanent basis for hearing and speech-impaired users.

Porting Phone Numbers

On April 11 2011 Ofcom mandated all mobile operators to port numbers between networks in under 1 (working) day. This only applied to individual consumers. Now the same rules apply to businesses and other customers who may wish to port many numbers at one time.

Fixed numbers should also be ported with 1 day, though other measures have to be completed first to ensure that slamming doesn't occur (where a customer is switched to another provider without their permission).

Providers also have to pay reasonably compensation to customers if the port doesn't happen in 24 hours (or there is an abuse of the porting process).


This is all good news for the consumer and it's nice to see Ofcom mandate these changes.