Ofcom forces BT to connect to everyone

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

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

The statement is here.

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

Ofcom reviewing wholesale SMS termination

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

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

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

Ofcom consulting on extending mobile termination price controls

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

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

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

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


Satellite Broadband on Trains

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

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

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

Fring, free calls on your mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wii hits Broadway

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

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

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

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

HD, HD-DVD disk developed

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

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

TIM for the clock

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

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

Rupert Murdoch may be in talks about acquisition.

Vodafone to offer broadband package

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

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

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