The regulation of video on demand services - Statement | Ofcom

The regulation of video on demand services - Statement | Ofcom

Ofcom has published the framework for the regulation of Video on Demand (VOD) services. This will cover services like 4OD, ITV Player, and Demand Five which have to be regulated by 19th December 2009 in-line with the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive which covers VOD services that are "TV-Like".

The directive doesn't cover newspaper's on-line content or user generated content. However VOD content covered will not be subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code.

The regulations will fully come into force in March 2010 when they will cover any "TV=Like" service and many of the Internet TV netcasters will be regulated.

This is meant to introduce a level playing field for all broadcasters but many see it as an unnecessary burden which will just require more bureaucracy.

Programs for example

· must not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality;
· must provide appropriate protection for minors against harmful material; and
· sponsored programmes and services must comply with applicable sponsorship requirements.

Advertising rules cover

· advertising must be readily recognisable and cannot contain any surreptitious advertising or use subliminal advertising techniques.
· advertising must not encourage behaviour that is prejudicial to the health or safety of people.
· tobacco products, prescription-only medicines or medical treatments cannot be advertised.

Time will tell how effective the legislation is as netcaster can presumable more their infrastructure to an area that isn't covered by the legislation.

A Three-digit Number for Non-Emergency Healthcare Services - Designating number “111” | Ofcom

A Three-digit Number for Non-Emergency Healthcare Services - Designating number “111” | Ofcom

Ofcom has introduced a new 3 digit non-emergency medical number 111.

The number will be trialed in various strategic health authorities in 2010 before rolling out nationally.


Total Hotspots gets Rummbled

Rummble has acquired Total Hotspots (THS). THS already used Rummble's technology to power the THS service whereby users could find and rate WiFi services.

THS has reduced the price of their iPhone application over the Christmas period from £2.99 to £0.59.

Alex Housley CEO of THS now joins Rummble as VP Business to help drive service development and key partnerships.


WiGIG Alliance beams 7Gb/s at 60GHz

The WiGIG alliance (made up of around 30 companies including Intel and Broadcom etc) have announced that WiGIG will transmit at speeds of around 7Gb/s using the 60GHz band.

This band is either unlicensed or license exempt in many parts of the world (including the US and next year the UK and many parts of Europe).

Initially WiGIG said they'd support up to 6Gb/s, but this has since been bettered. 60GHz does not propagate well and it was envisaged that it would only be suitable for in-room use (under 10m), but new 'beam' technologies will allow greater distances to be achieved allowing for in-building use.

Though there is a WiFi specification for higher speeds (802.11AD) the technologies are seen to be complimentary and since companies like Intel sit in both camps it's likely both technologies will be integrated into WiFi chipsets.

WiFi using 802.11n is expected to support around 600Mb/s so WiGIG offers a magnitude better speeds.

Kodak Zi8 review

Kodak have been making video cameras for a while and the Zi8 is the newest of their video devices. It's a great little video camera with a flexible USB connector that is hidden but sliding a flap allows it to come out so it can be plugged into a USB slot in a computer.

When plugged in, 2 drives are available one has the videos on and the other has Arcsoft video software for Windows. The camera produces .MOV files which are directly accessible using a Mac (they can be read by Quicktime, iMovie etc).

Most people will consider the Zi8 against the popular Flip range of video cameras such as the Flip Mino HD. The Zi8 is definitely bigger (it's about an inch fatter) but this gives it a bigger display. Here the features that the Zi8 has that the Flip doesn't: -

* 2.5" display compared to the Flip's 1.5" display.
* Full 1080p video while the Flip only manages 720p (which the Zi8 can also do if required).
* External microphone jack.
* SD card slot, cards can just be swapped when they're full rather than having to find a computer to download the content to.
* Macro mode for close-up stuff.
* Still capture (i.e. single shots).
* Image stabilisation.
* Zi8 comes with a HDMI cable to connect to a TV/etc.

The start-up time of the Zi8 is also quick and when on presents a list of resolutions that can be used (defaults to the one selected in set-up).

The quality is pretty good and it's easy to use, there's a digital zoom mode (activated by moving the red toggle up and down). The only poor thing is low level light recording which isn't brilliant (sic).

The Zi8 is also generally cheaper than the Flip HD models.

Follow the link to see a video of Valentina performing at the Flowerpot in Kentish Town.


Release of the 59 – 64 GHz band | Ofcom

Release of the 59 – 64 GHz band | Ofcom

Ofcom has published a statement regarding its intent to make the 60GHz band license exempt. This will actually cover spectrum from 57.1 - 63.9 GHz (which leaves a 100MHz guard band at either side i.e. the band is actually from 57 - 64 GHz).

This gices a 6.8GHz block of spectrum which is suitable for very hand bandwidth short range applications such as 100Mb/s Ethernet and even 1Gb/s Ethernet type services (as in Fixed Wireless Services or FWS), though it is also suitable for things like Intelligent Transport Services and new standards such as Wireless HD (for transporting HD television around the home).

60GHz has poor propagation and is rapidly attenuated in air and building materials are likely to block signals completely, so it is eminently suited to short range in-building use.

In order to make the band license exempt, Ofcom will need to change the Wireless Telegraphy Act with a standard instrument in line with Ofcom policy on the exempt regulations.

In spring 2010 Ofcom will issue a policy statement and consultation on draft license exmption regulation including the necessary changes to make the 60GHz band license exempt. In Summer 2010 Ofcom will publish the Final Regulatory Statement on license exemption and the regulations will come into force.

In order to utilise equipment in the 60GHz band there are various conditions: -

Equipment and Antennas must conform to essential requirements of the RTTE and the technical conditions as set out in this statement, the maximum EIRP is 55 dBm, the maximum transmitter Output Power is 10 dBm and the minimum Antenna Gain is 30 dBi.

There are also 3 areas in the UK where equipment must not be used within a 6Km radius and these are: -

* Site 1: 57 21' 3.6", -07 23' 36.6"
* Site 2: 51 37' 16.8", -04 58' 21"
* Site 3: 52 38' 1.8", -00 36' 22.8"

which are MoD Geolocation sites and need to be protected against harmful interference.

Equipment is starting to become available for this band both for the FWS market and for in-home wireless distribution systems.


Consultation on a new specimen performance bond for the purposes of Regulation 16 of the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 | Ofcom

Consultation on a new specimen performance bond for the purposes of Regulation 16 of the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 | Ofcom

Ofcom can grant "code powers" to any Electronic Communication Network which gives them the right to dig roads, install masts etc.

A part of the conditions in having code powers is that if the company goes out of business they must have enough funds to complete the works and repair any roads that they have put trenches in etc.

Previously Ofcom have mandated that companies take out insurance have bonds in place to cover any uncompleted work. Ofcom have now updated the bind requirements for companies wishing to have code powers and are consulting on the new bind conditions, of which they have published a sample.

The consultation closes on 14/01/2010.

This wont effect many companies, it's only the telcos, mobile operators and other networks that use code powers so they can build their networks.


Blackberry adds themes to Blackberry World

RIM the company behind the Blackberry has added themes to Blackberry World (their app store). Themes can be free or paid for and must be suitable for all ages.

Any images or sounds in the theme must be owned by the theme submitter.

Blackberry World, though expanding, is still tiny compared to other mainstream app stores.

Apple goes La La

Apple has acquired music service LaLa but no details of the deal were specified. LaLa allows users to stream tracks or buy DRM free MP3. Any of their 8m tracks may be streamed for free once, but tracks can be licensed for 10c for unlimited play or downloaded for 89c.

It was expected that Lala would release an iPhone app that would allow users to stream tracks from a digital locker where tracks had been purchased.

Though Apple haven't given details, it's expected that they'll incorporate Lala's streaming service into iTunes where tracks cost between 69c and $1.29.


Windows Mobile now Rummbles too

Rummble have announced the availability of the Rummble application for Windows Mobile which is being launch at the Heroes of the Mobile Screen event in London.

The application will work on Windows Mobile 6.1+ devices and has the following features: -

* Discover personalised recommendations nearby, quickly and easily
* Check-in to any venue and notify your group of friends instantly
* Show the buzz from specific venues in real-time from the twittersphere
* Find out where your friends are and what they are doing
* Connect Rummble to Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and Linked-In
* Fast and accurate location lookups with Skyhook Wireless.

It is available through Windows Marketplace, which comes pre-installed on new Windows phones or is available as a download from here.


Android now Rummbles

Rummble has just been released for Android phones. Rummble is an application that allows people to rate and locate venues etc. It also has 'check-in' functionality so that friends can be notified that you've arrived at a venue.

Rummble has been available on the iPhone for sometime, but version 1.5 with check-in and social sharing functions was released last week. Now the Android version has these features and the ability to view where friends are on a map and better twitter integration.

The press release included a QRcode which when decoded had a URL to the Rummble blog which also has a QRcode to the Android download. There are of course some sensible free QRcode decoders for Android already out there.

Rummble is a company to watch.


Google release Update Engine for MacOS X

Google have released an application and framework that developers can include in their code allowing MacOS X programs to auto-update.

The code is available to download from Update Engine under an Apache 2.0 license.

The system allows MacOS X programs to check back to a server (specified in a .plist file) that then checks versions and other relevant information and if an update is available goes and gets it. This then also generates a script which can be used to install the app.

This should make it very easy for Apple developers to include auto-update functionality to their applications.

Foursquare release Blackberry version

300 lucky (?) Blackberry users have been selected to beta test a Foursquare client that works on Blackberry devices. The beta is private, but users are allowed to show it working to friends etc, though not post public links to the download etc.

So results will be posted here, though as per the instructions, no screenshots or links to where to download it, sorry.

TomTom support not so supportive

Recently my TomTom GO910 computer voice stopped working even though upgrades etc had taken place using the supplied TomTom Home software. The pre-recordered voices worked fine, only the text-to-speech system from Loquendo seemed to have failed.

After logging a support incident with TomTom, they recommended removing the LogquendoTTS directory from the device and then a long protracted support dialogue took place. After backing-up several directories and performing various set-up steps an email came in asked to restore the LoquendoTTS directory that had been deleted (before any back-ups were requested).

Now the unit has to go back to TomTom at their expense, but even so it means not having a navigation device for a while. Not the most optimal use of my time and a bit of a support failure.


TRaC opens new testing facility - in Hull

TRaC who are Testing Regulatory and Compliance a body that performs interoperability testing etc have set-up shop in Hull. This will allow vendors and chipset manufacturers to ensure their system work with others.

TRaC will have a number of different DSL solutions from several vendors (25 DSLAMs and 2 interoperability labs) and can test ADSL, SHDSL, ADSL2+, and VDSL2 as well as ensuring regulatory compliance and EMI compliance.

The operations are being moved from the current Santa Clara base.


Ericsson buys Nortel's GSM assets

Ericsson has acquired the North American GSM assets of bankrupt Nortel for $70m, this follows their successful purchase of the North American CDMA and LTE assets (for $1.13bn).

The GSM equipment is used by AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA. Ericsson also get 350 ex Nortel employees. The GSM operation made about $400m for Nortel last year, so the buy seems quite a steal.

The European and Taiwan assets were bought by Austrian firm Kapsch CarrierCom for $33m.


Gizmo5 sells out to Google

The rumours have been flying and it was thought that Gizmo5 would be the sensible acquisition for the new Skype as a basis for replacing the P2P technology that was reliant on JoltID (and why JoltID was suing Ebay).

Events have now significantly changed the market, JoltID has come to an agreement with Skype/Ebay where-upon their P2P technology will be owned outright and Gizmo5 has been purchased by Google.

Gizmo5 was started by Michael Robertson and has around 6m users while using non proprietary SIP VoIP protocols. It is expected that Google will integrate Gizmo5 into their GoogleTalk product line (and maybe Google Voice).

JoltID settles with Skype

Rather than spend millions on court cases it seems JoltID have made an agreement with Skype whereby Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis will join the investment group that purchased Skype from Ebay and they'll get a 14% stake, Skype will gain control of the P2P technology that was previously licensed (or not as the case may have been).

Though the P2P technology is now owned by Skype itself, there may still be major changes brewing with the technology (see previous article.

HTC Touch HD2 is MiFi device

HTC's Touch HD2 will include a native WiFi router. This means the Windows Mobile 6.5 device can act as a MiFi system (i.e. personal WiFi hotspot) using 3G as the transport.

It is expected the HD2 will be released in 2010 and will support HSPA (7.2Mb/s).

Though there are many MiFi units already on sale (the Novatel unit seems to be common) this will mean the HD2 phone can be used without having to purchase a separate MiFi unit which will please people who don't want to carry to much around with them.


Amazon drops Kindle (CDMA)

Amazon has stopped selling the US only CDMA Sprint/Nextel Kindle, though it will continue to support exiting units. Amazon is only going to sell the 3G version that works on AT&T's network in the US, though it's the same model that is sold internationally.

Amazon could have used a chip manufactured by Qualcomm known as the Gobi which support 2G/3G and US protocols but Amazon said the chip was more suited to netbooks, they may consider using Gobi in a future device.

Sprint/Nextel must be disappointed as it's assumed most of their 394,000 wholesale customers are Kindles. On the other hand it's a good move by Amazon to recognise that the 3G world is bigger than the US market.


Skype re-engineering the world

Please note this is completely based on my own thoughts and I have not liaised with anybody else on the content.

Skype is currently having a few legal issues with JoltID who own the P2P technology (known as Global Index) that Skype runs on. Oddly when Ebay purchased Skype from JoltID for $4.1bn they only licensed the P2P technology. Now that Ebay has sold off 65% of Skype to a private investment company, JoltID have said that their licensing has been infringed and there's a UK court case planned for June 2010.

Ebay must be slightly worried (well Skype now) as if the court case is successful Skype may not be allowed to continue to use the underlying P2P technology, which means no more Skype, or at least no more functioning Skype network.

Skype must be doing something about this? Maybe they are as they've taken on-board Theo Zourzouvillys who's job description seems to be "Internet Hippy at Skype Labs". Theo is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to VoIP, especially SIP and he has written many SIP stacks and built hugely scalable SIP networks and is the author of many an IETF drafts on said protocols.

Though Skype are making huge efforts in supporting SIP for business users (they already utilise SIP for connectivity to telcos for interconnect i.e. for Skype In and Skype Out), could Skype be re-engineering their network from the ground up, utilising non proprietary protocols? If that was the case and the underlying technology changed significantly from the Global Index P2P system, then the JoltID problem goes away.

In this case only time will tell.


3 is 94% data

UK Mobile Network Operator 3's CEO Kevin Russell says 94% of all traffic across 3's network is data. This is a dramatic increase as 3 has pushed data services to attract users such as offering Skype phones and INQ phones which are application centric.

He stated that Skype use has increased from 90,000 minutes in 2006 to 600 million minutes last year.

3 has been unusual in that it has promoted VoIP and other internet services, when most mobile networks tried to block them.

However it must be remembered that services like Skype are actually using an iSkoot client that then connects to a 3 hosted server which then uses Skype's protocols out to the rest of the world (though the user is unaware of this).

Windows 7 becomes a WiFI Hotspot

Nomadio has discovered some features in Windows 7 that allows it to be converted to a wireless hotspot.

It seems Microsoft were developing features to allow virtualising interfaces and the code was left inside the release version and though not accessible from the user interface they are available programmatically.

Nomadio then developed some software Connectify which is available form their here which exploits these features and will share any interface over WiFi (i.e. you 3G or wired connection).

Nokia N-Gage RIP

Nokia has officially killed the N-Gage platform with the user community etc closing down by the end of the year. Software for N-Gage will be available until Sept 2010. No new devices will have N-Gage pre-installed, but instead will have the Ovi store software and users can download N-Gage and titles through that.


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Barnes and Noble introduce eReader

Barnes and Noble have introduced an eReader based on Android (Google's mobile OS). It incorporates 3G and WiFi and has 2GB of memory and can take up to 16GB microSD cards.

The eReader known as the Nook can also "lend" books to other B&N eReaders for up to 14 days at a time.

It retails for $259 and is potentially a Kindle (from Amazon) killer.

Apple updates products

Yesterday Apple updated various products.

New iMacs (20.1" and 27") come with up to 3.06GHz dual core CPUs and in November a quad core will be introduced.

The Mac Mini has now has a faster CPU, better graphics more memory and only consumes 14W. There's also a special version with Snow Leopard server with two internal disks.

The Macbook now is much more like the Macbook Pro (13") but has a unibody made of ABS plastic rather than aluminium which makes it cheaper too.

Still no news of the 10" Tablet (though a drunk Apple employee via a Twitter user stated "it's not what you'd call a tablet), though if it does come out soon it's likely Apple will wait for CES and announce it there and blow everyone else's press releases away.

New low power Bluetooth standard

A new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard is due soon,it was initially based on the Wibree system developed by Nokia.

BLE wil allow devices using the new specification to operate for potentially years off standard coin batteries. This will allow BLE chips to be incorporated into many everyday devices, though handset manufacturers will be early adopters, though initially they'll use dual-mode system (i.e. standard Bluetooth and BLE).

Chips vendors such as TI and CSR and Broadcom have adopted BLE and well on their way to producing silicon so devices may be available in 2010.

As BLE uses such low power it could change the way people think about device communication as it could be incorporated into a multitude of household components.


Android turns 1 and increases market share

Oct 21st 2009 is the anniversary of the launch of Android and Admob have released some stats.

Android now accounts for 7% global market share while in the UK 10% of all smartphones sold are Android based and the HTC Dream is the 2nd most popular phone for browsing after the iPhone.

Android is going to be become much more prevalent as more handsets are released (from companies such as Samsung, Motorola and even SonyEricsson).


BT extends FTTP

BT Openreach has said they are now extending their FTTP (fibre to the premises) roll-out and will cover brownfield as well as greenfield areas. Originally FTTP was only planned for greenfield/new build areas.

This will greatly extend the number of homes covered by FTTP and offer speeds of around 100Mb/s, BT's FTTC (fibre to the street Cabinet) are offering around 40Mb/s using VDSL2+.

This is probably a preemptive move to frighten the various other players who may be considering fibre roll-outs such as BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse.

Nomadesk launch virtual Fileservers

Nomadesk have launched a virtual disk service. There's a personal version and a Team version, both with a 30 day free trial, but then they cost $50pa and $15 per month respectively. The personal version can be installed on up to 5 computers while the team version is unlimited. They have a Windows client and MacOS X (beta) client available now and there's a mobile desktop for managing files (as well as the web version).

There are lots of similar services out there Dropbox for one, however Nomadesk also have an API and clients can be built that use the Nomadesk cloud storage within the application.

Whether they're any better than anyone else, time will tell.

Nokia port Qt to Maemo

Nokia have ported Qt (the multi-system GUI layer) to Maemo which is the operating system that runs on their tablets such as the N900. Nokia previously purchased Trolltech who produce Qt which now runs on various UNIX like operating system, MacOS X and Windows and of course Symbian.

The Maemo port means there's a consistent programming interface for Nokia's main platforms and it means programs can easily be ported across systems.

The Maemo version should come out by the end of the year (for V5 of Maemo) and the Symbian version will follow.

Kevin Smith at the IndigO2

This isn't the normal technical post, though anyone knowing Kevin Smith (or more appropriately @ThatKevinSmith will know he's a prolific tweeter, does a regular PODcast (or in his case a SMODcast) and runs several websites (and a couple of comic shops).

On Saturday October 10th he did a Q&A session at the IndigO2 (part of the O2 Arena complex) in North Greenwich. The venue was pretty busy (there were a few empty seats) and Mr Smith pretty well ranted (in a god way) for 3 hours continuously, answering questions from the audience (don't ask why there was no commentary on the "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" ... you'll get a long answer).

The show was a lot of fun, though the main complaint was there was no hashtag for the event, so though people were tweeting, unless searching for @thatkevinsmith it was a bit meaningless.

There are several shows across the UK and another at the IndigO2 on Tues the 13th, which should be fun too and as the show is pretty well driven by the questions that come from the audience it should be different from Sunday's.

Hopefully they'll be a pre-show tweetup in the O2 arena and a hashtag for the night, I'm picking #kevinsmith ...


Mobile Phones for the Senior Market

The Mobile Phones for the Senior Market Conference is on October 26th at the Royal Institution of British Architects. Tickets cost £350.

The conference is all about phones for older people. Many of the current phones on the market are just too fiddly for older users and they don't want any of the features that modern phones come with.

There's a large (currently) untapped market and this conference will show how and why mobile phone companies should be addressing the older generation.

If you want to attend please enter "eurotechnews" as a discount code and you'll get a discount.

Adobe CS5 support for iPhone

It seems Adobe's CS5 will support developing Flash programs using Actionscript for iPhone.

Though Apple are still refusing to allow the Flash player to run on the iPhone allowing Flash programs to be downloaded from the web, the CS5 version seems to combine the Flash player and the program into a standalone executable so it operates as a program suitable for use on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

The system will also allow existing Flash programs to be packaged into an executable.

Adobe are releasing beta versions of CS5 shortly.

RIM to Flash soon

RIM has joined Adobe's Open Screen Project (along with Google and 50 others) and have announced they are jointly developing Flash for the Blackberry phones.

This is in-line with Adobe's push to get Flash player 10.1 onto most smart phones by the end of the year.

Apple is notably absent from the list and there are no (public) plans for Flash on the iPhone.


RIM announce date for Blackberry Desktop Manager for Mac

It looks like Oct 2nd 2009 is the official release date for Blackberry Desktop Software for Mac.

There are beta versions out in the wild, but RIM have posted the date on their Blackberry website.

This will be welcomed by Blackberry/Mac users who've had to do with 3rd party software (which is generally paid for) or PocketMac which never worked properly (here anyway).

It's likely to be released when Canada wakes up, so sometime in the afternoon for us Europeans on the other side of the pond.


IEEE ratifies new Power over Ethernet standard

The IEEE has ratified the802.3at standard which is the Power over Ethernet group. This now allows power to be supplied at up to 30W over a standard Ethernet port, which is enough to power small computing devices such as netbooks.

This could mean the end of lugging around laptops which hefty brick power supplies, just plug them into your local PoE switch and bang (well hopefully not a bang) and you have both power and connectivity.

It could also simplify aero power for laptops.

IEEE ratifies new Power over Ethernet standard


Starbucks offers free WiFi to card carriers

Starbucks through BT Openzone is now offering free WiFi to holders of registered Starbucks cards in any of their participating stores in the UK and Ireland.

Starbucks already offered this in a few flagship stores, but's now been rolled out the the rest of the stores.

Starbucks cards can be picked up from any store and then credit applied to them (up to £100). Drinks can then be purchased using the card. Once the card has been registered (via Starbucks.co.uk site), it can be topped up on-line too. Other benefits are free syrup or extra shots as well as the free WiFi offer.

This is a good thing for people who regularly frequent a store to do some work.


Google releases Chrome v3

Google released it's 3rd version of Chrome last week on the anniversary of its launch a year ago. That's not too exciting as you'd expect Google to update the browser every now and again.

Chrome's market share is now 3.5% of the browser market which is no where near competing browsers such as Firefox or IE, however it's now ahead of Opera and Safari which have both been out there much longer so isn't bad for a browser that's only been around for a year and Google haven't really yet pushed it.

When Google release their Chrome OS (designed for Netbooks) which also uses the Chrome browser (the browser is the main entry point on the the Internet) the installed base could increase dramatically, Chrome will also be optimised to work with Google apps (or is that the other way around) so for Chrome OS Netbooks, everything sits in the browser.


Orange and T-Mobile UK jike non-EU prices

Both Orange and T-Mobile in the UK have hiked their prices to countries outside Europe, some by as much as 100%. Both networks announced the price rises at similar times.

Looks like they're already in cahoots before any official joining of companies.


Vodafone competition generates over 1,000 application ideas

Vodafone's Competition to get ideas for Android applications has now reached over 1,000 entries.

The winner of the best idea will get £1,000 and an HTC Magic. There's only 6 days to go as the competition closes on the 20th of September.

802.11n specification finally released

The 802.11n working have finally released the final specification for the wireless standard. There are only minor changes between this final version and Draft 2 which was released 3 years ago.

The WiFi Alliance have already been certifying products against the preN specification and will now start certifying to the 802.11n standard.

It is expected that vendors will release 802.11n products in 2010, which at some point in the future will support speeds of up to 300Mb/s.

Proposals for the regulation of video on demand services | Ofcom

Proposals for the regulation of video on demand services | Ofcom

A European Directive 2007/65/EC Audio Visual Media Service ("AVMS") means that European countries have to now worry about Video On Demand (VOD) services and Ofcom has until Dec 19th 2009 to effect a number of requirements covering VOD services and all audiovisual media services in the digital age.

The AVMS Directive amends and renames the Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive by providing less details and more flexible regulation.

Ofcom is proposing to carry out its statutory duties with respect to VOD Editorial and VOD Advertising and is consulting on: -

* How to decide which VOD services cone under the remit of the new VOD regulations.

* Issues on the practical implementation of the regulations.

Currently this will definitely affect services such as iPlayer, Sky Anytimes, etc, but will it also cover the plethora of small start-ups out there.

There are issues that could cause problems as advertising tobacco products is illegal and no VOD service should contain incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality - these could effect niche sites which may be targeted at specific populations.

This could open a new can of worms for Internet broadcasters.


T-Mobile joins forces with Orange

Deutsch Telekom and FranceTelecom have agreed to join forces in the UK and T-Mobile will join forces with Orange to create the largest (by users) network which will control 38% of the market.

Vodafone and O2 (Telefonica) both lost out with bids of around £3.5b. The new network (T-Morange, O-Mobile?) will be controlled by Orange and the brands will continue to be separate for 18 months, then everything will come under the new combined brand.

It can be assumed that Orange and T-Mobile will work to combine network assets which could cause problems for 3 who have a RAN sharing agreement with Orange.

The combined networks definitely have strength moving forward, but they'll have to maintain their lead and offer some innovative services so customers don't migrate away. Hopefully they'll combine the best aspects of both networks, rather than the worst or they'll just end-up another has been.


Blackberry Desktop Manager for Mac

It doesn't seem to be officially released by RIM yet, but it's in the wild and it works. It knows about different calendars and contact groups and it makes sensible decisions about what to do ye default and if it gets it wrong, no big deal as you just change it.

It will sync Calendars with iCal and Contacts with Address book, Notes can come from Apple Mail Note or Entourage (if it's installed) and Tasks from iCal. It will also sync music from iTunes (via playlists or all of it).

The software can be set-up for fast syncing (i.e. it will only be used with that computer) or multiple sync (where the Blackberry will be sync'ed with multiple Macs - which is slower). It also uses Apple's sync services which means it should play well with other sync programs (like Mobile Me).

Google Sync (on the Blackberry) confused things, but removing it and leaving syncing to Blackberry Desktop Manager cured that.

The Music Sync section even shows how much memory is available and what can be used for music/video etc. It's all very well put together.

Of course there's the obligatory Backup and Restore so the device memory can be saved on the Mac (well the application data anyway).

There's also a software update (for the Blackberry Desktop Manager itself) and for the software on the Blackberry including the system software. Applications can also be installed and removed via the app.

It might be a good idea to wait for RIM to officially release Blackberry Desktop Manager for Mac (the Blackberry site states September) but the one out in the wild seems to be the official thing.


Vonage iPhone app approved by Apple

Vonage runs a VoIP service and their aim is to replace the home's phone service and move it over to themselves.

They provide an ATA (or DECT systems) which plug into the IP connection and allows users to make calls. In the UK Vonage would really like to get hold of 'naked DSL' whereby BT (or other phone operator, but mainly BT) provide a 'wires only' service so a broadband provider can provide DSL, but there's no voice on the line. Currently this isn't possible. If it was, Vonage could bundle a DSL service with its phone offerings. Maybe when the UK has some kind of fiber offering they'll get a naked IP service.

Vonage have always offered a softphone so users can make and receive calls when away from home, an iPhone app would do the same. Though Vonage have quite a few users, they're not up there with Google and Google's Voice app still has not been approved.

It did take a while for Vonage to get approval, but Apple's reasoning was that Vonage needed to fix a few software issues. Apple have previous approved various other VoIP services (as long as they only work over WiFi and NOT 3G).

One reason Apple may not like Google Voice is that it allegedly hooks into the dialer, so when a call is made Google will try and route it over Google's network if possible.

Snow Leopard isn't the perfect upgrade

Snow Leopard is Apple's latest incarnation of their MacOS X. Though MacOS X has been 64bit for a while, now is the first time that it's really 64bit and most of Apple's applications are also 64bit.

In their wisdom Apple have disabled certain functionality in the 64bit versions of some applications, including running plug-ins in Mail and Address Book. This is annoying since things like Plaxo no longer work properly. Sync'ing does work, but the plug-ins for Mail allowing the user to see if the email comes from a Plaxo user and the ability to add to the Address book don't (Mail starts and warns about the plug-in and moves it to a "disabled" folder).

It is possible to restore the functionality by going in to finder and getting the "info" for Mail.app and making it run in 32bit and then it turns into the old Mail with the plug-in functionality.

Apple say the disabling of plug-ins is to maintain system integrity as plug-in can alter the Mail/etc behaviour. Surely it's up to the user whether they want to run a plug-in or not, and badly behaved plug-ins will quickly be reported to various Internet forums and users can then disable them themselves.

Running 32bit Mail is an annoyance, as it runs slower than its 64bit version. Please Apple find a supported solution.


Apple 'iPod relaunch' event

On Sept 9th 2009 Apple will be holding a "special" event in San Francisco (maybe with a video link to London).

The invite shows a silhouette with an iPod in their hand and "It's only rock and roll, but we like it," which could be an homage to the Rolling Stones classic tune.

Rumours abound, it could be a new version of iTunes (expected anyway) a new iPod Touch (64GB also expected at some point). It may even be the new Apple Tablet (which is widely anticipated- but probably more than an iPod relaunch).

Apple are notorious for not pre-announcing anything, though recently have been sneaking some info out.


Spotify goes iPhone and US (soon)

Spotify the Swedish music streaming company (which has players for Mac and Windows) has now launched an iPhone version.

It's been in the queue with Apple for about a month, but was finally given approval yesterday. Many feared it wouldn't make the app store as it competes with Apple's own iTunes service.

Spotify on iPhone will only be available to users who subscribe to their £9.99 per month service, though the application is a free download. Spotify expect the iPhone app to drive new customers to their premium services.

The app allows sync'ed playlists with the desktop version and other features.

US customers still have to wait until Spotify complete licensing deals with the stakeholders in the US, but a launch there is expected next year, though some lucky US people have had pre-launch invites.

Spotify is also rumored to be in talks with Facebook who have been lacking a music service so far, a FB/Spotify tie-up would seriously impinge MySpace's youth music market.

Whichever way you look at it, Spotify are a company to watch, hopefully they'll not get bought out by Facebook or other US giant and can be a genuine European success story.


Google transports 600GB of data per day

Google's municipal WiFi network in Mountain View, CA is now transporting more than 600GB of data per day.

Tropos built and maintains the network for Google, which offers free WiFi in about 12 square miles around Mountain View.

The traffic volumes have doubled over the last 2 years and much of the increased traffic can be attributed to iPhones and other devices with built-in WiFi.

AT&T is also seeing increased device usage in its hotspots, but muni WiFi has not succeeded on the whole.

Apple haven't "rejected" Google Voice

Apple's response to the FCC investigation over allegations of Apple rejecting Google's Google Voice app are unfounded, maybe.

Apple is still considering whether it should allow the application into the app store. It has not consulted with the MNOs and it's still in internal discussions.

Of course Apple's indecision is pretty much equivalent to them rejecting it, at least until they make a decision as a non-decision means no entry into the app store.

If Google Voice is allowed in, it could mean a change in policy for other VoIP applications which "intercept" the dialer.

Nokia announces now Booklet

Nokia has announced a new Windows laptop (or Booklet as they call it). It utilises the Intel Atom processor and comes with WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G built-in. It also incorporates A-GPS, an SD card reader and an HDMI port.

It does this all while having an impressive 12 hours battery life. It's also only weighs 1.25Kg and is less than 2cm thick while having an HD glass LCD panel.

Nokia haven't released full specs or pricing which will be announced at the forthcoming Nokia World.

Though running Windows, it will still offer the Ovi suite which will be pre-installed.

Nokia is obviously making a statement before Apple come out with their 10" ultra portable.


Twitter adding Geolocation to API

In the near future the Twitter API will be extended with the ability to geotag the tweet. The user will have to enable adding geo information to the tweet (for privacy reasons) but this will be a genuinely useful addition to the service. It will also allow a whole new slew of geo enabled applications that can get very interesting information from gthe Twitter stream.

Initially the new API will be released to a limited number of platform developers (who are generally the people writing Twitter clients) before opening it to the general public.

Twitter are also developing further additions which will enable commercial users of Twitter to gain increased functionality from the service, though @ev (Evan Williams) has said the service will always be free for ordinary users.


Femto cells to be big?

Ubiquisys has just raised $11m as they expect the Femto cell market to explode.

Why is everyone so surprised? Femto cells in the home using the customer's broadband connection makes sense for the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) as they remove some of the backhaul requirements which is an incredibly expensive operational cost.

As new data services are launched like HSPDA+ which offer 20Mb/s or so download speeds and eventually LTE (or even WiMAX) the backhaul requirements just get worse.

Currently the MNOs restrict the in-premise cells to just a few users, but in the future it's likely the femto cells will be given away for free, the customer gets "free" or greatly reduced call charges and free or cheap data. However at some point the MNOs will allow 3rd party users on to the cells for calls and data. They can then use in-home cells for micro fill and offloading traffic from the main cell sites.

This only is really practical for 3G femto cells as they will co-operate with neighbouring cells and not interfere on the radio side of things. Unfortunately 2G femto cells still need to be frequency planned which causes a nightmare if they are randomly deployed (unless they have their own spectrum to sit in, which is available in the old GSM Guard Bands - but of the MNOs only O2 has a low power guard band license).

Vodafone have taken the initiative in the UK and it's surely only a matter of time before the other operators follow suit with their own femto cell rollouts.


Consultation on the way forward for the future use of the band 872 - 876 MHz paired with 917 - 921 MHz | Ofcom

Consultation on the way forward for the future use of the band 872 - 876 MHz paired with 917 - 921 MHz | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation on the 872 - 876 MHz paired with 917 - 921 MHz bands.

The last consultation was held in Summer 2006, but the conditions have changed since then.

It's likely that the GSM directive will be amended such that the 900MHz and other bands can be refarmed for 3G use. This means the 917 - 921 MHz which is adjacent to this band will need to be controlled such that 3G interference is minimised.

Ofcom are considering the band for UMTS use and systems such as LTE could work in the band.

Ofcom are also considering allowing short range devices such as RFID systems to operate in this band in a light licensing regime as interference is likely to be very localised.

The consultation closes on the 3rd of Nov 2009.


Blackberry App World updates itself

Blackberry has updated it's App World application to v1.1 which promises faster image and icon loading and other improvements such as showing the available memory and suggesting ways of gaining more memory such as moving applications on to SD storage.

There are now about 2,000 applications on App World which is still a tiny amount compared to Apple's efforts, but at least there are some.


Skype for Asterisk Open Beta

Digium have announced their Skype for Asterisk Open Beta which anyone can get a license key (and chan_skype software) for the Asterisk open source IP PBX.

The open beta will close on Aug 7th and the licenses will expire on Aug 31st so if you apply now, that gives about a month's worth of testing,

You need to register on Digium's site to make a purchase which will cost all of $0.

The Skype software and license is available to buy here.

This allows an Asterisk PBX to log into Skype which then acts as a channel driver so calls can be sent through the channel.


Virgin Mobile Sprints away

Sprint is acquiring Virgin Mobile USA for $483m. Sprint is already a shareholder (13.1%) and Virgin is an MVNO on Sprint's network.

Sprint will gain advantages by reducing operational requirements.

This will give Virgin a small cash boost, but the whole group is still up for sale.

Direction under Section 106(3) of the Communications Act 2003 modifying a direction applying the Electronic Communications Code in the case of Airwave Solutions Limited | Ofcom

Direction under Section 106(3) of the Communications Act 2003 modifying a direction applying the Electronic Communications Code in the case of Airwave Solutions Limited | Ofcom

Ofcom has granted Airwave a variance in the appliance of the Communications Code such that they are now able to build a private mobile radio network for The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralmypic Games.

airwave already have a license which allows them to build mobile networks for the emergency services and other public organisations, this just gives them the ability to provide the same type of network for the Olympics in the Stratford area.


O2 UK follow Vodafone with SMS access to Twitter

UK O2 users can now send tweets from the mobile phone using SMS (and of course receive them via SMS too).

The system is set-up like the already working Vodafone system where device updates are enable per user and/or for replies and/or direct messages.

Messages are sent to (ro come from) 86444.

Sending messages to your phone is free while sending messages to Twitter will cost a the same as a standard SMS, though they can be included in any SMS bundle deal. O2 are operating a fair use policy whereby if you receive more than 600 messages per month, you'll be asked to cut your usage down.

It now only a matter of time before the other MNOs follow suit.

Orange and even O2 may bid against Vodafone for T-Mobile UK - Rethink Wireless

Orange and even O2 may bid against Vodafone for T-Mobile UK - Rethink Wireless

It looks like O2 and even Orange may enter the fray to purchase T-Mobile UK, even though Orange have stated they're not in the game (insiders believe they owuld put an offer in just to stop Vodafone).

However Deutsche Telekom may hold on to the struggling T-Mobile to give Richard Moat (T-Mobile's UK CEO) time to turn the company around.

Ericsson wins Nortel assets but Q2 results impacted by downturn - Rethink Wireless

Ericsson wins Nortel assets but Q2 results impacted by downturn - Rethink Wireless

Ericsson has won the bidding to buy the wireless assets of Nortel. They paid $1.3bn which was considerably larger than $650m initially offered by Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN).

This will put Ericsson in a good position to get into the CDMA migration LTE game in North America. it's surprising that NSN let the Nortel assets get away since the wireless division was profitable and both the Swedes and Fins have been trying to expand operations in the North American markets.

Nortel also has a well regarded LTE IP portfolio which now goes to Ericsson too. Ericsson now becomes the second largest CDMA provider only down from ZTE.

However on the same day Ericsson published their results which were "disappointing".


BBC Dumps Commercial Internet-TV Plan - WSJ.com

BBC Dumps Commercial Internet-TV Plan - WSJ.com

Project Kangaroo jumps its last jump and is being closed down and the technology sold to Arquiva Ltd (the technology bit that came out of NTL).

Kangaroo was effectively killed last February after BSkyB complained that they'd get too much of an advantage in the emerging VoD/IPTV market and the Competition Commission agreed with them.

BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm of the Beeb) is still interested in distributing content over the Internet and is looking at other ways of now doing this.

BBC's iPlayer already supports on-demand and downloaded content and could be modified to support a pay TV model.


Google Voice now berry'd up

Google has released a Blackberry verison of the Google Voice application so it's now available on Blackberry phones as well as Android phones. Unfortunately Google Voice is still only available to Google users in the US (or who have registered with a US Google Mail account etc).

Google are rumoured be to be in talks with a German company who will provide them with infrastructure in Europe (including the UK).

When Google do launch in Europe the new VoIP entrants have the most to lose and some must already be worried. BT will still win as they own 85% of the infrastructure into premises and until there's fibre services rolled out from alternate carriers they still provide the last mile (and much of the backhaul).

Apple sells iPhones

Apple have shipped 5.2m iPhones during the last quarter which helped them achieve net profits of $1.23bn which is up 15% on last year.

Apple are still seen to be innovating in the phone market and there are still rumours of a 10" netbook (or large iPod touch) type device. They still have the opportunity to grab a new chunk of the market if they can release a truly innovative device.

AT&T go plastic

Plastic Logic makers of eInk technologies have done a deal with Barnes and Noble to supply their eBook store. AT&T will supply connectivity.

The unnamed Plastic Logic eReader will be in direct competition with Amazon's Kindle which is doing very well.

When will these devices come to Europe? The main eReader available in the UK is still the Sony unit.


Release of the 59 – 64 GHz band | Ofcom

Release of the 59 – 64 GHz band | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation on the release of spectrum in the 59 to 64 GHz band under license exempt regulations.

The 57 to 59 GHz band has already been made license exempt and is used for high bandwidth fixed wireless systems (FWS) that link sites up to about 1Km apart.

Since the signals are rapidly attenuated in air, interference between FWS systems should be minimal.

Modern radio equipment that is now cost effective has made the use of this band commercially attractive to provide radio links of 100Mb/s and more.

There is still some military use of frequencies within these bands for Mobile and Radiolocation applications so license exempt use will not be permitted in 3 small geographic areas.

The consultation closes on 25/09/09


VirginMedia to go High Def

VirginMedia will shortly be launching new HD channels on their cable platform (the one they advertise as being fibre, which is really fibre to the street cabinet and co-ax to the home).

Sky have been offering several HD channels, now Virgin are catching-up with content from the Food channel and various Discovery channels.

It doesn't seem they have Sky's HD film channels, but then it's not in Sky's interest to offer them to Virgin customers.

Decision to make the Wireless Telegraphy (Short Range Devices) (Exemption) Regulations 2009 | Ofcom

Decision to make the Wireless Telegraphy (Short Range Devices) (Exemption) Regulations 2009 | Ofcom

On 17th July 2009 the Wireless Telegraphy Act changes will come come into force making various short range wireless devices license except. This is in-line with European Commission Decision 2009/381/EC of 13 May 2009 amending Decision 2006/771/EC of 9 November 2006 on harmonisation of the radio spectrum for use by short-range devices (the SRD Amendment Decision).

The following will become license excempt: -

* Tank Level Probing Radar (TLPR) at 4.5-7, 8.5-10.6, 24.05-27, 57-64 and 75-85 GHz.
* Radio determination applications at 2400-2483.5 MHz and 17.1-17.3 GHz (including Ground Based Synthetic Aperture Radar GB-SAR).
* Wideband data transmission systems (WBDTS) at 57-66 GHz (including wireless distribution of High Definition HD video).

It will also licence-exempt airborne use of the following equipment:

* WBDTS at 2400-2483.5 MHz and 57-66 GHz.
* Radio determination applications at 2400-2483.5 MHz.
* TLPR at 4.5-7, 8.5-10.6, 24.05-27, 57-64 and 75-85 GHz.
* Model Control at 26990-27000, 27040-27050, 27090-27100, 27140-27150 and 27190-27200 kHz.
* Radio frequency identification at 2446-2454 MHz.


Vodafone and T-Mobile UK acquisition getting closer

Assuming there are no regulatory complaints, Vodafone may announce the acquisition of T-Mobile UK by next week. Deutsch Telecom may agree to the purchase if Vodafone swaps their Turkish network.

Ofcom recently released 3G coverage in the UK showing that O2 and Vodafone lagged behind 3, Orange and T-Mobile so a joint Vodafone/T-Mobile network would significantly increase their coverage and give them 40% of the UK market.

It is likely that other operators will shout unfair so the will be delays due to regulatory intervention.

Chrome OS the notebook challenger

Google has announced Chrome OS and new Linux based operating system with a the Chrome browser which will be targeted at netbooks.

Netbooks are already using Linux, but Google's entry into the fray will certainly threaten other Linux variants and make Microsoft's life more difficult. By owning the desktop, Google gain the user's entry to the Interweb, which makes Google apps easily available removing the reliance on desktop applications. Since Chrome supports Google GEARS, Google apps can continue to operate when the system is offline.

Google say Chrome and Android are different and come out of different teams. Android is optimised for mobile devices and has the issue of having a mobile stack to contend with while Chrome is optimised as a desktop system with the browser as the main driver.

It's likely that Google (with zero licensing costs) will be able to gain a large foothold reasonably quickly and drive users to their on-line apps which is the motivation for the OS.

It seems the industry also likes the effort and there seems to be widespread support from chip manufacturers like ARM, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments etc.

A Three-digit Number for Non-Emergency Healthcare Services | Ofcom

A Three-digit Number for Non-Emergency Healthcare Services | Ofcom

Ofcom is holding a consultation on the introduction of a 3 digit code, 111, for non-essential health care services.

A user dialing 111 will be directed to their local health service. The service is planned to be piloted in 2010 and rolled out nationally (in England) after that.

The consultation closes on 28 August 2009.


RIM doubles applications to 2000

RIM have doubled the number of apps in their App World to 2,000 which still compares poorly to Apple who have over 50,000.

Though App World is relatively easy to use it's not as easy (or pretty) as Apple app store.

RIM has declined to give figures on the number of downloads from App World.

Phorm given the boot

Following on the BT's announcement that they were delaying the implementation of Phorm the targeted advertising system, TalkTalk announced they were dropping it all together. Virgin Media is considering Phorm and other systems but has not yet decided on a system to install. Phorm's share price fell 20 201p on the news.

Phorm works by snooping users' traffic and working out what sites they visit, then delivering targeted ads to those users based on their viewing habits. Phorm purchase they advertising space on remote sites and insert their ads.

Phorm has been criticised from privacy groups and there has been a bit of a public backlash.

Phorm is now concentrating on other markets such as Korea where it says trials are going well.

UK users may breath a sigh of relief, at least for a while in terms of Phorm.

Consumer Protection Test for telephone number allocation | Ofcom

Consumer Protection Test for telephone number allocation | Ofcom

Ofcom have updated the Consumer Protection Test lists which consist of the "Under Assessment" and "Nu mber refusal" lists.

Ofcom will not issue numbers in the ranges which are considered premium rate services (070 personal numbers, 0871/2/3 special service higher rate numbers and 09 premium rate numbers), these are all governed by PhonePayPlus.

Any telephony provider should check these lists before allocating numbers and ensure that people or companies on the list are not obtaining number services through them.

The lists are available as Adobe PDF files from the Ofcom site.


Digital dividend: clearing the 800 MHz band | Ofcom

Digital dividend: clearing the 800 MHz band | Ofcom

Ofcom is planning ot clear the 800MHz band (also known as 790-862 MHz, channels 61 to 69 in UHF Bands IV and V) of existing and previously planned users and align the upper band of the UK’s digital dividend with the spectrum being identified for release by an increasing number of other European countries.

It also sets out the high level principles for how Ofcom intend to clear those existing and previously planned users – digital terrestrial television (DTT) and programme-making and special events (PMSE) – from channels 61, 62 and 69.

Ofcom is re-aligning the spectrum as other countries in Europe are clearing the spectrum for auction as the spectrum can be optimally used by wireless broadband operators.

The new use maximises the value to society as UK Plc.

Notice of Ofcom’s proposal to make the Wireless Telegraphy (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations 2009 | Ofcom

Notice of Ofcom’s proposal to make the Wireless Telegraphy (Ultra-Wideband Equipment) (Exemption) Regulations 2009 | Ofcom

Ofcom is consulting on introducing new legislation on the license exempt use for Ultra Wideband (UWB) in accordance with European Commission Decision of 21 April 2009 (2009/343/EC) (the “UWB Amendment Decision”).

Ofcom will overturn previous legislation and introduce a new Statutory Instrument.

The consultation closes on 04/08/09.


Vodafone to buy T-Mobile?

Vodafone has 25% of the UK market, T-Mobile only has 15% but a combined company would have 40% of the market which is way ahead of O2 the current leader with 27%.

This would still require regulatory approval and the other networks would no doubt cry foul play, though Vodafone would be unlikely be considered a monopoly unless their market share rose considerably.

Though this could be seen as a bad thing for the market as competition would be reduced, it would give Vodafone economies of scale as they could improve coverage by merging physical networks and removing duplicate coverage while increasing coverage in areas that are poorly covered now. They could also increase capacity within the network allowing for high speed data services.

T-Mobile (Germany) may not wish to part with the UK arm at the moment as the valuation will be low in the current market conditions.

Apple gets more of an Imagination

Apple has followed on Intel's heals and taken a 9.5% stake in UK graphics chip designer Imagination (Intel have a 14% stake).

Intel are keen on leading the Mobile Internet Device (MID) market and have recently made public announcements with Nokia. Apple meanwhile are utilising Imagination's PowerVR chips on the new i{Phone 3GS (they used their older chips in the iPhone 3G and iTouch models). This with their purchase of PA Semi means they could well be developing low power ARM chips and PowerVR cores for new ranges of iPhones/iTouch's coming out next year. They could also utilise the chips in their rumoured tablet which is also expected next year.

If Apple do release a tablet, it looks like they'll ignore the notebook market.


Michael Jackson Flashmob at Liverpool St station

On Friday 26th of June 2009 there was a Michael Jackson Flashmob moonwalk.

It all started on Twitter when Milo Yiannopoulos picked up on a tweet where Rob Manuel of b3ta mentioned that a Michael Jackson flashmob should happen. Milo took it upon himself to make it so.

The flashmob was meant to start at 6, but myself and the lovely Gail Porter arrived at just after 5 to see if we could help out. Gail had retweeted the event to her 14,358 followers.

Though City of London Police weren't too bother, British Transport Police didn't seem to pleased at the thought of hundreds or thousands descending on Liverpool St station. They started taping off the top section of the station and speaking to Milo downstairs it soon became apparent that if any kind of crowd started to gather, they'd start arresting people.

Quick re-arrangements meant relocating outside to Liverpool St and the City of London Police being extremely co-operative (and so unlike earlier G20 events), it was a hot sunny day and many seemed to be "up for it". The sounds system was moved from outside MacDonald's (where a crowd of a couple of hundred people had started to gather) to the opposite side of the street in-front of a tanning salon.

It took a while getting all the kit across (Liverpool St was by now filling up, the Police had blocked access to cars) and suddenly it dawned on everyone that it was actually happening.

Though it's difficult to say how many people were there, it seemed like several thousand (Liverpool St was rammed from the Broadgate end to beyond the station). Milo introduced the event and managed to get 3 Jacko songs in before the Police called it a day. Though the event was meant to be a mass moonwalk, it was a bit packed for much to actually take place.

Everyone seemed to have a great time and special thanks must go to London Speaker Hire for getting the sound system there.

The Europas: Best European / Real World Gadget (EMEA)

The Europas: Best European / Real World Gadget (EMEA)

Please vote for En-Twyn in the TechCrunch Europas. En-Twyn have designed a mains socket combined with Powerline electronics that is in the process of going to manufacture.

The initial version is based on a UK double gang socket with 2 Ethernet (switched) ports and an LCD display which is used to show the status of the system (i.e. sync, Ethernet activity, link state etc).

More information is available from their TechCrunch entry".

Future versions will carry multiple media types (audio, video, etc) and have an embedded Linux controller allowing Quality of Service and a remotely controllable architechture (including being able to monitor socket power usage and being able to turn off power to the sockets).

Do please vote.


2.6GHz auction scrapped

Ofcom has decided to withdraw it's intent to auction the 2.6GHz band (part of the IMT-2000 spectrum). Various mobile operators had disputed Ofcom's right to auction the spectrum and had taken them to court (mainly as part of the 900MHz refarming arguments).

Ofcom changed made this decision based on the Government's Digital Britain report, which accepted the recommendations of the independent spectrum broker (ISB) which tied the 2.6GHz auction to the 800MHz auction (which becomes available after the digital switch-over).

This will delay the auction until after 2010.


T-Mobile to launch HTC MyTouch

T-Mobile are going to launch their second Android phone the HTC MyTouch which to everyone else is the HTC Magic (as sold by Vodafone).

In the US it will cost $199 with a 2 year contract.

Not too exciting really.

Notification under Section 107(6) of the Communications Act 2003 - Airwave Solutions Limited | Ofcom

Notification under Section 107(6) of the Communications Act 2003 - Airwave Solutions Limited | Ofcom

Airwave Solutions Ltd run the digital mobile network for the emergency services (and other organisations with a public safety remit. Anyone wishing to use Airwave's network must go through Ofcom and demonstrate their public safety element.

Ofcom now wish to amend this so that The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralmypic Games can utilise the network for the 2012 Olympics.

The consultation closes on 20th July 2009.


Stop hitting F5, iPhone OS 3.0 release still hours away?

Stop hitting F5, iPhone OS 3.0 release still hours away?

Apple may release the iPhone OS v3 at 6pm today UK time, the update should also be available as a chargable item for the iPod Touch.

v3 (on the iPhone) should allow MMS, cut and paste, tethering and the background push notification service as well as many new API calls.

Time will tell if Apple have got it right and if sales will match previous iPhone hype and store rushes.


Freedom4 application for licence variation | Ofcom

Freedom4 application for licence variation | Ofcom

Freedom4 are a WiMAX operator in the UK who offer wireless broadband (they are owned by the Hong Kong giant PCCW).

Freedom4 operate in the bands 3.6 - 4.2 GHz and currently can only offer fixed services, they have applied to Ofcom to a) increase the power limits of their basestations (i.e. main transmitter hubs) and also allow mobile access (which removes the obligation to register end-user / low-power terminals).

Ofcom's view is that the in-band power level can increase from +14dBW/MHz to +23dBW/MHz (+53dBm/MHz) for central stations and to remove the absolute limit of 22dBW/MHz (EIRP).

For terminal stations coordination should not be necessary for those with a spectral density not exceeding 25dBm/MHz and total EIRP not exceeding 30dBm unless a proposed central station is within 100MHz and 2km of a point-to-point link.

These changes should be made as soon is possible.

Ofcom is holding a consultation for interested stakeholders which closes on 20|07|2009.


Managing the spectrum above 275 GHz | Ofcom

Managing the spectrum above 275 GHz | Ofcom: "275-3000 GHz"

Ofcom is going to make spectrum in the 275-3000 GHz band license exempt, however not all the band is being released as there are already a few licensed users there such as user in the scientific community (radio-astronomy, space research and earth exploration satellite services). The band is also used for short range anti-collision radar devices and detection of skin cancer.

The band is highly attenuated in air (oxygen and water molecules) and usually highly directional aerials are used, so risk of interference is very low.

The band will not be released until after the 2011 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-11) where international policy is made and it would be premature for Ofcom to release the spectrum before the conference.

This band can be used for low power short range high bandwidth services (i.e. for in-building wireless connectivity).

Variation to BT’s Undertakings under the Enterprise Act 2002 related to Fibre-to-the-Cabinet | Ofcom

Variation to BT’s Undertakings under the Enterprise Act 2002 related to Fibre-to-the-Cabinet | Ofcom

BT has been granted a variation to its undertakings allowing Openreach to control and operate electronic equipment in the street cabinet.

This means that BT will install Fibre to the Street Cabinet (FTTC) and then place DSL Multiplexors in the cabinets. Since the cabinets are usually close to the premises they are serving (in urban environments at least) this will allow BT to offer VDSL2 (and variants) to end users offering 100Mb/s type download speeds.

This will still require major investment from BT and they will also have to provide equal access to other operators but if it all goes ahead will allow high speed Internet to homes providing IPTV (Internet TV), Video on demand and other services. BT Vision might stand a chance of success, though BSkyB will be watching this very carefully (and they'll also likely offer an IPTV service).

Unfortunately this again increases the digital divide as rural areas will still suffer as services such as VDSL2 only work at high speed with sub 100m connections and street cabinets in rural areas may be miles away from premises. This is one reason BT is looking towards wireless and potentially the 2.6GHz spectrum that will be up for auction later this year or next year.

Channel 5 set for licence for high definition programmes on digital terrestrial television | Ofcom

Channel 5 set for licence for high definition programmes on digital terrestrial television | Ofcom

Channel 5 has been awarded a license to broadcast in High Definition (HD) on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) after the digital switch-over in 2010.

Channel 5 joins the BBC, the Channel 3 licensees (ITV, stv and UTV), and Channel 4 and S4C who have already been granted licenses.

Granada will be the first region to completely switch-over to DTT in 2009 and some HD content will be available at this time, other regions will switch-over by 2012.

Channel 5 will show programmes such as The Gadget Show, UEFA Europa League, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and blockbuster movie premiers which could become available in HD from late 2010.

This still means probable new Freeview boxes with MPEG-4 support.

BBC Multiplex B reorganisation

Ofcom has granted BBC Free to View Limited a license variation for the Multiplex B so that it can be reorganised to allow for the broadcast of High Definition (HD) Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

Current Standard Definition DTT is broadcast using MPEG-2 while HD is likely to use MPEG-4 as it requires less bandwidth than the same content broadcast on MPEG-2. Unfortunately this means new Freeview boxes will be required as none (or very few) of the existing boxes on the market have MPEG-4 decoders.

This will mean lots of current Freeview units being binned and new units will have to be purchased.


Qualcomm Introduces Single-Chip 802.11n Wireless LAN Solution for Handsets and Mobile Devices - FierceWireless

Qualcomm Introduces Single-Chip 802.11n Wireless LAN Solution for Handsets and Mobile Devices - FierceWireless

Qualcomm has introduced an 802.11n chipset for use in mobile devices. The chip supports 4 x 4 MIMO antenna arrays which allow distributing high speed data (such as video) to multiple devices.

It's likely the chip will be used in home gateways and devices. This will put Qualcomm in direct competition with other chip vendors who are already in this space.

Data rates of 72Mb/s are achievable.

Update on plans for a new consultation | Ofcom

Update on plans for a new consultation | Ofcom

Ofcom is going to hold a consultation into the use of GSM gateways following the Court of Appeal judgment of 10 February 2009 relating to an appeal by Floe Telecom.

Ofcom expect to publish the consultation during the summer.

The last time this came up was in 2005 (and NetTek responded to the consultation).


The Wireless Telegraphy (Short Range Devices) (Exemption) Regulations 2009 | Ofcom

The Wireless Telegraphy (Short Range Devices) (Exemption) Regulations 2009 | Ofcom

Ofcom is proposing to make various systems license exempt under the he Wireless Telegraphy (Short Range Devices) (Exemption) Regulations 2009.

These will include: -

* Tank Level Probing Radar (TLPR) at 4.5-7, 8.5-10.6, 24.05-27, 57-64 and 75-85 GHz.
* Radio determination applications at 2400-2483.5 MHz and 17.1-17.3 GHz (including Ground Based Synthetic Aperture Radar GB-SAR).
* Wideband data transmission systems (WBDTS) at 57-66 GHz (including wireless distribution of High Definition HD video).

Ofcom are also proposing to make various airborne systems exempt: -

* WBDTS at 2400-2483.5 MHz and 57-66 GHz;
* Radio determination applications at 2400-2483.5 MHz;
* TLPR at 4.5-7, 8.5-10.6, 24.05-27, 57-64 and 75-85 GHz;
* Model Control at 26990-27000, 27040-27050, 27090-271000, 27140-27150 and 27190-27200 kHz; and
* Radio Frequency Identification at 2446-2454 MHz.

The ones that will effect most people are the radio control bands and also the Wideband data transmission system which are expeted to be used in the home for distributing video.

Ofcom welcoming comments by June 30th 2009 and are expecting to implement the new regulations by August 2009.


Download the beta version of Skype for Windows

Download the beta version of Skype for Windows:

Skype have released Skype v4.1 beta for Windows. This now features the following features or improvements: -

* Screen sharing
* Send contacts
* Birthday reminders
* Improvements in call quality
* Improvements in video quality
* Accessibility features
* Bug fixes

Skype also now allows importing contacts from on-line services such as Gmail, AOL and LinkedIn, among others.

Being a Twit in Shoreditch and Pouting

Last night (Weds May 27th) was the combination of Pout and Shoreditch Twit. The evening was sponsored by SIP Drinks and Fashion Targets and a good time was had by all.

Some might think this was an odd combination, Pout is all about fashion and Shoreditch Twit is all about a gathering of Twitter users (twits?) who are mainly geeks though there is a good spattering of PR, journo and other media types - especially in the uber hip Shoreditch area (how times change - who remembers when Shoreditch was full of squats and a scary place). Anyway it all seemed to work though several twits could be seen gawking though no one seemed to mind.


Twitter goes mainstream

You know when a website has gone mainstream when it appears in a TV series. Well Twitter is now featured in an episode of CSI (Crime Scene Investigation set in Las Vegas).

The whole point of blogging on Twitter is not about privacy but the value of openness (as per the program dialogue).

Here's the YouTube clip.


Direction under Section 106(3) of the Communications Act 2003 applying the electronic communications code in the case of Thales Transport and Security Limited | Ofcom

Direction under Section 106(3) of the Communications Act 2003 applying the electronic communications code in the case of Thales Transport and Security Limited | Ofcom

Thales Transport and Security Limited have been given powers under The Code allowing them to dig and install street furniture without the permission of the landowner etc.

This will allow them to build and install an electronic communications network.

Facebook's $200M Investment Values Co. At $10B - NYTimes.com

Facebook's $200M Investment Values Co. At $10B - NYTimes.com

It seems Facebook has been given a $200m boost for 2% of stock valuing the company at $10bn. This is significantly less that the $15bn that Microsoft's $240m stack valued them at. The investment came from Digital Sky Technologies which is a Russian outfit.

Guessing it would seem Facebook have had internal differences about creating revenue or increasing the user base (Facebook now has around 200m active users). The co-founder left the company allegedly for wishing to increase revenues and more recently the CFO left too (he wanted to increase revenues) but the official reason was that he wasn't suitable for an IPO.

This will give Facebook some breathing space allowing them to continue operations as their advertising and other revenues do not yet meet their spend. At some point revenues must become the primary focus for the company or they'll run out of cash.


Orange (UK) reports 500% increase in Dongles

Orange has reported that there has been a 500% increase in the number of dongles sold compared to six months ago. Data now accounts for 25% of their revenues.

Data usage increased to 386,000GB downloaded last month.

Customers with 3G phones or dongles increased to 3.824m at the end of Q1/09.


Vodafone drops roaming charges

Vodafone is dropping roaming charges in 45 areas from June through August. The announcement comes before the EU Commission is to make an announcement on capping roaming charges.

Although the current deal expires after August, Vodafone may well extend the offer depending on how well it goes. They're potentially going to steal customers from other networks as the holiday season starts.

The counties and areas covered are Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroes, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Vatican City.

Will the other operators follow suit? Maybe including USA which Vodafone have missed off (preumably as Vodafone have networks in these areas and can move traffic across their own network).


Enforcement Report | Ofcom

Enforcement Report | Ofcom

In 2008 Ofcom fined broadcasters almost £7.83m for breaches of the broadcasting code, companies were fined over £100,000 for breaking the rules on silent calls and 28 people were prosecuted for illegally broadcasting (pirate radio).

The money of course goes to the UK treasury and not to Ofcom and several of these fines have come from public broadcasters who get their money from the public in the first place - so they end up as a tax to the consumer.

Ofcom could probably prosecure many more pirate radio stations, it's just too much like hard work and they only go after the big ones.


Carphone Warehouse to acquire Tiscali UK

Carphone Warehouse (CPW) are acquiring the assets of Tiscali UK for £236m from Tiscali (Italy).

Tiscali have been up for sale for some time as broadband economics worsen and competition increases. Both BSkyB and CPW have been rumoured to be in the running as well as outsiders like BT.

It seems CPW have got to the finishing post and they'll gain Tiscali's infrastructure and customers. CPW's customer base will increase to 4.25m making them the largest UK (home) broadband provider. There's going to be considerable overlap in infrastructure and staff so CPW will likely make sweeping cuts in both. Tiscali's IPTV platform (previously HomeChoice) will give CPW an edge to compete with BT Vision and whatever Sky are planning. Tiscali only managed to achieve 100,000 IPTV customers (they wanted double that) and maybe CPW will be able to get that out to all their customers.

If CPW can utilise the extra infrastructure and minimise costs then they may be one of the larger players that survives the broadband commoditisation game.


Comcast turns down Joost

Joost who raised $45m in 2007 are up for sale and have been touting themselves to cable companies where there could be a good fit.

Initially Joost tried to tempt customers with a standalone P2P video player (using the same underlying technology as Skype) but have since moved to a web based model.

Now being one of many web based system, they're facing increased competition and struggling to win customers and advertising revenue with less than 1m unique monthly visitors.

It seems Comcast have passed on purchasing them. Joost do have a decent underlying technology solution which could be utilised by an emerging IPTV player rather than developing their own.


Tiscali Discusses Sale of U.K. Assets - WSJ.com

Tiscali Discusses Sale of U.K. Assets - WSJ.com

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Tiscali (Italy) is in advanced negotiations with Carphone Warehouse with respect to the sale of Tiscali UK.

Tiscali (UK) has been on the market for over a year and there have been various rumours about their sale. They acquired HomeChoice (VideoNetworks) who had 30,000 IPTV customers, Tiscali increased this to 100,000 which was still half of their 200,000 target.

Carphone Warehouse could add Tiscali's customer base to their network (they'd dump overlapped network), but the IPTV infrastructure could be of interest as it will give them a competing service to BT Vision and whatever Sky are going to launch when they get their IPTV act together.

Sky are also rumoured to be be a suitor.

Changes to 0870 | Ofcom

Changes to 0870 | Ofcom

In the future 0870 numbers will be charged at the same rate as national number (i.e. those numbers beginning with 01, 02 or 03). Communications providers will also have to include 0870 numbers in any bundles they offer.

This is good news for consumers as many companies use 0870 numbers as revenue streams and most providers do not include those numbers in any kind of inclusive minutes (though BT has been offering inclusive 0870 minutes for a while and "taking the hit"). Mobile operators will also have to include 0870's in their mobile tariffs as they usually charge a hefty premium for calling these number ranges.

Femtocells support mobile phones in developing nations

Femtocells support mobile phones in developing nations

CSL has produced a reference design for a GSM/GPRS/EDGE/E-EDGE femtocell (called Centaur) based on a picoChip software defined radio.

Many operators are focusing on 3G femtocells, which are much easier to integrate into existing networks. CSL feel that 2G femtocells will be useful in emerging markets where 3G may not be widely adopted.

2G femtocells will also be useful in the UK where the low power GSM operators such as UK01 can utilise them.


iPlotz: wireframing, mockups and prototyping for websites and applications

iPlotz: wireframing, mockups and prototyping for websites and applications

iPlotz seems to be the answer to many a web designer's prayer or should that be dream. It's an on-line system allowing wire-framing of sites so they can be viewed by other developers or even customers to ensure they have the right look and feel before any major coding is done. There's also some basic project management functionality so different wire-frames can be assigned as different tasks.

The combination of tools allows complex designs to be simulated while allowing the designer complete flexibility. Wire-framed items can perform actions such as jumping between pages, loading graphics etc so some site functionality is even available.

There's an on-line version at iPlotz and there's a downloadable version available as well. The downloadable version requires Adobe AIR.

Though some knowledge of how a site is put together, this is even useful for pre-design stages so that technical users could mock-up the functionality of a system then pass the mock-up to a designer to prettify. There's also scope for use in pitches before a site has even got to the drawing board (well iPlotz is the drawing board).

Having been on the thought stages of several sites where various Powerpoint or other static pages have been built, iPlotz would have given the extra flexibility to show how things fitted together and would have saved several days worth of re-jigging buttons or inter-page actions.

iPlotz uses the Freemium model whereby it's free to sign-up and that gives access to 1 project which is limited to 5 pages. There's a $15/m plan (on-line access to unlimited projects and 1GB storage). The downloadable version costs $75 (again there's a free trial), but the downloadable version is included in the $99/yr package (so you get 12 months which would normally be $180 and the $75 downloadable version). There are also 5 and 10 multi user versions for $295 and $495 per year respectively.

Definitely worth a look if you're building websites or a business based on a future website.

Get me Credit


3 UK attacks churn with disruptive free Skype offer - Rethink Wireless

3 UK attacks churn with disruptive free Skype offer - Rethink Wireless

Skype is offering any of its customers free Skype to Skype calls (and instant messaging), this works for pay as you go and contract phones.

Currently phones must be bought from Skype, but in summer they'll also allow any unlocked phones with a 3 SIM.

This may not make 3 any money, but it's likely to attract new customers who 3 can then hopefully sell more services to later.


Oracle and MySQL further thoughts

Oracle produce a high-end database, they already have an open source database Berkeley DB which they obtained by purchasing Sleepycat Software.

Oracle also owns Innobase Oy who develop InnoDB which is the transactional database used by MySQL.

It's unlikely Oracle would kill MySQL which is the main user of Innobase's products, therefore it's more likely that Innobase and MySQL will be combined in some way and both sit under the Oracle banner.

Sun are already optimising MySQL for Solaris, Oracle are likely to promote efforts in these areas so Solaris is THE OS for databases.

This can only be a good tbing for MySQL.

Oracle to Buy Sun - Yahoo! Finance

Oracle to Buy Sun - Yahoo! Finance

Sun and Oracle have entered into a definative agreement for Oracle to purchase Sun.

Oracle will acquire Sun common stock for $9.50 per share in cash. This values Sun at about $7.4bn.

Oracle can utilise Sun's Solaris and Java platforms (and may even keep the hardware business going so they have an optimised hardware base which will allow Oracle appliances etc.). However the future of MySQL has not been mentioned and may not be so rosy.

Oracle may well drop MySQL and leave it to the community to keep going.


Continuing the Meeja exposure

TechFluffTV reports on start-up news in Europe and low and behold I'm performing an escalator pitch for Textic.

It's only 30secs and here's the YouTube direct link.


Channel 4 - News - Amazon website censorship row

Channel 4 - News - Amazon website censorship row

Amazon US are allegedly censoring goods that have a gay or lesbian theme. If searches are made on the front page, items wont show up at all though they will search up in the sub categories such as books etc, but without seller ratings.

Obviously people are quite upset about this if Amazon are censoring items, though they claim it's a glitch.

There has been a big Twitter backlash against Amazon (using the hashtag #amazonfail) urging people to complain.

Channel 4 News did a piece about it. I was interviewed about the Twitter part which is just before the end of the clip.

Another kick in the teeth for troubled Tiscali as IPTV subscribers dwindle - Broadband Genie

Another kick in the teeth for troubled Tiscali as IPTV subscribers dwindle - Broadband Genie

It seems Tiscali's IPTV service had reached 100,000 users by the end of 2008, which all sounds pretty good. Unfortunately they were expecting to have 200,000 users which means they only achieved 50% of their target which isn't such a good figure. They may also have lost 64,000'ish broadband customers.

Tiscali UK have been up for sale for a while and this may reduce their chance of a quick sale (or increase their chance of being sold off as a firesale).


just trying ping.fm ... what's happening


Netgear releases ReadyNAS NVX

Netgear's ReadyNAS products are really nice home/office shared network resources. The NV+ has been around for a while, then the PRO came out which increased the bay count to 6 (from 4) offered dual network interfaces and faster processors based on Intel chips.

Netgear have now introduced the NVX which is a four bay design but (I guess) also Intel processors. As well as NFS, CIFS, AFS, FTP, http and other network sharing protocols the NVX now supports iSCSI as well.

Mac users have recently had improvements and a ReadyNAS can act as a Time Machine server for network back-ups and restore directly integrating with the Apple Time Machine client which is integrated into MacOS 10.5.

NetVault is a new service introduced by Netgear where ReadyNAS users can back-up their NAS's over the Internet and pay a monthly fee. The pricing seems to be based on whether the back-up is performed by a home user or business.

Currently in beta is Remote, a client which will allow remote users to natively access a ReadyNAS even if it's behind a firewall etc. It sits on Windows or MacOS and the ReadyNAS appears as a local disk.

Retail pricing is about $1,500 for a ReadyNAS NVX including 2TB of disk.

Today is data logging day

The UK law comes into force today (based on an EU directive) that means ISPs and telcos have to keep records of emails and phone calls for up to a year.

Well telcos have already been keeping records of telephone calls because they have to bill calls and billing records have to be kept for seven years anyway.

The story for ISPs is slightly different (and potentially unworkable). If a customer uses their ISPs mail server to send out Email then the ISP has to record the time, the originator and the recipients of the Email. They don't have to log the contents (which would mean huge storage costs).

If a customer sends out their own Email without going through the ISP mail server, it obviously wont be logged. ISPs can force Email traffic to go through their servers (though this can be circumvented too if the customer tries hard enough).

Since most large ISPs (in the UK) are implementing what was known as Cleanfeed (the system that allows ISPs to block content based on an IWF blacklist), they can also use that system to log web requests.

Logging data can be a huge burden for ISPs as the volumes get very large very quickly.


iPodRip - Giveaway

iPodRip - Giveaway

iPodRip are giving away some nice iPod prizes.

It's actually a nice program that allows you to get the music off your iPod (i.e. it does the opposite of iTunes).


NVidia releases new graphics card

NVidia has introduced new high end graphics cards, the top end Quadro FX5800 has 240 CUDA parallel processing cores and 4GB of high speed shader RAM it has Displayport and dual-DVI outputs.

This isn't a cheap solution the FX5800 costs around $3,300. The lower end cards start at at £300.

NVidia offer drivers for a variety of operating systems including most varieties of Windows, 32 and 64 bit Linux, Solaris x86/64. Unfortunately no MacOS drivers, so unless Apple do something they wont go into a MacPro (which would seem a logical choice for high end cards).

Virgin announce Addict tariff

Virgin's addict tariff is aimed at the mobile Internet user who needs to get their daily fix of social media sites.

£20 gives the user unlimited texts and unlimited data and 10p per minute for phone calls.

It's not quite as good as it sounds though as unlimited of course isn't unlimited as it's 1GB per month for data and 3,000 texts per month - though ignoring the data that means an SMS cost of 1.5p per text (though that's sending 100 texts per day - could be cheap for sending bulk SMS via lots of SIMs).

If a cheaper top-up tariff is chosen i.e. £15/m then there's 600 free texts and for £10/m it's 300 free texts with Internet costing 30p per day limited to 25MB.

It's also worth noting that file sharing and video or voice over Internet calls are not allowed.

Though £20 per month isn't bad for 3,000 text messages and 1GB Internet per month though there are better data deals on other networks.

Fonera v2 coming out 29th April

FON is a service that allows broadband users to share their Internet connection with other FON users (or with the general public). Registered FON users then also get access through any other FON device when they're away from their own premise.

The new Fonera v2 WiFi router has 2 LAN ports and a USB port that may be connected to any USB2.0 device or several through a hub.

The system will then share various USB devices like cameras and scanners and act a print server for connected printers. If disks are connected then these can also be shared, but there's also a bittorrent client built-in to the Fonera so that downloads can be left overnight and be ready in the morning. Disks can be traditional USB hard disks or even pen drives. If the disk contains photos these can automatically be uploaded to Flickr and other sites and videos automatically sent to YouTube.

The Fonera 2 unit will cost 49 Euros.

Ofcom sets mobile termination rates

Ofcom has published mobile termination rates for the mobile networks

The rates below are for Year 1, Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4
Vodafone and O2 5.40 5.09 4.71 TBC
T-Mobile and Orange 5.90 5.39 4.84 TBC
H3G 9.10 7.29 5.83 TBC

The mobile networks are having there revenues reduces severely (but this is in-line with a recent dispute with UK01 a new mobile entrant who also have a rate set which was 3.3p) but it's good for the consumer. Mobile rates have reduced significantly from a few years ago when they were charging 33p per minute.


Breakfasst with Jeff Pulver and Paul Walsh

This morning's breakfast with Jeff Pulver and Paul Walsh was a lively affair with lots of social networking taking place.

The bacon sandwiches may not have been the best idea, but overall a good event.

Thunderbird - actually a reasonable email client

Reading email can be a pain. Mutt is my preferred Email client, it's text based runs on UN*X/Linux, is fast and just works and is also available from anywhere by ssh'ing into the bix where the mail is stored.

Being text based, it's really good for scanning Email and deleting the rubbish. Emails can also be read and actioned, however being text based it's not good when people send pure HTML Email or Emails with nice attachments.

Being a Linux user (Fedora Core 10 at the moment) which also acts as a mail server (and file server as well as various other things), it means the system is on all the time. Outlook is a fine Email program as is Mail.app, but they mean booting a Windows or Apple machine.

So though the Linux box was on all the time, it was only really used for reading text Email through Mutt.

Then Thunderbird was suggested, it's an Email client from the Mozilla folks and it works. It''s actually quite similar to Outlook in the way it does certain things and if you're used to Outlook it will be relatively painless to use (though setting up Email accounts may not be so easy).

Now attachments are there and can be viewed as can HTML Email (rendered through Firefox or at least its libraries).

Thunderbird is a pretty good Email client for POP3/IMAP Email accounts.


IBM to buy Sun

IBM's potential purchase of Sun has been speculated recently, however it also seems various large company's procurement departments have been told to hold of making any Sun purchases and speak to IBM.

If the purchase does go ahead what will remain of Sun? Sparc will likely die (or just go over to Fujitsu completely), MySQL will drop to the wayside (or at least dropped off IBM's portfolio - they have enough of their own databases), Solaris will just go Open with little involvement from IBM if any at all.

The only thing that IBM definitely want is Java.

$6.5bn is cheap considering the prices paid for Compaq and others in recent times, but manufacturing chips - however good they are is expensive. This could be the end of an era and Sun may be disappearing over the IBM horizon.


UK01 the 6th UK network

UK01 are a new mobile operator in the UK offering localised GSM hotzones. Currently you buy a UK01 SIM (or get one for free) and buy minutes - on-line through the UK01 site or via local outlets (Pazone or epay).

The UK01 rates are very competitive, especially to non UK numbers - though UK rates are too bad, 1p per minute to a landline, 8p to a mobile and text messages cost 3p (though bundle deals are available).

UK01 are planning to offer a SIMless service soon, whereby users have to manually select the UK01 network on the phone. Normally the network doesn't recognise the EMEI and so rejects the connection, however UK01 welcome the EMEI and immediately register it. The phone then receives an SMS with the UK01 phone number (which can immediately receive calls) and tells the user how they can buy credit to make outgoing calls.

Coverage is currently limited to areas within Newham, but UK01 is planning to expand into neighbouring boroughs and even across the whole of London.

UK01 has already sold thousands of SIMs and is generating hundreds of thousands of call minutes per month, which isn't bad for a new operator - especially one that's operating in such a small area.

UK01 are definitely a network to watch, they could be extremely disruptive to the MNOs.

Twitter via SMS in the UK

Vodafone have opened up their network to Twitter users, but only for Vodafone customers.

Twitter users set-up their accounts within the Devices section of their profile, then add their mobile number.

While mobile, send a tweet to 86444 and it will go to your feed.

Messages from Twitter don't cost you anything? While SMS messages to Twitter are charged at standard network rates and included in any bundles and message allowance (though the first few messages don't seem to be counted).

It's likely other UK MNOs will follow suit just to keep the status quo - though maybe this a pre-emptive strike by Vodafone to block other networks or even purchase Twitter.