With Spring just a few days away, it’s a time for new starts, and new starts have been quite the theme this week. While the world’s press has been extensively covering the Catholic Church’s quest for a new leader, with similar fervour the telecoms industry has been monitoring the change of leadership at Android.
As a teenager and young man the Informer scoffed when he heard the old folks reassuring one another that ‘life begins at 40’. Clearly it was an attempt to sugar the reality that the best years had passed and it was downhill from here on in. Now, with 40 approaching at a gallop, the Informer feels more inclined to see wisdom in the statement.
The Informer’s not the only one getting old, as the mobile phone turned 40 this week with the anniversary of the first cellular phone call.
The Informer got a software update for his Nexus this week and the resulting tweaks to the interface led him accidentally to the data usage display. He was somewhat surprised to find that the second most data-hungry app on his phone was Google+, a service he has never used. Over a ten-day period Google+ huffed back 5.54MB of data over the mobile network, all of it in the background. This might not sound like much but it’s all relative; roughly one per cent of the monthly allowance, Google+ usage outstrips Facebook by some margin and leaves Gmail in the dust. And it’s worth repeating: This app has never been used.
It’s been a big news week for German incumbent operator Deutsche Telekom, not least with the announcement that CEO René Obermann is going Dutch at the end of the year. Obermann, the Pep Guardiola of the telecoms world, is off to ply his trade in the Netherlands, at Dutch cable operator Ziggo. We already knew Obermann’s time at DT was coming to an end, with the firm announcing last December that he would leave at the close of 2013.
When the Informer switched on his PC this morning and fired up his web browser he was greeted by the message “We’re sorry but this application has crashed. Would you like to restart?” No amount of clicking would achieve the desired result so he tried an alternative browser. Same deal. Perhaps the computer felt like many of the MWC attendees after four days of pounding the floors of the Fira Gran Via: crashed – unable to restart.
The UK LTE spectrum auction concluded this week, with much of the focus on the fact that—as a revenue generating exercise—it was a bit of a flop. Chancellor George Osborne had been hoping for £3.5bn for his purse; what he actually got was £2.34bn.
It was hardly surprising; during the auction UK LTE pioneer EE cut its prices and 3UK announced that it wouldn’t be pricing its new network services at a premium to existing offers. Clearly UK operators are wary of the investments required for LTE and a little more realistic about returns on those investments than they were when they spent ten times the amount on WCDMA spectrum just before the bubble burst.
This week the The Informer’s phone has been ringing off the hook with event invitations, gossip and briefing opportunities for Mobile World Congress; he’s been fielding more phone calls than Findus.
At midnight tonight the world’s biggest party will kick off, as more than one billion Chinese people take to the streets to celebrate the Chinese New Year. 2013 is the year of the water snake which is a totem that symbolises wisdom. It’s also the year that Telecoms.com tapped into the industry’s wisdom for its first annual industry survey and gathered almost 2,000 responses.
What was striking about the results is just how much the responses from operator personnel (600 individuals from 260 separate opcos) matched those of their peers across the wider industry, even when looking at contentious issues like roaming and regulation. Does this mean the industry has aligned in the face of threat from external players? After all, the snake is an adaptable creature renowned for its ability to sneak into other environments.
How long does a vote of confidence last? If you’re Lars Nyberg, the new former CEO of TeliaSonera, it lasts about about three and a half months. Back in October, shortly after he gave the firm’s head of mobile the boot with a statement that read like an homage to the bleak Nordic fatalism of [...]
Today the Informer feels like he has woken up in a parallel universe; one in which Apple is being vilified for its quarterly financial performance, while Nokia recorded an actual profit.
There’s no escaping the economic blight in Southern Europe, and Vodafone this week announced that it was planning cuts to its Spanish workforce, with local unions suggesting that the action could affect as many as 1,000 people. You’ll remember that Vodafone wrote down its Spanish and Italian operations by almost £6bn at the back end of last year blaming poor market conditions—and things are clearly not looking up.
China has long been seen as a potential goldmine for foreign investment due to the sheer size of the market, but the trick is always going to be catering to niche audiences within the country’s substantial economic diversity.
The Informer offers his heartfelt commiserations to anyone out there with a world destruction fantasy. It turns out that December 21 2012 was the Mayan equivalent of April Fool’s Day. As the BBC’s Radio 4 delivered the news: “Yesterday we reported that, according to some Mayans, the world would end on December 21st. It didn’t.” The Informer’s break would have been a lot less restful had the apocalypse reared its head(s)—and even shorter than it felt.
Last week the Informer joked that Nokia might get turfed out of its recently sold headquarters to make way for a Chinese tenant. It could never happen, of course. Could it…? Huawei got all up in Nokia’s face this week by announcing the opening of an office in Helsinki. Statements of intent don’t come much more pointed than that.
OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod! Kate Middleton is having a baby!! It might be a boy!! Or a girl!!
Right, that’s that out of the way, let’s get on with the real news. Christmas will soon be upon us and what better time than this to de-clutter. So says Nokia Siemens Networks, anyhow, as it continues to jettison non-core assets.
Back in October a chum of the Informer’s from one of the big infrastructure vendors told him that Apple was auditing LTE networks before allowing operators to offer the iPhone 5 as an LTE device. The Informer made a few calls to people in the know and was told the story was true, although Apple maintained a stony silence and nobody else, operator or vendor, would go on the record. Until now.
For the third year in a row, revenues from Europe’s telecoms sector have dropped, according to ETNO, the trade body for the region’s operators. The group released its third ETNO Annual Economic Report and found that total revenue in Europe’s telecoms sector amounted to €274.7bn in 2011, a decrease by 1.5 per cent compared to 2010.
To put that in perspective, the last time Europe’s telecoms market was on the rise, David Tennant was still Doctor Who, Obamamania swept the US and Europe for the first time, and Justin Bieber hadn’t even been discovered. Those were the times.
The recent news that Disney is to further desecrate the temple of Star Wars by rebooting the franchise with two new episodes and a new film every two to three years thereafter was met with howls of pain by many of the Informer’s generation, who grew up with the first three movies. But we shouldn’t be surprised at this bid to wring yet more dollars from the Force, given that Yoda, once the most powerful Jedi in the universe, has for some time been reduced to mugging in Vodafone adverts to earn a crust.
The Informer imagines the walls of Greek operator OTE’s headquarters to be decked at present with soft focus posters extolling the various virtues of gardening, fishing, woodland walks and home baking. All those hobbies you never had time for during your working life but no doubt aim to enjoy once retirement comes around.
The UK is a nation from where great innovators such as Isaac Newton, Isambard Brunel, John Logie Baird, Alexander Graham Bell, James Dyson and Tim Berners-Lee have all hailed. Yet despite even the inventor of the World Wide Web coming from these shores, the UK is a nation at risk of being left behind in today’s digital age.