Following the broadband money

Archive for June 2011

Oracle sues Google for $6bn over Java on Android smartphones

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Google faces claims for billions of dollars for allegedly infringing Oracle’s patents in the Java programming language that the database company acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems 18 months ago.

A US district court ordered Google to reveal the extent of the damages on Friday, Reuters reported.

Oracle claimed last year that Google’s Android smartphone operating system infringes Java patents. But until now neither party had put a number on the alleged damages.

Oracle America, Inc v. Google Inc, case 10-3561, is being heard in California’s northern district court.

Update: In a subsequent report, Reuters, quoting court papers, put the figure at between $1.4bn and $6.1bn. Google said the sums claimed were out of proportion to the value of the intellectual property at issue.


Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/17 at 11:56

Posted in Legal, News

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Open access is key to meeting Digital Agenda targets, says ECTA

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Europe’s first Digital Agenda Assembly, which starts tomorrow, is a standing-room only event to see what progress the continent has made in the year since its aggressive targets were spelled out, and how to get there.

European Commission vice-chairman Neelie Kroes wants every European to have access to a broadband connection by 2013, for everyone to have 30Mbps access by 2020, and for half of them to be on 100Mbps links.

Estimates of what this will cost vary. The European Investment Bank told BrokenTelephone its “back of the envelope” calculation put the sum at between €72bn and €200bn. Other estimates put it at €300bn.

Kroes recently asked the CEOs of leading communications services providers (CSPs) for their estimates as to ways and means. So far they haven’t shown their hand.

In a video interview ahead of the event, Erzsebet Fitori, director of regulatory affairs for ECTA, a lobby group for “challenger” network operators and their suppliers, said the Digital Agenda scoreboard published recently showed wide-spread access to basic broadband, but warned that unless policy makers adopted some different ideas, Europe would miss its upper targets.

Competitive access

ECTA was looking for policies that increased competitive access to markets. History had shown that competition led to innovation and increased availability and affordability of services, she said.

Key to this was for “challenger operators” to have “open access” to the fibre networks of incumbent operators, she said. The implementation of existing rules on opening up such access had been “patchy” she said.

“Member states need to commit to open and competitive networks and implement the rules vigorously” she said.

Fitori said the fibre networks being laid today would be serving consumers for the next 40 or 50 years. This required efficient funding and pricing models.

ECTA members also wanted the commission’s assurance that it would not tolerate discriminatory prices and “abusive practices” by dominant operators.

Fitori said fibre to the home for everyone was unrealistic. Wireless techniques would serve the most remote consumers, she said.

ECTA welcomed recent moves to rationalise and speed up access to radio frequencies that would help operators roll out high speed broadband access. “We need them now,” Fitori said, adding the 700MHz band was well-suited to mobile broadband, and called for the unlicensed frequencies, especially in the 5GHz band, be set aside for wi-fi networks.

She called for spectrum allocation to be “pro-competitive”, non-discriminatory, and to avoid the creation or strengthening of dominant players.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/15 at 16:10

Openreach upgrades 66 more exchanges for FTTC

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BT Openreach has announced it will fibre up 66 more exchanges as part of its £2.5bn fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) “superfast broadband” project.

This brings to 1,077 the number of exchanges that are either already equipped to deliver “up to” 40Mbps or are expected to by 2012, leaving 4,488 ADSL-capable exchanges to go.

Openreach's announced exchange upgrades for its largely fibre to the cabinet programme

However, not all of more than 800,000 street cabinets that are served by BT exchanges will be upgraded, BT has said. This means some households on the exchange will not have have access to the higher speeds. BT estimates one in four premises could be left out.

BT does not disclose which street cabinets it will fibre-up.

BT said the 66 newly upgraded exchanges add nearly a million “homes passed”, and bring the total homes passed to five million.

BT also said it was researching the use of “white space”, the unused spectrum between TV broadcast frequencies, to supply wireless broadband.

The trial now under way on the Isle of Bute would show if white space will deliver high speed broadband to homes that either receive no broadband service or a sub-2Mbps service due to the length of their line.
In a statement BT said the initial results were “very promising”. with the technology being tested over long distances and challenging terrain. Live trials would start in July with about a dozen end users across the island.

These end users will have their wireless service linked back to the exchange building at Kilchattan Bay, which has a dedicated radio link to the mainland.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/15 at 11:01

Posted in Broadband, Internet, News

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Online sunshine leads to better behaviour

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ITU secretary-General Hamadoun Touré is not given to exaggeration, so it’s interesting to hear him warn governments not to mess with the internet.

Cut off access at your peril, he says. Which is not news to presidents of Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Syria, among others, but may come as a bit of surprise to the heads of western nations.

Reason is simple: people regard access to the internet as a human right, something the UN endorsed last week, so mess with that, you are messing with something people hold personally very dear, even if they don’t use Facebook quite as much as they used to.

Which is why Touré is calling for a common code of conduct negotiated between governments, ISPs, the security mob, civil society and users. We can all (mostly) agree online kiddie porn is a no-no. But reading the Wikileaks cables is a matter of debate.

With the UK thinking of filtering and blocking websites to prevent us all from turning into terrorists, perhaps the government needs to pause to consider alternatives to co-opting the ISP community to block stuff it considers objectionable.

To quote US judge Louis Brandeis, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Access to information via the net is clearly online sunshine.

Perhaps, as Touré says, access to the net will help all of us, governments’ included, behave better.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/14 at 21:27

Apple to pay Nokia to settle patent disputes

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Apple is to pay Nokia an undisclosed one-off fee and on-going royalties to settle patent litigation between the rival mobile phone makers.

The deal announced on 14 June, licenses Apple to use Nokia technology in its best-selling smartphones. Nokia said it is expected to help the firm break even for the second quarter.

Commenting on the deal, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop suggested the deal could push Nokia towards becoming a design shop, licensing others to use technology it develops.

“This settlement demonstrates Nokia’s industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market,” Elop said in a statement.

Nokia, which has the largest installed base of mobile phones in the world, is being challenged by rivals Samsung for low end phones and by Apple and Google’s Android operating systems for high end smartphones.

Nokia said that during the last two decades, it had invested some €43bn in research and development, resulting in over 10,000 patent families.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/14 at 08:11

Posted in Deals, News

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UK can do 100Mbps broadband for all with existing cash

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The UK could provide every household with a 100Mbps broadband connection with the money already available, provided it used the existing infrastructure efficiently, claims a policy studies think-tank.

The Information Society Alliance (ISA), a policy studies group inside Eurim, the industry/parliamentary body, said sharing and building on existing infrastructures could “dramatically cut” the cost of providing local online access to public services. This would lead to “major savings” to both central and local government as well as open up access for businesses.

Referring to the award of just four out of 18 bids from counties for a share of £530m earmarked for broadband roll-outs, ISA said local authorities and elected officials needed “to consider all options to get the ‘fourth utility’ to many hard-to-reach homes”.

Previous studies estimated it would cost up to £29bn to put a 100Mbps optical fibre connection in every home and business. Some 90% of this was in civil engineering costs, such as digging up roads.

Last week the ISA launched two studies, one on shared communications network infrastructure, the other on information and identity governance.

A preliminary ISA study found there are 5,600 telephone exchanges in the UK, but 150,000 electricity substations. “In many cases fibre (which is immune to electrical interference from power lines) could be strung up alongside power lines to homes instead of digging up roads,” it said.

It added that schools networks already provide 20Mbps access to primary schools and 100Mbps to secondary schools. “In some cases these are already being used to provide broadband to local councils, businesses and homes,” ISA said, arguing for the scheme to extend to all communities.

Finally, it said, the government’s smart meter project would see £11bn ploughed into connecting 30 million homes to a “smart grid” always-on communications network for energy management. This was in addition to billions spent by the NHS and local health authorities to improve their networks.

ISA said combining the infrastructure investments of health departments, smart metering and broadband would would cut 570TWh of losses of electricity from transmission, energy conversion and over-production. This was three times the output from all the UK’s active nuclear power stations, it said.

In addition, high speed broadband would allow millions more to work from home, further reducing energy usage and emissions, it said.

The ISA study will look at the economics, practicalities and politics of rationalising networking agendas, as well as ways and means to do it to international inter-operability standards.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/13 at 12:32

Suffolk gets £250k for broadband wireless and FTTH projects

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We’ve been here before. A wireless broadband project gets funding from a development agency only to find that the money mysteriously goes into a pool for a county-wide broadband project usually led by BT.

This has happened in Lancashire, in Surrey, Cumbria, Cornwall, Norfolk, Rutland, North Wales and other places.

The latest project to emerge centres on Parham in Suffolk. The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has awarded a £250,000 grant to Suffolk Acre (Action with Communities in Rural England) to develop high speed broadband fibre and wireless mesh networks.

The news comes just weeks after Suffolk had a £20m bid for BDUK money turned down. Suffolk Acre has been invited to a county council meeting to see how it can help further the BDUK bid.

Operations director for the Suffolk Acre charity Roger Turkington told local radio the two programmes were complementary. “We want to see the whole of Suffolk fibred-up,” he said.

The wide area wireless network is expected to provide access speeds of 50Mbps to approximately 30,000 homes and 4,000 businesses on the Suffolk coast and Waverley district, and possibly inland. A  fibre to the home (FTTH) deployment in Parham will reach 100 homes, 20 businesses and the Framlingham technology centre.

Turkington said the end game was to have optical fibres to all homes, but  “commercial realities” made it unlikely without outside funding. He said the estimated cost of fibring-up the whole of Suffolk ranged between £400m and £800m.

He said rural communities had to be self-reliant and do things for themselves. But that didn’t mean they should become network operators, he said.

He said Parham had been chosen for its proximity to the Framlingham technology centre which housed a company called Miniflex. Miniflex made “all sorts of fibre optic connectors and ducts and various widgets”, he said. “They’re going to help us with their expertise.”

Jenny Stockman, business development manager at the technology centre, said a high speed fibre optic broadband connection had been “absolutely essential for all of the businesses at the centre for 10 years”.

Suffolk Acre is preparing invitations to tender. It hopes to have the network up and running by the end of the year.

It is working with the Plunkett Foundation and the Independent Networks Cooperative Association.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/09 at 18:08