Euronews: Vodafone Confirms Zain Deal
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Euronews: Vodafone Confirms Zain Deal
As predicted last week in Euronews, Vodafone has struck a multi-country partnership agreement with Kuwait-based Zain. Vodafone, which already has regional operations in Egypt and Qatar, hopes the non-equity deal will expand its presence in the Middle East by enhancing network coverage and harmonizing roaming rates. (See Vodafone, Zain Strike Partner Deal and Euronews: Vodafone Eyes Middle East Expansion.)Vodafone is also collaborating with IBM on M2M (machine-to-machine) matters. It is using the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin to demonstrate the remote management of a washing machine and other so-called "smart home" devices connected by Vodafone's Global M2M Platform running on IBM's new SmartCloud service delivery platform. (This "platform" business is getting out of hand...) (See Vodafone, IBM Team on Smart Home.)German cable operator Kabel Deutschland GmbH is making moves on carrier Wi-Fi as it plans to deploy wireless hotspots to extend the reach of broadband services to smartphone and tablet users, according to this article on Heise Online (in German).U.K. broadband provider TalkTalk is creating around 500 jobs through its planned launch of pay-TV services, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.Dublin-based Sea Fibre Networks Ltd. , which owns and operates the CeltixConnect subsea network that connects Ireland and the U.K., has launched a new managed dark-fiber service, called Bright Fibre. Bright Fibre, says the company, offers fiber, co-location services and the customer's optical gear, all managed from a single point of contact. (See Sea Fibre Networks Offers Managed Dark Fiber and CeltixConnect Goes Live.)TV5MONDE, the French language channel that is available globally in a variety of formats, has extended Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s broadcast-platform contract until the end of 2018. (See TV5MONDE Expands Ericsson Deal.)
China Mobile Steps Up Cloud RAN Efforts
In a sign that China Mobile Communications Corp. has advanced its cloud-based radio access network (RAN) research project to the next level, the Chinese operator has teamed up with Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) to create tests for virtual mobile access network architectures. (See Agilent, China Mobile Team Up.)Agilent will work with the operator's Research Institute to develop test methods for a cloud-based RAN (C-RAN).In a C-RAN setup, the baseband processing elements of a traditional base station are centrally located and connected to smaller, distributed radios, often via fiber. The idea is that such a distributed network could be less costly to deploy for mobile operators because it could run on smaller cell sites. In addition, it could provide greater potential data capacity than a traditional architecture because the radio units could be more densely deployed.China Mobile has been working on C-RAN technologies for at least two years. It's expected that the new architecture will support multiple technologies, including GSM, TD-SCDMA and LTE TDD as well as LTE TDD-Advanced.With the addition of Agilent, China Mobile claims it now has a "complete industry chain from communication vendor to IT vendors to testing vendors to mobile operators" for the cloud-based RAN (C-RAN) program. And with those various partners on board, "realization of C-RAN will soon be possible," according to Dr. Chihlin I, chief scientist of China Mobile's Research Institute, although the official did not provide an indication of commercial availability for such a network.Other companies that have also been working on China Mobile's C-RAN project include Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). (See China Mobile Sees the Light(Radio) .)Another supporter of cloud-based mobile networks is South Korean operator KT Corp. , which has devised its own similar architecture called "Cloud Communication Center" (CCC) in partnership with Samsung Corp. and Intel.Why this matters As the world's largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers -- the operator had 688.9 million customers at the end of July -- whatever China Mobile does matters.A project such as C-RAN is important because it could lay the foundations for future designs of mobile networks to be deployed not just in China or South Korea, but in many markets. While the program isn't new, it appears to have momentum with the addition of test company Agilent. At the very least, it's an R&D project worth watching because it could soon move from the research lab and into commercial networks, which would create new opportunities for wireless equipment suppliers.
Six Dead – Or Dying – 'Cable Killers'
the MSOs would be able to stave off the onslaught of over-the-top video competition, new (better) navigation systems and services that pushed content to all types of screens.But a funny thing happened. None of them have managed to kill cable, but instead caused the MSOs to get off its collective duff and take action to protect and preserve its business model via the use of authenticated TV Everywhere services and IP video migrations that will help them ship TV to multiple screens and introduce more agile cloud-based navigation systems. Sure, cable's still losing more video subs than it's gaining, but, for the most part, their overall businesses are quite profitable.
Meanwhile, many of these purported cable killers are already taking dirt naps, or are mortally wounded and on their way to an early grave, with ivi Inc. being the latest to go on full life support. Aereo Inc. is the latest startup to challenge the traditional pay-TV model, but the broadcasters want to squash it like a bug, too. The courts have awarded Aereo a stay that lets it keep its service going as the case is heard, but, seeing how ivi just fared, it may only turn out to be a stay of execution, even if Aereo's technical approach is a bit different than ivi's. (See Judge Keeps Aereo on the Air.)But here's our list of those that started up with high hopes, only to fade to black or become largely irrelevant, in recent years. Have we missed a good one? Chime in on the message board.ivi Inc. Actually, ivi inc. would have been better off if it was a "cable system," or if it could've convinced the courts that it was. Ivi appears to be at the end of its rope (vine?) after an appeals court upheld an injunction against the company, which captured over-the-air TV broadcast signals and redistributed via the Internet to customers who were paying $4.99 per month. Ivi was somewhat interesting in that it offered linear TV from the big broadcasters. It thought it was on the up-and-up because it was paying a $100 compulsory licence to the U.S. Copyright Office, but the courts didn't buy it. (See Courts Keep ivi's Internet TV Service Off and Court Cuts Ivi's Web TV Signal.)Sezmi
Sezmi Corp., in the vein of USDTV (another flame-out -- spoiler alert! You'll read about soon), also tried to pitch consumers on no-frills TV packages that relied on a mix of over-the-air datacasting and broadband-fed video distribution ... and did not offer ESPN, the priciest network of the lot. Its notion of altering the TV business model helped it raise $90 million, but, alas, could not get customers as it later tweaked its strategy to focus on pay-TV operator partnerships. That didn't go great either, so it punted by selling its assets to $16 million to Kit Digital . (See Kit Digital Pays $27M for Sezmi's Leftovers.)Joost Joost took its shot at Web TV greatness and put quite the scare into the cable guys, but the company, which was once led by former Cisco exec Michael Volpi, never could get its hands on enough good content to make a difference -- a problem that's been a scourge for the entire OTT video sector. At one point, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) was rumored to be interested in buying Joost as the MSO began to ramp up its TV Everywhere efforts, but smartly did not pursue it further. Adconion Media Group bought Joost's assets in 2009, and still had high hopes for turning it into a premium video service. But that wasn't to be either, completing Joost's demise. The message posted on Joost's website today pretty much sums things up: "Thanks for your support and interest in Joost.com. We are re-evaluating the Joost.com purpose and services. For the near-term we have decided to suspend the site to allow for a full re-evaluation. Thanks again." Umm ... you're welcome? (See Joost Sells Off Scraps.)USDTV U.S. Digital Television LLC (USDTV) targeted cost-conscious consumers and so-called "cable nevers" with a platform that used datacasting and broadband to deliver a slimmed-down lineup of linear TV and some VoD. It styled itself as the JetBlue of pay TV, but crashed and burned. After four years of trying and about 7,200 subscribers to show for it, USDTV went belly-up in 2007 after its biggest backer at the time, NexGen Telecom, got cold feet and pulled out.MovieBeam MovieBeam had the deep pockets of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) behind it early on as it used a hybrid datacasting/broadband model and to deliver movies to specialized boxes. (Memo to alternative TV startups: If you rely on datacasting for a video service, history shows that you've already got two strikes against you. Reconsider that part of the strategy.) The fear among the cable guys was that this service would threaten their VoD platform. It didn't, shutting down in late 2007 after Movie Gallery bought the company and tried to make a go of it.Akimbo Akimbo Systems was one of the first OTT video wannabees that grabbed cable's attention when it came out with a broadband-connected box to deliver a library of VoD content. It shut its doors in mid-2008 as its limited library and pricey box failed to make a dent in the still-young world of Web-fed video. Before things got too dire, Akimbo even tried to forge partnerships with cable so its content could be offered on their VoD systems. While cable operators tend to provide vendors with just enough nourishment to keep them alive and healthy, they typically don't like to help out potential competitors that have already sprung a major artery.
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