Category Archives: Telephone

Verizon Unlocked by 2008?

padlock_unlocked.png Well, this is news:
Verizon Wireless today announced that by the end of 2008 it will “provide customers the option to use, on its nationwide wireless network, wireless devices, software and applications not offered by the company.” — Verizon Wireless To Open Its Network, Platform, GigaOm, by Om Malik, Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 6:38 AM PT Comments (12)
Reacting to Google bidding for 700Mhz? Responding to customer demand? Of course, it says by the end of 2008, so Verizon will know who won the U.S. elections by then and could change its mind.

Om Malik follows up with some speculations and consequences, including you’ll have to pay full price for your phone. He didn’t mention that that might mean that Verizon is also reacting to the iPhone, which, while closed (in the U.S. at least, although unlocked in China) already has users paying full price, and plenty of users did.


PlusNet: Honest Prioritization

plusnetusage.gif Unlike Comcast and Cox, PlusNet in the U.K. says what it is doing:
The principles of PlusNet’s network management policies
  • To make sure that time-critical applications like VoIP and gaming are always prioritised
  • To protect interactive applications like web-browsing and VPN from non-time sensitive download traffic
  • To flex the network under demand to cope with normal peaks and troughs from day to day and month to month
  • To flex the network more gracefully than other ISPs in the event of unusual demands in traffic or disaster situations such as a network failure
  • To provide a service relative to the amount each customer pays in terms of usage and experience
  • Provides a ‘quality of service’ effect, meaning multiple applications running on the same line interact with each other effectively, and use of high demand protocols like Peer-to-Peer doesn’t swamp time-sensitive traffic such as online gaming or a VoIP call.
Traffic Prioritisation, PlusNet, accessed 26 Nov 2007
Interestingly, this list does not cite video as the most-favored application, instead it lists VoIP and gaming, which are participatory services. However, scan down to their table of types of traffic, and VoIP and gaming are Titanium, while video-on-demand is the highest level, Platinum. Continue reading

China: Unlocked iPhones

iphone_cn_settings.jpg Can’t get an unlocked iPhone inthe U.S.? Try China:
The iPhone is readily available in computer superstores in most large Chinese cities. In Beijing’s Zhong Guancun, a 15-story mall filled with technology vendors, almost all the stalls are stocked. Two weeks ago, the blogger of Too Many Resources for the iPhone asked several of these vendors whether they could sell him 100 iPhones. They all answered “No problem.”

China’s New ‘Love Craze’ — Black Market iPhones, By Aventurina King, Wired, 11.19.07 | 7:00 PM

These are unauthorized uninsured iPhones. Apparently they aren’t copies: they’re the real thing. The iPhone is manufactured in China, and these ones are shipped out and back through Hong Kong or eBay.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S. of A., you’re stuck with an iPhone that works only on AT&T’s network, while the FCC finagles a spectrum auction so lockin will continue and plans further media consolidation so you won’t know anything better.

Bruce Sterling sums it up:

(((China is the New America because, not only do they have sexy movies, they have iPhones that actually work and aren’t choked to death with legalistic BS IP consumer lock-in.)))

China: The New America (part II), By Bruce Sterling, Beyond the Beyond, November 20, 2007 | 7:44:11 AM


Decreasing Competition: Teletruth Documents FCC Harm to Wireline

Here are the main points:
  • 56% Drop in Competitive Local Exchange Carrier Lines: Loss of 10 Million Competitive Lines Since 2004 — and Falling.
  • Lack of Competitive Choices Led to Massive Local and Long Distance Price Increases; Billions in Investor Losses.
  • FCC’s Deregulation Picked Winners and Losers — The Duopoly — Creating Economic Harms to Wireline-Competition, Favoring Cable Companies.

DROP 10,330,000 lines -56%

Only 7.1% competitive lines.

Part One: Harm to Wireline Competition: Harm to Customers and Investors. TeleTruth, 15 November 2007

Many details are in the report. The bottom line is that there is no effective competition in wireline POTS in the U.S.


Wiretapping before 9/11: AT&T, NSA, Verizon, Level 3

kleincropped-tbn.jpg Why would an administration that currently has access to all data going over the Internet want more competition in the ISP market?

Mark Klein going to Washington to blow the whistle some more on AT&T on giving NSA unfettered access to AT&T’s network:

“If they’ve done something massively illegal and unconstitutional — well, they should suffer the consequences,” Klein said. “It’s not my place to feel bad for them. They made their bed, they have to lie in it. The ones who did [anything wrong], you can be sure, are high up in the company. Not the average Joes, who I enjoyed working with.”

A Story of Surveillance, Former Technician ‘Turning In’ AT&T Over NSA Program, By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, November 7, 2007; Page D01

While the Washington Post, for example, does get at one main point:
Contrary to the government’s depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists, Klein said, much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic. Klein said he believes that the NSA was analyzing the records for usage patterns as well as for content.
It neglects to mention an even bigger point: Continue reading

Mosh by Nokia: A Telco Invents Something!

20070614-mosh.jpg I’m always complaining about the telephone companies, so this item is refreshing:
When George Linardos was ordered to clear his diary to help dream up new business for Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile , Research), he imagined six weeks brainstorming on the terrace of a five-star hotel in the Caribbean.

What he got was a pot of porridge every morning at a Spartan hotel hours from Finnish capital Helsinki, with forests and snow all around.

Seeing the same half a dozen faces for 45 days and craving greater social interaction, Linardos and his team came up with a site aimed at making informal networking easier, especially for people without access to a PC.

The result, Mosh (, a social networking site that is accessible from mobile phones, is the latest piece in the puzzle for Nokia as it tries to build an Internet stronghold to balance a maturing cellphone business.

Nokia’s Mosh marries mobile with social networking, by Tarmo Virki, Reuters, 23 October 2007

Not only invented something, but something the inventor personally wants to use! This is the way Unix got invented, and Linux, by that other Finn, Linus Torvalds. I don’t know how successful Mosh will be, but that’s not the point, no more than how well a talking dog talks. And it’s also beside the point that the invention simply crosses two existing ideas: mobile phones and social networking web sites. Many inventions are like that. A telephone company invented something!

Of course, it wasn’t a U.S. telephone company.


Qwest Case and National Competitiveness

20qwest.190.jpg This case will forever be murky if retroactive telecom immunity for participating in illegal wiretapping passes, yet it has already thrown some light on some of the murkiest areas of government-corporate interaction.

Former Qwest CEO Joseph P. Nacchio, who has been convicted of insider trading for selling stock while Qwest’s stock price was tanking, claims he had reason to believe Qwest would get lucrative government contracts, and that Qwest was denied them because he refused to participate in an illegal program. When this happened is very interesting:

The phone company Qwest Communications refused a proposal from the National Security Agency that the company’s lawyers considered illegal in February 2001, nearly seven months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the former head of the company contends in newly unsealed court filings.

Former Phone Chief Says Spy Agency Sought Surveillance Help Before 9/11, By Scott Shane, October 14, 2007

So if Nacchio is right, massive wiretapping by the current U.S. administration didn’t start as part of the “War on Terror”; it must have started for some other reason.

The best the prosecution has been able to come up with is: Continue reading

Who’s the Second Largest Contributor to U.S. Congress Members?

AT&T. Time Warner, Bellsouth, and MCI all show up in the same list.

Major AT&T recipients include Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV who is a big supporter of retroactive immunity for telco spying, and who recently (spring 2007, just as the telcos started pushing for that immunity) got a big spike in Verizon employee contributions, as well.

Also Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, gets significant AT&T contributions. This is the same Harry Reid who won’t honor Sen. Chris Dodd’s hold on the bill containing that amnesty.


Fitch: More RLEC Consolidation

fitch_logo.gif Likely consolidation in Rural Local Exchange Carriers:
RLECs are experiencing relatively little organic growth, the company says, because the increased revenues from such growing services as high-speed data “have not materially offset declining voice revenues. The erosion of the traditional wireline voice business of the RLECs, mainly by competition from cable multiple-system operators (MSOs) and wireless operators, has already led to some industry consolidation over the past year.”

Over the longer term, RLECs also face the uncertain effects of increased competition on service revenues for the rural operators as well as uncertainties on the regulatory side.

“In the absence of meaningful organic growth, acquisitions become a means for rural carriers to increase revenues, cash flow and diversity,” says John Culver, senior director at Fitch Ratings.

Lack Of Growth Could Spell RLEC Demise, TelecomeWeb, 12 Oct 2007

The RCCC acquisition may be one of these.


FCC, Telcos, Congress, and FISA

court_rules.gif The FCC won’t investigate possible illegal telco activities:
The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission declined to investigate reports that phone companies turned over customer records to the National Security Agency, citing national security concerns, according to documents released on Friday.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin turned down a congressional request for an investigation as a top intelligence official concluded it would “pose an unnecessary risk of damage to the national security,” according to a letter National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell sent to Martin on Tuesday.

FCC won’t probe disclosure of phone records, By Reuters, October 6, 2007, 4:00 PM PDT

It seems unlikely the FCC will investigate active wiretapping, either. National security: the root password to the Constitution.

But Congress won’t let the telcos off the hook, well, not completely:

House Democrats have refused to submit to Bush administration requests to save telecommunications companies that assisted in a warrantless wiretapping scheme from lawsuits or prosecution, and they want to require judicial approval for future efforts to spy on Americans.

Under the new law, the Attorney General or Director of National Intelligence would be authorized to receive blanket warrants to eavesdrop on several foreign intelligence targets who could call into the United States, but the bill would restore FISA court reviews of targeting procedures and steps taken to “minimize” Americans’ exposure to surveillance. If an American is to become the “target” of surveillance, intelligence agencies would be required to seek an individualized warrant from the FISA court.

Proposed FISA update would not give telecom companies legal protection, by Nick Juliano, RawStory, Tuesday October 9, 2007

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court already is so secretive that although its court rules say it has a seal, there’s no image of it available anywhere on the web that I could find, and it already lets intelligence agencies apply within a few days for retroactive authorization for wiretaps.

Of course, this bill would have to pass the Senate and get signed by the president or get enough votes to override a veto. But at least the former law didn’t retroactively immunize the telcos, and this bill doesn’t, either.