TheTelecomBlog.com’s Top 6 Posts for December 2010

by Jeff Wiener on January 3, 2011

As I look back on the year that was, attempting to comprehend all the changes in Federal telecom policies, the new technologies, the latest telecom litigation and patent wars, the demise of once powerful telecom incumbents, and the struggles and successes of the telecom companies both north and south of the border, it’s truly enough to make my head spin.

With a year that started with the well-publicized downfall of Palm, one of the mobile market’s early innovators and its subsequent acquisition by the dark horse candidate HP; with Apple releasing both the iPhone 4 and the revolutionary iPad—both of which soared to the tops of their respective markets—and the meteoric rise of Google’s popular Android operating system, one might say that the first six months of the year contained enough engaging tech and telecom stories to last us here at TheTelecomblog for years.

But with the added ongoing Net Neutrality saga that ground American telecom legislation to a halt, with the Canadian government finally entering the digital age, and with telecom giants in both countries facing ongoing anti-competition complaints, and the well-publicized struggles and successes of Research in Motion, you could say that we have been blessed with a surprising overabundance of content.

All that and I still haven’t mentioned the latest news from the month of December, a month that saw a potential end to the ongoing Net Neutrality battle, that witnessed the last scraps of the once powerful Nortel empire sold to the highest bidder, and finally had Microsoft release some tentative early numbers for its WinPho7 sales. So without further ado, here are the top posts of the past month:

1. Mobile Trolls Pick Nortel’s Bones for Patent Scraps

Once a powerhouse of the Canadian telecommunications sector, the corpse of the faded giant Nortel was finally picked clean this past month as the auction for Nortel’s intellectual property, the last of its official holdings, quickly drew to a close.

Nortel’s intellectual property itself covers a wide spectrum of today’s most hotly contested technologies, with patents covering wireless handsets, wireless infrastructure, optical and data networking, Internet, online advertising, voice communication technology, and personal computer patents, all of which have been broken up into six different “lots.”

With analysts claiming that the acquisition of some of these patents could seriously shift the balance of power in the mobile world, this may be one last chance for Nortel Networks to leave its indelible mark on the telecom sector.

2. Microsoft: 1.5 Million WinPho7 Devices Sold In 6 Weeks!

Although Microsoft has remained tight-lipped over its initial Windows Phone 7 sales, the computer giant finally broke its silence in December, boasting that 1.5 million WP7 devices had been sold in the first six weeks. But while that number sounds impressive, Microsoft’s claim is not what it seems.

The truth is, however, that the number of units reported by Microsoft represents the devices shipped by WP7 manufacturers to the carriers, meaning that the number of actually WP7 phones purchased by end customers is likely much lower. This disparity coupled with Microsoft’s general avoidance of WP7 sales questions has led several here at TheTelecomblog to speculate that perhaps Microsoft’s WP7 is seriously struggling to gain a foothold in a mobile market dominated by the likes of Apple and Android.

3. Is the Net Neutrality Saga Finally Over?

One of the more compelling, if not extremely drawn out, stories of this past year, December finally saw the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on a Net Neutrality proposal. The proposal itself was much of what tech and telecom analysts across the continent expected; one that prevents price gouging, arbitrary throttling and blocking of certain websites, and provides equal access to the available broadband spectrum for all users.

But before you breathe that sigh of relief that the FCC can now move on to other pressing communication legislation, this epic tale may not be concluded quite yet, as there is still some dispute over whether or not the FCC can even legally impose such rules for the Internet, a point that will be surely tested in 2011.

4. The Blood Diamonds of the Digital Age

A truly powerful and compelling piece covered this past month here at TheTelecomblog, this story sheds some mainstream light on the conflict minerals fuelling the brutal ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, illuminating readers to the fact that the industry at the core of the conflict produces Coltan, an obscure mineral.

While many have probably never heard of Coltan nor have any notion of what it’s used for, it may come as a surprise to hear that it is a critical component in the circuitry of smartphones and other personal electronic devices.

So next time you use your smartphone, perhaps take a moment to consider the true cost of such technology in this modern age.

5. CRTC Strikes Again: Bell Fined $1.3 Million

The CRTC certainly was busy this past month, as the regulatory body finally took seriously its mandate to enforce the do-not-call registry. Following a stiff $500,000 fine levied against the telemarketing company Xentel DM Inc., the CRTC followed this up with a whopping $1.3 million fine imposed on Bell Canada.

According to the CRTC’s investigation between January and October of this year, Bell Canada had third party telemarketers working on their behalf. These telemarketers called some of the Canadians whose names were on the national do not call registry. They also called some Canadians whose names were on Bell’s own internal do-not-call registries.

So with the CRTC finally picking up the slack on the enforcement of the do-not-call registry, I think it’s fair to say we haven’t seen the last of these fines. They’ve got the ball rolling now, so it’s just a matter of pushing it downhill.

6. Dear ITU, Thanks for the Call-It-Whatever-You-Want ‘4G’ Definition!

You would probably have had to be living in a cave somewhere in rural Mongolia to have missed the LTE ad campaigns that have carpet bombed the airwaves over this past month, with each American network provider boasting that it has the fastest, most powerful, or most advanced “4G” network in the country.

But for many it came as a surprise to hear that technically none of these networks met the official standards of a 4G network as laid out by the worldwide governing body, the International Telecommunication Union, that officially designates network titles like 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, etc… and this body has yet to recognize any of these American LTE network as qualifying for 4G status.

So here’s the twist, the ITU has changed its tune and instead of demanding increased performance out of American’s next generation LTE networks in order to qualify for 4G status it has lowered its 4G qualifying standards to include these networks; truly a celebration of next gen mediocrity.

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Written by: Jeff Wiener. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Identi.ca, or Friendfeed

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