Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dewayne Hendricks on Wi-Fi’s potential

Dewayne Hendricks on Wi-Fi’s potential and the cost of bandwidth

Dewayne Hendricks, one of the contributors to this website, was one of the speakers at the recent Freedom To Connect conference organized by David Isenberg on April 3-4, 2006 in Washington DC. He talked about the potential of Wi-Fi to deliver huge amounts of bandwidth to areas long neglected by service providers and the growing interest among counties for wide-area networks.

In the recent debate over the US ranking in broadband penetration (OECD’s data), Dewayne asserts that what we should be aiming for is getting the price per megabit of bandwidth down — to 24 cents. While many of us focus on the latest OECD rankings (where broadband is defined in many countries as 200 Kbps and over), Dewayne thinks we should be looking at how many people have true broadband connections (over 10 Mbps) and how much they pay for true broadband. And then we can rank countries according to just how affordable TRUE broadband is.

Here is the link to Dana Blankenhorn’s site which contains the transcript of Dewayne’s presentation. Also listen to the interview of Dewayne conducted by Colin Rhinesmith of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Connecting Keokuk: Wireless case study

Now posted to Google Video. Further information here

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Video: Dave Hughes, A wireless vision for Wales

Now posted to Google Video:

Dave Hughes, A wireless vision for Wales (Colorado, March 2001)

US grassroots telecoms activist Dave Hughes' wireless vision for Wales: no-licence wireless technologies as a "first mile" broadband solution for remote and rural regions, with reference to the community wireless networks model.

* Video filmed and produced by Welsh broadband advocate John Wilson to document a visit to Dave Hughes in Colorado Springs, March 2001.

* A tour exploring communications as a means of community regeneration, including: Dave Hughes' Old Colorado City neighbourhood and regeneration efforts; his Old Colorado City Communications wireless ISP and NSF Wireless Project workshop; bench-testing and demonstration of no-licence wireless technologies; plus a concluding polemic on spectrum management policy and the shift to a new paradigm based on shared spectrum use, enabling a wireless commons for the empowerment of the user-producer and the local community.

* This technology and knowledge transfer exercise preceded the 2001-2002 emergence and breakthrough of Wi-Fi as a no-licence wireless technology and mass market phenomenon.


This video - and the related video "Connecting Keokuk" - was used as a lobbying tool to influence government and regulatory policy, as well as grassroots community wireless networking in Wales and across the UK.

* 2002: The video - originally entitled "Wales' Digital Opportunity - Dave Hughes, Colorado" - is discussed in Howard Rehingold, "Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution" (2002)" : see Chapt 6, "Wireless Quilts", pp. 144-153: "Tonga, Mongolia, The Rez, and Wales: The New Electronic Frontiers"; and the Smart Mobs website here

* 2003: John Wilson set up the ABC Access to Broadband Campaign in 2003 with an immediate impact to receive the CNET Networks 2003 Award for Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology, in recognition of the campaign's promotion of wireless as a rural broadband solution.

* 2004: Dave Hughes received the United States Westpoint Military Academy's Distinguished Graduate Award 2004 for his "broadband cowboy" pioneering from Colorado to Everest to Wales.

Video: Towards Open Spectrum

Now posted to Google Video:

Dewayne Hendricks, Towards Open Spectrum: Locating Wireless Technology, Regulation and History.

Video of keynote presentation by Dewayne Hendricks to the ABC2 Conference Revolution at the Edge: Broadband Networks and Innovation (Jan 2004, Cisco, EMEA Headquarters, Middlesex, England).

Leading US Open Spectrum advocate Dewayne Hendricks surveys the Janus face of wireless technologies.

* From the frontier years of wireless as an open innovation commons, to the institutionalization of the regulatory property regime, to the current explosion of un-licensed wireless use with Wi-Fi, and the promise of cognitive radio innovation, Hendricks locates our present crossroads of the wireless revolution and the prospects of an open future for spectrum.

* "We can't afford to lose another 20 years" he concludes, after highlighting the early 1980s phase of spread-spectrum innovation in the United States that signalled the paradigm shift to shared spectrum use beyond the property real estate model, the subsequent prevalence of spectrum politics over spectrum technology, the unintended consequences of un-licensed spectrum access, and the current promise of cognitive radios and shared spectrum use across bands.

* "We are undergoing a paradigm shift from the property regimen to the new commons world and beyond (...) in which we may turn the regulatory authority over to the device itself"

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Video: Seamless Freedom: The Wireless Revolution

*Now posted to Google Video*

Links to this video (30 May)

Peter Cochrane, Seamless Freedom: The Wireless Revolution (18 May 2006)

Former BT Chief Technologist Peter Cochrane's keynote presentationat The Wireless Event , Seamless Freedom: The Wireless Revolution:

Join celebrated futurologist and former BT Chief Technologist Peter Cochrane for a tour de force of the Wireless Revolution. As an engineer Peter is passionate about an open future for spectrum, "the Invisible Wealth of Nations". "Smart digital radio technologies give us a whole raft of new freedoms", he enthuses, "but the old analogue history still seems to dog our progress. All that�s needed is a change of mindset, the technology will do the rest". Welcome to the Wireless Revolution!


"I am of sufficient age to know that wireless is difficult and troublesome, problematic and not easy. I was brought up in wireless and to my great delight find that it is becoming a black box industry, it is becoming easy".


"The need for regulation goes from 100%, regulated and controlled - otherwise you are going to run into all kinds of interference problems- to an era where, heh, has the regulator got a job any more?

And I think as we go down to very very small units and as the distances covered are measured not in hundreds of metres but in milimetres, the need for any form of regulation disappears".


"The spectrum in any nation always looks like this (...) - it looks absolutley jam-packed. There's no space and you will be told by government that heh! this is really valuable real estate and its very scarce.

Rubbish! Actually its almost not used at all. Its mostly empty space. If you get a spectrum analyzer go take a look and you can find plenty of free space. But its the old analogue idea of having bands that is the crippler.

The first level of stupidity occured with 3G. It was insane, they chopped the spectrum up into bands (...). They could have shared the frequency space (...) because the competitive space was actually the service space and not the tower and the frequency spectrum".


The Wireless Event

Open Spectrum UK: final programme details for the spectrum policy sessions at the Wireless Event.

Peter Cochrane

Thursday, May 25, 2006

BT plans wireless cities

Service, due next spring will use both Wi-Fi and fixed-mobile convergence

Martin Courtney, IT Week 19 May 2006

BT has announced plans to build “wireless cities” that provide workers with Wi-Fi voice and data connections via dual-mode handsets and mobile devices within urban environments.

The new service, due in February next year, will encompass existing Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots at travel hubs and other public places, and BT’s forthcoming Wi-Fi-based fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) services in homes and offices. This capability will be supplemented by outdoor city centre Wi-Fi coverage in 12 of the UK’s major cities.

The first six cities to get the service will be Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff and London, where local councils plan to use it to deliver public information and video applications such as CCTV security surveillance.

Chief of BT wireless broadband Ryan Jarvis said that users will be able to enjoy seamless Wi-Fi-to-GSM and Wi-Fi-to-Wi-Fi call handover by the time the service is commercially available. Pricing will be key to the network’s success, and BT hopes that its roaming agreement with Vodafone will help to deliver competitive tariffs and easy-to-understand bills.

“Pricing will be an extension of the Fusion or equivalent enterprise FMC product,” Jarvis commented. “There will be different rates between Wi-Fi and cellular mode but we are not yet announcing what that rate will be. Clearly, it is in our interest to make billing a simple and positive experience.”

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ofcom closer to iPod FM radio rule switch

Macworld Daily News
Friday - May 19, 2006
Ofcom closer to iPod FM radio rule switch

By Macworld staff

Ofcom has confirmed it is working with other European regulators to establish EU-wide rules that would permit use of FM transmitters, such as the iTrip.

A BBC report explains that these are banned in the UK because they can (in theory) interfere with"legal stations".

In face of pressure from the Liberal Democrats, Ofcom has begun to explore how to change the law on this, which dates back to 1949.

They realise that such devices are widely-used in the UK, and that no damage is done to radio reception.

The Liberals questioned the status quo in the Houses of Parliament, asking that action be taken to remedy the law, or that Ofcom justify its continuation.

In face of this, Ofcom admitted it is "working with other European administrations to develop a common set of standards to allow some low-power devices to be sold and used in the UK," the report states.

While the report promises action may take place before the end of the year, it warns that these FM transmitter products would have to be tested for adherence to technical standards review to ensure they didn't pose an interference to other people's radio reception.

Ofcom rethinks ban on iPod gadget

An Apple iPod connected to a radio transmitting device
Devices can transmit an iPod's music over FM radios

Ofcom has said it is working with other regulators to draft an EU-wide standard on the use of a gadget which plays the output of Apple's iPods on FM radios.

Using an iTrip is banned in Britain as its low-power transmissions can, in theory, interfere with legal stations.

However, the device and other similar accessories for MP3 players are widely available to purchase online.

The Liberal Democrats have said Ofcom "must provide compelling evidence" to explain why they remain outlawed.

The Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1949 forbids the use of radio equipment without a licence or an exemption.

However, the party's shadow culture secretary Don Foster said it was "ridiculous that 1940s legislation is preventing the iPod generation from enjoying their music using the latest gadgets".

He added: "iTrips can be used in the US without disturbing the airwaves, so [Ofcom] must provide compelling evidence why they can't be used here."

Discussed in parliament

The matter has been raised at a Commons standing committee by the Liberal Democrats' small business spokesperson, Lorely Burt.

She said there was a "booming black market" in the accessories, and "a workable solution" was required instead of threats of hefty fines or jail sentences for those using them.

Clayton Hirst, the head of corporate relations at Ofcom, said his organisation was "working with other European administrations to develop a common set of standards to allow some low-power devices to be sold and used in the UK".

A full public consultation would precede any change to regulations, he said.

However, he warned that some devices currently on sale "may not meet these technical standards, designed to minimise interference to other radio users".

"As a result, they are unlikely to be authorised for use in the UK in the future," he added.

It is believed that Ofcom could announce progress on the issue before the end of this year.

Monday, May 15, 2006

SOA system saved BT from break-up

vnunet.com analysis: SOA system saved BT from break-up

SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) might be the current industry acronym on everyone's lips, but at BT it's old news.

"We've been developing an SOA at BT for quite some time, although we didn't realise that's what it was at the time and didn't call it an SOA," said George Glass, chief architect at BT Exact.

In fact, the former state telecoms company turned to what everyone now calls SOA to stop the very real threat of being broken up by Ofcom.

David Graystone, who is in charge of billing, strategy and the future of business-to-business development on the retail side at BT, explained that the problem was the relationship between the wholesale and retail sides of the business.

"What we've got is wholesale Openreach, which offers a range of products and services to any communications provider. But other communication providers use different systems for pricing, forecasting and control mechanisms than BT," he said.

"So what Ofcom is really saying is that it feels the competitive market in the UK is hindered by this continued relationship between BT Retail and BT Openreach.

"Ofcom wanted to open it up and it has done in a number of ways, but the key one here is that BT would operate with the Openreach wholesale market in exactly the same way as any other communications provider can."

Graystone added that the system BT is adopting will have open interfaces onto common gateways, with common forecasts and pricing.

"That way there would be a logical and physical separation," he said. "The alternative, from Ofcom's point of view, and one of the things that was on the cards, was to split BT in two."

To stop this happening, BT submitted itself to Ofcom's Telecommunications Strategic Review, with dates for the new systems to be in place.

"From a consumer point of view our target is 2009, and that is almost underwritten in blood because we have said we will do it as part of the Review, " said Graystone.

However, BT said that Ofcom did not lay the law down completely and it was allowed to negotiate the agreement for the changeover of platforms.

"If you ask the IT and the operations people they would probably like an extra six months to a year, but if you ask Ofcom it would want to do it six months quicker, so we came to a compromise," said Glass.

"The dates are achievable but challenging and that's probably the fairest way to describe them."

BT's legacy system was run by telecoms management company Celona and the two firms are still working together to upgrade the platform.

"We've been working since 1997, when Celona was responsible for the maintenance and support of our Featurenet platform, which included the service management, the order entry and the billing," said Glass.

Featurenet included a billing system that was built in Cobol IDMS and ran on a mainframe and BT found that Celona was also looking to replace it.

"I suppose it was turkeys voting for Christmas, because Celona provided the underlying support anyway and we paid them quite a lot," said Graystone.

"But that motivation came because they were finding it more and more difficult to keep people on a legacy platform."

Tony Scales, chief executive of Celona, admitted: "It's difficult to get new graduates to come into the business to learn Cobol nowadays."

Glass explained that BT's PSTN systems are yet to make the change, although the mobile business and some broadband customers are already on the new platform.

"If I get PSTN, broadband, large VPN services for our global customers and mobile onto it, by and large I've got my revenue on it," he said.

However, the move could spell the end for the Telex message exchange system. "If I have those four major product lines on it, I'm not going to lose sleep over the fact that Telex isn't on it," said Glass.

"Either we'll kill the product as part of the portfolio rationalisation or we'll bring it over as a side activity if it makes sense to do it."

Whatever the fallout from the changeover, BT admits that it was necessary to stop Ofcom wielding the axe and lopping it into two or three smaller pieces.

"They'd have been splitting BT into a network and then a service on top of that," said Glass. "It could have been local loop, and then the backbone network and then the retail side, so three splits."

However, BT maintained that the UK telecoms industry did not want the split to take place.

"We were against it and I think the wider industry was," said Graystone. " The CBI opposed it and lobbied anxiously for us to be retained."

Scales pointed to a recent debate by the European Telecoms Executive Network. "The Telecoms Executive Network has a two-day forum once a year and there is always a regulator's moment in that event, where you get a couple of hours with the regulator and the major operators fighting it out on a platform, " he said.

"It's very interesting when you see the dynamics around the table and there isn't really an appetite for a break-up, it's just not there."

Paul Hollingsworth, director of product marketing at Celona, added: "There was a general consensus across the board, with Cable & Wireless and NTL on the panel saying this seems to be the right thing for them.

"The chair of the panel said: 'would you rather have had a different option?' and it's clear that all of these companies that are competitors to BT would quite like more flexibility and more control of the network, but they don't want to pay for it."

Scales suggested that the repercussions of what happens in the UK market would be seen around the world.

"Last year they had the German regulator there as well and it's very clear that the rest of the world is watching very keenly what is going on in the UK to see whether it is going to work," he said.

However, Hollingsworth ruled out any future split for BT. "I think the whole industry recognises there's been a major change inside BT and if that hadn't been obvious there would have been a far stronger push to ensure the split actually happened," he said.

While its ability to change has kept BT in one piece, the company has also found that putting the new systems in place offers other benefits. BT estimates that the new platform has saved it £1.38bn so far.

"On an annualised basis we have probably halved our cost of ownership of the platform," said Graystone. "That's key because out total cost of IT is high and it was a good test of how can we drive that down."

Glass also admitted that the legacy Featurenet system using Cobol IDMS on a mainframe had its problems. "It was expensive to support and wasn't the easiest application to get changes made on."

However, he said that the biggest savings could come from the way staff use the system.

"You get a standard set of processes so that more and more of your queries and your interactions with the customers can be handled by a generalised team, as opposed to a specialised team," said Glass.

Graystone added that there are benefits for BT at the end of the process. " BT is saying it's been hampered for years in that it couldn't reduce the price in the way it wanted to because of the dominant market position it had," he said.

"But if we say that everyone is competing on an equal playing field then it can sell the service however it chooses and that has been one of the trade offs that Ofcom has made with BT."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Nokia to offer Google Talk on Web tablet-sources

May 13, 2006

The pact between the Finnish company and Web search leader Google Inc. would offer consumers the ability to chat with other users of instant messaging software via the Nokia Wi-Fi device, which relies on short-range wireless networks.(...)

In contrast to phones, the Nokia 770 relies on unregulated local wireless connections rather than cell phone networks.

Google Talk, which allows users to chat via text or to talk with other instant message users, will be one of the featured applications on the Nokia Internet Tablet, a second source confirmed.


The deal with Nokia marks the Mountain View, California-based Google's latest move beyond computers and into the mobile communications market.

Earlier this year it announced a plan with Nokia's biggest rival, Motorola Inc. to feature Google search software on Motorola phones.

Google rivals Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are also pushing to have their services featured on handsets. Yahoo is offered on several Nokia phone models.

BT to sell Wi-Fi mobiles for business

BT to sell Wi-Fi mobiles for business

mailroomuk@zdnet.com (Graeme Wearden and Rupert Goodwins) May 11, 2006

Under an alliance with Alcatel the telco will launch a converged phone that operates on both GSM and local wireless networks, but there are questions about call charges (...)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Times changing for radio signal

Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 02:17 GMT 03:17 UK

Times changing for radio signal
By Pallab Ghosh
BBC science correspondent

Many industries depend on knowing the exact time

Listen to the 'pips'
The radio signal used to set Britain's clocks is to move from Rugby where it has been transmitted since 1927.

The new home for the signal, which is used to keep the "pips" heard on BBC radio services to time, will be in Anthorn on the west coast of Cumbria.

The signal is used to manage a wide range of electronic networks, including cash machines, speed cameras and mobile phone billing systems.

It is accurate to within 1,000th of a second of Coordinated Universal Time.

The signal is kept in line by referencing two atomic clocks.

Test months

Maintaining accurate time is essential to keeping the modern world working
Steve McQuillan NPL managing director

Despite the advent of satellite and on-line methods of accurate time-keeping, demand for the radio service has never been greater. The system will be upgraded in its move to Cumbria.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which has been responsible for the Rugby signal since 1950, says the new transmitters at Anthorn will not require as much maintenance.

The switchover will take place following a three-month test period at the beginning of next year with the final transfer from Rugby to Anthorn occurring at the end of March.

NPL has reassured most users that they need take no action to continue receiving the service.

"Maintaining accurate time is essential to keeping the modern world working," said NPL managing director, Steve McQuillan.

Accurate time

He added: "Most people only need time to be accurate to within a few seconds or even minutes, but global navigation systems, the internet, e-mail, television, the power industry, transport, and financial systems are just some of the industries that depend on very accurate time to operate."

The MSF 60 kHz signal, as it is known, is currently transmitted from the Rugby Radio Station by BT under contract from NPL.

The Anthorn transmission, however, will be undertaken by VT Communications.

Its managing, director Doug Umbers, said: "We are very proud to be working in partnership with NPL on a programme of national significance.

"We are excited to be implementing a highly resilient solution, which will provide tangible benefits to all stakeholders."

NPL, at Teddington in south-west London, is the United Kingdom's national standards laboratory.

It is one of only five centres worldwide using the latest caesium fountain atomic clocks to contribute to the world time standard, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Tiny tags trace dragonfly paths

Wednesday, 10 May 2006, 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK

Tiny tags trace dragonfly paths

A transmitter is attached to a dragonfly's thorax (© C.Ziegler)

More details
The epic journeys taken by dragonflies searching for warmer climates have been revealed by scientists in the US.

The team, led by researchers from Princeton University, found that the insects are capable of flying up to 85 miles (137 km) in a day.

Writing in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes how it tracked the movements by attaching tiny radio transmitters to the insects

Monday, May 08, 2006



photos in Newport SculptureMore photos in Newport Sculpture



photos in Newport SculptureMore photos in Newport Sculpture