Monday, September 10, 2007

Global mobile phone connections hit 2.5bn
Global mobile phone connections hit 2.5bn
Emerging markets spark growth

Published Friday 8th September 2006 09:12 GMT

The total number of mobile connections in the world reached 2.5bn on Thursday, having passed the two billion mark just 12 months ago.

That's according to estimates from Wireless Intelligence, a body set up by research firm Ovum and the GSM Association.

"The cellular industry took 20 years to reach one billion connections, three years to reach two billion connections and is on target to reach its third billion in a period of just over two years," Wireless Intelligence director Martin Garner said.

"Worldwide growth is currently running at over 40m new connections per month - the highest volume of growth the market has ever seen," he added.

According to Garner, most of the current growth is coming from emerging markets with low levels of penetration, rather than from mature regions such as Europe.

The top 10 countries for volume of new connections over the last year were China, India, Russia, USA, Pakistan, Ukraine, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh. Between them, they account for over half of the growth in the world mobile market over the last 12 months.

A quarter of the growth is coming from China and India. Wireless Intelligence said China's market is still expanding at more than five million new connections per month. India, meanwhile, has seen the rate of new connections quadruple over the last 18 months to reach a level very close to China's.

According to the latest figures, over the four quarters to the end of September 2006, a total of 484m net additions were added to the worldwide total with 41 per cent of new connections coming from Asia Pacific. Eastern Europe and Latin America together accounted for 30 per cent of the growth, while Africa was responsible for 10 per cent of new connections.

In addition, Western Europe, North America, and the Middle East, all regions with relatively mature markets, accounted for 20 per cent of new mobile connections.

It should be noted that the total number of connections differs from the actual number of mobile users. This is because some individuals own a number of handsets, while others have mobiles that are inactive but may still be registered on operators' databases. Nonetheless, the latest figures indicate that mobile ownership is becoming commonplace around the world, no more so than in Ireland where over four million mobiles are in circulation, equivalent to at least one mobile per person.

According to Wireless Intelligence forecasts, the next half billion new connections will take around 16 months to be added, meaning the market is on track to reach a whopping three billion connections around the end of 2007.

Don't mess with mobile users | 14.54 Friday 7th September 2007 |Peter Cochrane's Blog: Don't mess with mobile users

When I look at a mobile phone I see a fixed-line phone with the cord severed and an antenna glued to the top. If ever there was a story of incremental change the mobile phone is it.

In the early days, more than 20 years ago now, the concept was a phone attached to the dashboard of a vehicle - in the style of police and taxi walkie-talkies. No one really envisaged that a phone in the hand or pocket would be a big deal.

Early users were berated as weird and told to get a life. I know because I was very often the butt of such comments. But slowly and very surely the number of users grew until the magic marketing penetration of 30 per cent was achieved, followed by the rush to buy.

This was really driven by the move to pay-as-you-go and the sidelining of the complex contracts that still dog the industry today. The rest, as they say, is history. Or is it?

At no point during this growth in mobile communications did the industry do any more than try to replicate the fixed-line history of the telephone. It was about connecting people by voice.

Text messaging came from stage left as an engineering facility brought to the fore, exploited, and promoted by youngsters. It was never intended as a service, and it created network mayhem with billions of extra connections that rapidly overtook voice calls.

This pattern has been true of the entire history of mobility. Anything and everything that has been a big deal came from outside the industry, from the edge - from the customers and small companies.

Good examples would be ringtones and sporting services, gambling and games. And guess what? Today the industry is resisting VoIP, wi-fi, YouTube and just about everything else the customers are demanding.

At the same time it continues to peddle lame-duck service ideas such as broadcast TV and movies. Will they ever learn? Customers now call the shots.

Like it or lump it, the tail is now wagging the dog and customers are pushing hard for what they want, and sooner or later they will get it. In the vanguard of this continuing revolution is the iPhone.

Whatever you think of it, the iPhone is the first real example of a user-centric mobile device. It represents the first time someone has sat down and said: "Let's consider what the customer really wants and what they really need - and even better, we will build in the usability they crave."


What has not been realised, at least not by many, is that these new user-centric devices and the services they promote run counter to the backward-looking mobile operators who are as desperate to hold on to their old thinking and business model as the fixed-line operators before them.


What users want is seamless communication and services at all times and in all locations, with lots of bandwidth whenever they want it, and access to everything they choose, and all at a reasonable price. There was a time when operators could demand $35 per month for every service: fixed, mobile, broadband, wi-fi, cable and satellite.

But we have now entered a period when all these services will be bundled for $35. And worse, the downward pressure on price will continue at 17 per cent per year or more.

What is the answer? Give the customers what they want. Find what they are willing to pay for. That will not be basic connectivity and access but services and networking. The good news is that there are countless services that people will value and pay for. All the industry has to do is take advantage of those new demands.

But, like music industry executives before them, operators will probably resist to the last, and most likely have a near-death experience as a result. In the mean time there is a new and growing threat from the mobile device producers and their customers.

As sure as eggs are eggs the mobile operators will lose control. If they try to strangle the services that people want, the customer base will migrate to wi-fi and the like.

If mobile operators try to control handsets, then back-street industries will provide the software and chipping services necessary. As always it will ultimately be: Customers 1, Industry 0.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Triangulating Gibson

Gibson | Spook Country


The purported inventor of the terms 'cyberspace' and 'matrix' is currently in the UK promoting his latest book, Spook Country.

(...) how Gibson nowadays writes, and how he demands to be read:

"One of the things I discovered while I was writing Pattern Recognition [Gibson's previous novel] is that I now think that any contemporary novel today has a kind of Google novel aura around it, where somebody's going to google everything in the text ... there's this nebulous extended text. Everything is hyperlinked now."

What the author is outlining here is the theory of a new and innovatively creative reading practice.

(...) And the plot of Spook Country (which revolves around the concept of GPS triangulation)
(...) Hollis is in Los Angeles, doing a feature on locative art


Gibson says: "One of the biggest technologically driven changes in my writing is the awareness that every text today has a kind of spectral quasi-hypertext surrounding it." It is "all of the Googled information that found its way into the book but which isn't available to the reader as a literal hypertext unless you're willing to be the animator of the hypertext process" and Google each term that's distinctive and new.

"It's curious. When I published 'Pattern Recognition' " -- his previous book, which was also set in the recent past and achieved mainstream success -- "within a few months there was someone who started a Web site. People were compiling Googled references to every term and every place in the book. It has photographs of just about every locale in the book -- a massive site that was compiled by volunteer effort. But it took a couple of years to come together. With 'Spook Country,' the same thing was up on the Web before the book was published." Somebody got an advance reader copy, and instantly put up a site for his fictional Node magazine.

Amazon interview

Everything is hyperlinked now. Some of it you actually have to type it in to get it, but it's all hyperlinked. It really changes things. I'm sure a lot of writers haven't yet realized how it changes things, but I find myself googling everything that goes into the text, and sometimes being led off in a completely different direction. X

College Crier online

Google ( web | news | image ) and Wikipedia

  • Spook Country is a novel by William Gibson, released on August 2, 2007 in the UK and on August 7, 2007 in the US by publisher Penguin Putnam.[1]
  • Gibson announced the book October 6, 2006 on his blog, where fragments of the novel have been posted non-sequentially for some time now, which has led to much speculation on the content and plot of the novel. Gibson has confirmed that Spook Country is set in February 2006[2], and is a continuation of his previous novel, Pattern Recognition.
  • Hollis Henry -- Former member of the early-nineties cult band The Curfew, now a freelance journalist assigned by the nascent magazine Node to write a story about the use of locative technology in the art world.

  • Wired | Q&A: William Gibson discusses Spook Country and Interactive Fiction| "Something that started with Pattern Recognition was that I†discovered I could Google the world of the novel. I began to regard it as a sort of extended text — hypertext pages hovering just outside the printed page. There have been threads on my Web site — readers Googling and finding my footprints. I still get people asking me about "the possibilities of interactive fiction," and they seem to have no clue how we're already so there".

  • PR - Otaku | Logging and annotating William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition Updates | 2007.08.13: No, there won’t be a similar annotation for Spook Country. Why? Because structurally, it’s the exact same book: | Gibson is trying to kill off his own creation, cyberspace, by claiming that “hyperspatial [‘eeperespatial’] tagging” will make cyberspace and meatspace exactly the same thing.

  • David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous | Social reading | September 8th, 2007 | John Sutherland writes in The Guardian about William Gibson’s latest book being absorbed into the cloud of links, annotation and commentary. It’s a great example of both the enriching of ideas through their miscellanizing and how reading is becoming a social act.

Everything is miscellaneous

Some extracts from David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous

Digitization ... Trojan horse ... flickr ... museums

Chapter One | The New Order of Order

(...) But now we have bits. Content is digitized into bits, and the information about that content consists of bits as well. This is the third order of order and it’s hitting us—to use a completely inappropriate metaphor—like a ton of bricks. The third order removes the limitations we’ve assumed were inevitable in how we organize information.

(...) The digital world thereby allows us to transcend the most fundamental rule of ordering the real world: Instead of everything having its place, it’s better if things can get assigned multiple places simultaneously.

(...) The digital revolution in organization sweeps beyond how we find odd photos and beyond how we organize our businesses’ information assets. In fact, the third-order practices that make a company’s existing assets more profitable, increase customer loyalty, and seriously reduce costs are the Trojan horse of the information age. As we all get used to them, third-order practices undermine some of our most deeply ingrained ways of thinking about the world and our knowledge of it.

For example, medical information that used to come only through the careful filters of medical experts and medical publications is now available to everyone prior to the basic housekeeping processes of being gone through and put away. The miscellanizing of this information not only breaks it out of its traditional organizational categories but also removes the implicit authority granted by being published in the paper world. Second-order organization, it turns out, is often as much about authority as about making things easier to find.

We have entire industries and institutions built on the fact that the paper order severely limits how things can be organized. Museums, educational curricula, newspapers, the travel industry, and television schedules are all based on the assumption that in the second-order world, we need experts to go through information, ideas, and knowledge and put them neatly away.

But now we—the customers, the employees, anyone—can route around the second order. We can confront the miscellaneous directly in all its unfulfilled glory. We can do it ourselves and, more significantly, we can do it together, figuring out the arrangements that make sense for us now and the new arrangements that make sense a minute later. Not only can we find what we need faster, but traditional authorities cannot maintain themselves by insisting that we have to go to them. The miscellaneous order is not transforming only business. It is changing how we think the world itself is organized and—perhaps more important—who we think has the authority to tell us so.

blog archive

Mobile snaps reveal invisible art | Thursday, 9 August 2007, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Mobile snaps reveal invisible art
By Mark Ward, Technology correspondent, BBC News website, San Diego

Scottish researchers are turning to camera phones to help bridge the virtual and real worlds.

Using image-matching algorithms the researchers have found a way to adorn the real world with digital content.

The technology has already been used to create a guide of Edinburgh that allows people to find virtual artworks placed around the city using their mobile.

Another related project uses the technology to automatically update a person's blog with their location.

"It's about using a camera phone as a magic wand," said Dr Mark Wright of the Division of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh who came up with the idea.

At the heart of Spellbinder, as the project is known, is a database of all the places that participants have added data to. People query it by taking a snap of a location with their phone then using multimedia text messages to send it to Spellbinder.

Mobile phone technology turns 20 | Friday, 7 September 2007, 23:55 GMT 00:55 UK
Mobile phone technology turns 20

Nokia 1100, Nokia
Nokia's 1100 is the world's best-selling handset
The technology behind the mobile phone is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

On 7 September 1987, 15 phone firms signed an agreement to build mobile networks based on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) Communications.

According to the GSM Association there are more than 2.5 billion accounts that use this mobile phone technology.

Adoption of the technology shows no signs of slowing down with many developing nations becoming keen users of mobile handsets.

Future phones

Robert Conway, head of the GSM Association, said the memorandum of understanding signed in 1987 is widely seen as the moment when the global mobile industry got under way.

Although work on the GSM technical specifications began earlier, the agreement signed in 1987 committed those operators to building networks based upon it.

China has 445 million GSM customers
There are 2.5 billion GSM connections worldwide
64% of mobile users are in emerging markets
About seven billion text messages are sent every day
Source: GSM Association
"There's no doubt that at the time of the agreement in 1987 no one had an idea of the explosive capabilities in terms of growth that would happen after the GSM standard was agreed," he said.

Since then, he said, the numbers of people using GSM mobiles has always outstripped the predictions.

Once the preserve of the well off, mobiles were now "the everyday gadget that's essential to people's lives," he said.

In the UK there are now more mobiles than people according to Ofcom statistics which reveal that, at the end of 2006, for every 100 Britons there are 116.6 mobile connections.

Figures from the GSM Association show it took 12 years for the first billion mobile connections to be made but only 30 months for the figure to reach two billion.

"In the developing world they are becoming absolutely indispensable," said Mr Conway.

This was because handsets were now cheap and mobile networks much less expensive to set up than the fixed alternatives.

Discarded mobiles, PA
There are so many phones that recycling them is a problem

But getting mobiles in to the hands of billions of people was just the start, said Mr Conway.

"The technology is a gravitational force that brings in to its orbit a huge amount of innovators," he said.

In the future, he suggested, high-speed networks would be ubiquitous adding the intelligence of mobiles to anything and everything.

"The technology will be in the fabric of your clothing, your shoes, in appliances, in your car," he said.

For instance, he said, the ubiquity of mobile technology could revolutionise healthcare and see people wearing monitors that gather and transmit information about vital signs.

Phones too could change radically in the future.

"You'll pull them out of your pocket and they'll look like a map but unfold like a screen," said Mr Conway. "We're now on the verge of another wave and that's going to be stimulated by mobile broadband."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Internet, and the embodied mind

Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again
Andy Clark

"Brain, body, and world are united in a complex dance of circular causation and extended computational activity. In Being There, Andy Clark weaves these several threads into a pleasing whole and goes on to address foundational questions concerning the new tools and techniques needed to make sense of the emerging sciences of the embodied mind. Clark brings together ideas and techniques from robotics, neuroscience, infant psychology, and artificial intelligence. He addresses a broad range of adaptive behaviors, from cockroach locomotion to the role of linguistic artifacts in higher-level thought".

Extract |

" (...) The conjecture, then, is that one large jump or discontinuity in human cognitive evolution involves the distinctive way human brains repeatedly create and exploit various species of cognitive technology so as to expand and reshape the space of human reason. We, more than any other creature on the planet, deploy non-biological elements (instruments, media, notations) to complement (but not, typically, to replicate) our basic biological modes of processing, creating extended cognitive systems whose computational and problem-solving profiles are quire different from those of the naked brain. Human brains maintain an intricate cognitive dance with an ecologically novel, and immensely empowering, environment: the world of symbols, media, formalisms, texts, speech, instruments and culture. The computational circuitry of human cognition thus flows both within and beyond the head". ( X )

Interview with Andy Clark | 2004

"vast unconscious curatorial movement"

"EBay in the hands of humanity is sorting every last Dick Tracy wrist radio cereal premium sticker that ever existed. It's like some sort of vast unconscious curatorial movement". - William Gibson (interview), cited by Bruce Sterling.


"This is new. People in really small towns can become world-class connoisseurs of something via eBay and Google. This didn't used to be possible. If you are sufficiently obsessive and diligent, you can be a little kid in some town in the backwoods of Tennessee and the world's premier info-monster about some tiny obscure area of stuff. That used to require a city. It no longer does." ( x )

Thursday, September 06, 2007

continuous transformation

Peter Cochrane | "We are in the midst of continuous transformation" | Bullet points from keynote address, Seamless Freedom: The Wireless Revolution (The Wireless Event, Olympia, London, 2006) :

"We are in the midst of continuous transformation"

> Technology changes faster than us
> Old rules and systems no longer work
> Hierarchies no longer dominate
> Organisations increasingly distributed
> Self reliance increasingly important
> Ultimately, everything becomes a commodity
> Almost everything IT & Wireless can now be DIY

"... the disruptive forces seem to me the the digitisation of everything... everything is getting connected and mobile... smaller, smarter, cheaper..."

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Wi-Fi to supersede wired Ethernet

Report: Wi-Fi to supersede wired Ethernet
David Meyer ZDNet UK | Published: 29 Aug 2007 11:33 BST

Wi-Fi will start replacing wired Ethernet within the next two to three years as users and applications go mobile, an IT analyst group has claimed.

In a report comparing gigabit Ethernet with the latest version of Wi-Fi — 802.11n — Burton Group suggests that companies should begin making plans for switching their local area networks (LANs) from wired to wireless.

"802.11n will put pervasive mobility on the fast track," said Burton Group analyst Paul DeBeasi on Tuesday. "IT professionals should start thinking now about how they will deploy, maintain, and benefit from an all-wireless LAN." In the report, DeBeasi claimed that 802.11n would make serious inroads into wired Ethernet's market within 24 to 36 months. (...)

BT Broadband 4M Milestone

BT | Press Release | September 3, 2007
Four million and counting - BT Retail passes broadband milestone

BT Retail today became the UK’s first broadband supplier to pass the four million customer mark. The achievement cements BT’s position as the UK’s most popular supplier of broadband and follows the fifth consecutive independent survey to identify BT as having the UK’s best performing ADSL broadband service 1.

BT Retail had 172,000 broadband customers in June 2002 when BT put broadband at the heart of its strategy. The acceleration to four million has taken just over five years meaning a new customer has been added on average every 40 seconds over this period. This also equates to more than 2,000 new customers each day during that period. The last million customers have been added in ten months.

The broadband market has boomed in recent years thanks to BT’s investment in making the service available to almost every home in the UK. More than 99.8 per cent of UK homes can access broadband and more than half of these homes have now taken up the service.

This dramatic rise in connections has led to the UK overtaking most of its main competitors in terms of broadband penetration. Only Canada is ahead of the UK in the G8 meaning the UK is ahead of Japan, France, Germany and the US 2. There are more than 15 million connections in the UK with approximately 11.5m of those running over the BT network. The rest are carried via the UK’s cable network.

BT Retail chief executive Ian Livingston said: “Four million customers is a great achievement in such a short time. Broadband has proved to be one of the most popular new services ever seen. It is already delivering next generation television, inclusive free phone calls in High Definition sound and great value mobile calls. Broadband can provide so many more services than just internet surfing and it has become central to many people’s lives and businesses. Customers want to take advantage of the potential of broadband and need a high quality, reliable service – that’s why BT is the UK’s most popular broadband service.”

1EPITIRO survey dated July 16, 2007
2 CRTC Communications Monitoring Report July 2007

Reuters | BT surpasses four million broadband customers | Published: 03 Sep 2007 14:29 BST

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Municipal Wi-Fi

Municipal Wi-Fi
Reality bites
Aug 30th 2007 | SEATTLE
From The Economist

American cities' plans for ubiquitous internet access are running into trouble

IT WAS supposed to democratise the internet and turn America's city-dwellers into citizen-surfers. In 2004 the mayors of Philadelphia and San Francisco unveiled ambitious plans to provide free wireless-internet access to all residents using Wi-Fi, a technology commonly used to link computers to the internet in homes, offices, schools and coffee-shops. Across America, hundreds of cities followed suit. Yet many municipal Wi-Fi projects have since been hit by mounting costs, poor coverage and weak demand. This week Chicago became the first big city to abandon its plans for a city-wide network. “Everyone would like something for free,” says Chuck Haas of MetroFi, a supplier of municipal Wi-Fi systems. But the numbers do not add up.

Most city governments did not want to build or run the Wi-Fi systems themselves, so they farmed the job out to specialist firms such as EarthLink and MetroFi. These companies initially agreed to bear all expenses, expecting to sign up 10-25% of each city's population for a fee-based wireless service. In some places this was to have been supplemented by a free service at lower speed, or supported by advertising. Some cities also planned to subsidise access for poor residents.

But municipal Wi-Fi schemes have been struggling to make ends meet. EarthLink, which runs networks in Philadelphia and New Orleans, recently admitted that “the Wi-Fi business as currently constituted will not provide an acceptable return.” This week the firm said it would lay off 900 workers, including the head of its municipal Wi-Fi division, the future of which is now in doubt.

The root of the problem is that city-wide Wi-Fi, which relies on outdoor radio transmitters, does not provide good access inside buildings, since it uses weak signals which do not always penetrate thick exterior walls. Proponents of the technology also underestimated the number of transmitters that would be needed to provide blanket coverage. Most networks deployed between 2004 and 2006 used between 20% and 100% more nodes than expected, which pushed up costs.

Worse, the networks that have been completed have attracted few users. Taipei's city-wide WiFly system, the largest such network in the world, was reckoned to need 250,000 regular subscribers by the end of 2006 in order to break even, but had attracted only 30,000 by April 2007. America's biggest network, around Tempe, Arizona, was aiming for 32,000 subscribers, but had only 600 in April 2006 and has not provided figures since.

EarthLink and MetroFi have responded by asking city governments to act as “anchor tenants” and agree to spend a guaranteed sum on the service. Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, accepted such contracts from the beginning; their Wi-Fi schemes are proceeding relatively smoothly. But most cities have balked at the change. Chicago's plans foundered when EarthLink and AT&T, the two firms bidding to build its network, demanded anchor-tenant commitments. MetroFi has lost four contracts since April after asking municipalities to subscribe upfront. The consortium planning to build a Wi-Fi network across 1,500 square miles (3,885 square km) of Silicon Valley also wants to switch to an anchor-tenant model.

One problem with the anchor-tenant approach is that few municipalities are in a position to do much with the networks. Despite vague talk about wireless parking meters and enabling building inspectors to submit reports using Wi-Fi hand-helds, most cities lack the back-office systems needed to do such things. “You're building them a better track,” says Craig Settles, a telecoms consultant, “but they don't even have running shoes yet.”

The one bright spot for municipal Wi-Fi is public safety. After the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, governments at all levels in America set about improving communications between emergency workers. Dedicated radio spectrum has been set aside, and several cities have built Wi-Fi networks to transmit images from surveillance cameras and the like. The hope is that separate systems providing internet access can piggyback on these networks, as EarthLink has done with a Wi-Fi system originally built for public-safety purposes in New Orleans. Equipment providers now make nodes that put both the necessary transmitters into a single box, making such roll-outs cheaper.

Some cities will be able to make this approach work, and may then be able to offer their residents free, or at least relatively cheap, Wi-Fi access too. But many others will not, and will have to follow Chicago in abandoning their utopian dreams of city-wide networks. With Wi-Fi, as with most things, you get what you pay for.