Best of DEMO



The 70-plus demos are over at DEMO 08 (videos) and now it’s time to tally the award winners says AppScout’s Lance Ulanoff.

Chris Shipley and her team chose 10 companies that, among other things “took the stage with passion and enthusiasm.” Lance compares her picks with his top ten:

    Malaysian WiMAX: Now or Never



    The Malaysian National News Agency, Bernama, reports that the four WiMAX licensed companies are facing the possibility of a fine and having their licenses revoked if their services do not commence in a year’s time, according to WiMax.com.

    The four companies holding Wimax licenses in the 2.3 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band are facing the possibility of a fine and having their licenses revoked if their services do not commence in a year’s time, Minister of Energy, Water and Communications Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said this week.

    The companies are Asiaspace, REDtone-CNX Broadband Bizsurf and Packet One Networks (previously known as MIB Comm). They had been earlier asked by the ministry to start their services in the first quarter of this year.

    If the companies have yet to start their services after the first three months of this year, there would be an extension of three months so that they are really ready. “In six months if they do not start, they will be fined and if by one year they do not start their service, their licenses will be revoked.

    The companies have to ensure that the Wimax systems will cover 80 percent of the areas of the country and are enjoyed by 99 percent of the population.

    Dr Lim said the cost of building a transmission tower could exceed RM2 billion in cost. The whole country will require 5,000 towers in two years time for a good service, he added.

    Skyfire: Mobile Flash Browser



    Skyfire, a Web browser for Windows Mobile devices being demonstrated at DEMO 08. WiFiPlanet thinks it may represent the future of mobile Web browsing.

    Unlike other mobile browsers, Skyfire supports dynamic Flash, advanced Ajax, and Java, something the mobile version of Safari for the iPhone does not.

    Skyfire displays the whole splash page and can zoom in on any section. It will automatically fit text and other content to a smartphone’s screen to minimize scrolling.

    And because Skyfire supports Flash, videos run directly within the browser when you go to view them. This goes for any site that sports Flash. By contrast, since Safari does not support Flash, you can’t access YouTube or any other sites’ Flash content.

    Instead, to view YouTube videos on the iPhone you must use Apple’s proprietary YouTube application, which is completely separate from Safari and only plays videos after they’ve been converted to an iPhone-friendly format.

    According to Google and Yahoo, the iPhone browser this Christmas season accounted for more than 50 percent of mobile traffic — with the iPhone having only a 2 percent share of the mobile phone market at that point. This should really open it up.

    Users can register for a beta version of Skyfire here; the browser is expected to be available in coming weeks. DailyWireless has more on Demo 08.

    700MHz: Open Access Triggered . . . We Have a Winner!



    During today’s 700 MHz auction the closely watched C-Block bidding picked up a new bid during round 17 to push the potential winning price for the block past the $4.6 billion reserve mark, thereby triggering the spectrum’s open-access provision, reports RCR Wireless News. Overall, the FCC’s 700 MHz auction picked up another $1.2 billion in total potential winning bids during round 17, and now sits at just under $12.8 billion in total potential winning bids.

    The potential winning bid for block “C” in round 17 remained at $4.7 billion through round 18 which required a minimum bid of nearly $5.3 billion.

    If there were only one bidder (Google), there would be no logical reason to bid any more, now that it has hit the $4.6 billion minimum. We may have an answer to that question as early as this afternoon.


    UPDATE: We have a winner!

    This morning the bidding triggered the “open access” clause, and the following “C Block” auctions did not receive additional bids. The high bid for the “C” block this morning remained at $4,713,823,000, after a second round of bidding today.

    Based on our analysis of the bidding pattern, we believe that if there have been two active bidders for the C Block, the second bidder has lost sufficient eligibility to bid again, and thus, we believe the bidding for the C Block is likely over,” noted research firm Stifel Nicolaus for RCR Wireless, after round 17. Since the rules required anyone else to bid in the next round, it appears that there is no one else trying to compete.

    So we likely have a winner for the “C” block. It will provide broadband access (and voice) throughout the United States. This new service will provide an “open access” platform that can run a variety of 3rd party applications.

    The winner is widely speculated to be Google, although companies are banned from talking about their bidding while the auction is active. The search company previously said it would bid at least the reserve price for the 22MHz of C Block frequencies.

    Now it may have them.

    RCR Wireless News reports, the FCC’s 700 MHz auction picked up 945 new bids totaling $1.2 billion in potential winning bids during round 17, 930 new bids totaling $905.3 million in potential winning bids during round 18 and 920 new bids totaling $616.8 million during round 19. Total potential winning bids sat at $14.3 billion at the end of round 19, nearly matching the high-end of pre-auction estimates.

    After 21 rounds, the 700 MHz auction swept past the $15 billion mark, and it does not look like its slowing down anytime soon.

    Further news in the 700 MHz bidding is unlikely to be nearly as dramatic or game-changing. AT&T and Verizon will likely dominate the 12MHz chunks in the “A” and “B” blocks in the less ideal Lower 700 MHz band, while Qualcomm may grab channel 56 for mobile television. The public service “D” block will go up for auction again at a later date.

    End of story.

    Related DailyWireless stories include; 700MHz Round One, 700MHz Auction Tomorrow, Frontline: Out of Business, The 700 MHz List, Google’s 700 MHz Plans, FCC Finalizes Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement, Frontline: Martin Plan Not ‘Open’, Frontline Files 700MHz Plan with FCC, Cyren Call Proposes Joint Commecial/Muni for 700Mhz, 700 MHz Scenarios, AT&T Buys 700MHz from Aloha, Google Android hits G-Spot, Cyren Call to Manage Public Safety Spectrum, Android Developer Challenge — $10M, Google: We Got Trouble. . . In 700 Mhz, AT&T, Verizon & Frontline Want 700Mhz Changes, AT&T Buying 700 MHz from Aloha Partners, Oregon’s $500 Million Statewide Wireless Network, General Dynamics Wins IWN Contract, Joint Commecial/Muni Proposed for 700Mhz, Small Ops Squeezed Out of 700MHz?, Verizon Makes its Move for Universal Service Fund, The Smartest Guy in the Room, 700 MHz On The Line?, 700 Mhz Worth $28B, RUS Funding for 700 MHz, The 700 Mhz Club, Channel 54: Where are You?

    Golden Anniversary for Explorer 1



    Fifty years ago today, the United States successfully launched its first satellite, Explorer 1. The launch on January 31, 1958 was its first (successful) response after Russia successfully launched two satellites.

    The three men given most credit for its success are Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William Pickering (left), scientist James Van Allen (middle) and rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun (right).

    The achievement is being celebrated this week at JPL at Pasadena, at Cape Canaveral, Fla., where the rocket was launched, and in Huntsville, Ala., where von Braun and his cadre of German engineers were based.

    Explorer 1 was 80 inches long with a diameter of 6.25 inches. Explorer I sent data to the ground for just over 100 days before its batteries died, but it wasn’t until March 31, 1970, 12 years and two months after its launch, did the satellite disintegrate while reentering the atmosphere.

    Sputnik 1 was the world’s first orbiting spacecraft, launched by the Russians on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 2 carried a dog, and was launched in November 1957.

    The International Space Station, currently 60 percent complete, is a $100 billion orbital outpost still under construction. Assembly began in 1998, and today has 16 partner nations.

    Meanwhile, the Atlantis Shuttle is being prepped for delivery of the Columbus Module (above) to the space station for a planned Feb. 7 launch. The fuel sensor problem that derailed two attempts to launch the shuttle Atlantis in December has been resolved, NASA managers said today.

    The spacecraft that NASA hopes will return humans to the moon is scheduled to begin flight testing in fall 2008.

    The Orion spacecraft is expected to replace NASA’s aged space shuttle fleet with missions in Earth’s orbit, including visits to the International Space Station.

    Each Orion spacecraft will carry a crew of four to six astronauts, and will be launched by the new Ares I launch vehicle.

    They are scheduled to begin in 2015, with humans returning to the moon sometime before 2020.

    It still costs some $10,000 a pound to get stuff into geosynchronous space.

    Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf launched the internet with their now-famous paper, “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication“. The first public demonstration of the Arpanet was in 1972, when approximately 50 nodes were operating. The InterPlanet Internet permits interoperation with other remotely located internets resident on other planets or spacecraft in transit.

    Space.com describes Galactic Wi-fi.

    Mediterranean Submarine Cables Cut



    Two separate oceanic cable systems in the far East were severed around 0800 hrs GMT on January 30 2008, greatly impacting both Internet and voice traffic to the region. A third cable was cut at 0559 hrs GMT on February 1 2008. Omar Sultan, chief executive of Dubai’s IPS DU, said the incident was “very unusual.” He said it wasn’t known how the underwater FLAG FALCON cable, stretching between the United Arab Emirates and Oman, had been damaged.

    The broken submarine cables (global map) are operated by Flag Telecom, a subsidiary of Reliance Communications, and SEA-ME-WEA 4, run by a consortium of 16 telecommunications companies. Repair time may be measured in weeks, not days, says the Renesys Blog. VSNL restored Internet Services within 24 hours by going around the world — the long way — but it has snarled Internet and phone traffic from Egypt to India. Google News and Blog Runner have the latest news.

    The countries highlighted in red (above) are those whose Internet connectivity is being disrupted the most by this event. As you can see, there are several cable systems that connect Europe, the Middle East and Asia, via the Suez Canal.

    According to Bloomberg, six ships were diverted from Alexandria port because of bad weather, and one may have severed the cables with an anchor, said a spokesman for Flag Telecom Group.

    The FLAG cut (pdf) is reported to have taken place 8.3 kilometers (5.2 miles) from Alexandria beach in northern Egypt. Flag (for Fiber-optic Link Around the Globe), runs from Britain to Japan.

    FLAG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of India’s No. 2 mobile operator Reliance Communications, was cut (pdf) around 0800 hrs GMT on January 30, on a segment between Egypt and Italy.

    Another submarine Internet cable owned by Flag Telecom — Falcon — was cut on February 1 at 6 a.m. GMT, at a location 56 kilometers from Dubai, on a segment between UAE and Oman. Falcon (wikipedia) has a maximum capacity of 2.56 Tbps, with initial launch at 90 Gbps. The four fibre pair links the Gulf to Egypt and India.

    In Cairo, much of the capital city was without access to the Internet for the bulk of the day, frustrating businesses and the professions. “It’s a national disaster,” said Joseph Metry, network supervisor at Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, the biggest mobile- phone company in the Middle East and North Africa. New financial hubs like Dubai has increased traffic on many of these cables.

    The South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) cable, has 17 landing points. The SEA-ME-WEA 4 cable was damaged in the waters off Marseille, France, reports C/Net shortly after the first cut on FLAG. The two cables, which are separately managed and operated, were damaged within hours of each other.

    How is it that Flag Telecom, Falcon, and SEA-ME-WEA 4 cables (above and below) were severed within hours of each other, although Marseille, France and Alexandria, Egypt, are hundreds of miles apart? At this point, details are sketchy and the cause is still unclear.

    VSNL has a terrific interactive global cable map (above), while the SEA-ME-WEA 4 map (below) shows the distance to France. VSNL, the Indian telecom giant, bought Tyco’s 6 Terabit transpacific cable for a relative song in 2004. Now they planning a new TGN-Intra Asia submarine cable linking Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan with an additional connection to the Philippines, and potentially Vietnam. At least five new submarine systems will run through the Middle East and provide additional connectivity to Europe and Asia says Light Reading.

    The International Cable Protection Committee, an association of 86 submarine cable operators dedicated to safeguarding submarine cables, says more than 95 percent of transoceanic telecoms and data traffic are carried by submarine cables, and the rest by satellite. Communications satellites generally have something like 500MHz of spectrum dedicated for upstream and 500Mhz dedicated for downstream — not much more than a typical consumer cable television system. Fiber can carry thousands of times that capacity.

    On 26th December, 2006, a powerful earthquake shook the seabed off southern Taiwan (pdf).

    The magnitude 7.1 earthquake was followed by one of the largest disruptions of modern telecommunications history.

    Nine submarine cables in the Strait of Luzon, between Taiwan and the Philippines, were broken thus disabling vital connections between SE Asia and the rest of the world. China Telecom reported that several international submarine communications cables had been broken, including:

    By the end of 2007, 25 oceanic fiber contracts totaling 112,000 route-kilometers were awarded.

    Cable ships can’t just drop everything in the middle of a job. Both of Portland’s cable ships, the Tyco Durable and Global Sentinel, are expected to have plenty of work throughout the Pacific as the telecom industry rebounds. Here are Research Ship Schedules. The nearest research vessel looks like the Poseidon. It carries the manned submersible JAGO, and the autonomous ROV Kiel 6000.

    Sounds like a job for the USS Jimmy Carter. Why doesn’t anyone seem to appreciate our help?

    Related DailyWireless fiber articles include Fiber Crosses the Pond, Google: Now it’s Transpacific Fiber, New China Transpacific Cable, Top Teleport Operators, Pacific Telecommunication Council: 007, City Fiber Networks, National Broadband Policy?, Utopia Spreads, Muni Fiber for Portland?, and Oregon MuniFiber: the Bad & the Good, and Taiwan Earthquake Knocks Out Cables.