Mobile Airwaves to be Harmonised

The EU is encouraging its members to occupy the same airwaves for mobile broadband In an attempt to reach its 2013 target of 100% broadband coverage.

As members change from the traditional analogue to the new digital broadcasting method, the spectrum will be made available.

The change will make it much simpler to use devices “across borders” and permit consumers to use “roaming” services.

The plan is being likened by some to the rise of GSM mobile phones in the 1990s.

Using a common frequency as planned would be of significant benefit to rural communities as it travels over long distances.

The EU revealed that approximately 30% of its rural population is currently without high-speed internet access.

The development will use the 790-862 MHz sub-band radio spectrum  which is part of the “digital dividend” which was made available from the digital switchover.

However, during the changeover, the EU will be determined that all of its members agree on its technical standards.

 Without such agreements, different states may allow different uses for the spectrum which could cause interference, revealing that “radio spectrum knows no borders.”

A bonus for mobile broadband users is that the 790-862 MHz spectrum can easily penetrate buildings.

According to the commission, it is feasible that “3G and 4G mobile phone services that allow video streaming, full web browsing and fast downloads on a mobile handset,” could be used.

This would enable “high-speed broadband coverage of 100% of the EU population by the end of 2013.”

This switchover would need to be made by 2012 according to the EU and the developments are being encouraged by British broadcasting regulator Ofcom, who will study the proceedings with the government.

A spokesman announced, “the spectrum could deliver benefits such as mobile broadband or any other suitable services to EU citizens.”

An open auction for the frequencies made available by the switchover will be held in the UK, with many groups interested, such as broadcasters who could use some frequencies for high-definition services.

The EU has several “strategic objectives” to take advantage of the digital dividend, including a European-wide agreement on how the frequencies should be used and meeting targets on the technologies that will be allowed to use them, too.

By making agreements over the use of the frequencies, up to £45bn could be generated as a result.

Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media declared that “The digital dividend is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make ‘broadband for all’ a reality all over Europe and boost some of the most innovative sectors of our economy.”

“Europe will only make the most of the digital dividend if we work together on a common plan.”

Internet Set for Language Revolution

The internet is all set for the onset of what is seen by many to be the “biggest change” since its invention 40 years ago, according to regulator Icann.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) announced that coming to the conclusion of plans to allow non-Latin characters to be used in website addresses as Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs).

Initially accepted in 2008 , the change will see domain names written in Arabic and other Asian scripts.

The regulatory body revealed that applications would begin to be considered for approval by 16th of November if granted for approval on 30 October.

The president of Icann, Rod Beckstrom, believes that the first IDNs could be in use by “mid 2010.”

Beckstrom continued, “Of the 1.6 billion internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based.”

“So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread.”

According to Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the board which has been set the duty of reviewing the change, IDN plans were approved in June 2008 but the system has been undergoing rigorous testing for much longer.

Dengate Thrush is pleased with the developments, stating that “you have to appreciate what a fantastically complicated technical feature this is.”

“What we have created is a different translation system.”

The alterations will be applied to the internet’s Domain Name System, which works in a similar way to a phone book, translating web domains names such as google.com into a series of numbers, more commonly known as IP addresses.

The modifications are due to allow this current system to understand and translate non-Latin characters.

Dengate Thrush added, “we are confident that it works because we have been testing it for a couple of years.”

“We’re really ready to start rolling it out.”

In China and Thailand, internet users can already access websites using their own language, as the website owners have used special work around techniques. However, these website addresses don’t work on all computers and are not internationally approved.

The meeting will take place in South Korea and include talks on the introduction of generic Top Level Domains (TLDs), such as .uk or .com.

The organisation allowed a relaxation on the rules regarding TLDs last year so that businesses could use their brand as a website address and individuals could use their names.

The US government founded Icann in 1998 in a big to control regulations on the internet, but has undergone years of criticism, leading to the relaxing of its control over the non-profit body.

Autonomy was provided to Icann when the US government signed an agreement on 1 October.

Nokia to Sue Apple

Finland’s mobile phone giant Nokia is planning to sue Apple for their failure to pass on royalties from their sales of the immensely popular iPhone.

Apple are said to have infringed upon Nokia’s mobile phone technology patents when developing the iPhone.

How much Nokia will be seeking has not yet been confirmed, but expert analyst Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray predicts that Nokia will seek 1-2% from every iPhone that is sold.

Over 30 million have been sold to date which would generate between $6 and $12 per iPhone, potentially totalling $400m.

Apple has recently announced third quarter profits of £1bn with the iPhone delivering a 7% growth, having to pass on 1-2% of its iPhone royalties would be relatively insignificant.

On the other hand, Nokia revealed a loss for the last quarter due to a downturn in sales; the first in a decade.

Nokia has confirmed agreements with approximately 40 companies, which included the majority of mobile phone handset makers, allowing the use of its technological advancements, but Apple had not signed the agreement.

Ilkka Rahnasto, vice-president of legal and intellectual property at Nokia explained, “the basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for.”

“Apple is also expected to follow this principle.”

Mr Rahnasto went on to say, that Nokia has actually invested over £36bn on research and development in the past two decades.

Highly respected Apple expert Mr Munster has confessed that a sum of $12 per phone was “unlikely,” but if Nokia did manage to prise such a high figure out of Apple, it “would not change our positive thesis on the iPhone and Apple.” He went on to add, that “ultimately, the resolution is uncertain.”

The BBC sought further information from Apple, but a spokesman for the technology giant revealed that the company didn’t comment on pending litigation.

Nokia have alleged a total of 10 patent infringements, applying to all models from the iPhone range since its 2007 launch. Some of the patents that have been allegedly breeched include wireless data technology, speech coding, encryption and security. Nokia went on to accuse Apple of “trying to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”

Microsoft Releases ‘Faster’ Windows

The brand new Windows 7 operating system (OS) is set to deliver “better battery life and quicker boot times,” according to Microsoft and Intel.

The statement was made during a press conference in San Fransisco, where engineers gave the new OS a stringent test.

Microsoft will be expecting Windows 7 to avoid the negative exposure generated through the release of Windows Vista, and joined Intel in saying they have never worked as closely and have released a product that “they are proud of”.

Mike Angiulo from Microsoft told the BBC, “we both made a larger investment than ever before on the engineer side to improve on the hardware and software.”

Collectively known by some as Wintel, the two companies began the day after Windows Vista was released over two years ago and used hundreds of engineers in the process of development.

Steve Smith, the vice president at Intel’s digital enterprise group “we have spent 20 years getting to know each other and have businesses that are very well aligned.”

Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat, the popular internet technology blog, believed that Windows Vista needed drastic improvement.

He went on to say, “the collaboration was in the name of making Windows 7 better and more bug-free than the January 2007 launch of Windows Vista, which was broadly criticised in the industry and was one of the best advertisements for buying a Mac in history.”

Engineers have looked into the technological advances made by Microsoft and Intel, such as improved energy efficiency, security and performance.

One demonstration involved two identical Lenovo T400 laptops playing the same video, one using the Windows 7 OS and the other using Vista. Microsoft reported that the machine that ran Windows 7 experienced a 20% improvement in power efficiency due to “timer coalescing,” a design that extends battery life by holding the processor in low power states.

Ruston Panabaker, Microsoft’s head programme manager wouldn’t comment on how much battery power Windows 7 would save computers, stating “we’re achieving a very significant amount of battery savings.”

Engineers at Microsoft and Intel believe that end performance was dependant upon how manufacturers configured their machines.

Engineers were capable of boot up a system running Windows 7 in just 11 seconds. Intel’s Mr Smith told that “what we showed today was real capability in actual scenarios.”

CNET’s Ina Fried had reported on Microsoft for over 5 years and felt that this was a hurdle that both Microsoft and Intel needed to cross.

Ms Fried insisted, “in order for the computer users to get the benefit of all this work, it’s down to what choices the PC maker makes. It requires them all to be talking to one another all the time.”

“In the Vista time-frame, we saw not necessarily the kind of communication that leads to happy users and I think they have really tried to address that this time.”

“We will see how far they have really got when we see those Windows systems shipping in October.”

Why Microsoft Needs Windows 7 to Succeed

Thursday, 22 October sees the highly anticipated arrival of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, with many believing that the future of the world’s largest software company will depend on its success.

The enormous scale of Microsoft’s grip on the market becomes clear when told of the 90% of computers relying on its Windows operating system, and over 1 billion people using it.

Microsoft’s last financial year saw a £35.7bn turnover with a net profit of approximately £9bn. Over half the profits generated were reliant upon Windows.

Experts have predicted that Microsoft’s stranglehold over the market was due to drop, with competitors Linux and Apple waiting to jump in. Many experts predict that software will be shifted to the “cloud,” where people connect to remote servers to access their software in a revolution to worldwide computing.

Microsoft brought about the attention of regulators at the US Department of Justice and the European Commission with ruthless actions towards competitors.

The release of its Vista operating system 3 years ago rendered many of its first users with unusable hardware and software; a crushing blow and seriously damaged its reputation with software developers and customers alike.

Most people still prefer Windows XP, Vista’s eight-year-old predecessor, with estimates suggesting that Vista has between 18.6% and 35% hold on the market.

Annette Jump, research director at technology firm Gartner, believes that “Vista is the worst-adopted operating system” whilst Microsoft International’s Jean-Philippe Courtois thinks “we don’t feel great about Vista adoption.”

This could be the only chance for Microsoft to regain the confidence that took a blow during the Vista period. Many Microsoft executives feel that they learnt a lot from what went wrong with Vista.

Windows 7 looks set to be released in good time, just 3 years after the release of Vista. Those that have tested it have reported it to be fast, secure, reliable, and easy to use. Microsoft have made big steps to avoid making the mistakes experienced with Vista, and prepared its partners for the release.

Mr Courtois believes that “the Windows ecosystem is the broadest in the world, and we have to take care of that,” with Alex Gruzen from Dell Computers surprised at how “the preparations for Windows 7 have been a remarkable step up from the days of dealing with Vista.”

He continued by revealing that “in the past, Microsoft looked at its operating system in isolation, and gave it to [manufacturers] to do whatever they wanted. Now they collaborate, help to figure out which third-party vendors are slowing down the system, help them improve their code.”

Sony Ericsson Shipments Plummet by 45%

After releasing their third-quarter (Q3) results, Sony Ericsson’s sales are down to €1.619 billion, a massive drop of 42%.

Handset shipments and revenues are also struggling at Sony Ericsson. Their Q3 results show that just 14.1 million units were shipped, a 2% shortfall on Q2 results and a 45% slump in comparison to the same quarter results from last year.

Sony Ericsson will be most hurt that their sales figures are 42% down to £1.48 billion, 4% lower than Q2. The average selling price of Sony Ericsson units is down from €122 in Q2 to €114 in Q3, but up from last year’s Q3 figures of €109.

The mixture of products and difficult market conditions was blamed for the lower average selling price of handsets.

According to a statement made by Sony Ericsson, improvements were made on gross margin, but dropped annually due to foreign exchange inconsistencies and lower sales. However, improvements in volume and percentage rate were seen in the success of the W995 Walkman phone and a series of cost cutting measures.

President of Sony Ericsson, Dick Komiyama, stated “Our business in the third quarter started to show the effects of our ongoing transformation programme. Having refreshed our brand we are now better positioned to support the launch of new products such as Aino and Satio in Q4 2009. We have cleared channel inventories, and have continued to realign internal resources and improve efficiency.  We have also arranged external financing to strengthen the company’s financial position.

“Transforming the business for future growth and returning Sony Ericsson to profitability is the focus of the senior management team and will continue under the new leadership.”

Sony Ericsson set out last year in a bid to reduce their annual operating expenses by €880 million; efforts that are set to continue. The benefits from these cuts are due to be seen towards the end of 2010.

Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, chief executive and president of Sony and member of the Sony Ericsson board, succeeded Carl-Henric Svanberg on 15 October, with Bert Nordberg becoming president at Sony Ericsson in place of Dick Komiyama. Mr Komiyama will remain as an executive advisor until the later stages of 2009.

Experts believe that the world mobile phone handset market for 2009 will shrink by approximately 10% from the 1.19 billion units sold in 2008. Sony Ericsson believe that for unit sales during Q3, they hold approximately five per-cent of the world market.

Sidekick Loss Hits T-Mobile Phone Sales

T-Mobile has had to withdraw the Sidekick in America, after being made aware that customers could lose personal data through its server.

The designer of Sidekick’s software, Danger (a subsidiary of Microsoft), confirmed the fault, with the mobile phone industry condemning the issue as one of the biggest failings in recent years.

Microsoft are also coming out of the situation look bad, after promoting cloud or online services as a means of less expensive solution to enterprise storage.

Harry McCracken, editor of Technologizer.com told BBC News “this is the most spectacular loss of data on the web to date.”

“There have been other examples, but always from small companies. For this to involve a big name like Microsoft is a major embarrassment and a big worry for consumers and Microsoft.”

Data back-up

It is understood that Microsoft’s company Danger, experienced a technical hitch which caused major data loss, with Sidekick users seeing disruptions for the past week. Investigations are underway to find the cause of the faulty server, with Microsoft yet to offer an explanation.

Sidekick uses an online service to provide back-up contacts, calendar appointments, photos and other personal information saved to the mobile phone. Some of the one million subscribers to Sidekick have “almost certainly” lost personal data as a result of this glitch according to Microsoft.

Those most at risk of losing their personal information are those who let their battery fully drain or removed it completely, causing all local copies of data to be cleared from the phone.

“I had 411 contacts, now they are all gone. I had five e-mail accounts set up on the phone as well which are also gone, address book and all,” complained 17 year old high-school student Kayla Hasse from New Jersey.

“I am extremely upset not only due to the fact I lost everything, but also because I pay 20 some dollars a month for THIS? It’s ridiculous.”

Mr McCracken feels it’s a “real wake-up call for customers.”

“In the past we have always tended to assume that big companies are better at backing up our data than we are. While this is true in most cases, a lot of people are going to say you can’t trust third parties, whether it’s Microsoft, Google, Apple or whoever.”

The future of cloud computing

Whilst Microsoft and T-Mobile may experience the immediate fall-out from this problem, experts fear that it may cause long term damage to customer confidence in cloud computing.

Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts is concerned. “Microsoft has been beating the drum for the idea of cloud computing where we all trust our stuff on some server up in Washington State,”

“This is going to throw a little cold water on that idea for the moment. Microsoft is going to have to do some explaining and give good assurances that cloud computing is viable and that it won’t lose data in the future, otherwise people won’t trust it.”

Fujitsu adds SAS, iSCSI and SSD to Eternus DX

Fujitsu is looking to strengthen its Eternus DX brand by adding SAS and iSCSI interfaces and a solid state drive, enhancements developed since its March takeover of Fujitsu Siemens Computers.

Fujitsu Siemens Computers had twin controller arrays with Fibre Channel connectivity for small/medium businesses in the FibreCAT SX60 and SX80. SAS and iSCSI were already features found in Fujitsu’s Eternus 2000 array, directed at a similar customer base and offered the Eternus 4000 and 8000 as larger-scale arrays.

Fujitsu has been aiming to merge the SME products into one range and to re-brand it ‘Eternus DX’. In June, initial steps were made by renaming the FibreCAT SX60 and SX80 to Eternus DX60 and DX80. STEC had already been chosen to supply its Eternus drive arrays with solid state drives (SSD’s) a month earlier.

Due to this range of modifications, the Eternus 2000 range has now been replaced by the Eternus DX60 and DX80, with SAS and iSCSI working in conjunction with the Fibre Channel. Up to 24 15,000rpm SAS HDD’s are offered by the DX60 with an option of 300 or 400GB capacity, and the DX80 up to 120. Nearline SAS drives are also available with either 1TB or 750GB capacities, rotating at 7,200rpm, however SATA drives are not supported.

The DX/60/DX80 give leading edge performance and easy-to-manage storage for a range of uses. The capability of data storage to the most appropriate medium, from SAS, nearline SAS to SSD allows customers to generate better information lifecycle management.

2 to 4 Fibre Channel host interfaces are offered by both models, or an equal number of 3Gbit/s SAS or 1Gbit/s iSCSI interfaces. 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel is provided by the DX60 while the DX80 can deliver 8Gbit/s with 100 or 200GB SSD’s.

Both products include RAID migration, Data Block Guard, eight snapshots which is extendable to 512 (DX60) AND 1,024 (DX80), redundant copy, disk encryption, and a function called Eco-mode, which is based on MAID (Massive Array of Inactive Disks) technology to allow administrators to save electricity by choosing to spin-down inactive disk drives.

They suit a range of uses, such as Microsoft Cluster Server or X10 sure and storage consolidation. Also, these products are perfect for important company applications such as E-mail, data archiving, database operation and disk back-up.

The DX60/DX80 also acts as a great storage aid in virtual server environments with VMware vSphere, Critix and Microsoft Hyper-V.