Mobile I

Inspired Anna Troberg: these are things that have concerned me tonight:

There is apparently a Sonera/Telefónica consortium meaning, because Telia and Sonera are now the same, that there is a consortium that Telia and Telefónica are both a part of.

China has their own synchronous code division multiple access standard to avoid intellectual property rights(!). Which patents are they avoiding? Because otherwise there is an intellectual property right on some standard which seems stupid and also something that standard setting organisations (ETSI, ISO, ITU) are currently worried about which insinuates it hasn’t been a problem before.

The theoretical maximum speed for UMTS is 45Mit/s. Yet we are getting 7.2Mbit/s, or, in Belgium not very many bits at all. Why? I suspect Belgacom but I wouldn’t say it out loud. Oh. I suddenly notice I would.

If a standard has not been approved (yet) but the user of such an attempted standard is still in the process of trying to make it a standard (OOXML), can the non-standard non-standard still be used in applications according to the Kroes ambitions of interoperability? Why? Does it have to be open during the application process, when it is not a standard? Kroes mentions neither openness of standards nor pre-standard standardness.

Why were the 3G and 4G auctions for spectrums ending up in such ridiculously high prices? It would appear to me that most of them were won by incumbents anyway (although, for 4G frequencies I am no longer sure because of this comment on my blog which showed me otherwise).

Recently I was on a GSMA meeting in Brussels where commissioner Kroes addressed the issue of roaming. Not once was it mentioned tht roaming costs between UMTS and GMS are ridiculously high. Since Belgium appears to be very behind in deployment of UMTS I find it upsetting that this was not addressed. It appears to be more complicated to roam backwards in time, than forwards (standardwise), but this is not an excuse for extra roaming fees(?) unless it incurs and extra cost on the operator, which it appears not to do other than the extra investment on UMTS infrastructure which perhaps could have been avoided if we didn’t have such a stupid auction system in the first place.

As Commissioner Kroes so amptly stated at the GSMA meeting, the roaming fees for consumers, roaming that costs the operators nothing at all, are still very high for consumers travelling in the union. I have unpleasant experiences with this from a number of occasions and worse, after Commissioner Kroes speech at the event, do not feel at all that this is likely to change at any time soon, or indeed ever.

Is the MAC of UMTS phones the same MACs as with computer hardware? Are they as easy to change? How?

If anyone tries to provide me answers that were not already in the UMTS article on Wikipedia or virtually any of the associated links to that article, please don’t.

  1. januari 22, 2011 kl. 09:08

    The question on whether a standard is open is interesting. Because if someone answer ”yes” or ”no”, then the person either has not really understood the complexity of the question, or has really dived into the dungeons of problems you encounter when trying to find out what the answer is.

    Still, to require ”open standards” to be used in a number of places is absolutely the correct thing, but when doing that it is important to define ”open”.

    A report by the Swedish Government (Den Osynliga Infrastrukturen – http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/08/45/58/fd029160.pdf in Swedish with summary in English) explain this in quite a good way, but let me explain.

    Traditionally, ”a standard” is developed by a recognised standard organisation. That implies the formal organizations (ISO, ITU etc) that countries are members of. Nowadays, I normally call them ”formal standards”.

    Nowadays many standards come from either industry consortia, multistakeholder organisations or specifications published by individual entities. But which ones are open?

    A simple way of explaining this is to look at a number of questions I think should be asked, and if the answer to all of them is ”yes”, then the standard is definitely open. If the answer is ”no”, then the standard is definitely not open. But something that has ”yes” on some, ”no” on some, they maybe it is ”open enough”. I will explain later, but lets start look at the questions.

    1. Can anyone participate in the development of the standard?
    2. Can anyone access the draft specification?
    3. Can anyone participate in the decision making process when the decision is made that the draft becomes a standard?
    4. Can anyone veto and block a draft from becoming a standard?
    5. Can anyone appeal the decision?
    6. Can anyone access the standard (at all) when it is a standard?
    7. Can anyone access the standard for free when it is a standard?
    8. Can anyone implement the standard without cost?
    9. Can anyone implement the standard without an explicit license?

    I think we can stop there, but you sort of understand I hope. In short, one can divide the questions in three categories: The draft phase, The decision making phase, The Implementation phase.

    Most important to me is the implementation phase. That anyone can access the specification and implement it. Without signing any agreement, and without paying any license.

    Secondary importance to me is the development process. That anyone can give input to the draft, and influence the outcome. Specifically important if there is a risk the draft is dependent on a standard (or even overlapping with one) developed in a different standard organisation.

    Third is the decision making process. This should be a quality assurance step. And participation there is not as important, although it is important that a specific entity (or stakeholder group) have special rights regarding veto. All stakeholder groups must have the same say. Participation in the decision making can also be indirect, via elected officials that make the decision.

    Now, take the questions above, compare with the process in many SDOs, and you will see that in many cases the formal SDOs has many ”no” as answers. They require explicit membership fee for participation in the development process, governments have special rights regarding voting, and the standards cost money and in many cases require licensing being paid for usage.

    Modern SDOs, like IETF, is different. Anyone can participate (by signing up to a mailing list), anyone can appeal a decision made by appointed officers, and the standards are freely accessible and in most cases do not require licenses. Some people do btw believe the IETF do have a requirement that anyone can implement an IETF standards freely, but that is not the case. It is what I think better than that. During the decision making process, both the technical solution, the implementability and licensing terms is evaluated during the decision making process. So if the community find all three of those ”good enough” the draft will become an RFC (as the standard is called).

    That Commissioner Kroes now require Open Standards is good. Very good. But equally important is the next step, to look at what she implies with ”open”.

    Open Source, and Open (free) software, are two different things. Equally important to discuss, but open standards is bizillion times more important. Because without open standards, we do not get competition between available implementations. Regardless whether the implementations are free or not, and whether they are open source or not.

    Open Standards is the way forward for innovation and competition. There are no excuses for pushing it. Specifically today when we see more and more popular services are not based on standards (Facebook, Twitter etc). Sure, they use HTTP, HTML and in some cases have published an API, but when will we see an RFC for Facebook that make it possible for me to run my own Facebook server that give the availability for me, on my server, interacts fully with the servers run by Facebook?

  2. Amelia Andersdotter
    januari 22, 2011 kl. 21:31

    But then, basically, I think Kroes changed her definition of openness (I didn’t follow this exactly because I guess my level of understanding was too low at the time) in a way that was unsatisfactory to many. Also, her subsequent speeches have made more references to interoperability than openness of standards. I do see your point about the development process having to be open. That would solve any problems of a non-open standard being in an application process while closed. My initial question was, I think, made under the assumption that a standard could theoretically be opened up after the decision of the standardization was approved.

    There are an awful lot of references to the ITU in most telecommunications standards though, like wireless, mobile phone and general telephony/broadband infrastructure things.So presuming that there is an ITU standard which is not open, could a similar (interoperable) standard be developed by an overly governed institution like IETF without the world falling apart? I guess it’s not in anyone’s interest to do that though.

    I think the alternative to Facebook is Diaspora, but Diaspora has as well been criticized for license terms. I didn’t read them, but they couldn’t possibly be worse than the license terms for most gaming consoles (that apply to hardware, even!).

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