London calling; Patent nonsense; OECD

Like many others, I was up much of the night trying to get hold of friends and family in the UK after news of the London bombings broke. To my relief, rellies and mates are safe albeit very shocked of course. It is terrible to see the aftermath of the bombs on TV and on the internet, especially since I used to work in that part of London. Despite the horror, however, people kept their calm, which is absolutely amazing.

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- London calling

- Patent nonsense

- Oh, easy D

London calling

Like many others, I was up much of the night trying to get hold of friends and family in the UK after news of the London bombings broke. To my relief, rellies and mates are safe albeit very shocked of course. It is terrible to see the aftermath of the bombs on TV and on the internet, especially since I used to work in that part of London. Despite the horror, however, people kept their calm, which is absolutely amazing.

Telecom’s media team was also awake and sent out a release at twenty to one in the morning about overloading on the international circuits to the UK, and asked customers to only make essential calls there. Kudos to Telecom for the quick response; their media handlers have really shaped up over the past year or so.

It was indeed difficult to get through to the UK in general — not just to London but also to other parts of England. Apart from landlines being jammed, there was speculation that mobile networks had been shut down because the police feared that the terrorists would use cell phones as detonators, like they did with Madrid bombings.

I was able to get through with Skype, however, which stands to reason because this is exactly the sort of scenario that makes the packet-switched internet superior to the circuit-switched telephone network.

As one colleague put it: “it really sinks Telecom’s FUD on VoIP”, referring to Telecom’s Matt Crockett spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt on National Radio about internet calling being a “lower quality service” than the telco offers. Oh, and Crockett says internet telephony leads to spam and security issues as well. He forgot to mention the likelihood of rat-strikes taking out the network however.

Even so, for all its alleged inferior quality internet telephony got me through and over Telecom DSL too.

Perhaps next time disaster strikes, Telecom could look past its FUD strategy and suggest that people try VoIP or peer-to-peer telephony instead when the PSTN overloads?

- London attacks: no damage to telco networks but overloading a concern

Patent nonsense

The London terrorist attacks put the kibosh on a number of celebrations, including the open source community cheering the European Parliament rejecting the proposed law that would have brought in mass-patenting of software in the union.

Was it really a victory though? The industry is happy too that the proposed legislation was tossed out, but not for the same reason as the open source crowd. Apparently, amendments that restricted the scope of software patenting means it’s better to carry on with existing system which allows for wider protection of ideas. It does mean having to file the patents in 26 different places around Europe and in many different languages, however.

In case you wonder what the issue really is about, take a look at the second link below which illustrates the dangers of widespread software patenting better than most things I could think of.

- European Parliament rejects patent law proposal

- Microsoft wins email technology patent

Oh, easy D

“Prices are high in some telecommunications market segments, including mobile telephony. This suggests that regulation of mobile call termination charges is needed, but it will be important to minimise the uncertainties and distortions such regulation could potentially generate.”

That’s what the OECD says in its Economic Survey of New Zealand 2005 and I’m curious how it can be interpreted as a “blow for plan to regulate telcos” as the Herald thinks it does. If anything, the OECD is backing minister Cunliffe and his Commerce Commission foot soldiers in the battle but also warning them that they have to get the regulation right.

The warning really must be heeded because we don’t want mobile phone regulation to become a Kiwi Share/TSO fiasco, or another Unbridled Bitstream Disaster for that matter.

OECD Economic Survey of New Zealand (132kb PDF)

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