Categories
Business internet

IWF Wikipedia Update

The IWF has reversed its position on the wikipedia article reported yesterday. Its statement can be found here. It’s best you read the statement than I replicate it here.

Categories
Business internet

IWF Blocking Access To Wikipedia Article

There’s been a lot in the news over the weekend regarding IWF blocking access to an article  Wikipedia. I recently covered the IWF in this blog. Now it has hit the heights of the news this morning on BBC Radio 4.

The IWF provides blacklists to ISPs of www links that they consider to have child pornography content and this is what it has done in this case with Wikipedia (link to Wikipedia article here).

Consumer ISPs block these links by using proxy servers as filters. However in doing so they are channelling all traffic to Wikipedia through a small number of IP addresses. This in turn causes problems for users of Wikipedia because the website occasionally blocks the ip addresses of abusive users to prevent them from editing articles. Because all users are seen as coming from the same IP addresses Wikipedia can’t distinguish between good and bad and this has the knock on effect of blocking many genuine editors.  Around 25% of all English language articles are said to be edited by UK based users.

According to Alexa.com Wikipedia ranks as world’s the 8th most visited website. The IWF statement on the issue can be found here. There isn’t an easy answer to this problem which is very much part of an ongoing debate regarding censorship on the internet.

 

Categories
Business internet Regs

Data Protection

The European Court of Human Rights today ruled that South Yorkshire Police should not have retained the DNA of two men who had been convicted of no offence. Check the BBC report here.

This is an interesting one because in March 09 the Data Retention Act comes into play whereby ISPs will be required to store email habits of their customers. For “DNA” in this respect read “Data”… Is the European Court of Human rights going to rule on the Data Retention Act downstream?

I have a meeting with the Home Office at Timico in January so it will be interesting to report back on this issue.

Categories
Business internet

Project Kangaroo Kyboshed

The Competition Commission has put the sword to Project Kangaroo. This was a proposed joint venture by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 for a single online vehicle that would provide each channel’s TV content over the internet. Content was going to be paid for by advertising.

Basically the Commission believes that the venture would reduce competition in the online video market in the uk. The JV may be allowed if it shares its content with other providers and appears to have until 24th December to appeal, presumably informing the Commission of how it would do this.

Personally I can’t understand why people watch the TV anyway. Notwithstanding that, this does point towards a change in business models, in particular for the BBC. It isn’t difficult to envisage a scenario where more people will eventually watch the TV online than they do on their traditional box in the living room. At this point, because of the paid for by advertising element, there would surely have to be a question mark over the future of the TV license fee.

Internet users are already beginning to be charged more for the increased usage that video online is stimulating. So effectively they are already paying twice though obviously these usage revenues don’t go to the BBC.

Categories
Business internet

2008 Pre-Budget Report

Being a well read individual I took note of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s pre budget report this week. Some of it, in particular the bit about raising the tax rate of those earning over £150k, doesn’t apply to me (yet).

Some of it was however relevant to our industry. He endorsed the findings of the Caio Report on Next Generation Broadband Access. These findings of course said that Government should leave this investment to the free market. I can’t help but wonder when the free market will be able to spend the money. There again I don’t want my taxes raising to pay for it either.

The other relevant bit was that the Digital Britain Report is going to play a significant role in underpinning Britain’s future economic activity. I don’t think I have commented on this report before. Lord Stephen Carter, the UK’s first ever Minister for Communications Technology and Broadcasting (they just mix up the names in the title so that each new minister gets to be the first one!), is running the show. The aim is to gear the UK for leadership in the world digital economy. It’s a massive task spread across a huge range of disciplines but we have to wish him well with the job.

Categories
Business internet security

Internet Watch Foundation

The IWF is a not for profit organisation dedicated to minimising the availability of UK internet content that is

  • racially abusive or
  • criminally obscene or
  • contains images of child sexual abuse anywhere in the world.

Their website is somewhere people can go to report such content found on the internet. Since the beginning of the year their hotline has dealt with an average of 866 reports a week!

The number of commercial sites being reported has dropped slightly from 70% to 68% of all sites but it is still a high number. It is physically sickening to think that people like to make money out of this material and that people are willing to pay.

Unfortunately it is a constant battle because what tends to happen is that once a site has been closed down it just moves to a server in another country such as Russia where there is less scrutiny.

Interestingly in the UK in 2008 there have been few sites reported as being dedicated to racial hatred. However there were 77 reports referring to criminally obscene content, 51 or which were sites hosted on one server which has since been dealt with. These 51 sites I understand have just moved overseas.

Until the whole world has a consistent approach to the handling of this problem it is always going to be a problem.

Categories
End User internet

Time spent online

I’m not a sad person, I like to believe, but I do seem to spend an awful lot of my time on the PC. I don’t play computer games. Typically I work, though the type of work that I do in the evening is different to what I do durng the day in the office. I like my job.

Tonight I have spent reading market research briefs and checking out some fixed mobile solutions on the internet. I also note that Facebook is trying to buy Twitter. I use Twitter to update my facebook status via sms. In checking out my facebook homepage I note that 12 out of 108 of my friends are online too.

I’m not a maniacal collecter of friends. Ten percent, if extrapolated across the whole population, is a huge number of people online. My son Tom has 381 friends and he claims to know them all in person. Without prying this would suggest that around 40 of them were online at any time. I’d like to bet that the number in his generation Y case is a lot higher.

I’m also watching Manchester United play against Villareal on the TV. Of the 6 people in our house five have a PC. The youngest is 8 and he is the lone unfortunate without one. On the arm of the chair next to me is my Nokia E Series mobile phone which also has email. The phone also has wifi and I use it to browse the internet when my laptop is switched off.

My electricity bill is huge. I am glad to say that they don’t allow mobile phones at Lincoln Golf Club.

Categories
End User internet

Loreal IT Manager Sings At The Millenium Stadium

On Friday night the IT Manager of Loreal’s cosmetics factory in Wales played to the biggest audience of her life. She belongs to a choir that sang before the game at the Wales versus Canada rugby match at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

It isn’t often someone gets to do something that is so magical that it is one of those life changing experiences. Her choir sang two songs at each of the four corners of the ground and then lined up behind the teams in the centre to sing the National Anthems.

If you have ever been to the Millenium Stadium for an International rugby match you will know what a fantastic experience the singing of the anthem is. They say it is worth a 6 points head start to Wales. In this case, lined up behind the Welsh team and singing along with 62,000 voices in the crowd, it was an utterly priceless and incredibly emotional experience.

I am proud to tell the world that that IT manager is my sister Sue Davies who also plays first violin for the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra.

PS I realise that the above post has very tenuous links to IT and Communications. That’s just editorial privilege I guess. In mitigation I should tell you I got her the domain name suedavies.net. Why not get your own personal domain? Click here to check if it available 🙂

PPS Wales won of course and didn’t need a head start.

Categories
End User internet spam

Another Spam Good News Story

The Washington Post has reported that USA colo provider McColo has had it’s internet connectivity cut off by its ISPs because it had been playing host for some time to Spammers. It’s very much worth reading the article.

Categories
Business internet

21CN Line Speed Expectations

A busy time at the end of this week with ISPA Council meeting followed by lunch, a trip to the CRN Awards dinner (more food!) and today lunch with a supplier (aaargh!!). The Christmas run in seems to start earlier each year!

 

Timico is about to start its 21CN ADSL2+ trial in earnest. Initial line tests on the trialists suggest an average expected performance of around 8Mbps. Interestingly talking to others in the industry at the CRN Awards their experience, limited as it may be at what is still a relatively early stage of the 21CN rollout, the average speeds are turning out to be nearer 12Mbps.

 

This does suggest that BT is being very conservative in setting expectations of 21CN performance. I can’t really blame them. The technology is in theory capable of reaching 24Mbps but in practice very few people will actually get this speed.  

 

I will certainly report back on the real world performance as the data comes in.

Categories
Business internet

Cisco SMB Marketing Day

I went to a Cisco Business Solutions Workshop today. It was aimed at the Small and Medium sized Business market and Cisco were expecting around 400 resellers to be in attendance. Considering the event was held at the Vauxhall Vehicle test track in Millbrook with test drives on offer I think the turnout was quite high.

Cisco certainly know their stuff when it comes to marketing. Much of the event was marketing oriented. The equipment vendor is going after the SMB market in a big way. 2009 is what they call a transition year where they will be getting their product mix right. In 2010 and 2011 they then expect a big push to gain market share.

You have to look at the market numbers to understand why they are doing this. The Cisco share in the Service Provider and Enterprise markets is quite high. However in the SMB space it is a different story

Business size              Global TAM            Cisco Share

<250 pers                   $15.9Bn                 <$300m

<100 pers                   $9.9Bn                   <$100m

The source is Cisco and although the numbers might be broad brush it is easy to see why the company sees the SMB market as a huge opportunity. Next year they are planning to spend $100m on marketing specific to this sector.

This market opportunity also has upsides with sales of additional services such as Webex and video conferencing thrown into the mix.

In fact it seems to me the biggest challenge for many in this industry is how to migrate to a services oriented business model. As a Communications Service Provider Timico is already doing it. However if you earn your living selling and installing hardware your mix is going to have to change.

The cost of hardware solutions is plummeting and it won’t be long before it is thrown in free everytime someone signs up for an installation and ongoing maintenance programme. We were told that the world GDP is in the region of £12Trillion and over the next 5 years 25% of this is going to be based on managed services (Cisco’s numbers not mine).

As the world enters an economic downturn it is worth noting that during past such periods SMBs have been the first to recover and start spending again. I certainly wouldn’t bet against Cisco succeeding in this market.

Categories
Engineer internet

Ubuntu – The Intrepid Ibex

Ubuntu, for those of you who don’t class yourselves as anoraks, is a community developed, Linux-based operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. It contains all the applications you need – a web browser, presentation, document and spreadsheet software, instant messaging and much more. The Ubuntu website’s own words.

Basically a free alternative to Microsoft. Now because I am not actually an anorak (my own words – you may chose to disagree 🙂 ) I am not a huge Linux fan. We do use Linux all the time in running the Timico network. ISPs are basically built on it. However my stance has always been that business needs solid software that costs money to develop.

I could be persuaded otherwise. Ubuntu version 8.10, known as the “Intrepid Ibex” has hit the Timico street and is getting rave reviews from the support teams. Ubuntu 8.10 is designed to make it easier to access the internet from anywhere.

This was demonstrated to be by someone taking a new USB Modem out of a box and plugging it in. The Operating system recognised it straight away and the internet access was up and running in seconds.

This compares very favourably with my own experience with a variety of USB devices that needed drivers loading and non-straightforward set-up processes. I can think of printers as an immediate example.

As it happens Timico specialises in helping customers with setting up applications and devices on PCs and laptops. Ubuntu does, however, represent the shape of things to come although it is still a long way from usurping Microsoft. It’s also a great name!

PS there is a prize for anyone who can tell me what Ubuntu stands for – Timico employees may not apply. Leave the answer as a comment.

Categories
Business internet ofcom voip

999 Call Traceability

Had a very interesting discussion with Chris Rowsell, Ofcom Project Director, who clarified what obligations the ISP community were likely to have regarding the traceability of calls to the Emergency Services.

Location information requirements for Internet Telephony Service Providers have been covered in a previous post. Ofcom, together with the emergency services establishment, and for obvious reasons, is trying to understand how real time information regarding the location of a caller might be provided.

The only information available that might help pinpoint a location is the IP address from which the call is being made. There are, however, many problems to be over come, and I’m sorry about the technical nature of some of these points for those who just read this blog for the occasional light entertainment. 

  • The IP address might be behind a NAT
  • There might be multiple Internet Service Providers involved
  • The call might be made from a wifi mesh network
  • Many ITSPs are not ISPs  and cannot easily relate IP addresses to locations.

It is physically possible to imaging the process by which this tracing could be done. Timico, for example, has records of where calls are made to and from. These are kept for billing purposes and contain IP address information. Timico can also link the address of a broadband customer to the IP address of that connection.

The act of hooking up both sets of data is far from being real time and  the cost of developing a system to do so would be huge and disproportional to the value. Certainly it would be unlikely to get past a cost benefit analysis. Interestingly the establishment values a human life at £1.4 million for the purposes of these CBAs.

CR accepted that there was currently no practical way of quickly linking the two sets of data. He did intimate that Ofcom would be initiating a project sometime next year to discuss a way ahead. I suspect that this will be a long and arduous process.

Categories
broadband Business internet

AT&T Trials Usage Based Charging and BT Hikes Bandwidth Costs

AT&T has announced a trial in the USA for usage based broadband charging for its customers in Reno, Nevada.  This follows on from a similar trial in June by Time Warner Cable and also a 250GB cap on usage placed by Comcast on its customers. The move towards metered charging is I believe inexorable. We are in for interesting times here in the UK. BT has just hiked it’s ADSL bandwidth costs to service providers. This will make ADSL more expensive in the UK. Whether this price rise gets passed on to end users remains to be seen. It certainly makes life more difficult for service providers who were already likely to move to usage based charging. Of course BT increasingly has more competition in the guise of companies installing their own kit in BT exchanges – what’s known as Local Loop Unbundling. This competition is largely in the consumer space with broadband sometimes being packaged as a “free” element of a deal that might include line rental, minutes and, in some cases, TV. The level of service that this “free” broadband brings is unlikely to cut the mustard with most businesses. So what does this mean?

  • In the first instance a quality broadband connection is likely to get more expensive. Most LLU players don’t have a wholesale offering that B2B service providers could resell.
  • Secondly broadband customers in rural areas are likely going to have to pay more for their connectivity because the LLU operators don’t provide broadband in these “uneconomic” areas. This will exacerbate the so called “digital divide”, already a hot topic in the light of the high anticipated cost of rolling out Next Generation Access to rural areas.

BT recently removed the installation costs associated with (some) new connections to their ADSL network. On the face of it this latest move looks like they have simply shifted these costs onto the line rental. The country would certainly benefit from more competition in the wholesale space.

Categories
broadband Business internet

AT&T Trials Usage-Based Charging and BT Hikes Bandwidth Costs

AT&T has announced a trial in the USA for usage based broadband charging for its customers in Reno, Nevada.  This follows on from a similar trial in June by Time Warner Cable and also a 250GB cap on usage placed by Comcast on its customers. The move towards metered charging is I believe inexorable.

We are in for interesting times here in the UK. BT has just hiked it’s ADSL bandwidth costs to service providers. This will make ADSL more expensive in the UK. Whether this price rise gets passed on to end users remains to be seen. It certainly makes life more difficult for service providers who were already likely to move to usage based charging.

Of course BT increasingly has more competition in the guise of companies installing their own kit in BT exchanges – what’s known as Local Loop Unbundling. This competition is largely in the consumer space with broadband sometimes being packaged as a “free” element of a deal that might include line rental, minutes and, in some cases, TV. The level of service that this “free” broadband brings is unlikely to cut the mustard with most businesses.

So what does this mean?

  • In the first instance a quality broadband connection is likely to get more expensive. Most LLU players don’t have a wholesale offering that B2B service providers could resell.
  • Secondly broadband customers in rural areas are likely going to have to pay more for their connectivity because the LLU operators don’t provide broadband in these “uneconomic” areas. This will exacerbate the so called “digital divide”, already a hot topic in the light of the high anticipated cost of rolling out Next Generation Access to rural areas.

BT recently removed the installation costs associated with (some) new connections to their ADSL network. On the face of it this latest move looks like they have simply shifted these costs onto the line rental. The country would certainly benefit from more competition in the wholesale space.

 

Categories
End User internet

Berkeley University Lecture Downloads

The University of California, Berkeley too the step a couple of years ago to make some of its lectures available for download via podcast. A year or so ago it started making these lectures available as video on YouTube.

Yesterday I was told that the number of lecture downloads has now exceeded 1 million. Pretty amazing.

Categories
Business internet

ISP Conference Notes – Illegal P2P Music Downloads

As heralded I spoke at the Annual ISP Conference in London yesterday. An amazing mix of organisations were represented including ISPs, content providers, mobile operators, security companies, NGOs, charities, government departments and universities. I’m sure I’ll have missed out some group :-).

My session was with Fergal Sharkey, erstwhile lead singer of the Undertones but now CEO of UK Music and representative of the music industry in the UK. In a nutshell the ISP industry has not hitherto concerned itself with what is going on with illegal P2P music downloading, other than in some highly publicised and much criticised cases of throttling the ADSL connections of heavy users.

The mood is changing with both music industry and ISPs getting together to try and come up with a solution that suits both parties. This is the scoop:

  • It costs money for ISPs to police illegal downloads.
  • Legal music downloading removes some of the distribution costs that used to exist in the record industry
  • There must be a way of recompensing ISPs for their work in assisting the music industry.

This process began recently with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the largest six ISPs and UK Music. The “big six” represent a high proportion of UK broadband consumers. The concern amongst the other ISPs that actually represent the majority of the service providers, if not the largest subscriber base, is that the big six will opt for a solution that is good for them but not actually sensible for smaller organisations.

An example would be if they decided to implement technical approaches that suit larger organisations but may be impractical in smaller ones.

The upshot is that Timico was invited to participate in the debate along with the Internet Service Providers’ Association to represent the smaller stakeholders. More as it happens…

Categories
Business internet ofcom

ISPA Conference

Another busy week in prospect starting on Monday with the ISPA conference in the City of London. This is an annual event where the industry gets together to debate “commercial and regulatory issues of today and tomorrow”.

I’m on at 14.00 on a panel that discusses how ISPs can work in harmony with content providers. Other panelists are Feargal Sharkey of UK Music, Jeremy Olivier of Ofcom and Steve Purdham of We7, a music download business that was co-founded by Peter Gabriel.

This is a pretty hot topic at the moment, not only because of how piracy is hurting the music industry but also because of the pressure that legal download sources such as BBC iPlayer is placing on both ISP networks and margins.

Categories
Business internet

Storage Costs

There’s a great deal in the online media this morning regarding Facebook’s need to raise more cash. The site is apparently uploading between 2 and 3 Terrabytes of photos a day.

That’s roughly 3 million one MegaByte pictures. Users are also downloading the photos at a rate of 300,000 pictures a second!!

In order to host this growing online album Facebook is looking to buy 50,000 servers this coming year. It’s not just the cost of the servers. 50,000 of them will probably use up 1,250 or so racks and consume in the region of 2.5Megawatts of power.

That’s a big rent bill as well as the cost of power and cooling – currently retailing at 18 pence per KiloWattHour in London Docklands. All this has to be paid for by online advertising in what must at the moment be a declining market.

I’m not saying that Facebook is shaky. In fact in my view the application is a serious winner. This is though a warning to all IT managers out there about the rising cost of storage. I don’t think Moore’s Law is keeping up with rise in data.

It is also a warning to make sure that you are dealing with a partner that is on solid financial footing. If you are looking for offsite storage solutions, and most are these days, choose a partner that is not as vulnerable to the fluctuations in the stock market, has plenty of cash in the bank and low or no debt.

Categories
End User internet

Social Networking Report

A very interesting report on the uses of Social Networking has just been published. The report, entitled “Network Citizens, Power And Responsibility At Work” was commissioned by Orange and written by Peter Bradwell and Richard Reeves of Demos.

The report highlights the tensions that exist between use of Social Networking for social and work purposes. I have very much seen these tensions in Timico where some people are reluctant to mix work and home life which is the inevitable consequence of using websites such as Facebook.

My view is that it is going to happen in anycase and that we should embrace the technology sooner rather than later. You can download a copy of the report using this link network_citizens1.

If you want to interact with me by all means hook up on Facebook – my username is Trefor Davies. At Twitter I am Trefor.

Categories
End User internet

The Internet – Now In A Caravan Near You!

Everyone reading this blog has, I’m sure, accessed the internet from somewhere that is not their office or home. Typically this might be using their mobile phone, an internet cafe or perhaps at a wifi hotspot or “Costa Cafe”.

What amazes me is that people now sit in their caravans browsing the web whilst on holiday. Timico subsidiary KeConnect has a deal with the Caravan Club in the UK to roll out its KeZone wifi hotspots to UK caravan sites.

Punters either use their credit cards or buy vouchers from the shop at the site. When I was a kid we used to play Monopoly when it was raining on holiday. Now they either watch TV or surf the web!

I’m a tent man myself, no electric hook-up, much to my wife’s annoyance 🙂 .

Categories
Business internet security

Transposition of Directive 2006/24/EC

We do live in a marvellous world don’t we? If anyone was to ask you what the title of this post was all about you’d almost certainly give them a blank stare.

This is all about what is better known as “The Data Retention Act” which was stipulated by the EC some time ago. This Act has been implemented to assist in the fight against terrorism. Every Communications Provider has to keep logs of phone calls made and received.

I don’t mind this. We do it anyway otherwise we wouldn’t be able to bill our customers and I certainly will help fight the good fight if I can do so (safely).

The first phase was rolled out in 2007 for fixed and mobile telephony. The Internet community was given a further 18 months to implement the same measures for VoIP and emails. The VoIP service provider community is also OK with this for the same reasons given above.

When it comes to emails it is a slightly different story. ISPs have had no reason to keep records of emails sent and received. The service is flat rate (or free) and does not therefore require the information for billing purposes. So implementing the directive is likely to cost money for an ISP.

This Act is now in its consultation phase which is causing some consternation and confusion in the ISP industry. The Regulations state that costs associated with this ‘may’ be recoverable. No guarantees. A recent briefing by the Home Office also stated that because of these costs they were currently looking at a scenario whereby only the ‘big 6’ ISPs would have to keep the data and that smaller ISPs would only be asked to do so based on “intelligence led approach”. Ie you have to keep the information if they suspect one of your customers of being a terrorist.

The suggestion here is that if you are a small ISP you are more likely to have a terrorist as a customer than a big ISP. The baddies will know that they are less likely to be monitored.

This approach also presents other problems. The ISP having to do the monitoring is at a competitive disadvantage to the one not having to do so because of the additional overhead involved.

What’s more the technical logic is somewhat flawed in respect of email data retention and a savvy terrorist is  easily going to bypass the system. Web based email networks normally allow you to save a draft of an email for sending later. It just takes two terrorists to know the log on details of a google mail account. One writes the email and saves it as  draft. The second then logs in to the gmail account and reads the draft.

The Act is scheduled to become law on 15th March 2009 and it seems that there is a lot of work to be done before it can be sensibly implemented. Timico is playing a leading role here with its involvement in the ISP Association and you can be sure that readersof this blog will be updated on progress.

Categories
Business internet

Web 2.0 In Action

I’ve mentioned my son’s radio show before. Wake Up To The Weekend with Tom Davies is a programme that goes out on SirenFM, Lincoln’s local community radio station.

Despite being a local radio station the internet makes it a global online entity. Listeners communicate with the show by calling in, sending emails, SMS text messages, MSN and Facebook.

Noone rings in. The listeners are mostly teenagers and young adults (I include myself in that category 🙂 ) so they probably don’t want to pay for the call. They do however send Instant Messages and post requests on the Facebook Group.

The shape of things to come…

Categories
End User internet security spam

Spammers Hammered – Hooray

One of our tech support team, Will Curtis, mentioned to me today that the amount of spam he has been receiving on his home email account dropped considerably around two weeks ago.

He also came across this article which tells that the Federal Trade Commission in the USA had raided an organisation that was supposedly one of the largest spam gangs in the world. The Chicago based gang had all its equipment confiscated.

I asked around to see if anyone else had similarly experienced the reduction in spam. Amazingly Ian Christian from the netops team had also seen a reduction and was able to provide a graph to show it in action. There is a clear drop in week 41.

Unfortunately spam will inevitably rise again. Our current monitors suggest that 37% of mail inbound through the Timico mailsafe system is spam. Very little of it makes it through to the end users though.

Categories
Business internet

Child Internet Safety

Dr Tanya Byron was at the Parliament and Internet conference yesterday. I was very impressed with her. Her report on child internet safety was published earlier this year and resulted in the setting up of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety already commented on in this blog.

The work that needs doing in this field has only just started really.

At an educational conference earlier this year at which she presented her report a senior educationalist in the audience asked here where he could get hold of a copy. After telling him it was on a website she was asked if she could send him a hard copy as “he didn’t do websites”!

It brings into sharp relief the size of the mountain to be climbed.

Categories
Business internet ofcom

UK Parliament and Internet Conference

Had a very interesting day today at Westminster at the 3rd Annual Parliamentary Internet Conference. The event was very well attended with standing room only for much of the time.

There were a number of headline speakers including Ed Richards, CEO of Ofcom and Francesco Caio, author of the report on Next Generation Access. I have commented on the latter in previous posts but this was the first time I have seen Ed Richards in action. His predecessor in the job, Stephen Carter, couldn’t get there on account of his being created a peer today.

Richards was very personable and cited a few facts that I use myself in talks – we obviously read the same stuff. He made one quip regarding what you would have found had you “Googled” iPod 5 years ago. The answer was nothing. “myspace” took you to an Australian home improvement store.

I guess his point was that things moved very quickly in the internet space and the proliferation of matters “internet” brought with it a snowballing set of responsibilities for Ofcom. He didn’t offer any advice as to what we should be Googling now to see the success stories five years down the line.

Categories
End User internet

Theatre Royal Update

I mentioned that I would chart the progress of the “Save Lincoln Theatre Royal” Facebook Group. The diagram below shows the membership growth over the past 12 days.

I’m not saying this is a stellar recruitment campaign nor making any point other than an observation on how this particular effort is going. The Group has however been publicised on BBC Radio Lincolnshire and its exposure is increasing.

What seems clear from the Group membership is that the demographics of Facebook are still squarely set with the younger generation.

What is also interesting is the difficulty I have had in recruiting Facebook friends from the UK ITSP community for the ITSPA Group – currently standing at 16 members after a few weeks of trying.

ITSPA is a closed group with membership by invitation only. However this is still slow progress. Most company representatives in the ITSPA world are in their thirties or forties I would guess and likely not comfortable in the Web2.0 space.

Business still has a long way to go with Web2.0.

Categories
Business internet ofcom

Ofcom And Behavioural Marketing

If you are a tecchie you will already know about Phorm and already have formed your own views. If you are not the whole storm may have passed you by. That Phorm storm however is still a blowin’ strong.

Phorm is a system that allows an ISP to monitor the internet browsing behaviour of its customers and to thereafter provide targeted advertising based on your surfing history. The pitch from an ISP to its customers is that it will make advertising, which is going to happen anyway, more relevant and that noone could possibly object to this. The ISP benefits from enhanced click through revenues.

The objection from some consumers is that it invades privacy. It opens the door to potential problems. For example one member of the family secretly looks at pornography whilst everyone else is out of the house. Phorm recognises this and starts pushing adverts for pornography to that computer which is also being used by the kids during the day. Not good.

In principle the government is saying it is not illegal provided consumers are informed as to what they are signing up for and privacy is respected. In actual fact during early trials of the system in 2006 and 2007 by BT customers were allegedly not informed of what was happening and this is potentially being seen as illegal by the EC.

BT seems to have actually started using Phorm in a new trial under a service banner called Webwise. It is based on an opt-in policy but no mention is made, naturally, of the controversy surrounding the technology.

Yesterday a meeting was held between Ofcom and various representatives of Government and the ISP industry to discuss the subject. Present were most of the major consumer ISPs, BERR and Phorm itself. The Government doesn’t really want to get involved here and wants industry to draw up it’s own voluntary Code of Practice. “Helpfully” it has also provided an example of such a Code.

Industry, I sense, is steeling itself for another bout of legislation. It doesn’t really want to get further embroiled in red tape/codes of practice and certainly the ISPA has not begun working on one.

This certainly is an interesting industry. As a member of the ISPA Council I need to look at the subject from the perspective of the ISP membership.  Consumer ISPs will be interested in whether they can upside their margins during tough times, and who can blame them. As a director of a Business to Business ISP I have no interest in Phorm. We provide uncomplicated quality connectivity to our customers without the additional unwanted addons (plenty of wanted addons though 🙂 ). As a consumer I might or might not like the idea of Phorm.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Business internet

The Web2.0 Theatre Royal Experiment

Experiment is probably the wrong word to describe it but last Friday I mentioned that a Save Lincoln Theatre Royal group had been created on Facebook. After the first day it had 609 members. Two days later it has 1175 members. I think I’ll graph it this week.

A business would bite your hand off to get that kind of publicity/exposure. Lets hope it helps the theatre.

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Business internet

The Power Of Web2.0

Yesterday it was announced that the Theatre Royal in Lincoln would close because the local council had decided to withdraw its funding. Times are hard and people have to prioritise, clearly.

Today on Facebook there is a “Save Lincoln Theatre Royal” group with 609 members only one day after it was started. Remember the population of Lincoln is around 85,000. This is going to be a good group to follow – to see how Web2.0 and viral marketing has its place in today’s society. Having looked at the membership (and joined the group) it looks so far as if the membership is comprised of us younger generation. Up the revolution.

I will report on progress but in the meantime please lend the your support and sign up. When I was younger than today I trod the boards in a couple of two week runs at this theatre,