Business mobile connectivity ofcom Regs

Orange avoids banana skin – Ts & Cs changed to allow VoIP

EE subsidiary Orange appears to have avoided a slippery situation by amending its terms and condition for mobile internet use

The pic below is a screenshot of a YouTube video ad published by EE on July 31st 2013 to push Orange PAYG mobile. It majors on the fact that you get “a shed load of data” (1GB) when you top up your Orange mobile PAYG sim with £10. It’s an attractive ad.

shed load of data

However this advert was misleading as it explicitly showed the logos of Skype, Whats App, YouTube and  SkySports. Whilst the guy in the ad doesn’t specifically mention these services the impression you get is that you could use your shed load of data to access them.

orangetscs1What the average punter doesn’t know is that the EE t’s & c’s for Orange at the time specifically prohibited the use of these services. Page 45 in issue 12 (September 2013) of EE’s booklet  (EE81006958_0913) ee_page45contains lots of very small print of “legal stuff” – in other words its customer terms and conditions.

Page 45: Internet on your phone/data tethering for consumers

ORANGE DATA (including mobile broadband): Mobile internet browsing or tethering (whether as part of an inclusive allowance or not) is not to be used for other activities (such as non-Orange internet based streaming services, voice or video over the internet, instant messaging, peer to peer file sharing).










In their November brochure the TCs and Cs appear to have been changed and VoIP is now allowed. No mention is made of the other services previously proscribed but presumably this means they are also allowed.

Over the past 12 – 18 months The UK VoIP industry trade body ITSPA has been complaining to regulator Ofcom and others that some mobile networks have been exhibiting anti competitive practices by specifically banning the use of Over The Top VoIP services on their data services with Orange being a specific culprit.

The EE response has been that older networks can’t cope with the levels of data traffic generated by these services and that the restrictions were imposed to protect other users’ traffic.

EE now seems to have relented. I doubt that this was down to any ITSPA pressure though this may well have helped. More likely in my mind is the fact that a lot of Orange’s network traffic will have moved to the newer 4G service which will have freed up some bandwidth on the older 3G network making VoIP more palatable.

The final inset picture is of the latest EE T’s & Cs showing the change in terms. Click on the image for a pdf of the full page. It’s nice to be able to put this episode behind us. Well done folks.EE November brochure

Business net neutrality Regs

Orange accused of blocking YouTube

Tweet from ISPreview caught my eye this morning on the subject of Orange allegedly blocking YouTube as part of its parental control service. The post goes on to tell us that this was apparently “an isolated incident”.

Without going in to the specific ins and outs of the Orange scenario which you can read over at ISPreview I guess that the point is when you start applying blocks on specific types of website you are going to block sites that you hadn’t meant to. The www is too complex for any filtering software to block “perfectly” (in the absence of a better turn of phrase). One wonders how many owners of websites there are out there wondering why their traffic levels have dropped.

If I were you I’d bookmark that ISPreview post so that next time you hear an MP call for blocking websites you can point them in the right direction. Note this is very different to the IWF list blocking which targets specific illegal websites.

4g Business

4 G E E L T E 4 ME?

4G EE LTEEE is doing a good job at building up market expectation. Today the mobile network operator launched its pricing plans, available from the end of this month.

Consumers can have unlimited calls and texts with 500MB of data for £36. Remembering that I used 60MB of data in one minute on the O2 LTE trials I suspect that not many people will stay on this plan. The options are:

500MB £36
1GB £41
3GB £46
5GB £51
8GB £56

I assume that this comes with a phone though it isn’t clear. Their site suggests you can get the Nokia Lumia 920, 820, Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE and Note 2 LTE, HTC One XL and the iPhone5 plus a few other also rans (sorry).

If you use up your data allowance you won’t be able to access the internet until you buy a data add-on (ok). It isn’t entirely clear but it looks like the cost of a data add on is £6 for 500MB or £15 for 2GB so it makes sense to get your plan right in the first place.

I note there is a roaming package for £5 a month though this doesn’t seem to apply to data which in my mind is what I am most likely to use when roaming – checking restaurants, bars, local attractions (library locations etc).

The speeds are quoted at 8 – 12Mps on average.

It also looks as if they will not be blocking VoIP

4g End User

iPhone5 availability with 4G LTE & beginning of the end for Orange and TMobile?

Just spoke with an Orange customer service representative. They sent me an email asking if I’d like to sign up for an iPhone5. Here’s the rub. Nobody has a date for availability of LTE yet. Moreover Orange and TMobile won’t be offering it. You will have to go to a brand new company known as EE to get the service.

I’m thinking this is likely to be the beginning of the end for the Orange and TMobile brands. In time all services will be 4G and according to this logic existing Orange and TMobile customers will have mostly migrated to EE. Quite clever.

The Orange person was unable to give me a date for when EE would be up and running or when one would be able to sign up for 4G though anyone buying an iphone5 from them now could be migrated in due course.

Business voip

HD Voice Peering Federation launches in UK

Next Gen interconnect carrier XConnect has in the UK today launched The HD Voice Peering Federation, a High Definition Voice initiative. This is something that was discussed at the Internet Telephony Service Providers’ Association (ITSPA) HD Voice workshop I chaired back in June. Whilst it is still early days should provide a good breeding ground for high quality voice interconnects amongst VoIP service providers.

Without such an initiative HD voice services would forever be high (quality) walled gardens with no contact with the outside world.

The initiative is supported initially by vendors Polycom, Broadsoft and Dialogic and has signed up Simwood,

Business internet mobile connectivity voip

Orange HD voice – when will the whole world go HD?

Mobile operator Orange has hit the headlines today with the launch of its HD voice service. Trials for this service, which uses the Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband codec (AMR-WB – otherwise known as  G722.2), began in June this year in the south of England.

The service is initially only for Orange HD handset to Orange HD handset.  This is quite easy to do as “on-net” HD calls using the same codec don’t require transcoding and also do not therefore enter into the black art world of interoperability. 

HD voice has been the subject of discussion amongst the VoIP community in the UK this year.  A fair few vendors

Business mobile connectivity

Orange and TMobile announce UK JV Everything Everywhere

Orange and TMobile unveiled their UK joint venture today. I was quite impressed with the slickness of the delivery of their online press pack, not that I often download press packs. It isn’t often I comment on purely mobile news. I’m into IP.

On this occasion however it is such a big announcement that it has attracted my attention. Such a large scale business has to figure out how to keep it’s messaging simple whilst communicating what is presumably a hugely complex change to the business. This I believe it has made a reasonable stab at:

  • Everything everywhere
  • Best for customers
  • Biggest network
  • Benefits begin this year with x-network roaming
  • Boost for sales
  • Brilliant service
  • Acceleration into the business market

Whilst in principle a bigger and better network should server customers better there are a number of things to watch out for here.

  1. Bigger and better often means slower to respond.
  2. Bigger and better often means poorer customer service
  3. The business market is a completely different kettle of fish from that Orange and TMobile are used to
  4. It isn’t clear to me how the jointly larger high street footprint will result in a boost for sales unless they are jointly going to spend more money picking up customers than they used to and this has it’s downsides in terms of operating margins. They have to keep the brands separate or the likely result is a lower overall sales level (which might of course be accompanied by lower operating costs)

I should mention that as an O2 and Vodafone service provider I have an interest to declare but I’m not really letting that colour my opinions. The success of this venture is going to depend on how well they can make the complex business of running a mobile service simple. Only time will tell.

PS I’d love to have their  marketing budget.

PPS It wasn’t immediately obvious to me that the name of the JV appears to be “Everything Eveywhere”. Marketing money well spent?

Business internet

Digital Britain Final Report delayed until end of June

A very interesting ISPA Legal Forum session this afternoon yielded quite a bit of bloggable stuff, some of which has already been covered in posts earlier this evening.

The Legal Forum format was based on a panel session that included Clive Gringras as Chair, Simon Persoff, head of Regulatory Affairs at Orange, Steve Rowan of the International Policy Directorate and Daniel Sandelson, Partner at lawyers Clifford Chance.

Firstly the Digital Britain Final Report which was meant to be out in mid May is now likely to be delayed due to the “purdah” that is applied to such publications during election times – there are both Local Government and European elections in the forthcoming months.

Secondly the formation of a Digital Rights Agency, touted as part of the initial DB Report now seems to be far from a done deal. Many of the stakeholders involved thought theRights Agency was a bad idea. The ISP industry thinks it could be ok provided it steers clear of enforcement (of the law against copyright infringement by illegal downloading).  The Music Industry thinks it is a good idea provided it only focuses on enforcement.

ISPs say that the Music Industry is trying to avoid being seen as the bad guys by getting the ISPs to do the dirty work by terminating the broadband connections of (allegedly) guilty parties. ISPs don’t want to be seen as the bad guys, say that switching off broadband connections is disproportionate and if forced to do would want to fully recover their costs from the Music Industry. 

Because Copyright Infringment is a civil offence any costs incurred in the enforcement of private commercial rights, which is what the Music Industry wants the ISPs to do, can be recovered.  In this case by the ISPs from the Music Industry.  The Music Industry is saying it won’t pay. 

This is all looking like a right buggers muddle and I can’t see how it can end amicably. All this when a Government survey (in Glasgow for what it is worth) suggested that illegal P2P downloading is rife, nay becoming mainstream.

It isn’t possible to fully distill two hours of intense and useful discussion into a short blog post but I will finish by saying that it seems to me that the Music Industry is onto a loser and needs to reinvent it’s business model which at the moment it seems incapable of doing.  In going after the ISPs it is picking the easiest target. Is a search engine (Google?!) equally responsible becasue it helps transgressors find out how they can break the law? 

As an experiment try searching on Google for “how to download free music albums”.  You will find 48,900,000 links on this subject. The cat is out of the bag and isn’t getting back in.

Business internet media piracy

ISP and Music industries meet at UK Summit

At the board room of the Performing Rights Society in London today the great and the good of the UK Music industry met with representatives from the mainstream ISP community for an open discussion on how to handle illegal P2P music downloading.

Organisations represented included UK Music,  BAC&S, PPL, PRS, MMF, MPA, MU, MCPS, MPG, Timico, ISPA, O2, Orange, AOL, Yahoo, BT, GlobalMix, LINX, Playlouder and KCom. I’m sure I’ve missed some out and you will have to work out for yourselves what some of the acronyms stand for.

I was essentially there on behalf of the Internet Service Providers’ Association to represent the smaller ISP community who have been left out of the talks up until now. Whilst the “big six” largest ISPs probably represent over 90% of the market the other ISPs, of which there are easily in excess of 300, do represent a “significant other”.

As much as anything the meeting was a “getting to know each others’ perspective” session but a few points in particular stuck in my mind.

  1. We were not allowed to discuss commercial issues and there was a lawyer sat in the corner who interrupted whenever the conversation moved towards this area – the concern being that nobody wanted the meeting to be seen as price fixing. I understand that any initiatives up until now have failed because the Music Industry can’t agree on prices that will allow ISPs to make money out of offering legal music download services. 
  2. It was suggested by yours truly that to make the whole business model work there needed to be a wholesale provider that would make it easier for smaller businesses to participate.  This wholesale provider would have sorted out the rats nest of copyright and licensing issues. Some larger ISPs had 5 corporate lawyers in a department exclusively dedicated to this area. What hope the rest of us!

There is clearly some way to go to get to a working solution although there was general agreement around the table that  everybody wanted to help.

ISPs present were asked whether P2P traffic caused problems for them on their network. I stated that typically B2B ISPs did not throttle P2P traffic  and customers were provided with a high quality experierience for which they paid a premium.

In the consumer space customers seem not prepared to pay for quality and thus in order to try and preserve a reasonable experience for “ordinary” applications such as browsing and email  it is often standard practice for ISPs to throttle P2P traffic. In fact in fairness some ISPs publish these policies on their website. This touched a nerve with one Tier 1 ISP who avoided the word throttling using, instead,  “traffic management” as a less contentious phrase.

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.