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Euronews: Internet Blackout in Syria

Paul Rainford

Syria, Telecom Italia SpA (NYSE: TI) and Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (NYSE: PT) proffer something for the weekend in Friday's skip through the EMEA headlines.

  • The Internet has effectively been shut down in Syria, according to a report on the BBC website. Renesys Corp. , which describes itself as "the Internet intelligence authority," said on Thursday that Syria's connection protocols were unreachable. The government there blames "terrorists" for the shutdown, but activists have said the same thing has happened previously, prior to government-led military actions in remote areas.

  • Telecom Italia is set to reject the offer of a US$3.9 billion cash infusion from Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, reports Telecompaper (subscription required), citing Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore. Sawiris had been looking to expand Telecom Italia's interests in Brazil.

  • In the "no surprise there, then" corner, Portugal Telecom saw its third-quarter net profits slump 29 percent year-on-year to €64 million ($83 million), reports Reuters. But it wasn't just economic problems on its home turf that were to blame -- it's Oi unit in Brazil also saw revenues fall 6 percent year-on-year.

  • Virgin Media Business Ltd. , the enterprise arm of the U.K. cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), has won Wi-Fi deals in the northern cities of Bradford and Leeds. The free public Wi-Fi services, which form part of the U.K. government's "super-connected city" initiative, will be operated for Virgin by Global Reach Technology. (See Virgin Lands City Wi-Fi Deals.)

  • The latest edition of Orange (NYSE: FTE)'s annual study into mobile media habits in the U.K., France and Spain has some encouraging news for BlackBerry : BlackBerry penetration amongst teenagers in the U.K. and Spain is two to three times higher than it is among the respective overall "mobile media user" population. "Advertisers must not write off BlackBerry if they are to successfully engage with a younger audience," warn the report's authors. (See Orange Keeps Tabs on Mobile Habits and RIM Posts $235M Net Loss as Sales Slip.)

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has signed a contract with the authorities in Cumbria -- the northern English county that is home to the much-visited Lake District as well as pockets of real deprivation -- to supply super-fast broadband to the region as part of the U.K. government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) program. (See Euronews: UK's Broadband Plan Gets EU Nod.)

  • A court battle between Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) on one side and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) on the other is underway in San Diego, reports Bloomberg. The trial, which has been a long time coming, centers on Apple and LG's refusal to pay AlcaLu for patents relating to video-compression technology. (See Euronews: AlcaLu Looks to Profit from Patents.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:16:47 PM
    re: Euronews: Internet Blackout in Syria

    I wonder how much the free city WiFi networks -- as Virgin Media Business are building in various UK cities as part of a government initiative -- will take some of the data traffic heat off the mobile operators' city center macro cells? If at all?

    Gabriel Brown
    Gabriel Brown,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/5/2012 | 5:16:46 PM
    re: Euronews: Internet Blackout in Syria

    I suspect it will be hard to know. What seems a safer bet is that better coverage and performance will unlock pent-up demand and create new usage.

    User Rank: Light Bulb
    12/5/2012 | 5:16:45 PM
    re: Euronews: Internet Blackout in Syria

    Good point, Ray.

    It is said that 70-odd% of current data usage is actually on WiFi. Also, I cite the same two reasons from before: QoE and users not wanting to go over their mobile data caps. If would be really interesting if we could all see what the average smartphone data usage is like (noting that the standard subscriber package gives 500Mb). Very interesting indeed :)

    Apart from Virgin, there are other WiFi players. I would expect WiFi to play a big part.

    This brings me to the question....

    How will wiFi and small cells co-exist? If the data plane (Internet access) is the main issue, why would a mobile operator want to have data traffic using up network resources (e.g. attach, default bearer to APN, etc.)? If they want users to use the mobile network (and not WiFi), then surely data caps are the stumbling block, no?

    Which brings me to the question..... is the mobile data explosion really all that it's made out to be?  

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