First Coffee for 10 February, 2006

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

First Coffee for 10 February, 2006

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and for the music I ferreted out good CDs I haven’t heard in a while – Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy, Mary Lou Lord’s Got No Shadow, The Kinks’ Something Else, Johnny Cash’s God and U2’s Achtung Baby:

Here in Turkey the Council of State’s Board of Administrative Case Departments has “paved the way for continuation of privatization of 55 percent stake of the Turk Telekom,” according to local reports.

Haber-Is (the Turkish postal, telegram, telephone, radio and television labor union) had objected to the block sale of 55 percent stake of Turk Telekom on the grounds that their membership would suffer.

But the Board of Administrative Case Departments decided to let the privatization go ahead, sending the file to the Council of State Department (you wouldn’t believe the bureaucracy here). If they approve the move, which is expected, the file goes back to the Council of State’s Administrative Cases Board.

55 percent of Turk Telekom’s shares was sold to Oger Telecom for $6.5 billion in an auction held last July, and were transferred to Oger in recent days.

Happy birthday to the man who wrote Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak. According to a good write-up in The Writer’s Almanac, he was a published poet (who are taken much more seriously in Russia than in the West) who supported the revolutions of 1917 “until he began to witness the political persecution and censorship under the government of Stalin.”

From 1934 to 1943 censorship kept him from publishing original work, but he did publish many translations of Shakespeare, Keats, Shelley, Schiller and Goethe. He began work on Doctor Zhivago in secret when World War II ended, planning it as “an epic novel that follows the lives of over sixty characters through the first half of twentieth century Russia.”  He finished it in 1955 and smuggled it out to a publisher in Italy.

The novel came out in 1957, was immediately banned in the Soviet Union but sold seven million copies worldwide. The next year Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature but he was forced to refuse it. As The Writer’s Almanac puts it rather poignantly, “he spent the last two years of his life living in a writer’s colony satisfied with the knowledge that his novel had been published, even if he couldn’t see a printed copy.” Doctor Zhivago was finally published in Russia in 1987.

Yesterday a friend sent me a Dow Jones article on GlobeTel, the company who shot out of nowhere in December to announce a $600 million WiMax deal covering 30 Russian cities. Greeted by widespread skepticism and a massive raised eyebrow from Russian communications analysts in the (grossly under-translated) Russian media, GlobeTel’s brash CEO Tim Huff promised that $150 million of the funding would be in place by January 31.

It wasn’t, so as his share price tanked he wrote a press release saying well, y’know, it’s a pretty complicated international deal, so the regulators and lawyers and all what have you are making sure everything’s legit. Giving it the old sniff test.

According to Dow Jones’s Maxwell Murphy, who seems to be providing fairly positive coverage for GlobeTel (Huff has refused to answer questions from First CoffeeSM and put off The Motley Fools respected Seth Jayson with absurd conditions for an interview), GlobeTel’s Russian investors are some company called Internafta LLC, which has no track record in telecom and whose only publicly-identified partner, Maxim Chernizov, said he made his money in “rare earth metals.” He swears he isn’t Mafia.

Incidentally, Jayson’s long Motley Fool investigative article, filled with precise dates, names and transactions detailing GlobeTel’s murky past, is loathed by GlobeTel investors, who snipe that Jayson’s college degree was in art history. Read the article, though, and you’ll see that Jayson was well-trained to see the whole picture.

Anyway, Internafta announced in the past couple days that they’ll bump the first payment up to $300 million, half the stated face value of the entire deal. Chernizov, through translation on a phone call arranged by GlobeTel for Murphy, claims to Murphy that the money is ready, in banks in Brazil and elsewhere.

Explaining once again how the completely unknown GlobeTel, with no track record of success, aced out the likes of Motorola, Cisco, Qualcomm, and all the major multinational, European telecoms in landing the WiMax deal, Chernizov claims GlobeTel has “new technology to improve the depth and breadth of telephony and other wireless services,” in Murphy’s words. GlobeTel executives have never explained the nature of this “new technology.”

One track record GlobeTel does have is issuing sunny press releases for projects which sound great, but never end up making any money. They’re great at that. Now if they can pull off this Russian deal they’ll shed their wannabe image and step up into the big leagues of companies who actually deliver on promises.

Stay tuned.

This sounds like a pretty useful deal: Next week in San Diego Ekahau Inc., a Wi-Fi-based real-time location products vendor, and Emergin, which sells plug ‘n’ play integration for health care, are going to demonstrate something that will show how hospital staff can receive alerts via their cell phone, VoIP phone, pager or PDA when they enter specific geographic areas. The system works over existing Wi-Fi networks.

This means doctors can be notified to rush to the operating room when a patient’s prepped for surgery, and nurses can be notified when doctors are on their floor and available to see patients.

This collaboration between Ekahau and Emergin is just one in the “Located by Ekahau” program, as Ekahau has evidently built an infrastructure of location-aware devices by partnering with manufacturers to incorporate Ekahau’s Wi-Fi-enabled products in products such as Voice over Wi-Fi handsets, Wi-Fi adapters, laptop computers, PDAs, barcode and RFID scanners, medical equipment and other special purpose tools.

3G isn’t quite dead yet, he said in his best Monty Pythonish accent. Amid growing interest in alternative technologies, such as DVB-H and WiMAX, 3G is wheeling out 3G LTE, or “Super 3G,” which in the estimation of tech analyst firm Analysys could “dramatically enhance the capabilities of 3G networks from 2009.”

That opinion’s in Analysys’s new report, “Prospects for the Evolution of 3G and 4G.”

High-Speed Packet Access and Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service bring important capability enhancements to W-CDMA but “do not match broadcasting technologies such as DVB-H, or broadband wireless access such as WiMAX for delivering mobile TV, Internet access and other important services,” Analysys thinks. 3G may need a major leap forward in capabilities to remain competitive.

Enter the relatively little-known 3G Long-Term Evolution standard, often termed “Super 3G,” which may provide the necessary breakthrough to support a range of new services. By adopting many of the same techniques as alternative wireless technologies, such as WiMAX, Analysys explains, 3G LTE is aiming to achieve a peak downlink data rate of 100Mbit/s, an increase in capacity of three to five times compared to HSPA (in the same bandwidth) and latency as low as 20ms:

“While its performance in a real network implementation remains to be seen, such capabilities have the potential to enable some significant new service opportunities.”

Fixed-mobile substitution, when customers cease using fixed voice services altogether, is an opportunity for mobile-only operators, but the need to be competitive with DSL, in terms of performance and pricing, places great demands on wireless technology. HSPA doesn’t have the capacity, latency or cost per Mbyte needed to compete with fixed DSL services. But according to report co-author Mark Heath, “3G LTE could bring the step change needed for mobile operators to offer a realistic alternative to fixed services.”

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