The big story this week was Ebola. The reaction, or overreaction depending upon your point of view, obscured just about everything else on the news horizon, including telecommunications and IT.
But as always, there was other news and worthwhile commentary. Here are some highlights:
SDNs Are Almost Here
A big element of any new technology, especially one as expansive and all-encompassing as software-defined networks (SDNs), is the creation of interoperability across equipment from a variety of vendors. LightReading reports that the Optical Internetworking Forum and the Open Networking Foundation have been conducting joint tests in carrier labs to determine how close to commercialization SDNs are.
The answer suggests that the product family is almost here:
Those readouts show that SDN ‘is getting real and is getting ready to be commercialized,’ says Dave Brown, director of optical products marketing for Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and VP-Marketing and board member for OIF. ‘We are still in the early stages, but these are exciting and positive results and very encouraging.’
The jockeying for position between vendors likely will heat up even more as the era of interoperability nears.
Monday Is Pay Day for Apple
Apple, which famously sat on the sidelines while the mobile payment sector sorted itself out, said this week that Apple Pay will launch on Monday.
The system will enable payments via near field communications. Initially, the function will be available (after an upgrade to iOS 8.1, which will also be released Monday) on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The functionality will be in the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, which are expected next week. The Apple Watch, which will ship next year, also will support Apple Pay.
Initial retailers, according to Computerworld, include Whole Foods, Macy’s and McDonalds.
Safety in Groups
DarkReading notes a trend: super-secure networks designed to “leave no trace” of participants’ communications. The latest is MeWe, a private communications network founded by Tim Berners-Lee, a founder of the Web. The network, which the site says is a spin out from Sgrouples, doesn’t do much: It doesn’t track or share information put on the network by its users. It does, however, encrypt identity information and employs other security techniques.
The network isn’t alone, writes Kelly Jackson Higgins:
MeWe follows a string of other privacy-oriented services, including secure mobile messaging service Wickr and Silent Circle, which offers private and secure voice, video, text, and file transfer services on mobile devices.
Google Fiber in Austin: Better Late Than Never
The press release announcing a project generally gets the lion’s share of the news. When the new service or product actually becomes available is often an afterthought.
Google got its share of headlines with the announcement in April, 2013, that it would bring 1 Gigabit per second symmetrical service to Austin. The original announcement said that homes would be connected starting in mid-2014. Google said this week that it will start connecting homes in December.
Considering the scope of the project, a delay of a few months is not a big deal:
But building fiber-optic networks from scratch is complex and messy. In late September, Google said its construction crews had begun laying more than 3,000 miles of cables underground and on thousands of utility poles in Austin. That requires powerful drills to tunnel through Austin’s limestone and sonar detection to avoid hitting existing infrastructure and utilities in the ground.
Google Fiber projects also are active in Provo, Utah and Kansas City.
Now It’s (Really) Not TV, It’s HBO Streaming
And, finally, comes another sign, if one was needed, that television just ain’t what it used to be. HBO’s announcement this week that it will launch a standalone streaming service next year has significant potential ramifications for the cable operators.
The Washington Post points out how a successful initiative could change the business:
HBO is one of the most valuable channels in cable and satellite packages, but the firm has long felt that its cable and satellite distribution partners haven’t given it a big enough cut of the cable industry’s highly profitable paid television subscriptions. New competition from Netflix and other digital entertainment platforms have put pressure on the cable model. But many consumers have been willing to stick with cable subscriptions to watch live sports on ESPN, for instance, and premium content on HBO.
From a broader perspective, HBO going all in on over-the-top, not just adding it as an adjunct to its traditional services, will lead to a lot more stress on the Internet.
CBS also said this week that it is getting into the streaming game.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.