THE WRAP: Calvin Lee RIP, Telstra's $300m fine, Apple/Google drama

John C. Tanner
07 Aug 2009

This week saw unexpected tragedy in Singapore, scandal for Telstra and more controversy over Google Voice.

In unexpectedly sad news this week, Deutsche Telekom Asia CEO Calvin Lee died while competing in the annual Singapore triathlon.

In Australia, Telstra faces a $300 million fine after admitting it denied wholesale DSL access to competitors, a breach of the Telecommunications Act, up to 30 times by falsely claiming the exchanges were full.

The news broke just after Telstra announced it had set two world records for backhaul transmission with Nortel Networks, transmitting at 100Gbps over 2,038 kilometers, and at 40Gbps over 3,370 kilometers, without the need to refresh.

In other news, the controversy over Apple’s decision to ban Google Voice from its App Store took new twists, with Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigning from Apple's board of directors days after the US Federal Communications Commission launched a probe into the matter to see if Apple’s relationship with AT&T played a role in the decision.

Apple also came under fire from Palm, which filed a complaint with non-profit industry group USB Implementers Forum, claiming that Apple is restraining trade by blocking the Palm Pre smartphone's access to the iTunes digital media storefront.

A bright spot for Google was acquiring video compression developer On2 for $106 million – possibly in the hopes of creating a de facto open-source video compression standard for web platforms, according to analyst speculation.

In another week of mixed financial results, StarHub’s Q2 net profit grew 21% year-on-year, while PLDT, its mobile subsidiary Piltel and rival Globe all recorded double-digit profit increases, although PLDT said it could see declines in Q3.

Telkom Indonesia and LG Telecom both reported profit drops brought on by heavy price competition.

In other business news, Ericsson talked up its Nortel victory, saying the deal would give it some LTE muscle, especially in the US.

China Mobile was forced to lower its TD-SCDMA subscriber targets by two-thirds to three million by year-end, and may have to cut prices to hit even that.

India’s Bharti Airtel and South Africa’s MTN extended their discussions on a $23 billion merger by another month.

New Zealand's newest mobile operator, 2degrees, launched services with a focus on cheap prepaid rates over the competition’s pricier bundled services.

Ad-funded streaming music service Spotify was reportedly set to announce a $50 million investment infusion from a group of high-profile investors including funding from Hong Kong heavyweight Li Ka-shing for a planned US launch.

In handset OS news, Microsoft promised the forthcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system would provide a better browsing experience than the iPhone, while Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha said he hopes the launch of its Android phones in Q4 goes well, but isn’t betting the handset division's financial future on a holiday blockbuster.

He’ll have his work cut out for him: the worldwide mobile phone market fell 10.8% in Q2 and is on target to drop 13% for the year, said IDC. Meanwhile, Apple now accounts for 32% of the handset industry's operating profit (albeit just 8% of revenue), according to Bernstein Research.

Another analyst projection: An average of 1.6 exabytes of mobile data will be transmitted each month in 2014, compared to 1.3 exabytes for the whole of 2008, ABI Research said.

In regulatory news this week, the Indonesian government granted Wimax licenses to incumbent mobile players Telkom, Indosat and six other companies, while in the Philippines, mobile operators agreed to implement six-second billing as the NTC looks to extend its power to set rates.

And finally, TeliaSonera and cyber crime experts are investigating a Latvian-based botnet ring called Zeus that has emerged as one of the biggest hubs for online fraud.

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