THE WRAP: EC backs Galileo birds; EU radio harmony prioritized

This week saw the EC back its Galileo satellite network, Nokia unveiled its one and only MeeGo device, and the CommunicAsia 2011 Summit threw up concerns over collaboration, data and cloud services.

Europe’s Galileo satellite network is on track to open for business in 2014, after the EC awarded the last two contracts covering construction and maintenance. However, the network will offer only three basic services at launch, with no mention of when a GPS-style element will come into operation.
The current and future presidential states of the European Union – Hungary and Poland respectively – agreed to prioritize EC efforts to harmonize radio spectrum across the region. The commitment boosts the EC’s radio spectrum policy program, which is considered a key element in its Digital Agenda by opening the door to new services.
Those new services can’t come quickly enough for operators in Southern Europe, which Fitch Ratings says are suffering from declining voice and data revenues due to shaky national economies and regulation. Carriers in the north of the region are beginning to offset falling voice income with data revenue, the firm notes.
Radio frequency harmony is also essential for Asia Pacific operators, which are struggling to cope with surging demand for data, UMTS Forum spokesman Alex Orange told the CommunicAsia 2011 Summit. However, Pacific Telecommunications Council advisor Mark Hukill said harmonizing digital dividend spectrum will be difficult, due to differences in when it will be available in individual countries in the region.
New services are also an issue for operators. Jim Williams, president of consultancy Media Strategies and Solutions told the conference that Cloud services are raising questions over the future of home networks by shifting the focus onto where content will be accessed rather than were it resides.
One service that appears to be growing with no technological problems is IPTV. Broadband Forum figures reveal China is on track to take the crown of the world’s largest IPTV market from France, with 9.83 million users at end Q1 compared to 10.6 million in France. Asia Pacific as a whole is closing in on Europe’s dominant position with 18 million users by end-March compared to 21 million in Europe.
Nokia unveiled its Mee-Go powered N9 device, but revealed little about its strategy to recover sales in emerging markets.
BT and TalkTalk were denied the right to appeal a decision against various elements in the UK’s Digital Economy Act, leaving regulator Ofcom clear to implement rules that could see illegal file-sharers barred from the Web.
And UK police claimed a 19 year old hacker arrested this week is a major player in LuizSec, the hacktivist group that recently broke into Sony’s PlayStation Network, the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, and the CIA in the US.