THE WRAP: Web goes dark in US protest; Ipv6 launch day confirmed
It was the week the Web went dark, as prominent web firms including Wikipedia protested proposed US anti-piracy laws just as the Internet Society revealed the switch-on date for IPv6 addresses. The week also saw Sony Ericsson record a €200m loss for the fourth quarter, and India get tough on just about everyone.
Around 7,000 websites joined a blackout on Wednesday to protest the US House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy act (Sopa) and Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property act (Pipa). Wikipedia was the highest-profile site to switch off its service for the day, with users urged to voice their opposition to the bills in a statement posted over its homepage.
The protest appears to have had a positive result, with eight US senators deciding to pull their support for the proposed laws – including two who co-signed the idea in the first place, the BBC reports.
Ironically, the great Internet switch-off came just a day after the Internet Society revealed the first IPv6 web addresses will go live on June 6. AT&T, KDDI, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all committed to deploying the new addresses by that date, a move necessitated by the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses during 2011.
Sony Ericsson’s final quarter as a joint venture proved deeply unprofitable. The vendor swung from breakeven in 3Q11 to a €207 million loss in 4Q, and ended the year with a net loss of €247 million. The firm blamed the slump on tough competition and problems arising from flooding in Thailand during the quarter, but predicted a stronger 2012 as it refocuses solely on smartphones.
A Sony buyout of Ericsson’s 50% stake in the venture is due to be completed in the current calendar quarter.
Smartphones had the opposite effect on Singaporean carrier M1, which credited a 4.5% rise in annual profit to an increase in the number of subscribers using the devices. Some 67% of its total 969,000 post-paid subscribers are smartphone users.
The firm’s 2011 profit hit S$164.1 million (€99.4 million) on revenue of S$1.06 billion, which is 8.8% higher than 2010. Non-voice revenues accounted for 35.6% of sales – 3.7 percentage points higher than in 2010.
Chinese vendor Huawei’s marine division got involved in two major cable deals – agreeing to survey the planned 3,000km route of Axin Marine’s trans-Tasman Optikor Network, which will link Australia to both islands of New Zealand, and winning the contract to rollout the first trans-Atlantic subsea cable between the UK and North America in a decade.
Huawei was also involved in what turned into a big week for TD-LTE, China’s home-grown 4G technology. The vendor struck a deal with Nigerian operator Zoda Fones that it claims will result in the first deployment of the technology in Africa.
China Mobile kept the ball rolling, teaming with US carrier Clearwire and the Global TD-LTE Initiative to develop common specifications for handset interoperability tests. The work will focus on trials for multi-mode, multi-band terminals, in order to ensure global compatibility.
In the Philippines, mobile carrier Smart Communications revealed plans to upgrade its entire network to 4G by the middle of the year. The mobile unit of incumbent PLDT plans to deploy a single RAN across all of its cell sites to enable LTE and HSPA+ services. The technologies are currently deployed on 3,000 of the firm’s 13,000 base stations.
Pakistan, meanwhile, is still waiting for 3G. The country’s telecoms regulator has scheduled a license auction for late March, however there are fears a moratorium on when new players can launch services may put foreign investors off.
Across the border, Indian authorities began gunning for domestic and foreign firms alike. First the government cleared a prosecution against Google, Facebook, Yahoo and 18 other web firms over obscene content, then slapped a 10.67 billion rupee (€163 million) tax bill on domestic telco Bharti Airtel. The operator pledged to fight the demand.
And UK ISP Virgin Media swung from the sublime to the ridiculous, as its service failed just a day after it was forced to apologize for a PR gaffe regarding rollout of its high-speed network.
The erroneous marketing literature telling customers to expect data rates of up to 120Mbps was meant to go only to subscribers currently receiving 100Mbps and, while the firm subsequently promised users improvements, it was vague on exact rates.
Virgin was similarly vague on the cause of a network outage on Tuesday night, stating only that it was due to a routing hardware failure.