Friday, November 27, 2009

Coordinating telecoms innovation at Kista Science City

Continuing my series of videos from a recent visit to Stockholm, here is an interview with Annica Englund, head of communications for Kista Science City, a cluster of several hundred IT and telecommunications-related companies in and around the Stockholm suburb of Kista, which some call Sweden's SiliconValley.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Swedish media getting a grip on mobile and multimedia?

Tomas Bennich, who runs the Swedish Mobile & Multimedia Showcase, formerly known as the Swedish Mobile & Broadband Showcase, formerly known as the Swedish Mobile Showcase (a mere three years? ago), talks about how the business is changing, how Swedish big media are taking the new seamless mobile/broadband/always-connected world seriously, as well as about the special entrepreneurial climate in which new solutions are created. Oh yes -- you probably knew that Spotify and Voddler are Swedish innovations?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lattelecom looking to LTE for its mobile side?

Lattelecom, the Latvian fixed network operator owned 49 % by Sweden's TeliaSonera, may be looking in the medium term to build out a 4G or LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile internet network (with voice capability).
With the future of telecoms privatization in Latvia stalled and highly politicized, there is a good chance that in the next three to five years, Lattelecom could end up sold or owned seperately from its distant sister company, mobile operator LMT. Both companies have done little or no cross-selling or integration of their products.
Without some kind of mobile business, any modern telco operator that doesn't want to be a mere ISP (and even an ISP with national coverage) is hobbled. In the medium term, LTE, which hasn't even been allocated frequencies in Latvia, is a viable option. Latvia's mobile operators -- Bite and Tele2 -- have indicated they will go for LTE and its up to 100 Mbps internet speed at some point. Tele2 in Sweden is launching LTE next year together with Telenor, as is LMT's parent TeliaSonera.
Lattelecom is already cooperating with wireless/mobile internet provider Triatel (the mobile internet offering is still in the works) which runs an EV DO network countrywide and offers an unspectacular download speed of 3.6 Mbps (compared to 3.6 Mbps on the GSM/UMTS operators HSDPA networks, with 14.4 Mbps promised soon by Bite).
The Latvian government has yet to allocate frequencies for LTE, but this will happen in 2010. As far as Lattelecom and LMT goes, it still remains for the Latvian government to (as I wrote to the great amusement of a high executive in the Nordic telecoms industry) to unfuck itself on the issue of privatization (i.e. a sale to TeliaSonera of at least all of LMT). With 2010 an election year, this is unlikely, but in 2011, with yet another round of drastic budget cuts upcoming, Latvia may be ready for anyone tossing coins into its begging bowl.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Reflections on IOD 2009 and the Babylonian Sheep

IBM's conference Information on Demand 2009 (IOD 2009) took the IOD story a step further with considerable attention paid to predictive analytics. No surprise, as IBM just completed the acquisition of SPSS, a Chicago-based predictive analytics company.
Indeed, the IOD sequence has gone from gathering and grooming data (a single, hopefully truthful view of the company/customer base), making it all accessible (de-siloing), finding hidden gems (data mining and analysis) to using the data to look into future trends and developments (predictive analytics or wild guessing with lots of numbers/??/).
Common to all of this is that we have a large global base of electronic data that various smart spiders can zip through and give us the answers we need. But that sort of presumes that this vast electronic data base, growing by exobytes every year, will still be fully searchable and subject to analysis in 50 or 100 years.
Which brings up the Babylonian Sheep Question that I put to a few IBM folks, including Ambuj Goyal, but got no really satisfactory answer. Which is fine, because there probably is none. It is not so much a question as a kind of meta-framework setter.
So what is the Babylonian Sheep Question?
Simply, that if I want to get a rough idea of what the market was like for sheep in Babylon 4000 years ago, much of the data warehouse (clay tablets) are still there. One can drill down to the single transaction record level -- Uruk sold 20 sheep to Gilgamesh for 50 bushels of wheat, or whatever. Since the data warehouse (scattered among various museums) has survived 4000 or more years, I can safely assume it will be around in 200 or 300 years, never mind 50 years down the road (assuming no nuclear holocausts or the like, although that would only bake the clay more...).
Now, as for all those exobytes -- I really don't know what will be accessible in 2030. I certainly can't access some of the floppy disks I still have with stuff I wrote in the 1980s. With the global datasphere growing at petabytes per week (month?) it is clear that we will have to have new data compression and storage technologies. Otherwise we will be replacing the world's forests with forests of blade servers. I can imagine that 10 years from now, most data will be stored holographically in the cloud or in some other extreme volume storage technology. That is a long way from the floppy disk.
Ambuy Goyal, by the way, talked about data decommissioning, which addressed the issue of keeping relevant data around and instantly accessible, while putting historically interesting, but operationally irrevelant data stored elsewhere. Fair enough. But no answer to the Babylonian Sheep question. Because irrelevant as Uruk's sale of 20 sheep is 4000 years later, it is still there and available in printed translation from the cuneiform inscriptions. What will happen to my first American Express purchase records (from 1977 on some mainframe), which may be of some relevance when I am a 80 year old geezer some 20 years from now is another question. It may be solved, probably will be solved. But I am not all that confident that our entire electronic record of the world and daily life will be as durable as those fragmentary records of the Babylonian sheep market that we can still examine and analyze today.