Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dr Hamadoun Touré Re-elected Secretary-General of ITU

Dr Hamadoun Touré of Mali has been re-elected as Secretary-General of ITU for a second four-year term. The election took place in Guadalajara, Mexico during the morning Plenary session of the 18th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Dr Touré won the position with 151 votes, with 157 countries present and voting. He contested the position unopposed.

During the same morning Plenary session, Houlin Zhao of China was re-elected Deputy Secretary-General with 155 votes. His election was also unopposed.

Ford Opens its SYNC In-Vehicle System for Wireless Apps

Ford is enhancing its SYNC in-vehicle communications, information and entertainment system with text-to-voice capability to read aloud incoming SMS messages. The system now enables drivers to reply to text messages via voice commands using 15 preset responses that can be personalized.

Ford has adopted the latest Bluetooth standard -- Message Access Profile (MAP) -- so SYNC can stream text messages from a larger population of smartphones. The company is also urging phone makers to adopt this standard as a step toward safer in-vehicle communications.

Certain cell phone functions are locked out when the vehicle is in motion. Examples include pairing a Bluetooth-capable phone, manually adding individual contacts into the phone book, viewing received text messages on screen, playing video or browsing photos on screen.

Ford intends to bring other smartphone apps into the car in a similar way. The company is releasing an application programming interface (API) that gives developers the ability to use the same voice features of the SYNC system. Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher smart radio and Orangatame's OpenBeak are the first apps to incorporate the SYNC API, with more on the way in coming months. Other examples of driving apps could include location-based services incorporating navigation, traffic and business searches. Ford noted that it is already reviewing more than 1,000 submissions made on the SYNC Developer website for future SDK releases.

"More and more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. "They can do it unsafely, or they can do it through safer voice-activated solutions such as Ford SYNC -- keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

TISCALI Deploys FTTH in Sardinia with ZTE

Tiscali signed a strategic framework agreement with ZTE for the deployment of an FTTH network in Sardinia. The contract was signed in the presence of the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who is visiting Italy.

In the first phase of the project, the FTTH deployment will leverage ongoing work for the local gas network in the extended Cagliari area. This will include over 50 thousand lines of LLU (Local Loop unbundling) coverage.

Obama Signs 21st Century Comm. & Video Accessibility Act of 2010

President Obama signed Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 into law, providing an update to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The bill requires that VoIP equipment be compatible with hearing aids and it requires that Internet-based voice communication service providers contribute to the Interstate Relay Service Fund. Likewise, providers of advanced communications equipment and services, including smartphones, must make their products accessible to individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, the bill provides up to $10 million per year from the Interstate Relay Service Fund for equipment used by individuals who are deaf-blind.

In addition, new requirements for video programmers have been added concerning closed captioning and programming guides and menus.