Thursday, February 21, 2008

SquawkBox Feb 21

by alec on February 21, 2008

The call was a little noisy, but the debate was pretty furious!

We started off with the case of WikiLeaks.  This is how WikiLeaks describes themselves:

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact. Our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by all types of people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

Yesterday, WikiLeaks was shut down by a US Judge, at the request of Switzerland's Bank Julius Baer.  Apparently some sensitive documents from Julius Baer's offshore banking operation made their way onto the site.  Anyway, as soon as the site was shut down, mirrors sprung up in many parts of the world, including Christmas Island and Belgium. We had a spirited discussion about the legality of WikiLeaks, and whether it was, in fact, controllable.

It also looks as if there might be a full on price war about to erupt in the US mobile market.  Yesterday we heard reports that Sprint might weigh in with an unlimited calling plan as low as $60/month.  And then word leaked out this morning that T-Mobile is test marketing a new home phoneline service in Seattle and Dallas, which costs $10/month and provides unlimited US calling from home. I don't want to spend too much time on the pricing implications, but I am interested in the T-Mobile offer.   T-Mobile managers explained that the service is designed to wean customers off the land line and onto mobile altogether.   It requires a new router, which is equipped with two SIM slots, and a broadband connection. We chatted about how the service might work, and the implications. 

And finally, yesterday Skype claimed 100 billion minutes of usage since the service launched, with 276 million registered users.  It's a mind numbingly large number, but we discussed the significance of it (aside from the cute references to mammoths in their postings). 

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