Wifi + Mobile + HD + DTTV + ADSL + S/PDIF + Wimax + ...

Something really interesting happened today in the french telco industry. Free did it again.

Free is a broadband operator in France, and in the past, they did some very bold moves and really changed the broadband landscape. Basically they were among the first to leverage the unbundling of the local loop, and they positioned themselves as the first 'alternative' broadband operator. They started as a 'standard' ISP (POTS / ISDN) but in 2003, they launched the first "Triple play" offer. A custom hardware (the 'Freebox') that provided ADSL access, along with TV and telephone. What's interesting there is that they pushed the envelope both on the feature set, and the price: for 29.99 euros (about $35), you had full ADSL bandwidth (not capped at 512k or 1 Mbits), 'free' phone calls in France (not including mobiles) and TV channels.

In october 2004, they released a new Freebox and upgraded their DSLAM to ADSL2+. For the same 29.99 euro per month, you now had 20 Mbps (maximum bandwidth - basically you have what your line length allows). They added some features in 2005: a vlc-based software to stream mpeg to your TV or to watch TV on the computer, free calls to many international destinations (USA, Germany, Singapore, ...)

There is some background information in english on their site (esp. the slide shows and press releases).

But now, they're releasing another new box, the Freebox HD. And things are getting really interesting:

On a second box, connected to the first through ethernet or wifi:

The icing on the cake ? The box can act as a mobile phone access point. If you have a dual wifi-GSM mobile phone, and if you activate your Free mobile phone account for 9.99 e (one-time fee), you will transparently use the Freebox... and if you're in the street with your wifi-gsm mobile and if there's a Freebox HD around, it will use it to place your call. Basically, they want to create an urban mesh of Freebox HD and be a disruptive mobile operator. They also plan to offer a wifi-gsm phone in september for about 200 euros ($245).

Oh. And Free is a WiMax operator.

The press release is now available in english.


Mac OS X S3 Browser

Ok, so I have something sort of working for my Objective-C / Amazon S3 quick hack.

I slightly revised my goals: instead of just wrapping the S3 REST API, I'm writing at the same time a small application to test my code - a minimal S3 GUI browser. I will then extract the objective-C S3 wrapper framework from this example, which I'll try to keep as simple and straightforward as possible (it's heavily bindings-based, there's no much code). S3 is cool, but my main objective was to have an idea of what it takes to wrap a REST API to build a desktop app on top of it. But if it could be useful to others as a basic S3 OS X sample code, it would be great.

What is more or less working right now: list, create and delete buckets, non-blocking, asynchronous operations, bucket content list (no multiple requests for large buckets yet), basic upload and download, and a small operation console and inspector. Check the screenshot.

Even if many features are missing (multi-requests, correct canonicalization, correctly tracking bucket content windows, transient URLs generation, etc), any feedback would be great (including 'it works on my Intel Mac' and 'it works with my account').

Update: this small experiment actually became a real application, check it out is here.

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