Tag Archives: telefonica

The price of free Wi-Fi, and is it a fair deal?

Here we are in a pub trying to get on the Wi-Fi. The good news: it is free:


But the provider wants my mobile number. I am a little wary. I hate being called on my mobile, other than by people I want to hear from. Let’s have a look at the T&C. Luckily, this really is free:


But everything has a cost, right? Let’s have a look at that “privacy” policy. I put privacy in quotes because in reality such policies are often bad news for your privacy:


Now we get to the heart of it. And I don’t like it. Here we go:

“You also agree to information about you and your use of the Service including, but not limited to, how you conduct your account being used, analysed and assessed by us and the other parties identified in the paragraph above and selected third parties for marketing purposes”

[You give permission to us and to everyone else in the world that we choose to use your data for marketing]

“…including, amongst other things, to identify and offer you by phone, post, our mobile network, your mobile phone, email, text (SMS), media messaging, automated dialling equipment or other means, any further products, services and offers which we think might interest you.”

[You give permission for us to spam you with phone calls, texts, emails, automated dialling and any other means we can think of]

“…If you do not wish your details to be used for marketing purposes, please write to The Data Controller, Telefönica UK Limited, 260 Bath Road, Slough, SLI 4DX stating your full name, address, account number and mobile phone number.”

[You can only escape by writing to us with old-fashioned pen and paper and a stamp and note you have to include your account number for the account that you likely have no clue you even have; and even then, who is to say whether those selected third parties will treat your personal details with equal care and concern?]

A fair deal?

You get free Wi-Fi, O2 gets the right to spam you forever. A fair deal? It could be OK. Maybe there won’t in fact be much spam. And since you only give your mobile number, you probably won’t get email spam (unless some heartless organisation has a database linking the two, or you are persuaded to divulge it).

In the end it is not the deal itself I object to; that is my (and your) decision to make. What I dislike is that the terms are hidden. Note that the thing you are likely to care about is clause 26 and you have to not only view the terms but scroll right down in order to find it.

Any why the opt-out by post only? There is only one reason I can think of. To make it difficult.

Microsoft backs Telefonica’s BlueVia mobile SDK – but the market is fragmented

Announced at Mobile World Congress last month, BlueVia is Telefonica’s effort to attract developers to its app platform. Telefonica is the largest phone operator in Spain and also owns O2 in the UK, and has various other operations around the world.

In this case though, “Platform” is not just the devices connected to Telefonica networks, but also services exposed to apps via newly published APIs. BlueVia has APIs for sending and receiving SMS messages, delivering mobile ads, and obtaining information about the current user through a User Context API.

Things like sending a text from an app are nothing new, but a difference is that BlueVia will pay the developer a cut from the revenue generated. Along with ads, the idea is that an app can generate a revenue stream, rather than being just a one-off purchase.

The news today is that Microsoft is backing BlueVia with a toolset and marketing to Windows platform developers. There has been an SDK for Microsoft .NET for some time, but today Microsoft and BlueVia have delivered a new SDK for .NET which includes both server and client side support for the BlueVia APIs. On the server, there are templates for Windows Azure and for BlueVia ASP.NET MVC2 and WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) applications. On the client side, there are Silverlight controls such as a DialPad, an Advertising control, and a text to speech control. Microsoft also provides hooks to Windows Live Services in the hope that you will integrate these with your BlueVia applications.

The snag with developing your app with BlueVia APIs is that it will only work for Telefonica customers, thus restricting your market or forcing you to code to different APIs for other operators. “If you want to expose an API in the way that Telefonica is doing, you need to be a Telefonica customer in order to be able to use it,” says Jose Valles, Head of BlueVia at Telefonica.

If you further restrict your app’s market by targeting only Windows Phone, it gets small indeed.

Valles says there is hope for improvement. “We are working with the industry and with WAC in order to standardise this API,” says, assuring me that the reaction is “very positive”. WAC is the Wholesale Applications Community, a cross-industry forum for tackling fragmentation. Do not count on it though; it strikes me as unlikely that a cross-industry group would accept BlueVia’s APIs as-is.

There is also a glimpse of the challenges facing developers trying to exploit this market in the BlueVia forums. This user observes:

During the submission process we could only submit the app for a single device model while it is actually supported on hundreds of models. So please also explain how to specify all the supported models during the submission process

The answer: BlueVia has defined around 20 groups of compatible devices, and you can only upload your app for one at a time. 20 uploads is better than hundreds, but still demonstrates the effort involved in trying to attain any kind of broad reach through this channel.

BlueVia is in beta, but Valles says this will change “in the next few weeks”. That said, it is already up and running and has 600 developers signed up. “It is already commercial, whoever wants to come in just needs to email and we will send it to him,” he says.

The idea of the operator sharing its ongoing revenue with app developers is a good one, but be prepared to work hard to make it a reality.