Exclusive: BBC selling Lonely Planet to Kentucky cigarette billionaire Brad Kelley

Rafat Ali:

EXCLUSIVE: Lonely Planet, the storied travel guidebooks publisher owned by BBC, is about to be sold, we have learned. And the buyer is a doozy: reclusive Kentucky billionaire Brad Kelley, who spent the 1990s selling discount cigarette brands like USA Gold, Bull Durham, and Malibu, then sold the company for almost $1 billion in 2001, and parlayed that money into becoming the one of the largest land owners and conservationists in United States.

The deal is in final stages of negotiation, and barring any big red flags that come up the last second it should be announced next week.

The deal terms, according to our sources: Kelley will buy a majority controlling stake in Lonely Planet, and BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of BBC which bought LP, will retain a small-but-sizable stake to help maintain editorial control through current management, as well as save on inter-country taxes.

Scientists unveil moving 3D holograms

Clive Cookson

More than 30 years after the famous Star Wars movie scene in which a hologram of Princess Leia appealed for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi, US researchers have unveiled holographic technology to transmit and view moving three-dimensional images.
The scientists at the University of Arizona say their prototype “holographic three-dimensional telepresence” is the world’s first practical 3D transmission system that works without requiring viewers to wear special glasses or other devices. The research is published in the journal Nature.
Potential applications range from telemedicine and teleconferencing to mass entertainment.
“Holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world,” said Nasser Peyghambarian, project leader.
Existing 3D projection systems produce either static holograms with excellent depth and resolution but no movement – or stereoscopic films, such as Avatar, which give the perspective from one viewpoint only and do not allow the viewer to walk around the image. The new technology combines motion with an impression of genuine solidity.

Google has mapped every WiFi network in Britain

Duncan Gardham:

Google has mapped every wireless network in Britain in order to use the information for commercial purposes, it has emerged.



Every WiFi wireless router – the device that links most computer owners to the internet – in every home has been entered into a Google database.


The information was collected by radio aerials on their Street View cars, which have now photographed almost every home in the country.


The data is then used on Google’s Maps for Mobile application to locate mobile phones such as iPhones in order for users to access information relevant to the area such as restaurants, cinemas, theatres, shops and hotels.


The project had remained secret until an inquiry in Germany earlier this month in which Google was forced to admit that it “mistakenly” downloaded emails and other data from unsecured wireless networks where they we

US vs. Japan: Residential Internet Service Pricing

Chiehyu Li:

The following chart lists the price, download and upload speeds of residential Internet services in the U.S. and Japan.
NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) is the major incumbent telephone operator in Japan. NTT has focused on fiber-optic business while Yahoo! BB (a subsidiary of SoftBank Telecom Corp.) has had first-mover advantage for DSL Internet. Due to unbundling requirements, Yahoo! BB and @nifty provide DSL service by renting NTT’s telephone lines at low prices.


Cable/DSL service
In the U.S., the price for cable or DSL (1Mbps-7 Mbps) ranges from roughly $20-45/month. Comcast has higher speed Internet, 15Mbps-50Mbps, and costs $43-$140 per month.
In Japan, the typical Internet speed is higher than the U.S. (8Mbps-50Mbps), and costs $30-60 per month. J:COM, a large cable Internet provider, has cable Internet up to 160Mbps, costs $63 ($0.4 per megabit).

Wisconsin: No Fiber to the Home Activity…..

Scott Wilkinson & Benoit Felton:

I have been collaborating with Benoit Felton, a Yankee Group analyst based in Paris, and others on a map of FTTP (fiber to the premises) sites worldwide. For now, I’m doing most of the U.S. sites as time permits. There are still quite a few to add, since the U.S. FTTP deployments tend to be local municipal or utility networks, with the notable exception of Verizon’s successful FiOS service.

It’s pretty impressive, and is something to think about when your local telecommunications provider claims that you should be happy with your 1Mbps DSL connection.

The “video competition bill” – largely pushed by AT&T was a major miss for Wisconsin.

Judge Tosses TDS Lawsuit Against Minnesota Municipal Fiber Optic Project

Nate Anderson:

When the 12,000 person city of Monticello, Minnesota voted overwhelmingly to put in a city-owned and -operated fiber-optic network that would link up all homes and business to a fast Internet pipe, the local telco sued to stop them. Wednesday, District Court Judge Jonathan Jasper dismissed the suit with prejudice after finding that the city was well within its rights to build the network by issuing municipal bonds. In this case, however, a total loss for the telco might actually turn out to be a perverse sort of victory.
The judge’s ruling, a copy of which was seen by Ars Technica, is noteworthy for two things: (1) the judge’s complete dismissal of Bridgewater Telephone Company’s complaint and (2) his obvious anger at the underfunding of Minnesota’s state courts. Indeed, the longest footnote in the opinion is an extended jeremiad about how much work judges are under and why it took so long to decide this case, even going so far as to cite approvingly a newspaper editorial backing more funds for the court.
Bridgewater’s basic complaint was that cities in Minnesota are not allowed to use bonds in order to offer data services to residents, because they lack the necessary authority. State statute says that such bonds may be issued for a host of projects (sewers, stadia, playgrounds, and “homes for aged,” among others), and they can more generally be used to fund “other public conveniences.” But is Internet access a “public convenience”?

More here.

Lessig on John McCain’s Technology “Platform”

Larry Lessig

I have my doubts – unfortunately – that Obama will be much better on the crucial broadband issue for two reasons:

  • AT&T, very good at spreading the love money, or the king of telco lobbying is sponsoring the Democratic convention
  • Our own Democratic Governor – Jim Doyle, recently signed a AT&T supported “Video competition bill” into law – maybe useful for AT&T, but hardly good for citizens.

California Declares Free Market Broken, Recommends Price Controls For Phone Services

The Consumerist:

Verizon, AT&T, and their regulated cohorts love to blab how the “free market” and “competition” will keep prices low for consumers. According to California, it’s a big fat expensive lie. The cost of basic phone service has soared since the Public Utilities Commission lifted price controls in 2006, leading the agency to conclude:
“There is no indication of any change in the near future regarding the current state of competition. Market forces have not yet met the challenge of controlling price increases.”

TDS Telecom sues Monticello over city’s plan to build its own high-speed network

Heron Marquez Estrada:

A failure to communicate between Monticello and TDS Telecom, its chief phone and cable provider, is threatening to short-circuit plans to make the city one of the most wired communities in the nation.
Both Monticello and TDS Telecom are constructing multi-million dollar fiber-optic networks that will directly connect to every home, office and business in the city.
When the networks come online in the next year or so, they would be among only about 45 in the country that provide such connectivity.
But Monticello — a city of about 11,000 in northern Wright County — also may be the only locale where the public and private sectors are competing so directly for paying customers.
The acrimony from such direct competition has led to the filing of what may become a precedent-setting lawsuit by TDS questioning whether municipalities can use revenue bonds to create fiber-optic networks.

Fascinating. It’s not like TDS is building fiber to the home here. We’re stuck with (and continue to pay for) nearly century old copper networks. Much like roads, I believe that public fiber networks (open to any player) make sense, particularly when there is no evidence that the incumbent telcos plan to upgrade their infrastructure.