BSA targets SMBs; half the planet is mobile

When it comes to threatening legal action to make sure users pay for their software, the organization representing the industry’s biggest players most frequently takes aim at its members’ smallest customers.

Of the $13 million in settlements recouped last year by the Business Software Alliance, about 90 per cent came from small businesses, according to the Associated Press.

The BSA contends that small businesses are most often targeted because they most often use unlicensed software. However, according to an attorney who represents companies that have drawn BSA attention, it is the offers of huge rewards — upwards of $1 million — that creates an irresistible temptation for IT execs to rat out employers, especially former employers.

“The most frequent targets of BSA cases are relatively small firms frequently with 10 to 100 employees,” says Rob Scott, an attorney with Scott & Scott. “As a practical matter, these firms usually have one or two in-house IT executives.”

Scott says his clients frequently suspect former employees dropped a dime on them.

“Many of my clients report that BSA investigations ensue shortly after the departure of the key IT person in the firm,” he says. “While it is impossible to be 100 per cent sure because BSA does not disclose its informants, my clients regularly report that they believe that the person that was the rat-out was responsible for maintaining compliance with software licensing and in some instances actually installed the infringing software products.”

Lose any key IT people lately?

3.3 billion mobile accounts: one for every two earthlings

Somewhere on the planet last month, someone skipped over pages of fine print they will later regret not reading in order to sign a mobile services contract that brought the worldwide number of such accounts to 3.3 billion, a figure roughly equal to half the Earth’s population.

We don’t know who it was, but can’t you just see the balloons and confetti falling on some startled AT&T customer in Ottumwa, Iowa?

Announcing this milestone with such remarkable precision were the industry analysts at Informa Telecoms and Media, who in their press release also provided a treasure trove of interesting facts and trivia regarding the mobile-phone revolution:

  • In 1987, 35 countries hosted mobile-phone networks, a figure that had risen to 192 a decade later and today stands at 224.
  • Ten percent of the world’s population remains uncovered by a mobile network, while 40 per cent are covered but remain unconnected, including my father, which should surprise no one given that he doesn’t even have an ATM card.
  • That 3.3 billion figure does not mean that half the people on the planet are packing cell phones. The reason is that so many individuals have identified a need to have more than one account at a time: 59 countries tally more accounts than people, according to these analysts.
  • On the other hand, 27 countries with networks have subscriber penetrations below 10 per cent.

As for the figures only a carrier executive could love:

  • Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): The numbers are all over the map. On the high end, Kuwaiti operator Zain reports a monthly ARPU of US$71, followed by Hutchison Whampoa’s U.K. operations at $70.55 and Q-Tel in Qatar with $69. On the lower side, there is Hutchison’s Sri Lankan operator at $2.83 and Bangladesh’s CityCell brand at $2.98.

Hey, where can I get me one of those Sri Lankan plans?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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