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Jonathan Frewin | 12:33 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

Solar bulbOn Tech Brief today: Chinese website registrations shrink, a solar powered light bulb, and the real reason for the demise of unlimited smartphone data plans.

• China's .cn internet country code has fallen from being the second most popular top-level domain, to fourth place, a year after Chinese registrations were growing so fast it appeared they might displace .com altogether. Darthcamaro reckons it's all to do with junk e-mail:

"So why did .cn decline? Spammers. 'Many of these are low-priced promotional names that have now come up for renewal at a higher price,' Pat Kane, vice president of naming services at VeriSign, told 'The .cn registration decline was also based on the CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) registry's implementation of the real names directive from the Chinese government primarily around verifiable 'whois' data.'"

• We're familiar with solar powered garden lights, which tend to give out about enough light to illuminate a small patch of garden path. But a Hong Kong company has now introduced what it claims is the world's first solar-powered light bulb:

"The Nokero N100 solar LED light bulb is meant to replace kerosene lamps as a lighting source in the developing world. The company says 1.6 billion people still lack sufficient access to electricity, and many burn fossil fuels for light, which can be dangerous and expensive."

The idea is that bulb owners leave them out in the sun all day, and then bring them indoors at night, to give up to four hours of illumination on a full charge, although Nokero says that a day of charging in the sun provides about two hours of light.

• The World Cup in South Africa is captivating football fans all over the planet. Now you can see where, exactly, it is gaining most interest:

"The 2010 World Cup is shaping up to be a major Internet milestone event, with billions of fans relying on the Internet for live and on-demand games, news, scores, and highlights of the most watched sporting event in the world. Whether it's watching live streams of the game in HD video or the ability to share stories, photos, and memories at an unprecedented global scale, fans will experience the World Cup like never before. This tool monitors real time traffic to the global broadcasters delivering traffic over Akamai's network."

At the time of writing, Italy seems to have a particularly strong interest in the Cup. Bear in mind that the map is not exhaustive, although Akamai reckons it carries around a fifth of the world's internet traffic.

• In recent weeks we've seen several announcements that unlimited data plans for smartphones are being phased out, on Vodafone, in the US on AT&T, then on 10 June O2 announced that data would be capped at 500Mb or 1Gb depending on your monthly price plan. According to Charles Arthur at the Guardian though, the data-hungry culprits may not be smartphone users at all:

"Closer investigation suggests that this is a sort of collateral damage from the rumblings that preceded the Digital Economy Act - that it's caused by peer-to-peer users who were perhaps worried about the "three strikes" talk, and figured that their landlines (if they have them) might be monitored or throttled if they download a lot of P2P data; or they might be surcharged."

And Arthur reckons a very small number of people have turned a smartphone contract into part of the plumbing for their home PC broadband connection, with a breathtaking impact on the phone networks:

"Those wary folk - put by one network as numbering "in the few hundreds" out of millions - have signed up on "unlimited" plans, taken the SIM out of the phone, and then use it in a 3G dongle to download stuff. Because it's unlimited, they can get what they want. And as they don't mind how quickly it arrives, the speed isn't a particular issue; they're just after volume. O2 says that 0.1% of its smartphone users - that's about 2,000 people - are consuming 36% of its data. Other networks indicate the same."

Finally, it seems some people may be prepared to go to bizarre lengths to get their hands on Apple's iPad. Two men in Arizona face drug supply charges, after allegedly offering an iPod touch and a quantity of marijuana on Craigslist, in exchange for one of the gadgets:

"After receiving a tip about the ad, which included photos of both the iPod touch and marijuana, police officers sent an e-mail purporting to be interested in the exchange. When the police met up under the pretense of completing the trade, 20-year-olds Jacob Walker and Jacob Veldare were instead arrested when Walker offered up the marijuana."

If you want to suggest links or stories for Tech Brief, you can send them to @bbctechbrief on Twitter, tag them bbctechbrief on Delicious or e-mail them to

Links in full
Darthcamaro | Slashdot | China drops in domain registrations from 2 to 4
Tim Hornyak | cnet | Solar light bulb to shine on developing world
Akamai | World Cup traffic map
Charles Arthur | The Guardian | Why file-sharing has killed 'unlimited' mobile data contracts
Lauren Indvik | Mashable | Pair Arrested for trying to trade iPod Touch and Marijuana for iPad on Craigslist

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