Archive for February, 2001

THE WORLD WIDE WEB – FEBRUARY 2001

Thursday, February 1st, 2001

A new WebSideStory survey indicates that 54.95% of Web users are not Americans, with 5.6% in Germany, 5% in Canada, 4.6% in South Korea, and 4.3% in Japan.

As the Internet develops, English will give way as the dominant language. Chinese, French, German, and other languages will generate Webs of their own, available only to those who speak thelanguage and understand the culture.

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SLOW PROGRESS US TELCO REFORMS – FEBRUARY 2001

Thursday, February 1st, 2001

The 1996 US Telecommunications Act has its 5th birthday in February 2001. The Consumers Union took advantage of the anniversary to critise the law, which it claims clearly fails to deliver the benefits that Congress and the White House promised consumers.

The Consumers Union, with the support of the Consumer Federation of America, claimed that since the act became law, cable rates have risen nearly three times as fast as inflation. Most of the local phone service market still belongs to regional companies, which has shrunk from seven companies in 1996 into just four today due to mergers. The biggest players have refused to open their markets, refused to negotiate in good faith, litigated every nook and cranny of the law, and avoided head-to-head competition.

Policymakers must stop offensive cable pricing practices, and open up new avenues for cable competition. Lawmakers must identify high-speed Internet access, whether provided by cable or telephone companies, as a telecommunications service and implement an obligation to provide nondiscriminatory access to the networks.

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VODSL – FEBRUARY 2001

Thursday, February 1st, 2001

Voice over DSL is a derivative of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology, which is currently being deployed in several countries worldwide. DSL enables the existing copper wires to transmit data at substantially faster speeds than possible by modem, typically up to forty times faster than an industry standard 56k modem. Voice over DSL extends DSL’s capabilities by encoding several voice or fax calls as data, and using the enormous bandwidth inherent in DSL to transmit up to 20 calls simultaneously with very high speed data. (VoDSL differs from ADSL – which also permits voice and data to be shared over the same phone line- in that ADSL as currently offered by Telstra transmits data only, and uses standard analogue telephony techniques to transmit voice signals. It is therefore limited to a single voice or fax call. In VoDSL, both voice and data are transmitted digitally, and multiple voice or fax calls may be made simultaneously.

VoDSL is deployed in the same way as other DSL technologies. A DSLAM (DSL Access Multiplexer) is placed in the telephone company’s exchange, and an IAD (Integrated Access Device) is installed in the customer’s premises.

An IAD typically has an Ethernet port, and between four and twenty telephone ports, to which the user connects standard analogue telephones (or a small PABX). The user experience when making a call is exactly the same as when using standard telephony: the only difference is that 20 or more calls may be made over the same line simultaneously.

VoDSL is only now being deployed in the US, and is led by competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) such as Picus. Furthermore, although Covad, Northpoint and Rhythms focussed initially on data applications such as wholesale internet access, each has recently announced plans to adopt VoDSL.

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PRIMESTAR COMMUNICATIONS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD – FEBRUARY 2001

Thursday, February 1st, 2001

The Australian Broadcasting Authority has allocated seventy subscription television broadcasting licences to Primestar Communications Australia Pty Ltd (Primestar).

Primestar has indicated that it proposes to deliver a range of programs including subjects such as sports, movies, entertainment, documentaries, information, news (international and domestic), cartoons, education, music and youth culture.

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LOCAL LOOP UNBUNDLING COMES TO A GRINDING HALT IN EUROPE – FEBRUARY 2001

Thursday, February 1st, 2001

In Europe, the prerequisite unbundling of the copper loop is proceeding slowly, and piecemeal, country by country. The push for unbundling is being driven by the European Commission, but the national regulators and their local incumbents are complying slowly. Most incumbents have a strong incentive to walk backwards slowly. What you have to have is regulatory authorities committed to driving the pace of change. New EU legislation is now aimed at imposing harmonized timetables across the region. Further directives which would give the Commission greater powers to enforce these laws are currently also being considered by the European Parliament.

Germany is the furthest advanced of the large countries, with several competitive, nationwide DSL deployments (such as Firstmark) currently being built. But even in Germany, which initiated the process two years ago, and strides ahead of the rest of the continent in terms of local loop competition, only 1.94% of total lines have DSL equipment. In the other countries surveyed, the number is under 1%.

Pan-European deployment is even more cumbersome. Potential DSL CLECs have to negotiate separately with each incumbent and national regulator, each following different agendas. This combines with the slow pace of rollout, makes marketing very difficult for the new entrant.

Industry pressure group ECTA (the European Competitive Telecommunications Association) has compiled an ‘unbundling scorecard’ which rates 14 EU countries (excluding Luxembourg) according to their progress in opening up exchanges and deploying DSL.

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