Archive for April, 2004

DRAMATIC DROP IN FILM PRODUCTION

Saturday, April 24th, 2004

Feature film and TV drama production in Australia dropped in 2002/03 for the first time in eight years, according to the annual National Drama Production Survey released today by the Australian Film Commission. Total expenditure in Australia fell by 23%from $663 million to $513 million.

The total number of feature films made in Australia in 2002/03 was 26, down from 39 in 2001/02. The largest decline was in Australian feature productions – down from 30 to 19 – with co-productions holding steady at 2 and foreign features falling from 7 to 5.

The value of Australian film and TV drama production decreased overall by 21%, from $343 million to $271 million. Feature production fell by 63% from $131 million to $49 million, due largely to a lack of foreign-financed local features in this year’s survey and a drop more generally in foreign investment.

There were no Australian features with budgets over $10 million this year (compared to three last year and two the year before), and only one in the $6-10 million range (three in each of the last two years). Two films were made as co-productions this year and both had budgets of more than $10 million.

While local television drama production has remained relatively steady over the past four years there was a dramatic fall in the area of adult TV drama co-productions made primarily for the international market. This has led to an overall downturn in expenditure in the foreign adult TV drama production sector of 50%, from $102 million in 2001/02 down to $51 million in 2002/2003.

These results are of great concern and a reminder of just how fragile Australian film and television production is. A downtown in the availability of funding both from overseas and within Australia, coupled with a downturn in the foreign production sector, has reduced the size of feature film and TV drama production by almost a quarter.

The Australian film and television industry remains critically important to ensuring Australians enjoy a rich, vibrant cultural heritage. It is also an industry, which continues to project Australia to the world and launch Australian creative talent into the global marketplace. With the US Congress considering providing over US$500 million of tax breaks to their own industry and as negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the US draw to a conclusion, these figures underscore the importance of on-going support from the Australian Government through both regulation and subsidy if our local industry is to survive against the Goliath of the US audiovisual industry.

See also:
Australia – Film Market
Australia – Broadband – Content
Australia – Cinema and Video Industry

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LATIN AMERICAN INTERNET USERS, A STATISTICAL ANALYSIS – APRIL 2004

Thursday, April 1st, 2004

According to InternetWorldStats, at end-2004 Uruguay ranked first in Internet user penetration at 34.5%, Costa Rica ranked second at 27.9%, and Chile came third at 25.8%.

According to a report by UNCTAD in December 2004, Chile ranked first in Latin America for Internet penetration, and Costa Rica ranked second.

According to individual country regulators and telecom companies, and allowing for growth in the case of older data, Uruguay would rank first at 38%, Puerto Rico second at 30%, Chile third at 29% and Costa Rica fourth at 27%.

The latest official figure for Uruguay, provided by the monopoly telco in that country, is for 2003, and shows a massive 98% growth from the ITU figure of 600 Internet users in 2002.

There are considerable differences in the Internet user statistics provided by various sources, and also in the methods used by each country’s regulator to assess Internet usage.

For example, the generally accepted figure of 18.6 million Internet users for Brazil at end-2004, as provided by Ibope/NetRatings, only includes dial-up residential users, while most other Latin American countries include office and residential users, dial-up and broadband, in their Internet user and penetration figures.

For Brazil, if we add an estimated number of dial-up office users and broadband users, we obtain a figure of around 37.5 million total Internet users, with a per-capita penetration of 21%.

This reassessment of Brazilian cyber use, together with the fact that Internet users for many Latin American countries are based on old data (due to lack of systematic records), would considerably increase InternetWorldStats’ figure of 56 million regional users for 2004, and in fact be more in the region of 80 million total Internet users in Latin America.

See also:
Latin America – Data, Internet, Broadband and E-Services;
Brazil – Data, Internet, Broadband and E-Services;
Chile – Convergence, Broadband and Internet market;
Costa Rica – Telecoms Market Overview & Statistics;
Puerto Rico – Telecoms Market Overview & Statistics;
Uruguay – Telecoms Market Overview & Statistics.

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CONFLICTING NATIONAL FTTH PLANS IN THE NETHERLANDS — APRIL 2004

Thursday, April 1st, 2004

In my birth country, the Netherlands, utilities have always played a key role in new infrastructure. When I was a teenager, our street was broken up and the local electricity company PNEM rolled out a cable TV network. For over a decade more than 95% of Dutch households have been cabled and, with the advances in technology over the last five years, many households now have two broadband networks coming into their houses – one based on cable TV/modems and one based on telco/DSL.

This early start, in turn, has stimulated the development of nextgen infrastructure based on FTTH. There are a few government-funded projects, as well as pilots set up by KPN, the Dutch incumbent.

Regulatory conditions are favourable and intense competition between incumbent KPN and a number of alternative DSL and cable modem service providers is now leading to a potential national alliance for a shared ownership of FTTH infrastructure.

KPN is trying to stall this by conducting a drawn out trial project in The Hague, but regulatory pressure and the combined market strength of the cable operators could force KPN to capitulate and share in a nationwide construction project. However, KPN is now suggesting a plan of its own called ‘Delta Plan’ for FTTH. The Big Delta plan, which was established following a serious flood in 1953, saw the country building the largest waterworks in the world, aimed at preventing the sea from entering the Low Countries in the Rhine Delta. An infrastructure plan of similar proportions for FTTH has now been suggested by KPN. At a presentation in the Netherlands in October I congratulated KPN on showing such admirable foresight; however, at the same time, I questioned whether the incumbent was the appropriate entity to run such a project. They have suggested that the cable TV companies should throw in their infrastructure into that of KPN.

The KPN plan has consequently been criticised by the regulator for being obstructive. This doesn’t seem to bode well for a cohesively structured project and I would strenuously urge the Dutch government to take the lead, not one of the players that has a vested interest in promoting its own business interests.

I also indicated that such a national FTTH roll-out would require an investment of around €7.5 billion.

Paul Budde

See also:
Netherlands – Broadband Networks and Services;
Global – Broadband – FTTH first deployments.

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FTTH IN SWEDEN — APRIL 2004

Thursday, April 1st, 2004

Sweden is leading the way, on the back of a government drive to take broadband to the nation. Now there are a number of municipal fibre networks, and the government is putting pressure on the long-distance utility providers to lay fibre that can interconnect those local networks. Despite the emerging competition, the incumbent carrier TeliaSonera has only invested sparsely.

One of the largest players in this area is the alternative telco, Bredbandsbolaget AB, and players interested in broadband should take a close look at this very successful innovator.

Sollentuna Energi is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sollentuna City, providing electricity, district cooling and heating. The company is trialling a fibre-to-the-home system based on open access, with wholesale services to multiple service providers. Some of the early providers include: Telenordia, Internet 5, Tiscali and Tele2.

The network allows these operators to deliver a range of services such as:
TV and movies-on-demand;
Computer Games;
Intranet for local information;
Telephony.

The infrastructure is available to 12,000 homes and businesses, and by late 2003 it had 4,500 subscribers, comprised of a mix of business and residential users.

On a smaller scale, the village of Matgrand in Sweden decided to build its own fibre network among residents, including a fibre link out to the Internet backbone. The network provides 100Mb/s links to residents, who may otherwise have had to wait years for the fast network to expand out to them.

See also:
Sweden – Internet and Broadband Market Overview;
Global – Broadband – FTTH first deployments.

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VODACOM’S GROWTH IN MOZAMBIQUE EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS – APRIL 2004

Thursday, April 1st, 2004

Vodacom Mozambique has signed up 60,000 subscribers during its first four months of operation, exceeding expectations by 50%. The strongest growth was experienced in the most recent month, indicating an even faster development in the future.

The company launched its GSM mobile service in December 2003, delayed from the originally planned launch date in April due to disagreements with the government and mainly state-owned competitor mCel on a range of issues, including tariffs and interconnection. mCel has signed up around 400,000 subscribers during its six years of operation since late 1997.

Besides Mozambique and its home market in South Africa, Vodacom has mobile operations in Lesotho, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a combined subscriber base of more than eight million. It has also been awarded a licence to operate in Zambia where, however, similar scuffles to the ones in Mozambique have prevented a launch so far.

See also:
Mozambique;
Vodacom Group (Pty).

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