Archive for April, 2007

China Travelblog April 2007 – Revisiting Nanjing and Shanghai

Monday, April 30th, 2007

China Telecom IPTV workshop
Just over a week ago I attended the above workshop, in the ancient imperial city of Nanjing in China, and also in the vibrant city of Shanghai.

The event was organised by the national telco, China Telecom, and its supplier ZTE. Situated in the Yangtze Delta, Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu Province, the third most prosperous province in China. It is a pretty city; it has seven million inhabitants but doesn’t have the chaotic atmosphere of Shanghai or Beijing. Also, the old culture is still evident through the cracks in the overwhelming modernisation processes.

IPTV Workshop

Shanghai capitalism
Shanghai continues to grow, officially placing its population at close to 18 million people. Including ‘íllegals’ and commuters, it is estimated that on week days the city has some 23 million within its boundaries.

I think I can also safely say that it is the most capitalistic town on earth. GDP of the city is US$114 billion and the city rivals the USA in the amount of advertising money that goes around in its market.

The use of digital media is all-pervasive. On the Hangpu River there are now gigantic floating HDTV plasma screens, and flat screens, with or without multimedia, are in lifts, cabs, on all major roads intersections and so on.

Adult entertainment is emerging also. Who would ever have thought that this could happen in China?

The economy continues booming and, while some people question how long this will last, to me it looks pretty unstoppable; and it is essential if China is to improve the lives of the one billion or so rural population. In any case, there are plenty of people that can be ‘fed’ into the economy and many companies have their own college or university to guarantee supply.

Social disconnection
Under this blatant capitalism much is being sacrificed to maintain this growth. The social structure, in metropolitan China at least, is fairly uncaring on a personal level; one could argue that the government’s unfeeling attitude is a bad example. I also believe this is partly the legacy of the Mao period (which is still largely not a welcome topic for discussion in China).

I have reported from previous trips that the level of social welfare in healthcare and education remains poor (too expensive for the average person) and pollution is rampant – not just from cars and factories, but also because of the throw-away society.

Rural disenfranchisement
However, the main problem for rural China is that, for the sake of progress, local and state governments can basically do what they want. This means that millions of people are thrown off their land, all justified in the name of economic development, while land and property developers are becoming overnight millionaires.

Because of poor landownership laws rural people have practically no rights. In what I see as yet another half-hearted attempt the central government has again warned that this is illegal, but I have heard them say that before.

Structural changes are needed in the government, which is currently very heavily influenced by corruption. I see these elements as the major problem for the government.

The joys of a morning jog
Nevertheless, when I go out on my usual morning jog, China is a special place. I enjoy taking my morning exercise in different countries, but China really is special. In any park, early in the morning, you can mingle with the people doing tai chi, sometimes with swords and shawls. There are drummers and people that style dance. A few jog as well, but that is quite unusual. Mingling with all these people provides a natural connection that, using smiles and nods, crosses languages and cultures.

Pollution fueled by Australian coal
Pollution in Shanghai was still bad – I don’t think it has got any better over the last few years, which is a bad omen as , in the not-too-distant future, China will probably be the world’s largest polluter, happily fueled by Australian coal.

Expo 2010
While Beijing has Olympic fever, in Shanghai they are talking about the World Expo in 2010, and I saw a fabulous virtual multimedia presentation in a round cinema in the Museum of Urban Development. For those who read my ‘Second Life’ blog last week, this virtual presentation was just another development of the same trend, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that virtual presentation is turned into a Web 2.0 application on the Internet.

China’s digital media leadership
The city has well over two million broadband users and close to four million cable TV users. From a business point of view this trip was all about IPTV and video broadband. I have written two reports on those topics.

New Report: China – IPTV and video broadband market in 2007
China’s first IPTV services were launched by Shanghai Telecom in 2005. Some of you might recall that I reported on this subject during my visit to China around that time.

Jiangsu Telecom is set to become the next major player and both companies are subsidiaries of China Telecom. Shanghai’s IPTV system now has around 150,000 users, of which at least 80% are commercial users. However, the platform used here is a standalone IPTV service, concentrating on TV services.

The licence-holder for IPTV in this service is the Shanghai Broadcasting Corporation, and, as well as the Shanghai service, it operates nine other IPTV systems, including the service in Shanghai. The media company has 300,000 IPTV users.

I also visited their impressive control centre from which all ten systems are operated.

Table of contents:
China in global IPTV top five
Jiangsu IPTV project
Exhibit 1 – Jiangsu IPTV application
Shanghai Telecom and BesTV
Case studies
Working with the Chinese bureaucracy
Forever changing technologies
Finding the right business models
IPTV In the global context
The ‘April crisis’
4Mb/s for regional users
The mobile problem in China
Tight content control opportunities for Web TV

See new report: China – IPTV and video broadband market in 2007

New Report: Global Digital Media – IPTV and video broadband analysis 2007
Various trips during 2006 and 2007 have provided us with a unique insight into the developments in this market.

In only a few instances do we see an opportunity for IPTV – the reality is that the telcos will find it pretty tough competing with cable and pay TV operators. However, as PCCW has shown, it can be done.

Most of the others will have to look for broadband video opportunities. Fastweb is leading the market and we expect interesting developments in China as well. Business models will also depend on NGN/IMS infrastructure and these networks are still a few years off.

We estimate that the current market of five million will grow to 25 million users by 2010. Separately, we expect a much more rapid growth for web TV.

In the consumer electronic market a quarter of all new TV sales (40 million sets a year) are now flat screens, and HDTV is 2.5% of all sales. There are 52 million broadband (70% DSL) users. The figure for DVD usage is one of the highest in the world and 150,000 households are already connected to fibre-to-the home networks. So the country is not only ready to play a key role in the global digital media market – it is, at the same time, positioning itself as a global leader.

Table of Contents
The future of IPTV
Table 1 – Global overview of key IPTV players
Table 2 – Top 5 IPTV providers by subscribers – 2007
Case studies
Introduction
PCCW Hong Kong
Table 3 – Rapid growth of NOW subscribers 2003 -2007
France
Netherlands
Fastweb Italy
Business Models
No one size fits all solutions
The pay TV business model
Event staging opportunities
Telcos vs. media companies
Value added multimedia
Web TV
Choices to be made

See new report: Global Digital Media – IPTV and video broadband analysis 2007

Can we keep pace?
I visit China on a regular basis, and it never fails to amaze me how quickly things change there. In many instances I feel that we in the western world just keep mulling things over that we have been discussing for decades. We talk a lot, but in China they are doing a lot.

China was celebrating the Spring Festival (another massive commercial activity) and one of the snack manufacturers (with a name you would only see in China – The Want Want Group) was issuing a coupon that allowed customers to download a game onto their mobile phone. This has been an overwhelming success and is being featured in many newspapers. Just think of the advertising value of this PR alone!

Paul Budde

China Reports
For Web Reports on China see: China;
For Annual Reports on China see:- Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in China

ZTE Office complex

Shanghai Media Group

China Telecom

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cityNEX Telemetric Media Information Pty Ltd

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Telemetric Media Information (TMI) has created an interoperable wireless system with the ability to span multi-city or multi-state jurisdictions. The network will enable local residents, local businesses and local city and government officials from city, state and federal agencies and services, to communicate with each other and their counterparts inter-city and interstate, in real time.

The integrated City Wireless nexus (cityNEX) is designed to provide the city, police, fire-fighters, transportation officials, airports, ports and other authorised emergency personnel with wireless access to multiple government and non-government data sources during critical incidents. As a large chunk (if not all) of the system is paid for by the part or parts used by local business and residents through advertising, most cities and government departments can install the system at an extremely low or neutral cost to themselves.

Private and official frequencies are encrypted and isolated from each other so that crossover communication cannot occur unless deliberately requested by the user or prompted by the Officer in Charge in the event of crisis. Implementing cityNEX will have no impact on any other telecommunication or wireless communication systems already in place in any city.

The company has completed its pilot phase negotiated with the City of Stirling in the Greater Perth area of Western Australia and as a result will commence its commercial phase during the 2006/07 financial year.

The first stage of the commercial process will commence in Western Australia with the launching of streeTV, (a network of large format electronic posters based on TMI’s Alpha prototype; (NEXiPoster) erected in Cedric Street, (City of Stirling), in 1998 and tested and improved through to 2005.

StreeTV has attracted the attention of a News Ltd subsidiary and will be juxtaposition with local news print publications to form the world’s first electronic street publication.

The use of TMI’s proprietary wireless broadband connectivity (AirFibre) establishes a wireless link between the streeTV screens throughout WA and the publisher allowing seamless distribution of messages and advertisements. In addition to the standard advertising fair, the streeTV network also has the provision for ‘simulcasting’, that is, it would be possible for radio networks to transmit vision, (say music videos) to streeTV while at the same time, broadcast the soundtrack on station.

During 2003 TMI installed long range AirFibre transmission technology to wirelessly connect its pilot site (situated in the suburb of Innaloo) to the Mirrabooka police station to test the viability of tracking people and vehicles through the streets. The test involved the wireless (and seamless) distribution of live vision from multiple cameras to the central server based at Mirrabooka. The combination of TMI’s tracking and broadcasting technologies provides an ideal solution for the Amber Alert initiative, which was the primary focus of this particular evaluation.

As a direct result of these tests, a further dynamic has been added to streeTV in that, each screen shall contain a cluster of cameras and the same software package (NEXiTrack) used in the police trials will be used to track and count audience dynamics, in real-time, and provided clients audits to 99.99% accuracy.

TMI’s commercial incubation in WA is expected to last through to 2007 and thereafter rollout to greater Australia and the world is anticipated.

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Comdek Satellite Communications

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Comdek is a VSAT provider operating wholly-owned Ku- and C-band Earth stations from its premises in West Perth and elsewhere in Australia. The company offers satellite coverage for all of Australia and for overseas (Asia, Europe and Africa).

Comdek specialises in rapid rollout, trailer mounted, VSAT systems offering up to half E1 telephony and/or high-speed data. The units are self-contained with integrated PABX, handsets, router, switch, patch panel and battery backup – as well as all transmission equipment. Lightening protection and earthing are standard. As there is no need for equipment to be unpacked and stored inside a building or caravan at site, units can be ready for service within an hour of arriving at site. Field units are available for rent or purchase on short to long term service contracts.

In late 2004 Comdek announced plans to dramatically increase its range of satellite services. In addition to its larger, dedicated bandwidth systems, the company will offer 1-way and 2-way Internet over satellite systems with voice options. The low capital and operating cost of these units will strongly appeal to advanced private customers or sites requiring Internet access – especially when there is a requirement for voice and/or fax services.

Comdek’s present and past clients include large companies such as BHP Billiton, Robe River (RioTinto), Sons of Gwalia and Fluor, as well as major contracting firms such as MacMahon and Compass/Eurest. Services include fully reticulated telephony systems, high-speed corporate data links, Internet services, ‘own brand’ phone and Internet kiosk card systems and so on. Drawing upon the company’s 18 year history, Comdek can also supply PCs, servers and peripherals as well as ISP services such as corporate broadband DSL.

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Sensis – Analysis – December 2005

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

In November 2005 Sensis announced it would double its revenue base to $3 billion within five years, supported by what it claims new consumer offerings.

The company intends to target eBay style-markets by facilitating direct sales between buyers and sellers via its Trading Post operations and enhancing functionality with special features such as the ability to upload an image of a product for sale via camera phone directly to a Trading Post listing.

Sensis also claimed to be targeting overseas markets, but claimed no intention of focussing on M&A activity.

New proposed offerings include:

• A new Yellow Pages mini directory for consumers on the move.

• In 2006 the Yellow Pages OnLine consumer service will allow buyers to not only find products in specific segments, but also compare and contrast them, view special offers, make bookings, get quotes, pay bills and receive other information relevant to their personal profile.

• Sensis 1234 voice service is the first phone service in Australia to provide movies and weather information via the operator and SMS.

• Buyers will be able to use a mobile phone to search the Sensis network for movie times and venues, then purchase a ticket and receive an SMS with the movie’s location and time. They’ll be able to conduct a similar search on Sensis 1234, the Telstra and Sensis online sites, via their in-car Whereis navigation system, or via a wireless device.

• A prototype consumer-to-consumer transaction functionality has been added to tradingpost.com.au. This new capability allows consumers to contact a seller by phone or email, buy online or make an offer. In the future, consumers will be able to do the same transaction on wireless devices.

• In 2006 Sensis will launch a new Trading Post Automotive site leveraging its significant automotive content and usage through existing assets like Trading Post, Yellow Pages, White Pages, Whereis and Telstra’s BigPond.

The value of these individual assets will be further undermined because of Telstra’s flawed growth strategies. It will be far more difficult for Sensis to spearhead itself into the Internet economy in a few years’ time, whereas it has a golden opportunity at the moment.

The same applies to triple play models. Now is the time for Telstra Retail to move into this market; the reality will be that by mid-2006 it will come up with the wrong business models – ones that will be aimed at protecting its old businesses, not exploring the new opportunities that triple play has to offer.

Wholesale is perhaps suffering the most, as this is one of the fastest growth markets globally, while in Australia it is going backwards.

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Wireless broadband for emergency services

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

A prototype of a new digital wireless node was expected to be ready for pilot trials with Australian and US public transport and public safety agencies by mid-2005. Developed by researchers at the University of South Australia, the Cohda Wireless technology enables users to send and receive high quality data, video images and voice communications at about 20 times the current data transfer rates.

Ambulance or police vehicles in emergency situations will be able to drive at high speeds while receiving audible timely instructions that could save the lives of patients being transported to hospital or to transmit incident video footage or other information from the field to command stations. Current technology used by emergency services is generally limited to communicating while stationary or travelling at low speeds.

The network is created by fixing small boxes with antennas to street light poles, bus stops or other structures that require power but no other direct connection for Internet or other wireless access. A box is also placed in each vehicle so that users can communicate by accessing boxes in the network that link via the Internet or other access to their required destination.

It is planned to make the boxes relatively cheap and have enough boxes or nodes in the network to get continuous coverage across the network. Data collected from the boxes can be sent through the Internet link to anywhere in the world.

Although the technology is designed for LANs rather than state-wide applications, there is a flexibility of deployment. If there was a major disaster in a rural area, boxes could be taken to the affected area and run off battery or generator power to produce an instant communications network.

Like the Internet, it enables any number of users to plug into it and use it. At any time the network can be extended to a wider area by adding more boxes. If one box fails, it will not affect the network as long as enough boxes are working.

The benefit for police and other emergency services is that a third party to provide the infrastructure for communications will not be needed. They could operate over a secure link from their base operations out into their blanket network of boxes on poles and in vehicles. With considerably greater bandwidth available, it is estimated that using the network, officers could write and submit reports while in the field.

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