Archive for April, 2009

Unicom to spend US$16billion in 2009

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Unicom to spend US$16billion in 2009

After announcing a 58% increase in full-year profit thanks to the sale of its CDMA network, China Unicom is to spend RMB 110 billion (US$16 billion) on capital equipment in 2009. This represents an increase of 56%, of which 35.2% is to be spent on 3G networks and RMB23.7 billion on GSM.

In 2008 China Unicom took over fixed-line China Netcom and sold its struggling CDMA business to China Telecom as part of the nation’s telecom industry restructuring. Growth in its mobile business, fixed broadband and data communication remained strong in 2008, but traditional fixed-line continued to decline. Mobile revenue, which represented 44.1% of the company’s total revenue, grew 4.3% to RMB65.25 billion of which 24.9% derived from value added services. Its fixed broadband and data communication businesses rose 23.9% to RMB25.17 billion, while fixed-line declined 4.4% to RMB82.77 billion.

Unicom plans for its W-CDMA network to cover 55 cities by mid-2009 and expand to 284 cities nationwide by year-end. The company expects its 2G and 3G networks to cover 96% of the country’s population by 2010.

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e-health by satellite

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

TeleMedic’s new lightweight VitalLink medical vital signs monitoring system is now ready to support mobile medical data transmission after having been successfully tested over Iridium’s global satellite network. The system uses a wireless network when available, if not then it transmits through the Iridium satellites.

 

Telemedicine can now reach users in areas where there are no terrestrial wireless networks such as remote areas in Africa, Alaska or Antarctica, as well as at sea or in the air.

 

VitalLink is designed as a communication gateway between medical devices and IT systems. The system supplies healthcare works with remote access, integration of client records and an audit trail of successful or attempted access to any part of the system.

 

See: Digital Media – E-Health

 

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Sensis – 2009 e-business report

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Introduction

The 2009 Sensis e-Business Report, The Online Experience of Small and Medium Enterprises, examined a selection of SMEs and their attitudes towards, and experiences with, e-business. Research with 1,800 SMEs was undertaken in May/June 2009 across a range of online technologies, including the internet and email.

Computer equipment

Computer ownership among SMEs during 2008/09 stayed the same as 2007/08, with 97% of SMEs owning a computer of some description. This comprised a 97% ownership level for small businesses and 98% ownership for medium businesses.

While ownership of desktop computers fell marginally in the past year, this was more than offset by a very strong increase in the ownership of notebook computers, with 63% of SMEs now owning a notebook computer, compared to 61% in 2007/08.

Computer software and hardware expenditure by SMEs is expected to continue to fall in 2010 following declines of 40% in 2009, and well above the 4-6% reductions in the two previous years. Medium businesses decreased their computer expenditure by 22% in 2009.

The internet

The rate of internet connectivity among small and medium businesses continued to grow during 2009, with internet connectivity among small businesses increasing from 94% to 95%.

While 95% of all SMEs currently had internet access, only a further 1% expects to connect within the next 12 months and the remaining 4% did not expect to be connected within the next year. Around 96% of SMEs with internet access now have broadband internet access, having risen a further 2% in the past year.

The single most important reason for use of the internet (as identified by 97% of all internet-connected SMEs) remains email (to communicate with clients, customers and suppliers).

The second most important use of the internet was to look for information about products and services (92% in 2008/09, up from 89% in 2007/08), while the third highest usage was to get reference information or research data (91%, up from 84%).

For more information from the Sensis e-business survey, see separate reports:

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Europe’s fibre users doing it for themselves

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Markets which currently enjoy the highest fibre deployment in Europe are characterised by a wide range of non-telco activity, including the direct involvement of construction companies, utilities, municipal governments and real estate investors. In many respects these efforts and initiatives have shown the rest of Europe than FttH can be developed without direct State involvement, and indeed without the involvement of incumbent telcos.

The range of initiatives is an important signal to the industry that the high cost of FttH deployment (which is nevertheless being brought down year by year through technological innovation) is no barrier to network construction.

If the mantra ‘give the customer what he wants’ is sound business practice, then the leading fibre nations have also shown that customers are willing to undertake much of the mechanical (engineering) effort themselves, rather than wait for years for their local provider to undertake the work. This truly demonstrates that fibre networks can be built inexpensively from the ground up. For operators, the involvement of customers digging their own trenches to their homes is obvious – without undertaking these costs themselves they nevertheless can take advantage of being the ‘first in’ provider.

In Sweden, The Netherlands and Norway it has become normal practice for customers in rural areas to dig their own trenches. In Norway’s Stavanger muni-fibre project up to 80% of residents have dug their own trenches to fast-track the local private energy company and telecom provider Lyse Tele to lay out fibre. The company now serves more than 130,000 customers in 280 communities, and claims a take-up rate of more than 60%.

Nor are trenches hundreds of yards long, requiring the homeowner to rent digging machinery for the weekend: Lyse Tele installs fibre directly to a customer’s front yard and provides guidance (the required depth, insulation etc) on how to extend the cable to the house. Lyse Tele also benefits the customer by providing a discount on the service installation. By these pragmatic means, about 80% of customers choose to dig their own trenches. The company has also found that customers who have become involved in their own installation (thus adopting some of its value personally) stick with Lyse Telecom thereafter: customer churn is a remarkably low 0.2%. Lyse Tele has by these means grown from being a local energy provider to a true pan-Nordic operator, as well as a beacon to others in how fibre networks can be cost-effectively delivered to customers.

 

For more information, see the separate reports:

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Ten years of i-mode

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Ten years of i-mode

NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode Internet service celebrated its 10th anniversary in early 2009. The i-mode service was the first in the world to bring data communications to mobile phones. It enabled e-mail, music downloads, online shopping and stock trading, as well as facilitating a new genre of phone-based novels. i-mode shaped the way people interact, impacting Japanese society arguably as much as the personal computer and the Internet have.

However, i-mode was decidedly less successful in conventional business terms. NTT DoCoMo hoped to make the service successful overseas, but failed. As the firm’s global strategy foundered, dependent Japanese mobile phone makers also felt the pain, as they were left to squabble over the small domestic market. The manufacturers, which proved unable to compete overseas with low-cost players, are now facing consolidation.

As for the start-ups that developed content accessible through such services as i-mode, only a handful, such as DeNA and Dwango ever made it to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. In part, this was because carriers jealously guarded programs developed for their services, limiting the spread of such applications.

Yet, the i-mode business model was not entirely off-track. The bundling of services and billing is now being adopted overseas. Apple’s iPhone is a case in point. Anyone can develop its applications, but users can only download and pay at the online App Store. Google, Microsoft and Nokia have established similar systems. When it comes to the Internet, content generally is accessible free of charge, with revenues generated through advertising. However, it is notoriously difficult to make profits through this business model. As such, Apple and others have been trying to establish feasible billing systems for mobile Internet use.

Major carriers, ramping up for competition with Apple and Google, have been working to commercialise new services based on the LTE (Long Term Evolution) protocol, which could offer data transfer at optical speeds by the end of 2010. Given the way LTE works, carriers that use the protocol would be able to easily conduct billing on behalf of third-party firms.

Japan’s three leading carriers as well as most big overseas players, such as Verizon and Vodafone will use LTE for their next generation platforms. NTT DoCoMo was a pioneer in introducing i-mode and 3G phones, but nonetheless ended up isolated in the global market. Given this bitter experience, ‘we don’t plan on introducing the LTE protocol ahead of others, alone,’ said Ryuji Yamada, president of NTT DoCoMo.

While this was the Japanese experience, China is a different proposition with its home grown TD-SCDMA technology. The might of China Mobile, the largest operator not only in China but worldwide, and the support of the Chinese government will ensure that this technology succeeds. Even if this success is limited to the domestic market, the company has access to over 400 million China Mobile 2G subscribers, not to mention the annual 20% per annum subscriber growth rate still inherent in the China mobile market.

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