Archive for January, 2010

Telecoms leadership and the State of the Union

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Before, during and after his inaugural speech (January 2009) President Obama spoke of the national benefits of broadband, and the changes which have been set in motion in the US telecoms market that were unheard of even a year ago. During the previous administration the incumbent telcos and cable companies had been given more freedom. As a consequence, innovation and competition dwindled and the US was no longer a leader in telecoms. With the digital economy just around the corner the new administration clearly sees telecoms as a spearhead in its social and economic policies.

However, since that time, the White House has lost some of its initial leadership. Rather than continuing to directly lead the changes as they did before and after the Inauguration, they handed that leadership back to partisan politicians. Congress and Senate are still heavily dominated by the lobbying of the vested interests and a lot of them are more interested in their own political power, which is severely damaging the national interest of America. There is no way that under those out-of-date political arrangements these politicians can lead the country in a democratic way.

The President obviously is very much aware of this, hence his State of the Union address. The current political environment is not particularly conducive to the introduction of the serious changes that the White House are proposing, the President will have to regain leadership and has to come back with innovative policies along the lines that myself and others have been discussing with his advisors in the White House.

These policies need to be developed on a step-by-step basis, rather than just concentrating on the support of Congress – perhaps more time needs to be spent to win the support of the people. The President had and largely still has the people behind him, and he should show leadership to these people, and together with them make these steps. It will be hard for the politicians to continuously keep blocking policies that are clearly supported by the people of America.

Rather than trying to reform Washington, perhaps the White House should, in parallel, work with the people and businesses to get new innovative policies implemented. Leadership is contagious, in Australia the Liberal Opposition behaves exactly like the Republicans in the USA – they vote everything down. However the Government is supported by everybody else, they have even been able to win the support of the incumbent telco, and that will ensure that the NBN will be built in this country, despite the politics. The USA cannot afford to not make changes similar to those that are taking place in other developed telecoms markets.

Paul Budde

We have just written a new report on the current telecommunications situation in the USA:

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Brazil’s ambitious broadband plans

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Brazil’s ambitious broadband plans

With a promising economic outlook and rising prosperity, demand for broadband in Brazil is expected to soar. Telebrasil, the association of telecom operators, estimates that the country will have to invest R$215 billion (US$126 million) over the eight years from 2010, if it wishes to create a universal broadband network capable of meeting the escalating demand.

As a result, Brazil’s government has been drawing up plans to spread broadband across the vast country in one of the world’s largest infrastructure projects. There is a growing awareness that duplication is wasteful, and that it makes more sense to take advantage of existing networks.

Broadband operators have been struggling to keep up with the growing demand, which has lead to problems of system overload. In some cases, due to service faults, users have been unable to access the Internet for days. In 2008-2009, Telesp attracted a flood of user complaints over interruptions in Sao Paulo, so much so that Anatel ended up ordering the operator to suspend sales of its Speedy broadband packages for almost two months from June until August 2009.

Following this incident, the Brazilian government began to consider using the infrastructure of domestic oil firm Petrobras and of power companies Eletrobras and Furnas Centrais Eletricas (Furnas) to operate a broadband network linking Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. In August 2009, the planning ministry was contemplating the reactivation of state-run telco Telebras, sold to private investors in the late 1990s. The former incumbent would be entrusted with the management of a government-controlled broadband network.

Talks of a state-run network drove some of Brazil’s highly competitive telecom operators to band together in order to reduce the astronomical costs of setting up infrastructure. In October 2009, mobile companies Vivo and Claro and fixed line operator Embratel were rolling out a shared 4,500km fibre-optic network, which would be operational from 2010 and would cover the southern states of Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, and Santa Catarina. Each operator was deploying a 1,500km section, for which it would also ensure administration and maintenance.

In January 2010, the Brazilian government won the legal right to use an existing fibre-optic network formerly administered by electricity firm Eletronet (a subsidiary of Eletrobras). Eletronet entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2005 and became involved in a judicial battle with the government over the use of its assets. The Eletronet network is about 17,000km long. The government’s idea is to create an intranet network connecting public databases at federal, state, and municipal level, serve schools, city halls, police, public banks, and other bodies.

In November 2009, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) outlined an ambitious project to reduce the digital gap in the region by making broadband a public good guaranteed by each state. The Brazilian government, however, has stressed that it does not want to take the place of private enterprise, but it does want broadband to be made available throughout Brazil. For this purpose, it will step in where needed, while at the same time, it invites private companies to observe the country’s huge potential broadband market and take advantage of this promising investment opportunity.

See also: Brazil – Internet and Broadband Market – Overview, Statistics & Forecasts

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Laos to get Chinese-built satellite

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The government of Laos and a Chinese business group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding

(MoU) to invest in a satellite business joint venture in Laos. The proposed joint venture, which aims to launch the satellite into orbit by 2013, is between the Lao National Authority for Science and Technology (NAST) and the China Asia Pacific Mobile Communications Company Limited (China- APMT). The project, which will see Laos’ first ever satellite launched, is expected to cost about US$250 million. The construction of the satellite will be carried out by China-APMT and funded by loans from the Chinese government.

As part of the agreement, a ground control station will be built in the Lao capital Vientiane, while tracking and transmission stations will be constructed in some northern, central, and southern provinces to ensure that satellite signals reach every part of the country as well as linking it with the rest of the world.

Also see:

Laos – Telecoms Market Overview, Statistics & Forecasts

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Thailand’s 3G licences delayed indefinitely

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Thailand’s planned auction of 3G mobile service licences will be delayed indefinitely until four new nominees to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) have royal endorsement. The Bureau of the Royal Household has returned the names of the nominees to the Cabinet Secretariat for further review, causing the delay. One nominee, Col. Natee Sukolrat, is currently under investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. The seven-member NTC board had hoped to auction the 3G licences in the first quarter of 2010, although the industry had already been expecting an even longer delay. Thailand will be among the last countries in Southeast Asia to fully adopt 3G technology.

Also see:

Thailand – Mobile Communications – Market Overview;

Thailand – Mobile Communications – Major Operators;

Thailand – Key Statistics, Telecommunications Market and Regulatory Overview.

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AIS plans expansion in Thailand

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Thailand’s leading mobile phone operator, Advanced Info Service plans to invest US$335 million to expand its network in 2010. With Thailand’s telecoms industry expected to grow by 3-5% this year, roughly in line with growth in the Thai economy, total mobile phone subscriptions are forecast to increase by around four million. AIS is targetting 1.5 million net new subscribers, similar to its 2009 increase. At the end of 2009, AIS had 28.5 million subscribers.

In the meantime, AIS has revised its 3G investment plans after repeated delays in the timetable for the proposed auction for 3G licences; however, it said it would join with state-owned TOT to launch a 3G service in certain parts of the country in February. TOT is presently the only operator with a licence to operate a 3G service. Private operators are waiting for the industry regulator to issue new licences.

Also see:

Thailand – Mobile Communications – Market Overview;

Thailand – Mobile Communications – Major Operators;

Thailand – Key Statistics, Telecommunications Market and Regulatory Overview.

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