Archive for February, 2011

TIO breaks another telecoms complaints record

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Telco complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) have increased by 9% in the last quarter taking them above their record highs in 2009.

The TIO received an average of 671 calls per day in the last six months, with a 20% increase in complaints about mobile phone services.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) have asked why customers need to contact the Ombudsman in order to get telco’s to resolve customer service and complaint handling problems. ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin has said that there is no other industry that has failed its customers so comprehensively over such an extended period of time.

ACCAN is asking the ACMA to introduce a complaint-handling standard to bring the industry into line. ACCAN says now is a crucial time for the telco industry, with the ACMA due to report on its “Reconnecting the Customer” inquiry into poor customer service by telco’s, sparked by a large rise in complaints in 2009 and early 2010.

In October 2009, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy described rising complaints figures as an “absolute shocker” and promised to legislate to “crack down” on telcos if there wasn’t a significant improvement in complaint statistics.

See also: Australia – National Broadband Network – Consumer guide

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Triple play in telecoms

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Broadband providers are taking the lead

Apart from TransACT and Adam Internet, very little is happening in Australia. Elsewhere there are some 60 countries with triple play operators; the leaders are found in Europe and SE Asia.

This is a further vindication for people who have long advocated the importance of broadband infrastructure for telco companies. Over the last few years the phrase ‘build and they will come’ was seen as a big ‘no-no’ by financial analysts, who were only interested in lucrative share prices.

BuddeComm are not saying that the industry doesn’t need to be prudent – quite the opposite – but without infrastructure there won’t be a great deal of new development. Only NGNs based on an IP and broadband infrastructure can facilitate the development of new and innovative services – services that will benefit users (as they offer very interesting lifestyle improvements) and will also be good for the economy, adding at least a few percentage points to GDP over the next five to ten years.

We were lucky that we had an application (high-speed Internet access) which allowed the industry to kick-start the broadband market. However, as broadband infrastructure penetration levels rise above 50% of total population, mainstream companies have increasingly embraced the medium and are now set to deliver an increasing number of innovative services over those networks.

The next important development is the building of a range of competing applications over these networks. Triple play should not be used to build new monopolies and/or strengthen existing ones. Only with an network based on open access principles will content and services providers be able to build new businesses and thus add value to their own business models, as well as to customer services.

For more information, see separate reports:

 

 

 

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International benchmarking

Monday, February 28th, 2011

An OECD report published in September 2005 titled Multiple Play: Pricing and Policy Trends (this is the latest data available, and no further updates have been released) has revealed that an analysis of 87 providers in the 30 OECD countries found that:

  • Triple play services were available in 23 countries of the OECD and from 48 of the providers surveyed in the report.
  • These triple play services were available on all main types of wired infrastructure: telecommunication lines, cable and fibre.
  • A further 10 providers in 9 countries offered double-play packages of broadband and video over cable television networks.
  • The remaining 29 firms in 21 countries offered double-play services of (voice and data) over ADSL.

The wide variety of multiple play offerings across the OECD makes it difficult to compare countries; however some comparisons can be made from the following table.

Triple play services are available on over half of the cable and fibre networks examined:

  • Nearly 66% of the 29 cable networks examined offered triple play services.
  • In contrast, only 44% of 50 telecommunication networks offered triple play services.
  • Seven out of eight (88%) of the fibre network providers had a triple play offering.

Percentage of operators globally offering unlimited nationwide fixed line calls – 2005

Type of network Percentage of operators offering unlimited nationwide fixed line calls
ADSL 32%
Cable 35%
Fibre 29%

(Source: OECD report: ‘Multiple Play: Pricing and Policy Trends’, September 2005)

Triple play pricing with per-minute call charges – 2005

Company Type Country Price US$ (PPP*) Price US$ Down speed

(Mb/s)

Bit Cap (MB) No of TV channels
Yahoo! BB Fibre Japan 29.27 39.22 100 100,000 24
NTT West Fibre Japan 44.93 60.20 100   21
Weiho Cable Finland 48.59 61.71 6   12
Elisa ADSL Finland 50.62 64.28 8   12
Auna Cable Spain 54.40 51.13 2   50
KT Fibre Korea 62.81 54.01 100   44
J:COM Cable Japan 73.28 98.20 30   100
Com Hem Cable Sweden 73.49 90.39 8   35
Simmin ADSL Iceland 78.29 126.05 6   10
Sonera ADSL Finland 87.54 111.18 24   12
Aliant ADSL Canada 90.14 94.65 5   70
Bell Canada ADSL Canada 92.17 96.77 5   53
BigPond ADSL Australia 92.54 99.01 1.5 10,000 33
AON ADSL Austria 93.78 105.03 2 15,000 13
TCNZ ADSL New Zealand 95.50 101.23 2 10,000 36
Telefónica ADSL Spain 95.84 90.09 1   48
Telenet Cable Belgium 99.33 109.26 10 30,000 43
UPC Cable Netherland 105.32 116.91 20.5   38
Bredbandsbolaget Fibre Sweden 105.93 130.30 100 300,000 39
Optus Cable Australia 107.16 114.66 2.9 12,000 32
UPC Cable Austria 110.95 124.27 16.4   90
AR Telecom ADSL Portugal 111.11 92.22 5.1 20,000 21
Coditel Cable Luxembourg 115.68 128.41 4 20,000 50
KPN ADSL Netherlands 118.10 131.09 8   24
Cabovisao Cable Portugal 120.53 100.04 8 60,000 48
UPC Norway Cable Norway 136.13 202.83 26   38
TelstaClear Cable New Zealand 137.08 145.31 10 10,000 30
EPT ADSL Luxembourg 140.20 155.63 3 25,000 51
UPC Cable Hungary 275.85 182.06 5.1 60,000 54

(Source: OECD report: ‘Multiple Play: Pricing and Policy Trends’, September 2005)

Note: *=Purchasing Power Parity

Double play pricing (voice and data) with per-minute call charges – 2005

Company
(top ten)
Type Country Price US$ (PPP*) Price US$ Down speed

(Mb/s)

Bit Cap (MB)
Arcor ADSL Germany 48.23 54.98 6  
Og Vodafone ADSL Iceland 49.89 80.33 6 2,000
Dial Telecom ADSL Slovak Rep 50.44 29.76 0.5  
T-Com ADSL Germany 54.66 62.31 6  
Hanaro ADSL Korea 55.74 47.94 50  
Glocalnet ADSL Sweden 56.11 69.02 24  
Versatel ADSL Belgium 63.50 69.85 1 500
Jazztel ADSL Spain 70.08 65.88 4  
Internode ADSL Australia 70.40 75.33 24 30,000
OTE ADSL Greece 71.92 64.73 1  

(Source: OECD report: ‘Multiple Play: Pricing and Policy Trends’, September 2005)

Note: *=Purchasing Power Parity

Bit caps and corresponding service limits from off-network sources – 2005

Country Company
(top ten)
Bit Cap (MB) Video 2Mb/s (minutes) Voice call 64Kb/s (minutes) Podcasts 30 min downloads DIVX Video

1.5 hr downloads

Belgium Versatel 0.5 32 1,042 17 1
Iceland Og Vodafone 2 129 4,167 67 3
Portugal AR Telecom 6 388 12,500 200 9
Portugal Portugal Tel. 8 517 16,667 267 11
Portugal TV Cabo 8 517 16,667 267 11
Australia BigPond 10 646 20,833 333 14
New Zealand Telecom 10 646 20,833 333 14
New Zealand TelstraClear 10 646 20,833 333 14
Australia Optus 12 775 25,000 400 17
Austria AON 15 969 31,250 500 21

(Source: OECD report: ‘Multiple Play: Pricing and Policy Trend, September 2005)

 

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Another earthquake strikes NZ

Monday, February 28th, 2011

New Zealand sits on the edge of the Pacific Plate and being in that location produces earthquakes, volcanoes and mountainous terrain across the country. On 22 February 2011, Christchurch was struck by a disastrous earthquake that was less in magnitude (6.3) than the Darfield quake in September 2010 (7.1) according to the measuring scale, but was massive in terms of damage and casualties.

Since the previous quake there have been thousands of tremors or aftershocks measured by GeoNet NZ, a project that is funded NZ$9 million annually by Earthquake Commission. Christchurch is the second largest city in the country and the largest in the South Island with a population of nearly 400,000.

The timing of quake in the middle of the day meant that many more people were out and about as opposed to the very early morning scene previously. This catastrophic event led to many building collapses with a large number of lives lost. BuddeComm, all its staff and partners are saddened at the loss and send out love and prayers to all those effected by recent events of the earthquake.

Damage to infrastructure was much more severe with power off to many major utilities – including water and sewage, telecommunication towers destroyed, underground fibre and cabling damaged. In the September 2010 quake, the estimated damage bill was NZ$5 billion and with this latest event the estimated damages bill will exceed NZ$15 million according to early estimates.

The electricity network is slowly being restored with 50% back on within the first day. At the end of the first week more than 30,000 customers were still without power with the remainder of the network (84%) being advised to turn off power when leaving to conserve the fragile nature of the supply. After nearly a week 35% of the city’s water supply is still off, with tankers being used as temporary supply points.

As electricity outages caused congestion in the mobile networks and as mobile phones became flat, the internet became the communication vehicle. The world watched and viewed the catastrophe using mediums that used social networking such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Social networking became the conveyor of news and information, not only information about the event itself, but information about friends, family, loved ones and their status and location.

As companies were flooded from those in need with telephone calls and enquiries and unable to cope with the demand, Twitter accounts and company blogs became the access method. TradeMe provided a message board for communication between those needing and those who can provide help. A person finder site was setup by Google. Hash tags such as #CHCH and #EQNZ were used to track information. Statistics New Zealand has postponed the March 2011 census due to the effects of the disaster.

Portable mobile cell towers were brought in to cope with the extra demand on the mobile networks. Portable generators were being used to provide electricity to the mobile towers, communication centres and roadside cabinets while the electricity network is repaired.

Telecommunications companies provided many free or reduced cost services for those in the area. Telecom offered free calls from the public phones that operate; TelstraClear advised that all outgoing national and international calls would be free for Christchurch residents two weeks. Free WiFi was available in the city centre in many other locations and at the airport.

Used telecommunication equipment such as analogue phones and laptops were items in demand by homes and businesses as much of the existing equipment was either damaged by falling debris or did not work with the unreliable power supply.

Many companies donated goods and services as well, free water, free gas bottle refills, community laundries and many products being given to the Salvation Army and Red Cross for distribution at emergency centres. Donations were able to be made by texting shortcodes with all of the carriers in New Zealand with a small donation NZ$3 being received by SMS.

International assistance came to New Zealand with emergency workers arriving from countries including Australia, Britain, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States. International monetary aid also was received from around the world. A government website was setup for those individuals and business wanting to give by credit cards, [http://www.christchurchearthquakeappeal.govt.nz/].

The challenge for all disasters is of course the rebuilding process. Is it a patch up procedure or should a trans-sector approach be taken so that the best of today’s IT can be utilised across the rebuilding process to provide long-term economic benefits. Running FttH/FttP instead of repairing copper lines, installing smart meters for the management of smart grids on the electrical networks are just two possible options.

A coordinated trans-sector approach maybe needs to be put into place by government and planners for times when disasters occur and the rebuilding requires a holistic approach to better managing the advancement of the e-economy.

For more information on New Zealand, see separate reports at:

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Is the growth in mobile data peaking

Monday, February 28th, 2011

The Dutch T Mobile service was the first to introduce the iPhone in the Netherlands, in mid-2008, based on semi unlimited Internet use. The company claimed that the iPhone had caused an uptake in mobile Internet and data use: by the end of 2008 the average data usage grew to 60TB per month. The explosive growth of data usage over its network continued unabated, reaching 200% growth in 2010 to 330TB per month. However, by early 2011 this growth had flattened off to around 50%.

Many operators and financial analysts have talked about possible meltdowns within mobile networks, and the need for capped prices to slow down the growth of mobile data demand among consumers. Indeed, in the UK T-Mobile recently moved to enforce this amending reducing by half its fair-usage policy that had allowed customers to use up to 1GB of data per month for a fixed-price add on: new and upgrading customers can now access 500MB per month only.

This scaremongering message was also spouted from these same organisations in the mid 1990s when the Internet started to take off.

Yet it looks again like the Armageddon is not happening, so we will have to wait for the next panic message from the incumbents.

Rather than looking at the opportunities that these new technologies bring with them, the vested interests remain focussed on protecting the old business models, and they are therefore continuously missing out on the next wave of activity.

At the same time this also will have an effect on network planning as these market realities will also have to be taken into account in their architecture design.

Paul Budde

For more on developments in relevant mobile market, see:

Netherlands – Mobile Market – Overview, Statistics and Forecasts;

Germany – Mobile Market – Mobile Data Services and Forecasts;

Germany – Mobile Market – Statistics and Forecasts;

United Kingdom – Mobile Market – Statistics and Forecasts;

United Kingdom – Mobile Market – 3G, Mobile Data and Forecasts;

Europe – Mobile Market – Mobile Data.

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