Archive for April, 2011

Stage Two of NBN Rollout of communities in Tasmania

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

NBN Co has announced that construction will shortly begin on the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Stage two communities in Tasmania.

Over 11,100 homes and business will be connected to the NBN in the communities of Deloraine, Kingston Beach, George Town, Sorell, South Hobart, St Helens and Triabunna.

Construction can begin following the finalisation of a contract between NBN Co and Conneq Infrastructure Services. Aurora remains as NBN Co’s Tasmanian agent for the rollout.

The NBN will be rolled out progressively in the seven phase two locations to make the best use of the workforce. All sites will be underway by early October.

Construction will take between four and six months at each site and services in the first communities will be available from the second half of next year.

Detailed planning work has already been carried out at each of the locations. NBN Co will be using the lessons learned from the stage one in the delivery of the next phase.

Premises not covered by fibre will have access to either next generation wireless or satellite services, with an interim satellite due to be available from July this year and wireless by the middle of next year.

See also: Australia – National Broadband Network – Early Projects

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Budgets for smart grid planning increasing

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

According to the latest Worldwide Utility Industry Survey from Microsoft, around 73% of companies surveyed said that their budgets for smart grid planning and implementation were being increased. But moving beyond the initial development stages seemed to be proving a challenge for many.

The survey found that, despite the majority allocating more funds to smart grid planning, there was only a modest increase of around 8% in the number of utilities actually rolling out their vision. The study revealed that one of the biggest obstacles between planning and deployment is utilities’ need for architectural guidance.

Many will be looking at replacements or ways to adapt their systems to interval billing and electric vehicles, as well as other demand-side management and new energy programmes. According to 56% of those surveyed, bills will become more complicated in the future. There have been a number of significant developments in the past few months, highlighting utilities’ increased focus on smart grid planning and implementation. It was recently announced that IBM had been selected as the lead systems integrator for Progress Energy’s smart grid initiative. Together, the companies intend to transform the utility’s existing networks, by improving efficiency, power quality and reliability, as well as enhancing capabilities for renewable energy, storage systems and plug-in vehicles.

Progress Energy plans to invest approximately $520 million (£320 million) in smart grid technologies through its two utilities that serve around 3.1 million energy customers in southern US states.

In Asia, the largest utility in South Korea announced plans in March 2011 to significantly boost investment in enhancement of the country’s power transmission and distribution infrastructure with smart grid technology. Korea Electric Power suggested that, by spending more than $8 billion over the next five years, the programme could potentially reduce South Korea’s energy consumption by as much as 10%.

And an increasing emphasis on sustainability is also being witnessed in Europe. Smart grids and integration of renewables were two of the main issues raised at the European Parliament’s Energy Committee public hearing in March. The debate focussed specifically on the need for a revised European approach to the planning and development of energy infrastructure and the timely implementation of projects.

See also:

Global – Smart Grids – Key Issues – September 2010

Smart Grids – After Copenhagen

Smart Grids – Consumer Issues

Smart Grids – Grid IT – Where Energy Meets Comms

Smart Grids – Industry Moving into 2011

Smart Grids – Key Aim – Renewables

Smart Grids – Overview and Insights

Smart Grids – Smart Meter Overview and Insights

Smart Grids and the Communications Revolution

 

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Paul to give NBN presentation in Qatar

Friday, April 29th, 2011

At QITCOM 2011 Paul Budde will be giving a presentation about international national broadband network developments.

QITCOM 2011 is an event in Qatar organised in conjunction with ictQATAR, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, which is Qatar’s independent telecommunications regulator and the government’s technology advocate and facilitator. The country’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani established ictQATAR, in 2004, with the aim of accelerating the transformation of Qatar into an information-based society.

Working with government entities, industry bodies, and commercial enterprises ictQATAR is developing and guiding initiatives in a range of sectors including e-education, e-business, e-health, e-government, infrastructure and information security.

Last year the Sheikh ratified a cabinet decision pertaining to the implementation of e-government policies. This decision included items stipulating that ministries and other government agencies must cooperate with ictQATAR as they advance the country’s e-government strategy. The decision endorsed four specific policy areas of government-wide collaboration:

  • Integration and linkage policy for common e-government systems and services.
  • Hukoomi content management policy
  • Documentation and registration policy in e-government services.
  • ICT architecture and standards policy

For more information on the conference see: http://www.qitcom.com.qa/

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Dish Network wins approval to purchase Blockbuster’s assets

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Once the world’s largest movie rental company, Blockbuster, filed for bankruptcy in late 2010 and in April it won final approval to sell its assets to Dish Network Corp for $320 million. Blockbuster attributed its bankruptcy to the economic downturn and increasingly competitive environment (ie NetFlix and Coinstar’s Redbox). Blockbuster had 5,600 stores in operation when it filed for bankruptcy.

Dish Network sees Blockbuster as an opportunity to expand services and cross-marketing initiatives while also complimenting existing video offerings.

For further information, see separate reports:

Digital Media – Online Video Media Insights;

Digital Media – Impact on the Media Industry Insights.

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Lithuania joins Europe’s LTE nations

Friday, April 29th, 2011

LTE, the succeeding technology for GSM/HSPA networks, provides a number of benefits to operators and consumers alike, including significantly increased peak data rates (of above 100Mb/s), reduced latency, scalable bandwidth, and compatibility with GSM/EDGE/UMTS networks. By mid-2011 there were 64 operator commitments to deploy commercial LTE systems in Europe, in addition to 56 pre-commitment trials. Globally, there are 196 operators in 75 countries investing in LTE.

LTE was initially deployed in Scandinavia by the incumbent operators, leaving the rest of the region in trial phases, or awaiting the release of additional spectrum and the refarming of existing spectrum for LTE/WiMAX networks.

TeliaSonera spearheaded LTE, deploying the world’s first commercial systems in Norway and Sweden in late 2009. In Lithuania, the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Omnitel has an existing HSPA network covering more than 250 towns. It has now launched the country’s first LTE network, in five of the main cities. Supported by the equipment providers ZTE (for modems) and Huawei (for the network), the deployment is among the first in the world to use the 1800MHz band. The deal is a coup for the Chinese providers, given the sensitivities of regional manufacturers. ZTE and Huawei are also equipment suppliers for H3’s LTE infrastructure in Sweden and Denmark, but TeliaSonera has previously opted (perhaps influenced by economic diplomacy) to side with local manufacturers: having initially contracted Huawei for its LTE networks in Sweden and Norway the company in early 2010 changed its vendors to Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), leaving Huawei to complete the Oslo network only. TeliaSonera’s LTE footprint now covers Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia and Lithuania.

For TeliaSonera the upgrade to LTE, ahead of anticipated LTE deployments by the two other Lithuanian MNOS Tele2 and Bité, marks the next stage of its strategy to build up its high-end mobile data capabilities. The company’s subscriber base (at 2.02 million in March 2011) is relatively unchanged since the end of 2007 yet monthly ARPU has more than halved during that time (from LTL34 to LTL16.4). Given the maturity of the mobile voice market, Omnitel is increasingly focussed on mobile broadband. This will help offset the continuing decline in revenue (which fell 17.3% in the first quarter of 2011, year-on-year, partly caused by lower MTRs but also by price competition). The strategy has paid dividends: mobile data now accounts for 26% or total mobile revenue, compared to 22% a year ago. This proportion is far higher than in its other Baltic markets (18% in Latvia, 14% in Estonia), and is on a par with its Scandinavian businesses.

These figures will be keenly watched by Europe’s other MNOs as they settle in with their LTE strategies. The market has changed since the first LTE deployment, when TeliaSonera could not be sure of the extent of customer take-up, or indeed of the effect which mass take-up would have on network capabilities. With the European Commission having set out the rules for using LTE on the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, operators have many more options to consider.

Henry Lancaster
Senior Analyst, Europe

For more information on these developments, see the separate reports:

Lithuania – Mobile Market – Overview and Statistics;
Lithuania – Key Statistics, Telecom Market and Regulatory Overviews;
Europe – Mobile Market – Mobile Data.

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