Archive for August, 2011

IBM survey reveals a lack of consumer understanding about smarter energy

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

IBM has released its finding from its “2011 IBM Global Utility Consumer Survey,” which has revealed that many consumers around the world do not understand the basic unit of electricity pricing and other energy concepts used by energy providers. The company also identified a list of crucial behavioral patterns that have the potential to impact how providers communicate and drive motivation amongst consumers.

More than 10,000 people across 15 countries were surveyed. The findings showed a major gap between what consumers currently know and what they need to know to reduce energy consumption and benefit from smarter energy initiatives.

Some of the finding from the survey included:

  • Over 30% of people surveyed had never heard of the term “dollar per kwh” or the equivalent currency
  • more than 60% are unaware of smart grids or smart meters
  • knowledge is linked closely to people’s willingness to embrace change and their approval of local energy initiatives
  • 61% of people with a strong knowledge of energy technology and pricing terms viewed smart meters and smart grid deployment plans positively, compared to only 43% of those with minimal knowledge

Major improvements with new energy saving technologies, new programs and incentives have been made, but in many cases the market is seeing more confusion amongst consumers than expected.  The survey points to a need and an opportunity to go back to basics and educate consumers by using terms that they understand, behavioral triggers and channels they already use.

The perceptions, expectations and influences of the energy consumer have changed over the last four years. Many consumers do not have the information or the proper incentives to make better energy choices despite efforts by utilities and others in the industry to create consumer-friendly conservation tools.

IBM industry experts along with academic experts in consumer decision-making have identified several key factors related to consumer usage of electricity. These behavioral factors include:

Alternative Motivation:

Financial incentives are not the only factors that encourage consumers to decrease their energy consumption. Based on the consumer survey, money no longer dominates the decision-making process compared to previous years. Instead, younger consumers today are evaluating choices based on the environment while those over 55 noted the health of their national economy as a key motivator for behavioral change, sustainability, and confidence in the nation’s economic prospects when making decisions about energy use.

Information Availability:

Presenting too many options can at times be detrimental. While in theory more options should be positive, the resulting complexity can demotivate consumers. Consumers under 25 are prone to follow the lead of others rather than sort through the options on their own. They are more likely to rely on their personal networks as a primary source for information than those 55 or older. By presenting the right balance of choices, utilities can help reduce the need for complex, time-consuming decisions that can delay a consumer’s desire to make independent choices about their energy consumption.

Social Drivers:

People rely on social proof, or the behavior of others, to determine the right ways to act in many situations. This social action trigger is behind the introduction of new programs such as consumer portals which allow consumers to see and compare their usage to those of their neighbors. This approach demonstrates that social comparisons are frequently a more powerful lever of persuasion.

By understanding the human psychology of choice and decision making, the industry can identify the greatest barriers inhibiting change, discover opportunities for improvement; adopt new methods of communication and design programs that are in line with consumer demands.

See also:-

 

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KPN gears up for 1Gb/s FttH

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Dutch broadband penetration is one of the highest in the world, the result of large-scale government and municipal investment in broadband infrastructure. The country has comprehensive DSL and cable networks, and has expanded both ADSL2+ Ethernet capabilities to provide data rates to manage burgeoning customer demand for triple play services. In addition, the number of significant fibre deployments represents one of the most extensive and cost-effective fibre infrastructures in Europe.1

By the beginning of 2011 Glashart’s market share stood at 90% of homes passed and 80% of subscribers. In early 2011 KPN stated that it would upgrade its FttH offering to 1Gb/s and cover more than 20% of households by the end of 2013. The upgrade is in a bid to forestall customers opting for faster offers available from UPC and Ziggo.

The largely consolidated cable sector, led by Ziggo and UPC Nederland, is countering fibre deployments by introducing EuroDOCSIS 3.0 technology. In this report we profile the Dutch fixed and wireless broadband markets in 2011, providing statistics and analysis on technologies including ADSL2+, FttH, powerline broadband, wireless broadband, WiFi and Internet via satellite. We also provide broadband forecasts for selective years through to 2020.

Key developments:

Glashart fibre market share stands at 90% of homes passed; KPN to upgrade its FttH to 1Gb/s and cover 20% of households by end-2013; smaller cablecos bypassing DOCSIS3.0 for FttH; regulator market data for Q1 2011; operator data to June 2011.

For more information, see the separate reports:

 

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The need for NBN-based trans-sector policies

Monday, August 29th, 2011

It is good to see that the trans-sector approach to the NBN is taking off.

While the results of the House of Representatives investigation – published in August 2011 – into the role and potential of the NBN were predictably split along party the reports from both the majority and the minority stressed the importance of the demand-side activity of the NBN.

The majority report called for the need of an overarching strategy on how the NBN should be used. It further recommended that the government should:

  • continue coordinating the implementation of the national digital economy strategy and require departments to report annually against its goals;
  • keep implementing broadband-enabled technologies into its own services; and
  • develop a comprehensive public engagement strategy to promote the uptake of broadband and digital technologies during the NBN rollout.

You might recall BuddeComm’s trans-sector campaign. From as early as 2005 we have argued that the only reason the government should become involved in what is now the NBN is to facilitate the use of this infrastructure for the national good. So while an infrastructure policy was needed it was our view that a parallel trans-sector policy should be developed and implemented for services such as e-health, e-education, smart grids etc. We argued that if the government was only concerned about fast internet access it should not spend $37bn on it.

But if the aim was to assist social and economic reforms in sectors such as healthcare, education, etc, then that was a perfectly good reason to make the investment.

We pointed out what other national, government-funded infrastructure investments have done for the good and the wealth of the nation (electricity, water, roads, trains, etc). It is not about how much money you can make from this infrastructure – it is about the enormous economic value of that infrastructure to society.

The value of electricity is much more than the total of the electricity bills we all pay.

We agree with the minority report in that it is unfortunate these issues have been placed at the top of the agenda at such a late date. Admittedly the government has taken some excellent initiatives in the meantime, but they are not an integral part of NBN Co business plan.

We have also argued along the same lines as the minority report does – that any cost benefit analysis should be based on the social and economic benefits of the NBN. To take that point a bit further – within that context prices set by NBN Co should reflect these benefits. In other words, what is more important – an ROI on their telecoms investment, or the social and economic return on the infrastructure?

 

We know that e-health can save us $10 billion, and that combining the NBN with smart grids can save us $2 billion. So we are doing things the wrong way round. We should have thought about the social and economic benefits first; calculated (roughly) those benefits; and then built an appropriate/a suitable business model around NBN Co.

Having said all of this, nothing will happen without a national broadband network, and so we are very supportive of the situation as it currently stands. The previous government had eleven years to work something out and it was unable to do so. Given the short-term nature of political thinking the reality appears to be that these issues will be much easier to solve with the NBN in place than not, and once we start understanding the benefits of the NBN the rest of the NBN Co model can be adjusted.

So, in short, we are pleased that the importance of these broader social and economic benefits has been recognised, along with the fact that much more work needs to be done. Hopefully this will put pressure on the government to strengthen its national digital economy strategy.

See also:

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Metropage Information Kiosk

Friday, August 26th, 2011

We were pleasantly surprised to hear that  Metropage – on whom we reported first in 2000 and 2002 – has survived all the turmoil in the industry and have updated their original public messaging system to a new information kiosk.

The metropage kiosk features an ATM-style user interface, assisting organizations to communicate with clients, staff and stakeholders at multiple points of presence, including third party premises; applications include: real estate, travel, retail and government services.

Thru-glass technology allows content to be accessed from outside premises when kiosks are mounted against shop front windows.  This allows for 24/7 access to information while kiosk hardware remains secure inside.

The kiosks connect wirelessly to the Internet via WiFi and 3G.  As a physical connection is only needed for power, metropage kiosks can be installed and relocated with few limitations. For more info see: www.metropage.com.au

 

 

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IP Centrix Market EMEA

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Technology market research firm Infonetics Research has excerpts from its annual EMEA Business VoIP Services Leadership Scorecard, which analyzes and ranks the top service providers in the IP Centrex market in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

In all parts of EMEA, including Africa and the Middle East, there is strong deployments of IP Centrex services. In evaluating the top 10 IP Centrex providers across the region, little has changed in the mix of the list of leaders from 2010. All but three of the providers in the top 10 are incumbent operators, which is reflective of the EMEA landscape, where most providers compete nationally rather than regionally. Mobility continues to be a critical capability as businesses look towards flexibility and integration of services into a single mobile device.

Highlights include:

  • The top EMEA IP Centrex service providers overall are, in no particular order: BT, TDC, and Vodafone
  • The top 10 providers are very close to each other in ranking
  • There is a growing list of providers close behind the top 10 across Western and Eastern Europe and Africa, signaling continuing strength in IP Centrex across the region
  • In EMEA, business VoIP service deployments are coming from competitive operators, mobile operators, and incumbents
  • Whereas in North America only a few providers have broken the 100,000-seat mark, the top providers in EMEA are all close to or exceed 100,000 IP Centrex seats

For more information see:

Africa Telecommunications Research

The Middle East Telecommunications Research

 

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