Archive for September, 2011

European demand for bundled services stimulates network upgrades

Friday, September 30th, 2011

During the next few years subscriptions to bundled services will dominate consumer relations with telcos. The convergence of services has been mirrored by operators establishing themselves in sectors other than their core ones, with the result that quad play (generally including mobile telephony) has become common, though generally the dynamics of individual markets have determined the proportional dominance of double play, triple play and quad play offers.

Almost two-thirds of households take both fixed-line and mobile telephony, while almost 45% subscribe to a bundled package from a single provider. In addition, about 55% of households have a broadband connection: the growth in broadband adoption has been crucial for the take-up of bundled services and the development of the region’s digital economy. Overall, broadband access increased 7% in 2010, with the strongest development in countries such as Latvia, Romania, Portugal, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Greece. Similar growth is expected for 2011 and 2012 in markets with lower broadband penetration.

Broadband is still dominated by DSL, which accounts for about 62% of connections in the region, while cable broadband (with an average of 17% of connections) is more common in a number of markets such as Hungary. FttX is a growing sector, accounting for only 2% of connections on average but expected to dominate most markets by 2020 as DSL subscribers migrate to fibre.

What will characterise these networks in coming years is higher capacity as telcos strive to keep pace both with consumer demand for bandwidth and with ambitious government broadband strategies. These initially focussed on universal availability but have increasingly called for improved quality of connection to facilitate the growth of national digital economies. As such, the cable sector – which continues to undergo consolidation with larger players acquiring smaller operators and so benefitting from improved scale and geographic reach – has largely been upgraded with DOCSIS3.0.

This standard commonly provides up to 100Mb/s though a number of operators have commercialized faster services, and trials are underway in the UK with a 1.5Gb/s service. DSL providers are similarly moving towards FttX/VDSL architecture or FttH. By 2020 FttH will be the key standard, allowing governments to pursue trans-sector policies which promote e-health, tele-education, smart grid architectures and a plethora of initiatives which rely on telecom networks as national infrastructure.

The bundling of services has transformed the telecoms and TV broadcasting industries, bringing players in both sectors together as direct competitors in the market. The process has required a significant realignment of the organisations involved. The market for digital media services in Europe is vast, and so the sector will continue to attract considerable investment.

By the end of 2012, digital terrestrial TV (DTTV) will be available in almost all homes as the most EU countries will have switched from analogue broadcasting. By the end of 2011, 20 European countries will be fully digitised, while at least three have deferred ASO to 2014. Some analogue services will remain in tandem, depending on the business plans of individual operators.

A key benefit of ASO is the release of sub-GHz spectrum – the digital dividend – which in most markets has been assigned to mobile broadband services. With this spectrum assignment in place, the wider availability of 4G (LTE and WiMAX) will deepen the range and capabilities of the region’s digital economy, secure new revenue streams for players, and provide new service benefits for consumers and governments alike.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Europe – Digital Economy and Digital Media Market

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Russian government steps up investment in satellite broadband to remote regions

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Broadband has grown rapidly in recent years as incumbent and alternative telecom operators upgrade infrastructure as part of a general trend of migrating beyond voice-centric offerings to voice, broadband and convergence services. The updated Russia – Broadband Market Insights, Analysis and Forecasts reports provides data and market analysis on recent developments in the Russian fixed-line and wireless broadband sectors, including forecasts to 2020.

The relatively poor quality or lack of existing infrastructure has resulted in a variety of technology platforms deployed for broadband including xDSL, cable and FttH/FttB. Wireless solutions such as WiFi and WiMAX garnered much interest initially, though one of the main players Yota is abandoning WiMAX in favour of LTE. The cooperation of three major mobile network operators and Rostelecom to deploy long-term evolution on Yota’s infrastructure will be a catalyst for significant mobile broadband uptake in coming years. Nevertheless, recent WiMAX licenses in a number of regional areas have shown that the sector remains of interest to investors.

Broadband diffusion is providing the basis on which a promising internet society is emerging, with much potential for future commercial, government and social services. This report offers a concise overview of Russia’s rapidly developing broadband market in 2011, providing an overview of major players, technology platforms, statistics and broadband subscriber forecasts for 2010-2013 and 2020.

Despite the increasing footprint of 3G and LTE across regional Russia, there remain a number of remote areas which are underserved, containing an estimated two million potential broadband subscribers. In 2009 the government initiated a programme to provide affordable satellite internet in these areas, committing RUB500 million during 2010 in designing the network which would provide up to 15Mb/s. In mid-2011 the government approved a RUB3.1 billion continuation project to develop the satellite infrastructure using a sole contractor, Rostelecom subsidiary RTComm.ru. The service is expected to be available in 2013 following the launch of four K-band satellites and the distribution of more than one million subsidised end-user terminals.

Key developments:

MGTS migrated DSL subs in Moscow to GPON, expecting 400,000 GPON subscribers by end-2011; MTS and VimpelCom invest RUB2 billion on 4,500km fibre infrastructure; MegaFon collaborates with utility EuroSibEnergo to use existing power lines to extend its fibre-optic network into Siberia; regulator announces winners for regional WiMAX services; government approves RUB3.1 billion investment to provide satellite broadband to remote areas; operator data to June 2011.

Companies covered in this report include:

Synterra Telecom, Comstar, Volga Telecom, VimpelCom, Summa Telecom, MetroMAX, Comstar, Yota, Virgin Connect, Enforta, Golden Telecom.

For more information on Russia’s telecoms market, see the following reports:

Russia – Broadband Market Insights, Analysis and Forecasts;
Russia – Key Statistics and Telecommunications Market;
Russia – Digital Media Market – Overview, Statistics and Analysis;
Russia – Mobile Market – Overview and Statistics.

 

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International fibre optic cables are revolutionising Africa’s Internet and broadband sector

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Large parts of Africa gained access to international fibre bandwidth for the first time via submarine cables in 2009 and 2010. In other parts of the continent, additional fibre systems have brought competition to a previously monopolised market. More cables are expected to go online in 2011 and 2012. This has led to massive investments into terrestrial fibre backbone infrastructure to take the new bandwidth to population centres in the interior and across borders into landlocked countries.

Africa’s Internet and broadband sector is set to benefit the most from these developments. Wholesale prices for Internet bandwidth have come down by as much as 90% from previous levels based on satellite access, and the cost savings are slowly being passed on to the retail level as well. Broadband is rapidly replacing dial-up as the preferred access method, and this process is already virtually completed in the continent’s more developed markets.

Most African countries now have commercial DSL services, but their growth is limited by the poor geographical reach of the fixed-line networks. Improvements in Internet access have therefore been mostly confined to the capital cities so far. However, the rapid spread of mobile data and third-generation (3G) broadband services is changing this, with the mobile networks bringing Internet access to many areas outside of the main cities for the first time.

Many fixed-line incumbents have reacted by rolling out fixed-wireless access networks to expand their geographical reach. The technology of choice has been CDMA-2000 which supports broadband data rates with an upgrade to EV-DO standard. WiMAX technology, however, offers higher data rates and has gained ground in Africa with well over 100 networks already in operation. And also traditional copper fixed lines and DSL have seen a renaissance in some markets on the back of an increasing demand for broadband access.

Market highlights:

  • Key statistics for 38 African countries;
  • Profiles of major Internet service providers (ISP);
  • Overview of ADSL services with pricing comparisons;
  • Over 50 CDMA-2000 network rollouts in progress, many supporting EV-DO broadband;
  • Over 100 WiMAX networks in operation.

Top ten African Internet market penetration rates – early-2011

Country Market penetration
Morocco 49%
Seychelles 41%
Tunisia 37%
Cape Verde 30%
Nigeria 28%
Egypt 27%
Mauritius 25%
Kenya 21%
Senegal 16%
Libya 14%

(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU data)

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Africa – Fixed and Wireless Broadband and Internet Markets and Forecasts

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Greek telcos take initiative in faltering fibre deployment

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Broadband penetration in Greece is improving following the incumbent’s promotion of services and greater competition based on regulatory mandated network access. This has been crucial to developing a competitive market given the dominance of DSL and the absence of effective competition from fibre and cable platforms. Increasing broadband uptake and deployment of faster ADSL2+ and VDSL networks has in turn supported the launch of services such as broadband TV. Covering these topics, the updated Greece – Digital Media and Broadband Markets – Insights, Statistics and Forecasts report offers an insight into Greece’s broadband and broadcasting market, presenting overviews of key technologies and market developments, a range of data, and broadband forecasts to 2020.

The government’s national strategy for fibre networks, announced in 2008, initially aimed at building a nationwide open access network to provide 100Mb/s connectivity to about two million households (40% geographic coverage) by the end of 2015. The project cost was estimated at €2.1 billion, with the government providing some 700 million and the balance to be sought from the private sector on a PPP basis for 30 years. Public funding has been under review considering the government’s financial difficulties, while regulatory delays in determining infrastructure access conditions have delayed operator commitments. The result is that fibre now accounts for barely 0.2% of broadband connections, and the government’s initial target appear unrealistic and overly ambitious.

The delays in the government’s FttH network has prompted six fixed-line telcos (OTE, Wind Hellas, ForthNet, Hellas Online, Cyta Hellas and On Telecoms) in mid 2011 to negotiate for a shared FttB network. The national open access network would incorporate some or all of the operators’ existing duct and cable infrastructure.

Key developments:

Cosmoline’s WiMAX licence withdrawn; economic crisis stalls national FttH project; steady rise in digital satellite subscriber base; OTE’s VDSL launch delayed over regulator concerns for competition; six telcos negotiate for national open access FttB network; IPTV market stuck in doldrums; operator data to June 2011.

Companies covered in this report include:

OTE, On Telecom, ForthNet, Wind Hellas, Hellas Online.

For more information see the updated reports:

Greece – Mobile Market Insights, Overview and Statistics;
Greece – Key Statistics, Telecom Market and Regulatory Overviews;
Greece – Digital Media and Broadband Markets – Insights, Statistics and Forecasts.

 

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Broadband Commission behind Hamadoun Toure’s naming as the most powerful man in telecoms

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Global Telecoms Business has announced this year’s Power 100, the 100 most powerful people in the industry.

It named Hamadoun Touré, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, as the most powerful person in telecoms industry.

Hamadoun has been the visionary driving force behind the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a team made up of an amazing set of industry leaders — John Chambers of Cisco, Carlos Slim Helù of Telmex, Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm, Helen Clark of New Zealand, Wang Jianzhou of China Mobile, Hans Vestberg of Ericsson, Stephen Conroy of Australia, plus others – working together to develop a worldwide broadband development policy.

Australia can claim part of this success story. On the back of the NBN developments in Australia I was able, in October 2009, to introduce to Hamadoun my trans-sector vision behind high-speed broadband infrastructure, with its social and economic benefits for healthcare, education, e-commerce, smart grids, etc. The Secretary-General took this several giant steps further and linked it to the UN Millennium Development Goals. In the process he was also able to enlist the support of UNESCO, and indeed the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.

I became a special advisor to the Commission and the lead author of the report Broadband a Platform for Progress.

It was Hamadoun’s personal efforts that led to the establishment of the Broadband Commission. He believes the right to communicate should be recognised as a fundamental human right. He is a leader with a passionate commitment to development and the power of ICT to catalyse social and economic change.

BuddeComm congratulates Hamadoun upon this outstanding achievement.

For more information see: Global – BuddeComms International Broadband and Trans-sector Activities

 

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