Archive for October, 2011

2G spectrum re-farming

Monday, October 31st, 2011

From October 2011, Optus began undertaking one of the world’s largest UMTS 900 spectrum migration programs to provide major 3G coverage boost to capital cities. Under the spectrum migration program, over 50% of Optus’s available 2G spectrum at 900MHz is being reallocated for use on the Optus 3G networks.

The program started with trials inBendigowith upgrades inSydney,MelbourneandPerthfrom October 2011. The spectrum re-farming would involve the upgrade of approximately 3,000 mobile sites. Other cities includingBrisbaneandAdelaideare set to be spectrum re-farmed from early 2012.

For more information on Optus, see separate reports:

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UN Broadband targets and challenge – yes we can

Monday, October 31st, 2011

By 2015: 40% of households connected to broadband

It is very easy to be sceptical about the developments of national broadband networks, the developments of e-services and the transformation of the 100 year old telecoms industry. But when BuddeComm launched their ideas about the structural separation of incumbent telcos (2002) the need for wholesale infrastructure for the development of e-services (2005), the demise of the incumbent telcos if they don’t change (1990s) and the need for mobile operators to change their mobile data/portals (1997) we received far more sceptical comments than positive comments, yet we are seeing significant changes happening. Looking back it is amazing what changes have occurred over the last 5 years. Governments are recognising the need to show leadership in the development of broadband infrastructure for the development of e-services in order to address some of their problems in the economy, environment, healthcare, education and so on, this is the opposite of the trend a decade ago where governments saw their role as a total departure of the telecoms industry, we see this happening in the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, in total now more than 50 countries. The EU only two weeks ago launched its own €9 billion initiative.

Cheap devices

We have seen the enormous success of mobile comms and since recently mobile broadband, once the stranglehold of the mobile operators was broken by companies such as Apple and Google the flood gates opened, many countries are seeing smart phone penetrations reaching 50% and in developing countries around 10%.Indialaunched its $35 tablet. These developments are opening the way for new e- and m-services.

Trans-sector developments

Most countries start to understand that they will have to find ways to upscale the thousands of healthcare and education projects that have been launched over the last decade and that this requires changes in policies and government leadership. So to the naysayers why being so sceptical that this will not continue and that changes will not happen, they are happening.

At the events organised around the UN Broadband Commission, some 150 heads of state were presents (Prime Ministers, Ministers, CEOs of telcos and other ICT companies, SGs and DGs of many international organisations including the OECD, UNESCO, WHO, etc)

They were present at either the discussions where the global broadband targets were set or were invited to comment when they were presented. This gives people in all those countries an opportunity to question their governments about what they are going to do about this. We don’t think that many countries do want to be left behind, so there should be at least a positive attitude to start the discussion, if that hasn’t already happened.

Village broadband connection is an excellent way to start in the developing world, these are at the moment by far the most prominent broadband development that we are seeing around, good examples exists in amongst other countries inMexico,Chile,Azerbaijan,Nigeria,Kenya,Rwanda,India,Bangladesh(many represented at the conference).

Targets call for action

So there are examples on how this can be done and those countries not trying to find their own examples. There is no silver bullet and good government policies are far more important than subsidies. Through the Broadband Commission we bring all these governments together and put these examples right in front of them, we show them why they will have to transform their telecoms industry and that it are the governments who have to show leadership through policies that create the right environment to make this happen.

It was very encouraging to see that at the event African prime ministers and ministers of Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Gabon, Senegal, Malawi and others all presented or discussed plans that they have initiated at a government level (as of course did those representing their countries from other parts of the world – including Australia). Also companies such Ericsson, Alcatel, Huawei, Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, are part of the targets and challenge and they are also supporting it. Carlos Slim one of the biggest telecom investors in the world publically stated at the conference that it is achievable and he has changed some of his views over the last 2 years in particular in relation to the role of governments in all of this. Also these large investors have accepted the trans-sector approach that requires all parties to work together.

Incumbents still dragging their feet

Another obstacle mentioned frequently were the incumbent telecoms operators (including the mobile companies). They try to protect their vertically integrated business models and don’t want any competition in this field. However, examples inSingapore,Malaysia,UK,AustraliaandNew Zealandcan be used to show how this could be addressed.

Conclusions

Since we started the UN Broadband Commission less than 2 years ago we have seen clear evidence that many countries and their governments ‘get it’. If we don’t put a target on the board people will say it is all blue sky and soft stuff if we put targets on the board they will be seen as either too ambitious or not ambitious enough. We are happy to start and see where this leads us.

Targets can be used to start asking questions to governments and companies and that is why the Commission decided to follow this route.

We are not saying that all of this is easy. The challenges are huge, but look at mobile comms what can be achieved. We are certainly not saying that these targets are the panacea, but it is yet another tool that can be used by grass root organisations to force through the changes in govt policies that are needed to make happen what you and others are trying to do at that ground level.

Paul Budde 

See also:

Global – BuddeComms International Broadband and Trans-sector Activities

Global – Broadband a Platform for Progress – An Analysis

Global – Fast Broadband and Trans-sector Policy Development

Global – Infrastructure – National Broadband Network Insights (NBN)

Global – Infrastructure – The Broadband Commission for Development

Global – National Broadband Networks – Social and Economic Benefits

Global Broadband – Facilitating the Digital Economy

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Affordable smart devices

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Emerging new, networked technologies are all about distributing intelligence throughout the network and embedding it in the connected device, making it a two-way interactive communications device, rather than a one-way receptor. We are exchanging the era of the ubiquitous Internet for the era of the embedded and invisible Internet.

The success of a recent project in India – to give US$35 tablets to 100,000 school children – is stressing that such endeavours are only possible when driven by government and committed public investment. It is the collaboration of public and private sectors that is ultimately needed to bring wireless services and affordable, accessible systems to the last mile of connectivity, reaching and empowering remote and rural areas. The last decade has seen an explosion in growth in this exactly mobile device sector. This is equally true for emerging markets, in particular in predominantly rural areas.

In Vietnam, Intel’s PC for Life prepaid programme began in late 2010. The program dropped total costs for PCs and broadband use by half, bringing the percent of people who can afford the technology up from just 12% to 70%. A similar programme in Indonesia that was launched in July 2011 dropped cost of ownership by 50%.

See also: Global – Mobile – Smartphones, Touchscreen Tablets and Handset Market Insights

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Regulatory measures on fibre network access needed to expand FttX deployment in Slovakia

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Slovakia enjoyed strong economic growth after joining the European Union (EU) in mid-2004: from 2004 until 2009 real GDP grew by an average 7.4% while unemployment dropped significantly. With an export-dependent economy, the recent global economic turmoil has hit Slovakia’s exports to its principal trading partners Germany, the Czech Republic and France. It also softened domestic demand for goods due to falling consumer confidence and rising unemployment: the country entered its first recession since independence in 1993. Real GDP contracted 4.8% in 2009 before a recovery in 2010 with an estimated growth at 4%. This is expected to continue in 2011 with estimated growth at 3.8%.

Yet the economic turmoil has not hit telecoms and IT services as much as it has other sectors, such as manufacturing and finance. This is largely due to telecoms and IT services being productivity enablers. In addition, many services (particularly broadband and mobile telephony) are considered essential by most consumers who make use of them, and so for operators there is a guaranteed revenue stream though growth has been stymied by competition and a host of regulatory measures, contributing to lower revenue in both 2009 and 2010. This is expected to continue for 2011 before showing moderate growth in 2012, largely on the back on the developing broadband and mobile telephony sectors.

Economic conditions have also exacerbated funding difficulties for telecoms projects. Total investment in telecom networks fell 3.7% in 2009 to €390 million, including a 26% drop reported by mobile operators (to €133 million).

Broadband services are widely available in Slovakia. A large number of ISPs are active in the market, principally in the DSL sector through LLU on Slovak Telecom’s network, though there are also a number of cable broadband operators serving the main towns. A small number of FttX networks have been built, while wireless broadband via WiMAX networks are complemented by services offered by mobile network operators. The dominant ISP Slovak Telecom, majority-owned by Deutsche Telekom, is pursuing a growth strategy centred on broadband, online services and pay TV. Upgraded networks (with ADSL2+ and DOCSIS3.0 technologies) have enabled providers to introduce bandwidth-intensive applications and services: bundled offers based on these services will be a key growth area in coming years. Such applications also increase the potential value of existing fixed-line subscriptions for subscribers who may otherwise cancel fixed-line services for mobile-only solutions.

The mobile market is a triopoly of the MNOs T-Mobile Slovensko, Orange Slovensko and Telefonica 02. High voice penetration is indicative of multiple SIM card use. New revenue growth opportunities for all three operators lie in mobile broadband, given the low mobile broadband penetration levels at present. Hence competitively-priced mobile broadband access services have been launched, often bundling generous prepaid data plans. LTE services, trialled during 2011, will complement commercial HSPA services by the end of 2012.

Key telecom parameters – 2010; 2012

Sector 2010 2012 (e)
Subscribers to telecom services:
Fixed broadband (thousand) 877 1,240
Fixed-line telephony (thousand) 1,100 950
Mobile phone (million) 5.9 6.3
Penetration rate for telecoms services:
Fixed broadband 18% 22%
Fixed-line telephony 18% 17%
Mobile SIM (population) 110% 114%

(Source: BuddeComm)

Market Highlights

  • All MNOs were issued trial licences in mid-2011 to test LTE in the 2.6GHz band. Previously, T-Mobile Slovensko had relied on test results from Deutsche Telekom for its LTE research and planning. Commercial services are expected by the end of 2012.
  • Investment in HSPA technology has continued strongly: Orange Slovakia upgraded 50 base stations for HSPA+ in early 2011 and planned to upgrade the entire network by the end of the year. T-Mobile also expected to launch DC-HSPA+ by the end of 2011, providing theoretical speeds of up to 42.2Mb/s.
  • DTTV has been slow to develop a strong viewer base, partly the result of there being only two new channels on the platform which are not duplicated in analogue. There is no HD or sports channel, usually among the first to be launched. Nevertheless, a digital information campaign, started in early 2011, has focussed on DTT to develop consumer interest.
  • In late 2011 the regulator called for tenders to make use of additional frequencies for a fourth DTTV multiplex.
  • Approximately 40% of TV households subscribe to CATV services. The market is dominated by UPC, which has a digital offering including about 70 channels.
  • By early 2011 alternative operators had about 110,000 FttX subscribers. FttH projects are generally municipal or small-scale private networks, though some operators offer FttB services on a national level, such as SANET connecting university buildings, schools and local government offices and Railways Telecom connecting buildings located near railway lines. The FttX sector requires further regulatory involvement to provide clarity on access to infrastructure before it can expand beyond its current limited scale.

This report is essential reading for those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in Slovakia. It provides further information on:

  • Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
  • The impact of the global economic crisis;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Mobile data market developments in coming years in light of spectrum auctions and new license awards in 2010;
  • 3G developments, regulatory issues and technologies including HSPA and LTE;
  • Broadband migration to an FttH architecture;
  • Historical and current subscriber statistics and forecasts;
  • ARPU statistics and forecasts.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Slovakia – Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts

 

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Global broadband targets set by UN Broadband Commission

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Looking back it is amazing to see how much has been achieved within the UN Commission in relation to the development of broadband.

In October 2009 I had the opportunity to discuss with the Secretary-General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun Touré, my vision of the trans-sector use of broadband as a utility-based infrastructure. According to that vision, presidents and prime ministers should lead the creation of policies that would see the development of healthcare, education, smart grid and other services utilising national broadband infrastructure for its delivery.

At that stage the Australian NBN was already on track and we had the support of the Obama Administration, which had developed its own national broadband plan.

Dr Touré did not need any convincing. He immediately supported this vision, which led to the formation of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development. This body has 58 of the world leaders as their commissioners. This enormously powerful group of people also did not need much convincing – they saw the social and economic benefits attached to such an approach. Commissioners include representatives of both the private sector and government and international organisations

At their fourth meeting in Geneva in October 2011 the members of the Broadband Commission presented themselves to some 150 head of states from around the world (presidents, prime ministers, ministers, CEOs of leading telcos, and SGs and DGs of international organisations).

This, of course, was a unique opportunity to get the message across to these people. As mentioned in many of our reports, these changes need to be driven from the top and obtaining the support of these leaders is essential.

In its preparations for the fourth meeting, and during the meeting of the Commission at the ITU World 2011 event, targets and a manifesto were discussed, agreed upon and presented to the head of states during the Leadership Summit.

Progress on these targets will be reported on an annual basis. In his presentation of the targets Carlos Slim, co-chair of the Commission put his weight behind them, stating that these were doable targets and that private industry was ready for the challenge. Equally important, he said, were the right government policies in relation to regulation and taxation policies to make this happen – and, even more importantly, in relation to developing e-health, tele-education, e-government and so on.

Broadband Targets for 2015

The Broadband Commission has set four clear, new targets for making broadband policy universal and for boosting affordability and broadband uptake:

  • Target 1:Making broadband policy universal. By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access / Service Definitions.
  • Target 2:Making broadband affordable .By 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries through adequate regulation and market forces (for example, amount to less than 5% of average monthly income).
  • Target 3:Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access.
  • Target 4:Getting people online. By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in LDCs.

The Broadband Challenge

We, the participants of the Broadband Leadership Summit, address this Challenge to world leaders, top policy-makers, industry leaders, users and consumers.

Communication– a Human Need and a Right

Broadband technologies are fundamentally transforming the way we live. It is vital that no one be excluded from the new global knowledge societies we are building. We believe that communication is not just a human need – it is a right. The greater communication and understanding made possible through access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help us overcome the challenges in our complex and interdependent global society.

Broadband as a critical modern infrastructurecontributing to economic growth

We believe that the Internet and other ICTs now constitute critical modern resources and are a vital prerequisite for participation in today’s growing digital economy. In today’s challenging economic climate, recent research has shown that broadband infrastructure and services contribute to economic growth and promote job creation. Expanding access to broadband infrastructure and services must therefore be a top policy priority for countries around the globe, developed and developing alike as well as Least Developed Countries.

We call on governments and business to work together to develop the innovative policy frameworks, business models and financing arrangements needed to facilitate growth in access to broadband worldwide. We also urge them to stimulate content production in local languages and enhance local capacity to benefit from and contribute to the digital revolution.

Benefits of Broadband

The benefits of broadband are profound – in opening up young minds to new horizons through educational technologies; in empowering women to expand their opportunities through genuine choices; in improving awareness of hygiene and healthcare; and in helping family breadwinners find work, a better salary or return on their goods. Through broadband, the provision of public services is transformed to make them global public goods for the global good. Greater access to the Internet and broadband applications and services help accelerate achievement  of internationally-agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Policy Measures to Promote Broadband

We therefore urge governments to avoid limiting market entry and taxing ICT services unnecessarily to enable broadband markets to realize their full growth potential. We encourage governments to promote coordinated international standards for interoperability and to address the availability of adequate radio frequency spectrum – recognizing that spectrum should be regarded as a resource for socio-economic rather than short-term financial benefit – for our rapidly developing broadband era. We note the importance of the guiding principles of fair competition for promoting broadband access to all.

It is essential to review legislative and regulatory frameworks, many of which are inherited from the last century, to ensure the free and unhindered flow of information in the new virtual, hyper connected world, recognizing that standards and safeguards developed in the physical world should continue to apply in the digital world.

The Fundamental Importance of Content

Connectivity is necessary, but not sufficient. Hand in hand with the roll-out and deployment of broadband networks, it is vital to develop new services, personalized applications and fully multilingual content to ensure that everyone finds their place in the global village online. We call on world leaders to give all their citizens a voice and to give them a presence online, including disadvantaged or marginalized communities such as the elderly, the house-bound, people with special needs, low-skilled workers and the rural poor in agricultural communities, as well as the populations of Least Developed Countries.

We call on world leaders and industry to promote ICT education for women and youth, and to promote policies that facilitate the creation and growth of locally-relevant, commercial and social services delivered over the Internet. For only then can we realize the vision of fully interconnected knowledge societies made possible by broadband.

The Broadband Challenge

  1. We call on world leaders to ensure that at least half the developing world’s population and 40% of households in developing countries are using broadband Internet by 2015. Consumers in all countries should have access to affordable broadband Internet services, including in developing countries.
  2. We call on industry to develop innovative business models needed to realize this vision.
  3. We call on governments to make broadband policy universal and to develop the enabling policy and regulatory frameworks to ensure that industry has a stable regulatory space in which to operate, flourish and harness broadband for sustainable human development.
  4. We call on governments to develop policies and targets for online health and education at the national level to stimulate demand for broadband services.
  5. We call on governments and civil society within a fully inclusive and consultative process to stimulate local content production as well as the development of local language services and applications for an inclusive digital world.

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