Archive for July, 2015

Mobile video streaming emphasising need for solid network capabilities

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Mobile video streaming, also known as mobile TV, has been promoted by mobile network operators as one of the prime benefits of more capable infrastructure resulting from networks being upgraded with HSPA and LTE technologies. These upgrades enable subscribers to view streaming content on the go, with content less subject to outages and failed connections. However, until recently the platform had not caught the public’s attention, despite the introduction of unmetered access and generous data caps.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) initially failed to develop the right business models to deliver the type of content suitable for mobile streaming. It was also uncertain whether customers would want to pay for content at all, given the small size of screens when mobile streaming was initially promoted. However, in recent months the popularity of phablets and of larger screened smartphones has helped address these limitations. In addition, the development of new technologies such as out LTE-Broadcast (from Telstra) will make the delivery of mobile streaming more efficient on a technical level, while the ability of people to view content from Netflix and other OTT services via mobile devices has made the format more attractive. Indeed, by early 2015 up to a third of all viewing was done via tablets and phablets.

With the explosion of video streaming over mobile networks, LTE –assisted with WiFi tails – is becoming essential. Already LTE extensions – also known as 4½G – are being implemented before 5G becomes commercially available around 2020.

The three LTE networks operated by Optus, Telstra and Vodafone have developed rapidly during the past two years as these players strive to provide an infrastructure capable of meetings customer demand for mobile broadband services. As well as aiming to attract new customers, these players are also trying to reduce churn – the experiences of Vodafone in recent years has shown how damaging it can be for an operator when their networks do not provide reliability and, increasingly in an era leaning further to mobile data than voice, sufficient performance.

Technological developments have also progressed, with operators using aggregated channels to improve data throughput. Since the beginning of 2015 Optus and Telstra have been able to utilise their 700MHz spectrum assets, with which they aim to provide about 98% population coverage by the end of 2016. Vodafone is relying on upgrades to its existing concessions, and by mid-2015 it provided about 95% coverage in metro areas.

These upgraded networks face daunting data demands from customers, many of whom make use of data-intensive graphics, videos and files shared across the networks. In addition, popular OTT services such as Netflix, a company which alone had attracted about one million customers since launching in Australia in March 2015, provide streaming of content over mobile devices. While networks can at times be strained, the MNOs are continually adding capabilities and applications in an effort to reduce their overall costings. Customer preference for WiFi from homes and workplaces has meant that mobile broadband traffic is largely offloaded to fixed-line infrastructure.

Henry Lancaster, Senior Analyst BuddeComm

BuddeComm recently published a new report on the mobile broadband market: Australia – Mobile Broadband Market – Services and Apps – 2015

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Madagascar adds to LTE range with launch from Telma

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Madagascar’s exposure to the global economic crisis was amplified by political instability following a controversial change of government in 2009. The economy has since recovered, with GDP growth expected to steadily rise back to levels of around 5% by 2016/17. Plans to exploit and export crude oil, gas and other natural resources may also deliver a boost to the economy.

The period of economic decline led to weaker subscriber growth in the telecoms sector, reduced consumer spending and, as a consequence, intensified price competition between the three GSM mobile network operators – Orange, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain) and Telma, the incumbent telco. A fourth mobile operator, Madamobil, launched a CDMA-based network in 2010 but its licence was revoked in 2012. However, economic recovery now in train should lead to renewed consumer confidence, and to growth in the mobile and broadband markets as customer adopt services based on LTE technology launched since late 2014.

Positive developments in the internet and broadband sector are also materialising following the arrival of the first international submarine fibre optic cables, LION and EASSy on the island in 2009 and 2010. This ended the country’s dependency on satellites for international connections, bringing down the cost of international bandwidth and making internet access more affordable to a wider part of the population.

A national fibre backbone is being implemented connecting the major cities. Wireless broadband access networks are being rolled out, enabling converged voice, data and entertainment services. The launch of third generation (3G) mobile broadband services has enabled the mobile operators to reverse their rapidly declining average revenue per user (ARPU).

The fixed-line sector has been undergoing a revolution following the privatisation of Telma. Major investments have been made, the number of fixed lines has multiplied, albeit from a very low base. ADSL2+ broadband services have been introduced and the decline in fixed-line revenue has been successfully reversed. Despite these positive developments, the national telco is considering various divestiture options.

Penetration rates in all market sectors are still below African averages, promising excellent growth potential.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Madagascar – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses

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Mauritius government unveils Smart Mauritius strategy

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

The island nation of Mauritius benefits from an advanced and innovative telecom sector. It was the first market in the greater Africa region to launch cellular systems (in 1989), the first to provide commercial 3G mobile service (2004), the first in the world to develop a nationwide WiMAX wireless broadband network (2005), and one of the first to launch IPTV services (2006). 4G services based on LTE have also been launched, providing data at up to 100Mb/s.

With strong tourism and financial services sectors, Mauritius’s economy is expected to continue growing at more than 4% per year.

The incumbent telco, Mauritius Telecom has been partially privatised and now benefits from the scale and technical prowess of France Telecom/Orange, which holds a 40% interest in the operator. All sectors of the market are open to competition. Served by a modern, digital fixed-line network, fibre optic submarine cables for international connectivity, three mobile networks, a number of broadband and other service providers, Mauritius is successfully pursuing a policy to make telecommunications the fifth pillar of its economy and to become a regional telecom hub with Singapore as a role model. The government has been active in promoting its national broadband policy, and also been instrumental in securing infrastructure upgrades, including an upgrade for satellite connectivity to Rodrigues, which became operational in mid-2013.

The mobile market, with penetration at 122%, is migrating from voice to data services. There are three GSM networks – Orange (Mauritius Telecom in partnership with France Telecom/Orange), Emtel (operated by Millicom International) and Mahanagar, a subsidiary of India’s MTNL which is also the island’s second fixed-line operator using CDMA2000 technology.

The highest growth rates are currently seen in the mobile broadband sector, where HSPA and EV-DO based 3G services are competing with fixed-line DSL and other wireless broadband offerings, including WiMAX. FttC and FttP rollouts are in progress and have already brought 100Mb/s connections to businesses, with nearly nationwide coverage planned for 2015. The landing of a second international submarine fibre optic cable has brought prices down further in a broadband market that was already one of Africa’s most developed.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Mauritius – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses

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Underlying trends propel telecoms sector in 2016

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Looking towards 2016 the underlying trends of mobile broadband; M2M; Cloud computing; OTT services and Big Data management will continue to propel the broader telecoms sector ahead. In addition, further advancements in wearable technologies are expected and attention will turn more and more towards 5G infrastructure.

Generally speaking, mobile penetration continues to vary widely throughout the world. In Europe, nearly 80% of the population were unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2014, while in Sub-Saharan Africa the figure was only 39%. But the developing regions are where we will see most growth in the years through to 2020.

Mobile broadband access using the 3G and now the 4G/LTE networks has continued to expand as users add tablets, modems and phones as alternative communication methods and connection to cloud based services. In the longer term, with the increase in connected devices and the growth in availability of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, the amount of mobile data downloaded is likely to at least double yearly for the next few years.

5G technology is now well and truly under development. While there are no firm standards in place, the industry is working hard at making that happen. In the meantime, the early movers are testing their own versions of the 5G technology and this is giving us information about what we can expect – what the technology will be able to deliver.

Key developments will include M2M and IoT infrastructure, facilitating the development of smart homes, buildings and cities. Many of these applications will be opened up partly through the use of 4G LTE-Advanced – a halfway house on the way to full 5G. Commercial 5G is not expected to become available in any significant way until around 2020, with full deployment expected towards the end of that decade.

Benefiting from any advancement in infrastructure is the recent ‘sharing economy’ movement which delivers a whole new range of ideas and services. Often utilising our modern digital tools of smart phones, apps, location based technology, near-field communications, fixed broadband, social networks, m-payments etc – the notion is to share excess goods and services with the broader community, sometimes for profit. In particular – mobile apps are being developed in order for consumers to easily access the shared opportunities.

Fixed broadband deployment will continue to make headway in 2016 with the majority of countries now having a national broadband network plan or policy in place. Ever since BuddeComm first became involved in developing policies and strategies for countries relating to what are now known as national broadband networks, we have argued that those taking part in the strategic decision-making processes of designing these networks should look, not at what broadband can do now, but at what high-speed broadband can do to assist countries to create the best opportunities for future developments.

Cloud computing has become one of the fastest growing areas for the IT sector and cloud computing solutions are being adopted by enterprises; government and consumers alike. In 2016 cloud computing will be virtually main-stream in the developed markets for the larger enterprises. Few people realise the enormous impact that cloud computing is already making.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Global Telecoms Trends for 2016 – Big Data, M2M, Sharing Economy, Wearables, 5G

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Liquid Telecom rolling out wholesale FttP in Lusaka

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Zambia is a landlocked country which has recently gained access to international submarine fibre optic cables. This has led to some significant retail price reductions for broadband services, and facilitated domestic fibre builds. Third Generation (3G) mobile broadband services have been launched and national fibre networks are being rolled out by four different companies. The first commercial LTE network launches have been undertaken, which has dramatically increased the number of mobile broadband subscribers in the country. Several ISPs have also rolled out WiMAX wireless broadband networks. These developments are set to increase overall broadband penetration significantly in coming years.

Although the mobile voice market is approaching saturation, the government is reviving old plans to issue a fourth mobile licence. The country’s telecoms regulator has launched legal action against the existing mobile networks because of poor quality of service (QoS).

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Zambia – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses

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