Archive for January, 2016

Beyond the good and evil of the NBN

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The recent revelations and discussions on the alleged role the ABC played in the NBN debate brought me back to the element of this issue that we have already discussed many times – that the whole debate regarding the NBN has been politically-led.

I can fully understand political arguments regarding issues such a small government, market-led developments, and business profits on the one hand, and issues such as nation-building, the national good, and equality of service (for rural and disadvantaged people, for example) on the other; and while I might not agree with them I understand where people are coming from and I respect their opinion.

From an NBN perspective this has nothing to do with technology, broadband requirements for the digital/interconnected economy and other rational elements. Whether your political leaning is to blue, green or red, fibre optic is always better than copper. A system that delivers 50Mb/s is better than one that delivers 25Mb/s; a unified single technology infrastructure is better than a mixed technology one; it is cheaper to maintain fibre than copper; and so on.

What we have seen is that, driven by politics, the debate started to interweave subjective political persuasion with factual technical information. And in order to make this work some rationality was found to make those entwined arguments look like the ‘truth’

When thinking along these lines I remembered something that the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had to say:

To recognize untruth as a condition of life – that certainly means resisting accustomed value feelings in a dangerous, way; and a philosophy that risks this would by that token alone place itself beyond good and evil.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (Jenseits von Gut und Böse) 1886

He argues that you can’t just use rationality to find a way that automatically leads to objective truth. Everything is dotted with psychological motives; the use of logic can be used as a game played to make such ‘truths’ look more real.

These arguments are not only creeping into the NBN debate – the climate deniers are another group that is good at making ‘truth’ out of untruth. The problems in the Middle East, the refugee drama and other war-related events are riddled with such politically concocted ‘truth’, from both sides of the fence.

Back to the ABC issue ……

Good journalism and good reporting obviously has to provide a balance of opinions, but that balance should be based on separating the political issues from neutral issues such as technology.

In my view, good journalism and good reporting does not provide a balanced view on climate change by giving equal weight to the climate deniers.

The NBN issue is somewhat more complex, but key here also is separating the politics. Certainly ask all parties what their political view on the NBN is, and accept that some will say that government should not be involved and others say they should. I would not have any issue with such arguments and accept that opinion.

Technical matters, however, should be separated from that and should be reported on as facts. It would be wrong to treat concocted truth that is based around a political persuasion as a balanced argument for debate.

Paul Budde

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Spain’s fibre network sharing helps boost growth in FttP connections

Friday, January 29th, 2016

In recent years the value of Spain’s telecom market has fallen, with the sector affected by the poor economic climate resulting in high unemployment and reduced disposable income among consumers. However, a five-year recession, with tumbling GDP, effectively ended in 2014 when the economy showed a steady return to growth for four quarters in succession. Growing confidence among investors was palpable during 2015, and the improved business climate augurs well for the sector into 2016.

Mobile penetration is high and growing steadily, while broadband uptake is backed by continuing investment in infrastructure among operators in a bid to provide improved bundled services and so compete more effectively against other players. The regulator has fostered competition by providing access to the incumbent’s DSL and FttP networks, which has stimulated fibre roll-outs. The newly elected conservative government will be pressed to implement policies which encourage the ICT sector, secure the development of NGNs, and ensure that Spain has a vibrant telecoms infrastructure to enable it to compete in a global economy.

The strong growth in the number of fibre broadband connections is beginning to tell on the broadband sector’s dynamics, with fibre becoming one of the strongest areas. Although several operators are investing in fibre, Telefónica is by far the dominant player. Operators are continuing to invest in their own networks, as well as networks being built through sharing arrangements.

Spain has one of the largest mobile markets in Europe, with effective competition from four MNOs and a growing number of resellers and MVNOs. This competition, together with regulated roaming and termination rates, has driven down the cost of mobile calls in recent years. The auction of additional spectrum early in 2016 will help operators keep pace with the growth in demand for mobile data. In late 2015 Telefónica set up a test bed in Madrid to develop 5G technologies. Both Orange Spain and Vodafone Spain have acquired fixed-line operators in a bid to compete more effectively with Movistar in their bundled service offerings.

The digital media market has also developed strongly in line with investments in fixed-line infrastructure. This has resulted in rapid increases in the number of in next generation network access lines. The focus on faster networks, encouraged by the government and facilitated by regulatory measures promoting access to networks, is increasingly dependent on fibre. The videostreaming market is increasingly competitive, with Netflix having entered the market in mid-2015, competing with Telefónica’s popular Yomvi service and Vodafone’s new Vodafone One service.

A new BuddeComm report assesses the key aspects of the Spanish telecom market, providing statistics on the fixed-network services sector and profiles of the main players. The report examines the telcos’ strategies to address an increasingly competitive environment, and also assesses the main regulatory issues, noting the status of interconnection, local loop unbundling, number portability and carrier preselection. In addition, the report reviews the fixed and wireless broadband markets, together with developments in related technologies such as fibre, and broadband powerline. It includes statistics and market analyses on the mobile sector, detailing the major providers and MVNOs and analysing a range of mobile data services.

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

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Mexican telecom market shaken up by AT&T presence

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Given a population of around 120 million and relatively low penetration in all sectors, Mexico’s telecom sector retains significant growth potential over the next few years. The fixed-line market is still dominated by the incumbent Telmex, with about 80% market share, while the mobile market is dominated by Telmex’s sister company Telcel, both being owned by América Móvil. The pay TV sector is similarly concentrated, with Grupo Televisa the dominant player in cable TV as also in satellite TV, where it is a major shareholder in Sky Mexico.

Legislation promoting telecom reform was passed in 2013, and since then efforts have been made to encourage competition and to curb América Móvil’s dominance. Part of the reform process involved the creation of a new telecom regulator to oversee the sector, remove barriers to foreign investment and encourage the entry of new players.

The process is beginning to show positive results, particularly with the expansion of Telefonia and AT&T in the market. AT&T in recent years has acquired Iusacell and Nextel Mexico, as well as DirecTV. The company’s potential acquisition of AWS spectrum, to be auctioned in early 2016, would enable it to develop its regional market plans, incorporating 400 million consumers in the US and Mexico.

Additional spectrum being auctioned will improve the ability of operators to offer mobile data services nationally, and extend mobile broadband services into rural areas.

This report provides an overview of Mexico’s telecom sector, including a review of the key operators, an assessment of the legal and regulatory landscape, and a range of statistics. The report also covers the mobile voice and data markets, including subscriber forecasts. In addition, the report provides statistics on Mexico’s fixed-line broadband and digital TV markets as these evolve in response to recent legislative changes.

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

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Kosovo’s regulator issues spectrum to boost mobile broadband

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Kosovo has benefited from financial and regulatory assistance as part of the EU pre-accession process. The EU remains Kosovo’s main trading partner and its main source of foreign direct investment. The economy is significantly driven by trade with Germany and Switzerland, where most expatriates live and work. Remittances from such workers form an important part of household incomes.

The country’s telecom sector has been liberalised, with legislation introduced in late 2012 to align with the EU’s revised regulatory framework. It also adopted measures relating to competition and to facilitating the market entry of new players. Nevertheless, poor telecom infrastructure has meant that fixed-line penetration remains low by European standards. Unlike most markets, the fixed-line broadband sector is dominated by new players, in particular the cable operator Ipko, a subsidiary of Telekom Slovenia.

Broadband penetration in Kosovo is developing, though slowly. There is effective competition between the main cable and DSL operators, though as yet there is little progress with the expansion of fibre networks: investment by the incumbent PTK in building out an upgraded fibre-based NGN has been insufficient thus far. Although there are a number of smaller ISPs the sector is dominated by only three players: PTK, Ipko and Kujtesa. Cable accounts for the majority of broadband connections.

The mobile sector accounts for most telecom lines for voice services, as well as the greater part of telecom revenue. Two MNOs compete with two MVNOs, though the latter have a very small market presence. The prepaid sector accounts for the vast majority of subscribers, but it is gradually losing ground as more contract subscribers sign up for services. 3G services were launched as late as December 2013, while LTE infrastructure remains limited. However, on the back of expanding LTE networks developing mobile data services will become increasingly important in coming years as a source of new revenue growth for operators.

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

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Video-on-Demand heats up in the Middle East

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

The Middle East offers a new growth opportunity for both regional and international Video-on-Demand players due to its large population which has traditionally embraced television services. There are a number of regional players vying for position in the market including eLife TV app (Etisalat); Shahid TV app (MBC), Istikana, Starz Play and icflix. OSN also offers web-based TV services through its OSN Play product. The online portal offers live TV, movies on a pay-per-view basis and a TV on Demand service to watch missed TV shows. The service is accessible from any PC or tablet.

Icflix has around 250,000 subscribers across the MENA region and along with Starz Play are considered the two regional leaders. The market however has recently become more competitive with the launch of Netflix in the Middle East in early 2016. The launch is part of a larger global expansion strategy which may see its global subscriber base increase from around 69 million this year to over 100 million in 2018, according to an IHS Technology report.

The UAE in particular may well attract international interest in the future from OTT video service providers due to its established and growing broadband population. The UAE has also long held the distinction of possessing a well-developed and technologically advanced telecommunications sector with high mobile, telephone and internet penetration.

For related information, see separate report: United Arab Emirates – Fixed Broadband Market, Digital Economy and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses.

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