Archive for February, 2016

Has Malcolm Turnbull lost his opportunity for change?

Monday, February 29th, 2016

I sincerely hope that I am making this call too early, and that things will change for the better, but as the political situation currently stands we have lost another half year with basically nothing happening in the lucky country.

While I concentrate my analyses on the telecoms, the digital economy and smart city markets, I did make a statement when Malcolm Turnbull took the reins – that I absolutely disagreed with his NBN policy but that I at the same time supported him in much of the rhetoric that he was so eloquently presenting on many of the other issues that we, as a country, are facing.

But now, six months later, I have to conclude that he has not been able to transform any of that rhetoric into reality. Fortunately the destructively high level of negativism from Tony Abbott has gone, but not much has replaced it. And, while I don’t think that the names ‘Tony Turnbull’ or ‘Malcolm Abbott’ that were coined by one observer are yet appropriate, policy-wise we have not been able to make any progress.

It was very clear that Malcolm Turnbull had a massive battle ahead of him against the ultra-conservative faction in his Cabinet, but it is a real disappointment that he has been rather a lame duck in this battle.

The sad story with those ultra-conservatives is that while they are able to stop progress they are unable to come up with any plans that will move us ahead as a nation. True, the PM is using future scenarios time and time again, so he is certainly trying; but he is not getting any support from his colleagues to turn these into forward-looking policies. He seems to lack the personal power to develop policies that would be more in line with his more liberal views of the world.

It is indeed a sad situation that while the majority of the people in Australia are in favour of progress, the minority group of ultra-conservatives are able to stop it. Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) are the weapons they will use time and time again, dangerously playing on some of the darker sentiments in society.

One of the most dangerous elements for our industry in this sort of scaremongering is a loss of democracy and personal freedom through citizen and press surveillance. While the conservatives often stand for ‘small government’ in relation to secret service, surveillance and militarisation, they are the biggest advocates of maximum government intrusion. Telecommunications in all its aspects is then used to further their interventionist policies.

Talking about militarisation, the military defence paper was one of the few policies that breezed through cabinet, very much in line with the above.

As indicated, the ‘dark force’ is against progress, being instead in favour of the status quo. They see conflict all around them and want strong leaders and authoritarian processes. They are certainly not advocates of social progress. We only have to look at the Trumpfication of America so see how damaging this can get.

With more progressive politics currently being obstructed by ultra-conservatives, no action is taking place. For example, regarding the future of the NBN, which is looking bleaker by the day, several observers have now asked questions about investment in technologies that will soon become obsolete, and there is no plan to move the NBN beyond that situation. There are only a few diehards in the industry left who are still trumpeting the virtues of the second rate Multi Technology Mix (MtM); one have to ask what there motives are, political or technical?

A future privatisation will therefore most certainly be a financial disaster, a disaster clearly linked to the meshing of technologies, a FttH would most certainly have fetched a much higher price than the $27 billion estimated by PwC for a possible sale price of the MtM version of the network..

(By the way, despite a few reminders, I never got my follow-up meeting with the PM, to which he invited me after he contacted me to discuss the NBN.)

This lack of progress also applies to developments in smart energy. Despite a clear positive stand on these issues the PM has not been able to move away from the damaging policies put in place by his predecessor. In the meantime progress will happen anyway, and the heavily regulated energy industry, now totally in limbo, is facing a perfect storm – little innovation, customers disconnected from the grid, less revenue for the industry.

So who is going to pay for the grid? Will the government further increase energy prices – already among the highest in the world? That would guarantee a voters’ revolt and a boost for solar and battery installations, leading to more grid defections and therefore lower revenues for the grid operators.

For those involved in industries that are spearheading the future these ultra-conservative policies are very damaging. The world doesn’t stop; nor does it revolve around Australia. Progress will happen whether certain politicians like it or not, but without supportive policies in place it will be much harder for Australia to remain relevant and competitive in a globalised world. It will be difficult for us to create the new jobs that innovation generates, and we will miss out on the productivity and efficiencies that the digital economy has to offer – not just to businesses but also to healthcare, education and the government.

The challenges ahead of us are extremely complex and can’t be resolved with one-liners and shirt-fronting. We need far more sophisticated leadership. We had hoped that Malcolm Turnbull would deliver on that but so far he has not been able to do so.

The world is not approaching the apocalypse that some of the conservatives are predicting – we have a bright and promising future ahead of us. But we need the right political leaders to focus on these issues and provide the policies so that the rest of the country can get on with the job of making it happen.

For the moment at least Malcolm Turnbull remains our best hope, but his star is fading quickly.

Paul Budde

See also: Australia – National Broadband Network – Developments and Analyses 2015-2016

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Cyta privatisation promises major shift in Cyprus’s telecom market

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Despite the liberalisation of Cyprus’s telecom sector, the market overall continues to be dominated by the incumbent, Cyta, which is still fully-owned by the state. The government has rekindled plans to privatise Cyta as part of a wider financial bailout package. The process is expected to be completed sometime in 2016, with legislation to this effect having been before parliament in December 2015. Improved regulatory conditions, particularly in relation to network interconnection and access, has given competing operators the confidence to invest in network infrastructure, unbundle local loops and launch competing services.

The broadband market in Cyprus is developing steadily following a few years of low growth. DSL remains the most popular access platform, with cable broadband restricted to a single operator with a network concentrated in a few key towns. The fibre infrastructure is still comparatively in its infancy, with the incumbent telco Cyta having lacked the resources to invest in a fibre network, although it has made progress on building an all-IP infrastructure. The anticipated privatisation of the company could also create a separate operator to manage networks resources and attract investors. This could in turn be a catalyst for future progress in the sector.

Alternative DSL operators have taken advantage of regulated wholesale network access, resulting in a steady fall in the incumbent’s broadband market share. Growing broadband usage, supported by government policy, is also shaping Cyprus’s emerging internet society and encouraging developments in e-commerce.

The mobile market is served by three mobile network operators, including the two established players Cytamobile-Vodafone and MTN Cyprus which were joined by a third operator, PrimeTel, in 2015 soon after the company secured mobile spectrum. Having served as an MVNO since 2011, PrimeTel became a full MNO, launching 3G services by March 2015 and LTE services in the following May. Thus far the operator has only a small market share, but it has placed greater competitive pressure on other players.

This report provides an overview of Cyprus’s telecoms market, including the fixed-line sector and recent regulatory measures. It also covers the broadband and digital media markets, detailing industry developments and providing key statistics on areas including cable and DSL broadband, fibre networks and IP-delivered services such as videostreaming. In addition the report reviews the mobile market, covering a range of voice and data services, regulatory developments, and technologies. It also provides a variety of key financial and operating statistics.

Cyprus is a divided country with most of the information in this report concerned only with the Greek Cypriot area.

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

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Asia’s mobile markets shift rapidly to next gen services

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Across Asia more than 3.8 billion mobile subscribers were being served by a large number of mobile networks heading into 2016. Whilst the overall growth rate in the region has moderated the sheer numbers remain impressive. Subscriber growth is seen to have eased to around 4%-5% per annum in recent years. Across the region many countries can claim subscriber penetrations of well over 150% by now. There has, however, been a shift away from the concentration by operators on simple subscriber growth. The emphasis has moved very much to next generation and value added services, with the operators busily upgrading networks, extending coverage and generally moving to improve service.

Not surprisingly the massive markets of China and India, with their huge populations, dominate the mobile market in Asia. By end-2015 these two countries alone accounted for over 35% and 27% overall market share in the Asia region respectively; in other words, a massive 62% combined.

Top 10 mobile markets in Asia – ranked by subscribers – 2012 and 2015

Country 2012 2015
China 1,112.1 1,350.0
India 864.7 1,000.0
Indonesia 281.2 325.0
Japan 141.1 158.0
Vietnam 131.7 142.0
Pakistan 120.1 143.0
Bangladesh 97.2 127.0
Philippines 102.0 120.0
Thailand 85.0 103.0
South Korea 53.6 59.0

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

Note: Figures in italics are estimates

A good example of the way in which next generation networks have been progressively reshaping the mobile markets across the region can be found in Singapore. By July 2015 the number of mobile subscribers stood at 8.1 million for a penetration of 152%; most significantly, of these subscribers 7.9 million were signed up to 3G or 4G services. That meant that just the 3G and 4G subscribers combined represented a population penetration already well in excess of 100% by that stage. In other words, Singapore had far more mobile broadband subscriptions than population.

Importantly, 4G/LTE already has a significant presence in the Singapore market. The three mobile operators all launched a form of 4G back in 2012 and have since been rapidly expanding their coverage at a rate that effectively saw a full national presence by end-2013. By mid-2015 the number of 4G services made up 46% of the total mobile subscriber base, already almost eclipsing the 51% held by 3G. Not surprisingly 2G services had virtually disappeared.

Singapore – mobile subscribers – 2G, 3G and 4G, prepaid and postpaid – July 2015

Category Subscribers Percentage of total subscriber base
2G subscriptions    
Postpaid 179,900 2%
Prepaid 76,500 1%
Total 2G subscribers 256,400 3%
3G subscriptions   0%
Postpaid 2,726,700 33%
Prepaid 1,436,100 18%
Total 3G subscribers 4,162,800 51%
4G subscriptions   0%
Postpaid 3,259,100 40%
Prepaid 464,600 6%
Total 4G subscribers 3,723,700 46%
Total subscribers (2G+3G+4G) 8,142,900 100%

(Source: BuddeComm based on IDA data)

As the Asian mobile market continues to grow both in bulk subscriber numbers, next generation subscribers and value added services, it remains a market based largely on voice services for the time being. As already noted some markets in Asia have moved rapidly to mobile broadband and advanced data services but the predominant service in the majority of the region’s markets is mobile voice for the moment.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Asia – Mobile Infrastructure

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Cloud computing for the IoT

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

At regular intervals I report on interesting products and services that I come across; this time the focus is on Buddy.

Businesses that traditionally were not in the data processing game are suddenly finding themselves front and center in the IoT wave. Companies that manufacture white goods, light bulbs, farming and mining equipment now sell or own devices that are transmitting thousands of data points a second. The goal is to use that data to make their core business stronger, safer and more efficient, without necessarily turning into a data company. That decision and distinction can end up saving millions in time and treasure.

Buddy Platform is providing data processing services for the Internet of Things (IoT) wave and is targeting this new group of IoT users and for that purpose opened an office in Australia late last year.

They provide cloud-based data collection and processing exchange that securely stores, manages, streams, processes and translates raw device data for delivery to the world’s most popular business systems. Businesses and organizations can capture key remote intelligence and stream it in real time, at high velocity and in high volume. There are three key components to Buddy.

  • Connect: Just a few lines of code connect devices to Buddy Platform, no heavy agents or proprietary requirements. This model allows any connected device to send data to the platform helping to gain intelligence and insights.
  • Process: it can translate raw data into direct connections to business, data and analytics software. This includes custom analysis in the cloud, two-way communication between devices, or from the backend tools to the devices themselves.
  • Integrate: Once data is normalised it can be sent to a wide variety of business systems for rich visualisation, connecting to machine to machine systems, or deep analysis with big data systems
like Hadoop. Integrate data into everything from Splunk, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Tableau and more.

See also:

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Luxembourg on track to becoming Europe’s first fibred country

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Despite the effects of the global financial crisis in 2008 overall revenue from electronic communications services in Luxembourg increased in subsequent years, bucking the downward trend seen in many other European markets. This growth came to an end of 2014, when revenue fell 5.4% year-on-year. Declining revenue was partly caused by the effects of regulatory measures on areas such as interconnection tariffs and roaming charges, as also by lower consumer use of fixed-line voice services and by the prevalence of VoIP/VoBB over traditional PSTN lines.

Nevertheless, the market is adjusting to these pressures. In recent years the incumbent telco POST Telecom (formerly P&T Luxembourg) has concentrated on cloud and managed services, as well as on offering bundled packages. The company by early 2016 offered a 100Mb/s service nationally, while the footprint of its 1Gb/s service is making gains. This work is in line with the government’s program to provide a 1Gb/s service to all citizens by 2020, and to make Luxembourg the first fully fibred country in Europe.

Investment in infrastructure is being encouraged by these ambitions, and as a result investment in both fixed line and mobile networks has increased considerably since 2013. Apart from benefitting domestic customers, fibre-based broadband availability within the Duchy is also attracting international companies seeking high-end connectivity.

POST Telecom remains the dominant player in all market sectors, despite the telecoms market having been liberalised in 1998. Regulatory measures during the last few years have encouraged broadband competition through local loop unbundling, yet the proportion of unbundled lines remains relatively low.

High mobile penetration has slowed subscriber growth in the mobile market since 2005. Partly as a result of fixed-mobile substitution, Luxembourg has one of the lowest fixed-line densities in Europe, at about 51%.

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

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