Archive for July, 2016

Global Cloud Specialists are Driving Growth in the Australian Data Centre Market

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Data Centres

BuddeComm has been supportive of the data centre market since the 1990s. However, it took nearly 20 years for the industry to reach its current position. The arrival of cloud computing, Big Data, M2M and IoT allowed for a large range of new services and applications, especially aimed at small and medium organisations.

The data centre market includes telehousing facilities, co-location facilities, cloud and IT services, content hosting, connectivity and interconnection. They are important for a range of business and government applications including new developments of cloud computing and the Internet of Things (M2M).

These developments have given an enormous boost to the data centre market, with investments totalling $5 billion over the 2011-2016 period. Investment in datacentres in Australia is still very strong, driven by the large number of global and local cloud specialist providers entering the local market, particularly the global providers Microsoft, Amazon and CenturyLink. Currently the developments are highly centralised in the capital cities, but a more decentralised trend is expected to develop over time.

Data centre customers are migrating from co-location services and managed hosting to cloud services. Cloud providers are the fastest growing segment of most Australian data centre providers.

Government continues to increase in maturity in their understanding of cloud technologies, how to use cloud to the best of their advantage, and how to optimize their existing infrastructure.

Data Analytics

BuddeComm describes ‘big data’ as looking at intelligent outcomes that can be achieved from data collaboration. The most critical issue here is strategic management, rather than technology. However the fact that big data has become a vital tool in competition is forcing many companies to transform their organisations from a company-centric approach to a customer-centric one.

The fact that this development is being driven by data-rich organisations such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and many others operating in the digital economy is an indication that data management is a critical factor here. In other words, if you don’t have your company’s data systems and structures organised in a customer-centric way you won’t be able to deliver a good customer experience.

Connected information management, however, can go much further. There are many other players involved in the broader ecosystem, and by sharing and combining relevant data sets and then analysing those large data sets we can find new correlations that can be used to spot business trends, assess customer behaviour, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on.

Obviously this needs to be done on a permission-based or opt-in basis, but if the customer sees the value of it they can become involved. Nevertheless privacy is an issue that requires close scrutiny.

M2M

With the NBN and LTE now well and truly underway it is important to look at what will be the value of this new infrastructure to the development of a network that will be dominated by sensors and devices.

The infrastructure that is now being built offers a range of features such as ubiquitousness, affordability, low latency, high speed and high capacity. It will link millions of devices, such as sensors, that will enable us to manage our environment, traffic, infrastructures, and our society as a whole much more efficiently and effectively.

The ‘Internet of Things’ (referring more to personal devices such as wearables and smartphones) and M2M (referring to a more industrial use based on sensors) are going to be real game-changers. They will transform every single sector of society and the economy and it will be out of this environment that new businesses – and indeed new industries – will be born.  LTE and later on 5G will take a leadership role in the development of M2M but the NBN is also a key infrastructure element as more and application will require high quality video.  These developments are closely linked to big data , data analytics, cloud computing and data centres and these elements all play a fundamental role in the success of this new infrastructure.

The number of connected M2M devices in Australia will grow to somewhere between 25 million and 50 million by 2020.

Cyber Crime

With the internet having become critical national and international infrastructure a whole range of privacy and issues have come to the fore in relation to the digital economy and the digital society. Some of these issues are in relation to national and international security and tens of billions are spent by governments using the internet as a surveillance tool. This has led to a frenzy of activity by governments to, on the one hand, protect their sovereignty and, on the other, use the internet for their own security activities.

Separate to this are the commercial issues. With internet services becoming pervasive it can be argued, rightly or wrongly, that there are some services that people simply have to have. This is exploited by the companies involved, with requests for a range of highly private data in exchange for the free use of these applications and services.

Another issue relates to the free flow of information over the internet. In countries with little infrastructure- based competition there is a threat that these providers will use commercial arrangements to favour some over the rest. This is known as the net neutrality issue and, while this issue is mainly of concern to the USA, other countries are also keeping a close eye on possible monopolistic misuse.

On top of that is the issue of international governance of the internet and its basic infrastructure. However, with widely diverging interests from countries such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea on one side and Europe and North America on the other, there is a long way to go before any consensus can be reached, if ever.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Australia – Data Analytics, M2M, Cyber Crime and Data Centres

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Zimbabwe’s telcos agree to mobile and fixed network infrastructure sharing

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Zimbabwe’s economy has seen a downturn since the fractious elections of July 2013, resulting in a significant fall in GDP growth. The contribution to GDP from the telecom sector has fallen steadily as a result. Sector revenue has come under pressure from a number of recent regulatory measures and taxes imposed by the cash-strapped government. Nevertheless, the telecom sector shows some promise, particularly from the mobile sector where mobile penetration has increased rapidly, approaching 110% by mid-2016. The three mobile network operators Econet Wireless, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe continue to invest in network upgrades to support data services and their fast-expanding m-commerce and m-banking facilities. Telecel was recently acquired by the government from VimpelCom, and the financial demands required for investment has jeopardised resources potentially available to the incumbent telco TelOne, (formerly PTC), which still holds a de-facto monopoly on fixed-line services in the country. Plans to privatise up to 60% of TelOne and NetOne, either through an IPO or a strategic partnership with a foreign investor, remain on hold.

Limitations in international bandwidth for the landlocked country for many years held back development of the internet and broadband sectors, but this has changed since fibre optic links to several submarine cables have been established via neighbouring territories. The expansion of 3G mobile broadband services across the country, and the more recent efforts to provide LTE services, have meant that more than half of the population now has access to the internet. The first commercial LTE services were launched in 2013, while investment in LTE technologies, for which the regulator has assigned spectrum in the 700MHz band, continues. By the end of 2015 mobile internet connections made up 95.6% of all internet connections. The number of LTE connections grew 374% in the year, reflecting the efforts made by Econet and NetOne in rolling out LTE base stations. Internet penetration increased to 48% by the end of 2015.

Growth in Zimbabwe’s mobile market has been hampered by the poor economic climate, exacerbated by recent regulatory measures affecting tariffs and taxes. These burdens have placed greater pressure on network operator revenue, which has jeopardised their ability to invest in necessary network upgrades. Annual revenue has fallen steadily during the last three years, with a near 18% fall in 2015 alone. NetOne and Econet have both invested in LTE services. The sale of the financially troubled Telecel Zimbabwe was completed in mid-2016, with the government now owing the company through its ISP Zarnet.

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

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Progress towards addressing capacity issues in Samoa

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

The geography of the Pacific region has made internet connectivity a serious problem for the many islands dispersed over vast oceanic spaces. Submarine fibre-optic networks are expensive to build and maintain, with capital costs that are prohibitive for the smaller island communities. Some countries have to rely solely on geostationary satellites. As a result, bandwidth is limited and broadband prices are extremely high.

However Samoa is beginning to address its international capacity issues with a major public-private project underway. Facilitated by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and the Samoan government, it will see high-speed telecom improvements in Samoa via a fibre optic submarine cable which will connect Samoa (Upolu and Savai’i) with the Southern Cross Cable Network in Fiji (Suva). The Tui Samoa cable, as it known, will be co-financed by the ADB, the WB, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as well as the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC) which also incorporates other smaller investors. The project is expected to cost around US$49 million and should be available by the end of 2017.

The Tui Samoa cable will not only provide reliable, faster and more affordable internet access – but also important economic and social benefits to Samoa. Improved internet services will create job opportunities, better access to e-health services from Australia and New Zealand as well as improvements to education delivery.

There are two other cables planned which will also serve Samoa. These include the construction of the MOANA Cable System which is forecast to be completed in 2018. It will link New Zealand to Hawaii, as well as serving Samoa and American Samoa. It is to be built by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks and BlueSky Pacific Group.

New Zealand’s Hawaiki Cable Ltd is also planning to build a 14,000km submarine cable system (25Tb/s design capacity), linking Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and the US West Coast. The system would have branching units to several Pacific islands including New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, and American Samoa. In April 2016 it was reported that the project would proceed as it had obtained the necessary funding.

Samoa has one of the highest rates of mobile phone coverage in the Pacific region. Samoa has over 100% mobile penetration (including multi-SIM ownership) and almost full mobile network coverage based on a mix of 2G and 3G technologies. While Papua New Guinea and Fiji will be the two major markets for 4G technology in the South Pacific region going forward; there is also progress towards 4G LTE in Samoa with Digicel Samoa officially launching its network in mid 2016.

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

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Telecom services improving for Kiribati

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Kiribati presents a challenging geography for telecommunications network deployments. Traditional network architecture is unsuitable for Kiribati, as the islands are only connected to each other and to the rest of the world via satellite. Some of the inhabited islands still require access to satellite networks and generally speaking fibre-optic infrastructure is unsuitable and too expensive.

The Pacific region as a whole is heavily reliant on mobile technologies for its communication services and Kiribati is no exception. In 2015 Kiribati began to receive the benefit of a renewed interest in its telecoms infrastructure due to the sale of the only telecoms operator, the state-owned Telecommunication Services Kiribati Limited (TSKL) to Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) from Fiji.

The newly formed Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Kiribati Limited (ATHKL) quickly announced it would be performing the first phase of its improvements in Kiribati with 3G and 4G network upgrades deployed in some areas. In addition it upgraded networks to Internet Protocol (IP) and began exploring the option of a low latency affordable internet solution for Kiribati.

Most encouraging to the citizens of Kiribati, considered one of the poorest Islands in the region; ATHKL began offering new affordable handsets as well as attractive pricing plans.

Kiribati may also benefit from the introduction of competition in the mobile sector in the near future. In September 2015 the Government of Kiribati and the Communications Commission of Kiribati (CCK) launched a tender for a second mobile license which would be offered under a 15-year renewable term.

These are all positive developments for a country which faces serious issues relating to over-population, poverty and the very real threat of rising sea levels.

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

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The next development in wireless broadband

Monday, July 25th, 2016

In the USA the FCC has started the discussion on the next level of telecoms in the wireless market, aimed at making spectrum in bands above 24GHz available for flexible-use of wireless services,  including next-generation, or 5G networks and technologies.

New technologies such as massive-MIMO are going to make it possible to deliver ‘fibre-like’ speeds over short distance wireless networks operating in the 24+GHz bands. This will make the technology especially useful for high-speed broadband services in densely populated areas.

Because this spectrum is only useful over relatively short distances, the base stations will need to have fibre optic network connections. Most mobile base stations are already connected to fibre, and fibre-connected buildings are ideally suited for the many more base stations needed for these new wireless technologies.

It is expected that these new services will be able to provide high-speed broadband at very competitive prices.

While there are calls to also make this spectrum available for unlicensed services the mobile industry will push hard for their use of the spectrum, and they will again be willing to pay billions of dollars for it. And governments will be very tempted to simply take that money. However it is expected that some capacity will be available for unlicensed services.

A question that remains unanswered is how wireless networks will handle capacity.

Currently 4G networks offer excellent broadband services and, as long as the usage is limited, the prices are competitive. However, as soon as the mobile networks are being used for entertainment services such as Netflix the affordability drops significantly. Looking ahead, more and more of these entertainment services will be delivered over broadband and more and more people will move from traditional TV to these broadband-based services. At the same time the quality is moving from HDTV to 4K and it remains unlikely that these services can be supported by wireless networks at affordable prices.

However, if fixed networks operators are not providing FttH infrastructure, and are thus not going to be able to deliver the broadband quality that people demand, the wireless industry will look for new opportunities and will push the boundaries further and further.

Progress has been made here also. Already off-the-shelf point-to-point wireless links operating in the 70-80GHz bands can provide as much as 6/6Gb/s over distances of 1500-2500 meters, and at those frequencies the beams are exceedingly narrow so many links can be placed on the same rooftop.

Furthermore, this is not simply about FttH networks. Most cities still don’t have a city-wide fibre-based backbone structure that is, for example, able to service their increasing number of apartment buildings. Here we see companies such as netBlazr in Boston providing a high-speed wireless backbone system to beam capacity to the roofs of these building and then linking this to existing internal Cat5 and Cat6 cabling for internal distribution.

Based on this configuration they are able to provide 300/300Mb/s service to residential apartment or condo dwellers (for $59/month) and with new technology developments they are currently upgrading selected buildings to 500/500Mb/s (at the same price).

In the case of Blazr most of this wireless infrastructure is using the 200MHz-wide band of spectrum at 24GHz which is licence-exempt in the US (and many other countries).  With readily available radios they can get 1/1Gb/s of capacity over a 24GHz link and the beams are directional enough (3 degree beamwidth) that we can locate many separate links on the same rooftop, interconnecting a building with many other buildings.

Their usage costs are only a small percentage of their operating costs (<3%).  When several hundred customers have been aggregated with 300/300Mb/s service, peak traffic (typically 9-11pm) averages 1.2Mb/s per customer.  Many of their customers are younger and are cord-cutters.

Paul Budde

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