Archive for December, 2016

Bulgaria’s telecom sector revenue under continuing pressure

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Bulgaria’s telecoms market continues to be affected by the country’s poor macroeconomic climate and high unemployment. These factors are exacerbated by the consumer trends which have seen the continuing decline in the fixed-line sector as voice is replaced by mobile and VoIP alternatives. In addition, SMS and MMS services are being pressed by the growing use of alternative OTT messaging, so eroding an important revenue stream for mobile network operators. Further pressure is anticipated in 2017, particularly with international roaming rates having to fall in line with domestic rates.

The telecom sector has nevertheless benefitted from Bulgaria’s adoption of EU regulatory measures, which has encouraged investment in the sector from other telcos as well as private equity firms. The incumbent Vivacom has been privatised, and the government no longer holds the ‘golden share’ which had enabled it to veto certain key decisions. In August 2016 Viva Telecom (Luxembourg) completed the acquisition of InterV Investment, which indirectly owns Vivacom, for €330 million. Although the liberalised market has attracted new market entrants, Vivacom remains the dominant player.

Bulgaria has a rapidly developing mobile market, with effective competition provided by Telekom Austria’s M-Tel, Telenor’s local unit, and the incumbent Vivacom. A new entrant, MAX (Max Telecom), provides additional competition. Mobile penetration is relatively high, the result of a significant trend for fixed-mobile substitution in recent years. Competition among network operators has intensified given the recent implementation of a streamlined mobile number portability process. By the end of 2016 mobile networks accounted for about 85% of all voice revenue.

Mobile data offerings are focused on mobile broadband, resulting in considerable investment in network upgrades among all players.

The broadband market enjoys excellent cross-platform competition, including DSL, cable, fibre, WiMAX and LAN-based services. While the share of the market held by cable has increased slightly in recent years, the DSL sector is losing market share as a result of customers being migrated to fibre networks. Operators including Vivacom and Cooolbox now provide gigabit services, with Vivacom’s fibre infrastructure covering about 1.07 million premises by September 2016. By late 2015 an estimated two-thirds of subscribers were connected to fibre networks.

The country has undertaken steps to develop an internet society encompassing commerce, health and government services. Cable TV penetration is well above the EU average and the market has undergone considerable consolidation. Digital TV is also widely available via broadband TV and satellite.

This report provides an overview of Bulgaria’s fixed-line telecom market, including data on regulatory developments, the strategies and performances of the major operators and an assessment of the evolution of fixed-line networks. The report also reviews the mobile market, offering a variety of statistics and insightful analyses covering the major operators, market developments and services offered. In addition, the report assesses the broadband and digital media markets, including an overview of the technologies, major players and market developments, as well as a variety of statistics and fixed broadband forecasts to 2021.

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

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Peru nears completion of National Fibre-Optic Backbone project

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Peru’s fixed-line teledensity is among the lowest in South America, at about 9.8%. Obstacles to fixed-line growth include widespread poverty, fixed-to-mobile substitution, expensive telephone services, and geographical inaccessibility in the rugged Andean mountains and lowland Amazon jungles. Nevertheless, the government continues to address these shortcomings through ambitious investment projects aimed at extending telecom infrastructure and services to underserved areas. Contracts have been awarded to develop telecom services to the regions, and by mid-2017 eight regional fibre-based networks will be connected to the National Fibre-Optic Backbone.

Telefónica del Perú dominates the telephony market though the company’s subscriber base has fallen in recent quarters. América Móvil’s Claro occupies a distant second place but its share is growing steadily, reaching about 21% by mid-2016. Americatel Peru, a subsidiary of Entel Chile, is third with about 1.3% market share.

Broadband subscriber penetration in Peru, at about 7% at the end of 2016, is considerably lower than the Latin American average. The shortcoming in broadband penetration is partly due to socio-economic barriers and rugged topography which has made the extension of fixed-line infrastructure in some areas difficult. Perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of market competition, which has made broadband services in Peru among the slowest and most expensive in the region. Solutions are being found in mobile broadband alternatives. In May 2017 spectrum in the 700MHhz band was auctioned, enabling licensees to improve connectivity in urban areas. Licence conditions will deliver mobile broadband to 195 unserved or underserved communities.

Peru’s mobile penetration, broaching 113% by the end of 2016, is on a par with the regional average though this hides the fact that about a fifth of the population has no mobile phone at all, while many Peruvians – especially urban dwellers – have multiple mobile subscriptions.

There is effective competition in the mobile market, with four companies competing: Movistar Perú is the leading player with about 48% of the market, followed by Claro Perú and Entel Perú. Viettel, trading as Bitel, is the fourth mobile network operator. Having launched services in mid-2014 the company had signed up about 2.5 million subscribers by June 2016. Further developments are expected in the MVNO sector, following the launch of services by Virgin Mobile (first MVNO in the country) in September 2016.

This report provides an overview of Peru’s telecom infrastructure, together with profiles of the major fixed-line operators. It includes a wide range of relevant statistics and analyses. The report also reviews the broadband and digital media markets, as well as the mobile voice and data markets, including an assessment of technologies, a profile of operators’ performance and strategies, and subscriber forecasts to 2021.

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

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Smart Cities and Suburbs Subsidy Round One

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

As promised, the government delivered its first set of guidelines on its smart city subsidy program  before the Christmas break. In all there is $50 million in the kitty, but the first round is for $10 million.

According to the draft grants framework, the government is looking to fund ‘ambitious and transformational proposals which move local government services beyond business as usual’. Proposals must involve at least one local government organisation.

The first round of grants will be aimed at some quick wins, with eligible projects required to be able to start within two months of receiving the funding green light.

Individual grants will range from $100,000 to $5 million, but in order to prove their ‘commitment to the project’ applicants are being asked to find at least half of their project funding from other sources.

Applications will formally open in the first half of 2017, but in the meantime the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is inviting feedback on its proposed framework for assessing bids.

I think the greatest contribution from the federal government is that it has taken leadership on this issue. This has allowed all of us involved in the smart city movement to get more and better traction. Because of the existence of a National Plan cities and the industry are taking this issue seriously.

The tone of the National Plan as well is the guidelines is totally in line with international best practices – in fact Australia is internationally used as an example. A key reason for this is that it favours a strategic rather than a project approach. We need communities that look at smart cities in a strategic way, so smart councils are necessary, not the usual silo structure. Over the last decades we have seen many of those silo-based smart city projects which end up in what I call ‘death by pilot’ due to there being no strategic plan behind them.

Furthermore, that National Plan put a big emphasis on collaboration. In reality businesses are better-positioned to develop business and investment plans, and, with city-based leadership collaboration models between cities and industry, they can deliver the projects that we expect to arrive from smart cities. The Plan also has a very important role for R&D cooperation, especially in relation to national standards, national security, data management etc.

Importantly under the guidelines there is also room for projects that will allow local councils that don’t yet have such plans in place to get funding for building capacity that will allow them to bid for future project funding.

Citizens are put central, it is about outcomes for them and there needs to be a citizen engagement program as well as user participation in projects that will receive funding.

Those of you who followed my smart city blogs over the last few years will recognise many of these issues as key requirements for successful smart city projects.

So it is great to see all of this reflected in the first Round of the Smart Cities and Suburbs subsidy plan and again I see this as a great stimulus to kick-start collaboration. However, this would be my one criticism of the guidelines. Collaboration is easy to say but much harder to do and the guidelines don’t provide the hooks needed to actually establish broad collaboration (between all three levels of government and between local government, industry and the R&D community). In stead parties will take the easy way out and try to establish exclusive collaboration between one vendor and a city or a region. The subsidy ‘dangle’ could have been used to establish real broad collaboration as a bit more ‘force’ will be needed in getting the parties to talk and work together.

In the end, as I mentioned, the role of the government is to show leadership and direction; but it will be the cities (= councils, citizens and local innovators and SMEs) who, together with private industry and the R&D community, will have to do the hard work.

There is also a critical role for state government in all of this as they have the city purse-strings in their hands, and they will also have to be part of the collaboration model to make it all happen. Yes, this looks like a complex issue and yes there will be lots of trial and error on the way, but we have a fantastic opportunity ahead of us to start working on more liveable, sustainable and interconnected cities with great social and economic benefits to the people who live there.

Paul Budde

See also:-

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Smart Cities can make a difference

Monday, December 19th, 2016

In our part of the world Christmas is a celebration of family relationships, friendships, love and peace and we would like to share this sentiment with you all. We may all have our different cultures, but the values of friends, families, peace and love are universal.

One of the most important elements of the sector that we are involved in is that we are a critical link in the chain of communication and the more contact we have with each other the greater understanding, collaboration and friendship we can enjoy.

Over the last few years I have become more and more involved in assisting cities and industry to develop smart cities, and one of the great elements of this is that at a city or community level there is far greater mutual understanding and cooperation than there is at national or state levels, where at the moment, in many cases, the opposite actually happens. At a city level people are far more inclined to work together and in most situations those who live in cities and communities get along very well with each other.

This spurs me on to put more and more effort behind such grassroots developments. If we build more liveable, friendly, sustainable and interconnected communities we can solve many of the problems confronting the human race.

In my travels to cities around the world I am also enormously impressed by the literally thousands of young people who are involved in local innovation hubs in cities, schools and universities. Many start-ups are operating in similar environments and many businesses have programs for young people as well.

These are the people who are going to build our smart cities. They are the people who are creating new economic activity that will result in more and better jobs, all centered on the social and economic activities in those cities. This in turn will increase the economic as well as the social value of a city.

So my Christmas message is to build better and stronger local communities, where we all personally have a much better opportunity to shape our future. And, returning to our contribution as an industry, we have the tools (intellect, software, hardware) that are important to make this happen.

Our BuddeComm community consists of over 4,000 people in over 80 countries – a large enough number to make a difference.

Christmas is only one local cultural event on the global calendar – even our annual calendars vary between many of our societies – but as we make a start to the year 2017 we send our best wishes for happiness and good health to you and your loved ones.

All the best from the BuddeComm team in Bucketty and Australia, and from our analysts operating in countries elsewhere.

Paul Budde

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Friday, December 16th, 2016

In our part of the world this is a celebration of family relationships, friendships, love and peace and we would like to share this sentiment with you all. We may all have our different cultures, but the values of friends, families, peace and love are universal.

One of the most important elements of the industry that we are involved in is that we are a critical link in the chain of communication and the more contact we have with each other the greater understanding, collaboration and friendship we can enjoy.

Over the last few years I have become more and more involved in assisting cities and industry to develop smart cities, and one of the great elements of this is that at a city or community level there is far greater mutual understanding and cooperation than there is at national or state levels, where at the moment, in many cases, the opposite actually happens. At a city level people are far more inclined to work together and in most situations those who live in cities and communities get along very well with each other.

This spurs me on to put more and more effort behind such grassroots developments. If we build more liveable, friendly, sustainable and interconnected communities we can solve many of the problems confronting the human race.

In my travels to cities around the world I am also enormously impressed by the literally thousands of young people who are involved in local innovation hubs in cities, schools and universities. Many start-ups are operating in similar environments and many businesses have programs for young people as well.

These are the people who are going to build our smart cities. They are the people who are creating new economic activity that will result in more and better jobs, all centered on the social and economic activities in those cities. This in turn will increase the economic as well as the social value of a city.

So my Christmas message is to build better and stronger local communities, where we all personally have a much better opportunity to shape our future. And, returning to our contribution as an industry, we have the tools (intellect, software, hardware) that are important to make this happen.

Our BuddeComm community consists of over 4,000 people in over 80 countries – a large enough number to make a difference.

Christmas is only one local cultural event on the global calendar – even our annual calendars vary between many of our societies – but as we make a start to the year 2017 we send our best wishes for happiness and good health to you and your loved ones.

All the best from the BuddeComm team in Bucketty and Australia, and from our analysts operating in countries elsewhere.

Paul Budde

We hope you enjoy our Christmas Game

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