Archive for January, 2017

Netherlands Smart City Strategy and the role of GSC3

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

As mentioned in last week’s blog, as we speak Assistant Minister Angus Taylor is now in the Netherlands. He will also be briefed on the Dutch Smart City Strategy that was launched last week. After Australia, the Netherlands is now the second country with a national smart city strategy and there is obviously interest on both sides to learn from each other.

Also important for Australia is the fact that as I have highlighted in bold below that the GSC3 is now part of the Dutch strategy as the official tool for international collaboration. In the final report (which is currently being translated in English) Australia is mentioned as one of the markets where this collaboration is already getting traction. The GSC3 delegation will be back in Australian in March to meet with the Australian member cities and several other cities have also shown interest in joining the alliance.

Through GSC3 we now have easy access to smart city activities and smart city projects in the 37 cities being the leading cities behind the Dutch strategy (see below).

Here is the official press release after the Dutch Strategy was presented to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Paul Budde

A large number of Dutch cities, companies and scientists have contributed to the National Smart City Strategy. Earlier this week, they presented their Strategy to Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who had requested a consolidated Smart City Vision. The G5 of the Netherlands’ largest five cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven) together with the G32 of middle to large size Dutch towns are keen to take a leading role and have asked central government in The Hague for support.

The aim of the National Smart City Strategy is to improve the quality of life in Dutch cities and to introduce innovative solutions to increase their international competitive strength. As Dutch towns and cities are expanding and the pressure on public amenities and infrastructure is growing, it is vital to undertake action now. Around the world, cities are faced with issues such as urbanisation, climate change, employment, digitisation and mobility. The Dutch towns and cities agree that investments in smart technology are necessary to respond to these major social challenges and will provide a substantial contribution to their economic vitality.

The contributors to the National Smart City Strategy perceive a great need for high-end digital infrastructure and room to experiment, to allow them to develop their pilot programmes into large-scale projects across a range of different areas, including mobility and accessibility of cities, sustainable and low-energy homes and building, improvements of air quality and smart, healthy urbanisation. These initiatives will require the set-up of cross-sector partnerships and active participation from both residents and businesses, focusing on cybersecurity, privacy, interoperability, hyperconnectivity, open source digital infrastructure, standardisation and finance.

The Hague’s Deputy Mayor Ingrid van Engelshoven, Portfolio Holder for Knowledge Economy, International Relations, Education and Youth said: “The joint Smart City Strategy is a key requirement to be able to move ahead. The cities will build on their own strength and the need to draw up joint investment agendas. Cities and towns, businesses, research institutes and Central Government will have to work together to contribute to the economic growth, prosperity and quality of life of our cities, benefiting residents, visitors and businesses alike.”

NXP’s Maurice Geraets: “The National Smart City Strategy offers real solutions to real problems, which can be applied not only in the Netherlands but worldwide.” Dennis Mica, 2getthere: “Together cities are stronger. The Smart City Strategy offers an effective platform to organise partnerships and address the challenges of our times.”

Cities facilitate innovation

The associated cities facilitate experiments to develop innovations and urban applications in living labs, providing solutions which can be replicated by other cities. Working on a larger scale will also provide better business cases and a more attractive investment climate. It is important that projects are guided by the specific qualities of each city and that the cities are prepared to work with other cities as well as with governments, businesses and knowledge institutes.

International positioning

The associated cities aim to step up their international collaborations as well, encouraged by the Smart City World Expo in Barcelona in November 2016 and supported by the Global Smart City & Community Coalition (GSC3). These global initiatives work in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which also reflect the main principles of the national strategy.

Joint Cities and Central Government investment strategy

It is important for Central Government to recognise Smart Cities as an economic cornerstone with a global impact. Central Government will need to make an active contribution to draw up a joint investment agenda. The associated cities would also like to call on the Dutch Government to facilitate quick decision-making and legal room for experiments.

Smart Cities requires co-ordination

Together, the public and private parties as well as the academic institutes propose that the different ministerial departments co-ordinate their actions to support the cities’ Smart City development. It is essential that they share knowledge, co-ordinate national initiatives and contribute to the alignment of the various requirements. In effect, city councils, businesses and knowledge institutes are already linked up through regional platforms, but a well co-ordinated and focused national effort can help to share knowledge, obtain best practices in Smart City solutions, promote smoother collaboration and provide welcome support for the organisation’s international activities. This includes providing support for cities, businesses and knowledge institutes to receive national and European subsidies.

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ICT industry stands up against Trump

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Trump’s first week in office has been an interesting, if shocking, one. While many other presidents have been blamed for not using their first 100 days in office to put their stamp on the direction of their presidency, Trump is most certainly doing this.

And we no longer need to wonder whether his talk is rhetoric or reality.

The latter most certainly being the case, this does not mean that all of his orders will now suddenly be turned into law; however it most certainly shows the direction he plans to take for the country.

Many of my American colleagues have mentioned the strong institutions that are in place which would make it difficult for Trump to get some of his radical changes through. These institutions include the Senate, the House, the courts, the individual states, press, the bureaucracy – and, of course, the American people.

Let’s hope they are right!

And so it was good to see that the ICT industry reacted strongly to the executive order on immigration.

While many companies had tried to get their affected employees to return to the US quickly, the order came well before most were able to do so. The companies involved – led by Google, Microsoft and Facebook – have voiced strong concerns over restrictions that could interfere with the way they conduct their businesses.

I have been asked by the press what this would mean for Australia – for instance, will companies avoid America and start using other countries to work from in order to maintain their international operations?

If Trump persists with such policies, and perhaps even more importantly if he is able to create a trade war, companies, especially in the ICT industry, will most certainly look around for alternatives, safe havens. And, yes, Australia will profit from this.

However the overall results will be bad for the Australian Prime Minister’s much-used mantra of ‘growth and jobs’. If Trump succeeds with his policies it will be bad for all of us.

Paul Budde

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North Asian countries lead the fixed broadband market but other Asian nations catching up

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

This market report provides a comprehensive overview of the fixed broadband and internet segment of the telecom market across the various economies of Asia. Asia makes a strong claim to be leading the world when it comes to the general development of broadband internet. While mobile broadband is already a large and fast growing segment of the region’s internet market, fixed broadband continues to underpin the delivery of internet services to households and businesses. Fibre-based fixed broadband services have taken on a major significance and are shaping to define the broadband market of the future.

South Korea and Japan are the leading two countries in Asia with regards to internet penetration with penetration reaching 91% in 2016. Behind South Korea and Japan are Singapore (84%), Taiwan (83%), Azerbaijan (79%), and Hong Kong (79%). China leads in terms of overall number of internet users in 2016  (730 million), followed by India (290 million), Japan (115 million) and Indonesia (63.1 million).

The expansion of broadband was for a long time a phenomenon limited to the developed economies, with narrowband dial-up access being the norm in the majority of the poorer developing countries of the region. However this has been gradually changing. In those economies, there is now increasing access to broadband, both DSL and cable modem platforms have both proved popular, with DSL establishing a clear advantage. More recently, we have seen the arrival of FttX as an alternative platform for broadband access in Asia. There also continues to be considerable activity in the broadband markets across Asia including amongst the many number of smaller countries such as Azerbaijan, Maldives and Macau.

China leads the fixed broadband market in terms of both overall subscribers and market penetration. Subscribers reached 213 million in 2016 and market penetration reached 53%. Although China boasts the largest number of broadband connections in the world, annual growth rates are subsiding as housing penetration reaches levels indicative of market maturity. China Telecom and China Unicom are the largest suppliers of fixed broadband. Fixed broadband levels in China are expected to continue rise more gradually due to a confluence of factors that includes telecom operators seeking revenue growth, a government seeking to reach ambitious targets, the increasing wealth of end users and digital media giants seeking new audiences.

South Korea holds second place with fixed broadband subscriber penetration of 41% in 2016. The move towards faster speeds and becoming full-service operators is expected to drive further growth. FttX deployments have increased as operators try to gain customers through bundled services such as high-definition IPTV. Broadband subscription rates in South Korea are low at less than US$30 per month for speeds over 100Mb/s.

Hong Kong takes third place with fixed broadband subscriber penetration of 32% in 2016. Broadband subscriber growth in Hong Kong has flattened due to high fixed household broadband penetration and increased product substitution due to higher speed mobile broadband services based on HSPA and LTE. However, fixed broadband services will continue to grow based on the sheer volume of data traffic as the market shifts from:

  • Connecting people to connecting devices;
  • Increasing usage of cloud services;
  • Increasing bandwidth demands from higher quality HD and 4K streaming services.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Asia – Fixed Broadband Market – Statistics and Analyses

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France enacts ‘right to disconnect’ legislation

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

France has a reputation for generously long vacations (holidays) and relatively short working weeks. But things have been changing over the last decade or so. Technology has made it increasingly difficult for staff to leave their jobs behind once they depart their place of work and head off home. The widespread use of smartphones and laptops has seen the link between the work environment and personal space become a virtual continuum. As a consequence work has invaded the personal; this in turn has increased both the amount of work and the pressure of work. With this changing world in mind and particularly the concern for the health of workers, governments are being urged to take action. The French government is one of the first movers in this regard.

France has introduced new legislation covering employment which obliges companies with a workforce of over 50 people to negotiate the terms of sending work emails after hours and defines the rights of employees to ignore such communication. The legislation took effect on 1st January 2017. Through the implementation of the law, the country is aiming to address the problem of the ‘always-on’ work culture by giving workers the ‘right to disconnect.’ Most significantly, however, although the new law states that employers should work out viable ways to avoid the intrusion of work-related matters into the private lives of staff, the new ‘right to disconnect’ legislation does not impose any penalties on companies that fail to reach such agreements with their workers.

Further, the law does not ban out-of-hours emails altogether. In fact, one might ask, given its rather vague language, whether the new law will do anything much to change the increasingly online culture of the national workforce.

The ‘online burnout’ law was part of a contentious labour bill that saw significant protests throughout France in 2016. As it turned out, the proposed provision for the ‘right to disconnect’ was one of the few points of agreement in the bill!  The trigger for the inclusion of this provision in the law was a 2015 report commissioned by the French Ministry of Labour. The study reported that the spread of mobile technology has made it difficult for employees to find a healthy work-life balance, which in turn leads to widespread fatigue and eventually to ‘burnout.’

See also: France – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

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Growth in the Timor-Leste mobile market continues however other telco sectors remain challenged

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Timor-Leste has been pressing ahead with the regeneration of its economy and the rebuilding of infrastructure. The effort to roll out telecommunications infrastructure in particular has been a key part of this. Despite the considerable energy that has been going into this rebuilding, the prevailing social and political environment continues to present major challenges to those seeking to improve the country.

The country’s telecommunications sector has been expanding with the mobile telephone sector experiencing a particularly strong and sustained surge. After recording huge annual growth rates over a number of years from 2006 onwards, by 2015 the country’s mobile subscriber base had increased rapidly in a short period of time and penetration had moved past the 100% mark.

Most other sectors in the telecom market in Timor Leste however remain in relatively early stages of development.

The mobile broadband subscriber base in Timor Leste has been growing strongly in term of annual growth rates however only from a very small base.

Fixed-line network expansion continues to languish, however, with fixed teledensity down around 0.3% and seemingly stuck there. Although it is difficult to get accurate figures on the internet market, it is clear that growth in this sector remained highly constricted and there is little optimism about online activity in Timor Leste in the short term. Whilst there is a limited fixed broadband service in the country, the number of subscribers for this type of access remains extremely low. The advent of mobile broadband internet access has provided a boost to the internet sector; however, again, the initial penetration figures were not as yet having a major impact on the overall market.

While the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) does provide some statistical information on this market, the information is limited. It has continued to be a difficult task to obtain official statistics for the country’s telecom sector. Where official statistics are not available, BuddeComm has attempted to provide estimates.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Timor Leste (East Timor) – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses

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