Monday, March 30, 2009

Ghana Telecom - job cuts

Vodafone swings the axe at Ghana Telecom

The mobile market in parts of Africa is experiencing an unprecedented boom. From Egypt to South Africa and Nigeria to Kenya, growth is remarkable - despite the global economic downturn. However, some telcos are still overstaffed.

Overmanning is one of the last remaining legacies of the old, discredited, bureaucratic and inefficient state-owned model of telecoms provision that pertained in parts of Africa well into the mobile era.

Last summer, Vodafone spent US$900 million to acquire a 70 per cent stake in the west African state-controlled fixed line and mobile operator Ghana Telecom. The purchase caused a furore within the country. The government quickly approved the take-over but the political opposition were highly critical and claimed the deal had been rushed though with insufficient parliamentary oversight whilst the shares themselves were undervalued.

Now more than 20 per cent of the workforce at the carrier is to be cut with 850 out of 4,000 people being made redundant in what is, initially at least, a voluntary programme, in an effort to slim down the bloated staffing numbers to a level commensurate with a modern telco.

In a florid and adjective-laden posting on its Ghana Telecom's website, Vodafone sugars what must be a bitter pill for what it coyly calls "disengaged staff" by self-referencing its "generous offer of voluntary disengagement" and access to a "customised Transition Support Programme" to help those made redundant "manage the change effectively as they seek different endeavours."

The rate of unemployment in Ghana is believed to run in the mid 20 per cent range so such "different endeavours" might be hard to find.

Probably just as well then that "in accordance with Vodafone's cherished values and best practice People Management Principles" (their capitals, not mine) those staff "disengaging" from the company "will be equipped with basic skills to plan and manage their personal finances better" whilst those "desirous of setting up their own businesses will be taken through basic entrepreneurial training."

Ghana has a liberalised telecoms market and Ghana Telecom was privatised back in 1996 and it was run under a duopoly with Westel until early 2002. In addition to the national incumbent telco Ghana has four competing mobile networks iand mobile lines exceed fixed line availability by a ratio of 10:1.

Ghana has much untapped telecoms potential. Combined the fixed and mobile teledensity is at just over 15 per cent and, out of a population of twenty three and a half million just over 800,000 people have access to the Internet.

UK - security risks from Chinese network equipment

Britain could be shut down by hackers from China, intelligence experts warn

China has the ability to shut down Britain's vital services, including food or power supplies, because its companies are involved in upgrading telecommunications systems, according to intelligence officials.

Ministers have been warned that a new £10bn communications network being developed by BT is vulnerable to a potential attack from within the Communist state because it uses equipment supplied by Chinese telecoms firm Huawei.

Although the risk of anyone in China exploiting the capability is currently low, intelligence experts believe the impact of any such attack would be very high. Computers at the Foreign Office and other Whitehall departments were attacked from China in 2007 and the threat from foreign governments and big companies is believed to be greater than that posed by terrorists.

Alex Allan, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), it thought to have briefed members of the ministerial committee on national security about the threat from China at a Whitehall meeting in January. Ministers were told steps to curb the potential threat have made little difference.

Huawei is China's biggest phone company and a major world supplier. Under a multi-million pound deal signed in 2005, it is providing key components for BT's new '21CN' network which will use internet technology to speed up communications on behalf of thousands of public agencies and businesses.

Among those who will be relying on the new network are the government's own intelligence agency GCHQ, Whitehall departments and the military.

BT would not comment on the issue and a Cabinet Office spokesman would only say the that government was working on ways to improve the security of Britain's key systems. Huawei, whose UK division is based in Basingstoke, Hants, was unavailable for comment.

Ministers have been reluctant to replace Huawei with a British supplier, citing the cost and the government's policy on competitive tendering for contracts.

The Whitehall meeting heard that Huawei components that form key parts of BT's new network might already contain malicious elements that could be activated by China and which could "remotely disrupt or even permanently disable the network", according to a report. Such action would have a "significant impact on critical services" such as power and water supplies, food distribution, the financial system and transport, which were dependent on computers using the communications network to operate.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

IETF - examining new routing

IETF to explore new routing technique
see also Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP) draft-farinacci-lisp-12.txt

The IETF is forming a new working group to address scalability issues in the Internet's routing system caused by companies splitting their network traffic over multiple carriers, a practice called multihoming.

The new working group will build upon a base proposal from a team of Cisco engineers to create a new tunneling mechanism that will be used by the Internet's edge and core routers.

The new mechanism -- dubbed LISP for Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol -- is designed to reduce the number of entries in the routing tables stored in the core routers operated by ISPs.

LISP logically separates a block of IP addresses that a company advertises out to the global Internet via its edge routers into two functions: one for identifying the systems using the IP addresses, and the other for locating where these systems connect to the Internet. This separation allows LISP to aggregate the location information, so less of it needs to be stored in the core routers.

LISP works through dynamic encapsulation. Every packet that enters the core routers gets a new IP wrapper that carries information about the destination service provider network, not the end-user IP address. The wrapper is removed from the packet when it gets to the destination service provider.

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LISP would operate in conjunction with the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which is the primary communications mechanism between edge and core routers.

"The problem we have is that IP addresses are assigned to hosts, and they're not assigned topologically," says Dino Farinacci, a Cisco Fellow and Senior Software Engineer and one of the authors of the LISP proposal. "This means the core routers on the ISP networks have to carry all of the site-specific routes. We're trying to separate the topological significance of the address from the address allocation procedures...and that will reduce the size of the BGP routing table."

LISP proponents say the technique also would make it easier for companies to switch carriers without having to acquire new IP addresses because the identification function would remain constant even if the location information changes. And LISP offers companies additional traffic engineering capabilities, backers say.

"More enterprises want to multihome their sites, and they want to do it in a low op-ex way," Farinacci says. "Today they have to do it with heavy overhead. They have to use BGP, and they have to publish routes into the core. With LISP, we're putting the routing policy at the edge where the customers can control the bandwidth they pay for."

Cisco engineer Darrel Lewis, co-chair of the LISP working group, said a key point about LISP is how sites can negotiate their multi-homing policy in an independent, open manner.

LISP developers say the protocol will be deployed as a software upgrade to edge routers, and that no hardware upgrades will be required to run it. They say it will be incrementally deployable and can work with the current version of the Internet Protocol, known as IPv4, or a long-anticipated upgrade known as IPv6.

Cyber-spy network uncovered

Major cyber spy network uncovered

There is no conclusive evidence of Chinese government involvement

An electronic spy network, based mainly in China, has infiltrated computers from government offices around the world, Canadian researchers say.

They said the network had infiltrated 1,295 computers in 103 countries.

They included computers belonging to foreign ministries and embassies and those linked with the Dalai Lama - Tibet's spiritual leader.

There is no conclusive evidence China's government was behind it, researchers say. Beijing also denied involvement.

The report comes after a 10-month investigation by the Information Warfare Monitor (IWM), which comprises researchers from Ottawa-based think tank SecDev Group and the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies.

They were acting on a request from the Tibetan spiritual leader's office to check whether the computers of his Tibetan exile network had been infiltrated.

Researchers found that ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan appear to had been targeted.

Hacked systems were also discovered in the embassies of India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan.

BitTorrent - made easier

Android App Equals Easy BitTorrent Downloads

Bartor Here's the app for those too lazy to perform the machinations of downloading purloined movies from BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay.

Android users can spend $3 for "BarTor," which allows copyright scofflaws to scan movie bar codes of videos — like those in the aisle at the local chain store. It automatically downloads the videos to home computers running uTorrent with web interfaces.

World Economic Forum - Global IT Report

Technology Report stresses importance of ICT as a catalyst for growth in global turmoil
see also full report

Denmark and Sweden once again lead the rankings of The Global Information Technology Report 2008-2009, released today by the World Economic Forum. They are followed by the United States which is up one position, thus confirming its pre-eminence in networked readiness in the current times of economic slowdown. Singapore (4), Switzerland (5) and the other Nordic countries together with the Netherlands and Canada complete the top 10. The Report underlines that good education fundamentals and high levels of technological readiness and innovation are essential engines of growth needed to overcome the current economic crisis.

“The development story of the most networked countries in the world, including the Nordic countries, Singapore and the United States among others, has owed much to a consistent focus in the national agenda on education excellence, innovation and an extensive ICT access. This success stands as a reminder for leaders in both the public and private sectors not to lose focus on ICT as an important enabler of growth and competitiveness in times of crisis,” said Irene Mia, Senior Economist of the Global Competitiveness Network at the World Economic Forum and Co-Editor of the Report.

The Report is produced by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with INSEAD, the leading international business school, and is sponsored again this year by Cisco Systems. Published for the eighth consecutive year with record coverage of 134 economies worldwide, the Report remains the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.

Under the theme Mobility in a Networked World, this year’s Report places a particular focus on the relationship and interrelations between mobility and ICT.

Austria - HSPA+ launched

Mobilkom Austria Claims First European Launch of HSPA+ Mobile Broadband

Mobilkom austria has announced the first European commercial launch of HSPA+, Ericsson's high-speed mobile broadband technology, which offers download speeds of 21Mbps.

Significance - With the sale of their HSPA+ Huawei modem, Telekom Austria has managed to achieve the first commercial version of the service outside Asia, giving the operator significant esteem.

Implications - With Austria leading the European market in mobile broadband, it seems appropriate that the country should be first with an HSPA+ network – but several other European operators are not far behind in taking the plunge.

Outlook - Telekom Austria has struggled with falling fixed-line subscribers and an increase in competition, but the huge growth expected in its mobile broadband market could well be the light at the end of the tunnel for the incumbent.

Telekom Austria has announced that its mobile unit, mobilkom austria, has become the first operator in Europe to launch HSPA+ services—offering a potential mobile data download speeds of 21Mbps. Powered by HSPA Evolution, Ericsson's high-speed broadband-access technology, the operator will roll out the network in parts of Vienna, with further hotspots following throughout the country during 2009.

HSPA+ boosts network capacity and enables peak data rates of up to 21Mbps, with mobilkom austria hoping to reach transmission speeds of up to 28.8Mbps later in the year. The technology will allow a greater number of customers to enjoy higher mobile broadband speeds, especially in congested urban areas. Mobilkom austria is offering its first HSDA+ modem, the Huawei E270+, on its A1 online shop for EUR 49 (US$67).

Europe - telecommunications markets and regulation

Mobile use up, consumer prices down: Europe's telecoms sector weathering economic downturn, says Commission report
see also 14th Implementation Report

Europe leads the world in mobile phone services with the number of subscriptions in 2008 at 119% of the EU population (up 7 percentage points from 2007), well ahead of the US (87%) and Japan (84%). This is a finding of today's Commission progress report on the single telecoms market. Despite the economic crisis, the EU's telecoms sector (worth about 3% of EU GDP) continued to grow in 2008 with revenues estimated at above €300 billion, up 1.3% compared to 2007 and outperforming the rest of the economy (up by 1% only). Consumers gain the most from the sector's competitiveness: they pay less while getting better value for money. Average mobile phone bills have fallen from €21.48 to €19.49 in 2008 and 75% of European consumers now have internet connections of 2 megabits per second and above (speeds allowing, for example, TV over internet), thanks to EU action. However, the Commission's report also warns that without better European coordination, the benefits of a single telecoms market could be jeopardised by inconsistent national regulation.

Cognitive Radio Standardization & Markets

First IBBT-MIT Joint Workshop on Cognitive Radio Standardization & Markets

The Interdisciplinary institute for Broadband Technology (IBBT, Belgium) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA) invite you to their first Joint Workshop on Cognitive Radio Standardization & Markets in Brussels on 11 May 2009. The workshop confronts the latest research and regulatory insights in Europe and North America regarding standardization and market issues for Cognitive Radio. The workshop is organized in conjunction with the IBBT iMinds 2009 event and in collaboration with the European End-to-End Efficiency (E3) project.

Mexico - the need for more competition

Mexico Needs to Boost Competition in Telecoms Market—OECD
see also

Taylor Reynolds, communication analyst and economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has warned that before Telmex is allowed to enter into the TV market, Mexico must guarantee that there is sufficient competition in the telecoms sector. According to Reynolds, Mexico shows the highest fixed-line and broadband tariffs of all the OECD member countries combined with very low penetration rates.

Significance: Telmex's current concession does not allow the provision of pay-TV services in Mexico. The operator is waiting for a TV concession approval from the regulator, COFETEL, to offer triple-play services in Mexico. The regulator stipulated on 3 October 2006 a series of requirements on number portability, interconnection, and interoperability which the operator has to meet before being authorised to launch TV services. According to Telmex, although these conditions have been implemented, no progress has been made yet. To accelerate its entry into the triple-play market, Telmex signed an agreement to offer billing and collection of pay-TV services for newly satellite operator Dish México.

OECD - online identity theft

Online Identity Theft

The growth of Internet and e-commerce has taken identity theft to new levels. This new book defines ID theft, studies how it is perpetrated, outlines what is being done to combat it, and recommends specific ways to address it in a global manner.

Competition - MTV versus YouTube

MTV and YouTube go head to head

MTV has the edge over YouTube for music, but for how much longer?

A higher percentage of 15-24 year olds in the UK have watched a music video on YouTube than on dedicated music channels, according to a new study.

The report found that 57% of 15-24 year olds watched music on YouTube, compared to 56% watching them on TV.

However, TV still has a commanding lead when it comes to adults as a whole.

The survey also found that half of all adults who watched a YouTube music video went on to buy music released by that artist.

The study, by market research firm Ipsos MediaCT, looked at the viewing habits of more than 1500 people, across the United Kingdom, in March 2009.

It found that double the number of 15-24 year olds were using YouTube to watch music videos, compared to other age groups. This percentage rose even more for those still in education, with 69% using the music channels on YouTube.

Television still has the edge when it comes to children. Or at least, families with children aged 10-15.

48% of these families have watched a music video on TV compared with 39% having watched music videos on YouTube.

Age 15 - 24 57%
Age 25 - 34 30%
Age 35 - 44 24%
Age 45 - 54 25%
Age 55+ 3%
Source: Ipsos MediaCT

Speaking to the BBC, Ipsos' head of entertainment research, Ian Bramley, said that TV music channels may have to rethink their position.

"There is a significant shift in the way the youngest adult age group watches its music videos. One would think this age group would stick with watching music videos online as they get older.

"TV music channels are doing very well, but they need to look at exactly who is actually watching their channel. It's probably not who they think their target market is.

"There may be a case, when we do this again, that the market starts to fragment and that TV music channels will need to reposition themselves for an older market," added Mr Bramley.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Europe - agreement on whole mobile roaming data price

European mobile data prices set

The cost of sending text messages while overseas should drop
Using a mobile phone abroad in Europe looks set to get cheaper.

European MPs have brokered an agreement that will see the tariffs for making calls, sending text messages and browsing the web fall from July 2009.

All the prices that have been agreed are regarded as a ceiling and are the maximum that operators will be allowed to charge for the different services.

Before coming into force the tariffs must be approved by member states and the European parliament.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Europe - heads of government and broadband

Summit backs broadband investment plan

European Union leaders backed risk-sharing pacts among operators on Friday (20 March) to pay the 300 billion euro needed to equip the bloc with high-speed broadband networks.

Industry officials said the move could allow operators to charge higher access fees to competitors that want to use the new networks. Under current EU rules, a dominant telecoms operator must allow competitors to use its network for a fee set by the regulator.

Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telefonica and Telecom Italia all welcomed the move, highlighting that the existing system was devised for networks based on traditional copper lines.

ETNO, a lobby group for big European telecoms operators, said the decision sends "a strong signal that current rules need to be adapted in order to accelerate the deployment of new networks and ensure that all players take on the next generation access challenge".

Stumping up the huge sums needed to give the EU a high-speed broadband network will be a far riskier and costlier undertaking, and that financial risk must me shared, they say.

German initiative

The section on telecoms was inserted into the Council's summit conclusions following intense lobbying by Germany.

Pressure from Britain and France ensured the final wording stated that any risk-sharing pacts must not threaten competition in the market.

"To this end, various cooperative arrangements between investors and access seeking parties to diversify the risk of investment should be permitted, whilst ensuring that the competitive structure of the whole market and the principle of non-discrimination are maintained," the conclusions said.

Encouraging investment

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the statement was needed to encourage investment in thinly populated areas.

"Through our regulation offices, we have an authority that makes sure competition is not distorted," Merkel told reporters.

"If policy is only directed towards costs being kept low for consumers, then this will never lead to those living far from big centres being able to benefit," Merkel said.

ETNO concurred with Merkel's sentiments, suggesting that EU rules need adapting to promote investment.

"Providing investment incentives and maintaining vivid competition are complementary objectives for the full benefit of consumers," said Michael Bartholomew, ETNO's director-general.

A timely statement

EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding has proposed reforms to make the telecoms industry more competitive and cheaper for customers. Negotiations on their adoption by EU states and the European Parliament are at a delicate stage, with a key meeting between the two sides due next week to hammer out a final deal.

Reding did not include risk sharing in her draft reform, but with the backing by EU states it will now be included. "ETNO calls on EU policymakers to ensure that measures to encourage next-generation investment are now included in the EU telecoms package currently under revision," Bartholomew said.

Reding's spokesman said the summit statement reflected the Commission's view that there cannot be investment that discriminates between operators or excludes competition.

New entrants, who say they don't have deep pockets to fund new networks, may be concerned, but a source close to one of the big operators said the summit statement was a big political message to back their arguments.

"With the principle of recognising that investments are very risky there could be arrangements on what price to sell the next-generation services; that they can charge more than the at-cost rate that they charge today," the source said.

An EU diplomat said risk in new projects must be recognised, but in the form of a premium and not a barrier to new entrants.

Europe - number porting in one day

EU Telecoms Commissioner calls for consumer right to change phone operator in 1 day

In a video message posted this morning on her website, Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner, calls on the European Parliament and the Council of EU Telecoms Ministers to be ambitious in the coming days as they enter the final negotiations on a new set of EU rules strengthening competition and consumer rights in a single market for telecoms like mobile phone services and internet connections.

Bahrain - incumbent v. regulator

Batelco blames TRA for prices

Batelco has slammed the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) for preventing the company from cutting prices and delivering higher speed broadband services. But the TRA dismissed the allegations, saying Batelco was trying to get round the rules. 'Whilst Batelco aims to ensure Bahrain is a leader amongst its neighbours and the region, it continues to be hampered by a slow, cumbersome and conditional approval regime by the TRA,' claimed chief executive Peter Kaliaropoulos.

India - VoIP for all

BJP IT Vision Ignites VoIP vs Telecom Debate

BJP's IT Vision Document, promising unlimited VoIP access to all if elected to power, has been hailed by the VoIP service provider fraternity, but has queered the pitch for telecom operators

Web telephony or VoIP has emerged as a cost-effective alternative over traditional telephony, and has always been lucrative for Internet surfers. However, due to strong lobbying by telecom operators, it did not make desired headway.

Here's what the various VoIP service providers on the BJP's "unlimited VoIP access to all" promise to get their say.

"Pani apna raasta khud dhoond leta hai," (water finds its own path) said Sunil Kakkad, chief managing director of Sai Info Systems, matter of factly. "If Web telephony comes in, it will break geographical barriers," he said. On asking him why it worries telecom operators, Kakkad said- "The commercial availability of VoIP is the only factor that would make them unhappy."

H. S. Bedi, chief managing director of Tulip Telecom, said, "It would be a good thing if it penetrates into households. We have been demanding this." CDMA and GSM operators would be worried, as they were acting as a roadblock to Internet telephony, Bedi said.

British Telecom - pay freeze

British Telecom Freezes Pay of all Staff

British Telecom has frozen the pay all of their 100,000 employees, which includes the pay of Ian Livingston, the Chief Executive Officer of the company. The decision is being blamed on the economic recession and is the most recent blow to the workers of Britain, while British Telecom is facing a possible multi-billion pound shortfall in their £33 billion pension fund. The management of British Telecom informed workers of the decision through a series of meetings yesterday. The company also contacted the unions, Connect and Communication Workers Union, who represent a majority of the staff combined.

In a message that leaked to the Guardian, British Telecom told employees that this isn’t a decision they have taken lightly. They have considered the conditions of the economy carefully, as well as the Retail Price Index and the pressures of business faces, concluding that freezing pay is the right action to take, continued the message. In previous years, the company has awarded increases in pay that were in line or more than the Retail Price Index, the message said. The company added that the index is predicted to go negative this year, meaning that prices are declining.

The leaders of the unions don’t agree with the decision. Andy Kerr, the Deputy General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said that the decision from British Telecom is totally unacceptable, as they are still making significant profits. A cut in pay during these circumstances is an insult, and the union will be considering a formal response to this imposition early next week, he added.

Sony Ericsson - sales warning

Sony Ericsson

Mobile phone makers have taken such a beating lately that investors should be numb to bad news. They are not, and the latest warning from Sony Ericsson was grim enough to spark a sector rout. The world’s fourth-biggest handset maker by sales said it expected to ship just 14m phones in the first quarter – down 37 per cent from the year before. Shares in Ericsson, which owns 50 per cent of the company, plunged almost 9 per cent. Finnish rival Nokia fell more than 6 per cent. Suppliers suffered too. Infineon, one of the world’s biggest makers of the chips used in mobile phones, at one point fell more than 13 per cent.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

USA - rising wireless-only households

Wireless-only households state-by-state
see also National Center for Health Statistics

State-by-state prevalence of households and adults with cell phones only, according to estimates released Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ordered from highest to lowest prevalence of cell-only households.

Estimates subject to some error because of survey sampling and design of the estimation model; the range of potential error varies by state.


Oklahoma: 26.2 percent of households, 25.1 percent of adults
Utah: 25.5 percent of households, 23.9 percent of adults
Nebraska: 23.2 percent of households, 22.4 percent of adults
Arkansas: 22.6 percent of households, 21.2 percent of adults
Iowa: 22.2 percent of households, 18.9 percent of adults
Idaho: 22.1 percent of households, 21.3 percent of adults
Kentucky: 21.4 percent of households, 21.6 percent of adults
New Mexico: 21.1 percent of households, 20.5 percent of adults
Texas: 20.9 percent of households, 19.5 percent of adults
South Carolina: 20.6 percent of households, 19.2 percent of adults
Tennessee: 20.3 percent of households, 20.8 percent of adults
District of Columbia: 20.0 percent of households, 25.4 percent of adults
Mississippi: 19.1 percent of households, 20.3 percent of adults
Arizona: 18.9 percent of households, 17.1 percent of adults
Oregon: 17.7 percent of households, 18.1 percent of adults
Minnesota: 17.4 percent of households, 16.5 percent of adults
North Dakota: 16.9 percent of households, 18.1 percent of adults
Florida: 16.8 percent of households, 15.5 percent of adults
Kansas: 16.8 percent of households, 15.2 percent of adults
Colorado: 16.7 percent of households, 15.2 percent of adults
Georgia: 16.5 percent of households, 15.0 percent of adults
Illinois: 16.5 percent of households, 15.2 percent of adults
Michigan: 16.3 percent of households, 15.3 percent of adults
North Carolina: 16.3 percent of households, 14.8 percent of adults
Washington: 16.3 percent of households, 15.6 percent of adults
Wisconsin: 15.2 percent of households, 13.6 percent of adults
Louisiana: 15.0 percent of households, 13.8 percent of adults
Ohio: 14.0 percent of households, 13.1 percent of adults
Alabama: 13.9 percent of households, 12.2 percent of adults
Indiana: 13.8 percent of households, 13.0 percent of adults
Maine: 13.4 percent of households, 12.0 percent of adults
Alaska: 11.7 percent of households, 13.3 percent of adults
New Hampshire: 11.6 percent of households, 8.9 percent of adults
West Virginia: 11.6 percent of households, 10.6 percent of adults
New York: 11.4 percent of households, 10.6 percent of adults
Wyoming: 11.4 percent of households, 13.0 percent of adults
Maryland: 10.8 percent of households, 9.8 percent of adults
Nevada: 10.8 percent of households, 10.1 percent of adults
Pennsylvania: 10.8 percent of households, 9.2 percent of adults
Virginia: 10.8 percent of households, 10.0 percent of adults
Missouri: 9.9 percent of households, 8.4 percent of adults
Massachusetts: 9.3 percent of households, 8.4 percent of adults
Montana: 9.2 percent of households, 5.4 percent of adults
California: 9.0 percent of households, 8.4 percent of adults
Hawaii: 8.0 percent of households, 8.2 percent of adults
New Jersey: 8.0 percent of households, 6.1 percent of adults
Rhode Island: 7.9 percent of households, 5.3 percent of adults
South Dakota: 6.4 percent of households, 6.8 percent of adults
Delaware: 5.7 percent of households, 4.0 percent of adults
Connecticut: 5.6 percent of households, 4.8 percent of adults
Vermont: 5.1 percent of households, 4.6 percent of adults

Chine - RMB 62.94 billion revenues in January

MIIT Issues January Telecom Statistics

China's telecom industry revenue grew 5.7% year-on-year to reach RMB 62.94 billion in January, according to Ministry of Industry and Information Technology data released on Wednesday. Mobile users sent 69.7 billion SMS messages in January, up 27.6% year-on-year. China added 8.49 million handset users in January to reach a total of 649.7 million, while households using fixed-line service fell by 1.01 million in the period to 339.79 million. China added 1.2 million new broadband users in January for a total of 84.63 million. Fixed lines and handsets covered 25.8% and 48.5% of the population, respectively, in January

China - 55 million online gamers

CNNIC: China Has 55.5M Online Gamers

China recorded 55.5 million online gamers - defined as those who play massively multiplayer online games at least once a month - by the end of 2008, reports Sina quoting China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) statistics released on March 20. Paid gamers accounted for 76.5% of the total, while 52.5% were under 22 years old, 77.1% had less than a college education and about 30% had no income, said CNNIC.

Unofficial platforms are used by 19.6% of gamers to make RMB 10.88 million in virtual item purchases. The total market for virtual transactions is RMB 10-13 billion, said the statistics.

Sony Ericsson - very poor forecasts

Sony Ericsson warning stuns ailing mobile sector

Sony Ericsson sparked fresh fear of crumbling consumer demand on Friday when the world's No 4 handset maker said it would sell barely half of the phones it sold last quarter.

Shares across the wireless sector dropped sharply on the news -- compounded by smaller rival Palm's overnight report of slumping quarterly sales -- and by 1229 GMT (8:29 a.m. EDT), Ericsson was down 8.7 percent and Nokia was down 5.5 percent.

Sony Ericsson said it expects to sell just 14 million phones in January-March, hit by weak demand and retailers cutting their inventories. Analysts polled by Reuters in January expected between 15.5 million to 21.8 million phones sold.

"Investors are questioning the whole market now, even though I think the issue for Sony Ericsson is more company specific," said Jari Honko, analyst with eQ Bank.

Overnight, U.S. rival Palm Inc reported a widening loss for the December-February quarter and said revenue sank 70 percent from a year ago.

The cellphone industry has entered its toughest year ever as consumers rein in spending and retailers try to clear inventories of unsold phones after bleak Christmas sales.

"The market, overall, continues to be very challenging," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Fears over the future of the mobile market also sent shares in chipmakers sharply lower, with Infineon down 6.6 percent and STMicro 5 percent lower.


Sony Ericsson said it expected to make a pretax loss of 340-390 million euros ($459 million-$526 million) in the quarter as it heads into a second year of losses.

"It's a real catastrophe. Those are very big losses and they are probably losing a lot of market share," said Greger Johansson, from analyst firm Redeye.

"It's obvious that the volumes are much lower than the market had thought. And first and foremost, the losses are much, much bigger," he said.

Sony Ericsson, the no. 4 global handset maker after Nokia, Samsung and LG, said it expects gross margins to decline both year-on-year and sequentially.

"What is happening now is that everyone will be forced to cut their forecasts for Sony Ericsson and Ericsson," said analyst Hakan Wranne from Swedbank.

Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight said Sony Ericsson was suffering most from the weak portfolio and the challenging market conditions it faces in European markets.

"With competition intensifying it is going to be a tough task to regain momentum until new products appear and economic conditions improve," Wood said.

Sony Ericsson's success has been built on a strong offering of mid-range phones with high-quality cameras and music players, but this part of the cellphone market is seeing the sharpest fall this year as operators dole out subsidies to more expensive phones.


Qualcomm, the world's largest cellphone chip maker, said on Friday it was seeing strong demand for higher-end smartphones in spite of the weak economy.

Analysts, on average, expect sales of feature-jammed smartphones to grow between 10 percent and 20 percent this year.

"Consumer demand for higher-end smartphones remains strong as the demand for wireless Internet, multimedia, and value-added services continues to grow," Jing Wang, a Qualcomm executive vice president, said in an e-mail to Reuters.

"While inventories have contracted, global 3G adoption is continuing to grow as subscribers migrate from second-generation to third-generation networks and manufacturers are shipping more 3G devices this year than last year," he said.

TSMC, which makes chips for Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, said on Friday it would end all unpaid leave for employees from April as orders have risen recently.

The move came after TSMC sharply raised its first-quarter sales and margin forecasts last week, due to rush orders from China, indicating a trend of falling sales that began six months ago had hit bottom.

MTN - mobile banking launch

Phone banking service launched in Africa, Mideast

South African mobile phone operator MTN on Monday said it was launching a banking service on mobile phones in 21 African and Middle East countries where access to traditional banks is poor.

"We have launched this service in South Africa in 2005," Dare Okoudjou of MTN's mobile phone banking department told AFP.

"But it wasn't a full bank account with the mobile phone at the primary access, it was very focused on key basic services, such as money transfer," he said of the South African service.

Now MTN is planning to offer a fully-fledged bank account on mobile phones called MTN MobileMoney which will allow users to pay for purchases or check balances. A credit card will be optional.

MTN calls the service "a convenient, secure and affordable way for MTN subscribers to send money, buy airtime and pay bills using their cellphone".

The service will be extended to the other 20 countries where MTN operates including Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast which have a combined 90 million mobile phone users.

MTN said it signed a 9.7-million-dollar (7.5-million-euro) deal with Fundamo, a South African-based specialist provider of enterprise mobile financial services software.

British mobile phone giant Vodafone and France's Orange are already active in the market.

"In Benin, banking penetration is about one percent of the population, compared to 1,5 million telecom lines," or 18 percent of the total population, said Okoudjou, hinting at a potentially lucrative market segment for the mobile banking service.

In the Middle East banks are more widespread and the new service could be complementary.

According to a recent study by telecom analyst firm Berg Insight the service could be potentially used by 913 million people by 2014, against 20 million today.

The Gobal System of Mobile Communications (GSM) association, which represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry in more than 200 countries, in February launched 20 mobile phone banking services in Asia, Africa and South America.

It has said that these services had a market potential of five billion dollars by 2012.

ZTE - financial results up

ZTE: 2008 Earnings Rise Nearly 30%
see also ZTE

Chinese telecom equipment provider ZTE recorded full year 2008 revenue of RMB 44.3 billion, up 27.4% from RMB 34.8 billion in 2007, and net profit attributable to shareholders of RMB 1.7 billion, up 32.6% from RMB 1.3 billion in year-ago period. Revenue for the first nine months of 2008 was up 29.34% year-on-year to RMB 30.33 billion, while net profit grew 35.31% to RMB 816 million.

China - RMB 12 billions spending on 3 and 4 G

China to Spend RMB 12B on 3G/4G

The central government intends to spend no less than RMB 2 billion on 3G, TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA to 4G development in 2009 and 2010, while companies and local governments have promised a joint sum of about RMB 10 billion, reports China Business News quoting Cao Shumin, vice president of the telecommunications research institute under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China Mobile is preparing to conduct its first 4G commercial trial at the World Expo Park in Shanghai in 2010, said Shanghai Mobile General Manager Zheng Jie.

OECD - opens to "civil society" and Internet Society

ICCP Committee expands participation of non-governmental stakeholders in its work
see also Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council and Internet Technical Advisory Committee

The Committee for Information Computer and Communications Policy has approved a framework to govern the participation of non-governmental stakeholders in its work and that of its working parties. This follows-up on a decision by the OECD Council to add civil society and the Internet Technical Community to the list of key non-governmental stakeholders in the ICCP’s terms of reference, joining business and trade-unions.

The importance of effective participation by non-governmental stakeholders in policy work on the Internet economy is well recognised. This view, first highlighted in the OECD’s Ottawa ministerial conference on electronic commerce 10 years ago, has been affirmed in venues outside the OECD like the World Summit on the Information Society. In June 2008, it was echoed in the Seoul Declaration for the Future of the Internet Economy, in which Ministers committed to “working collectively with all stakeholders” and invited the OECD to “further the objectives set out in this Declaration through multi-stakeholder co-operation.”

The OECD Secretary-General highlighted the importance of the issue in his closing remarks in Seoul, where he expressed his appreciation for the participation of all non-governmental stakeholders in the Ministerial and called for a “process of formalising the participation of civil society and the technical community in the work of the OECD on the Internet economy.” This process has now been completed.

New co-ordination groups have been set up by representatives of civil society and the Internet technical community to facilitate participation in the ICCP Committee, namely the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) and Internet Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC). Participation by the business community and trade-unions will continue to be co-ordinated through their long- standing advisory committees, Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) and Trade Union Advisory Committee. (TUAC).

ICCP Committee expands participation of non-governmental stakeholders in its work
Send Print The Committee for Information Computer and Communications Policy has approved a framework to govern the participation of non-governmental stakeholders in its work and that of its working parties. This follows-up on a decision by the OECD Council to add civil society and the Internet Technical Community to the list of key non-governmental stakeholders in the ICCP’s terms of reference, joining business and trade-unions.

The importance of effective participation by non-governmental stakeholders in policy work on the Internet economy is well recognised. This view, first highlighted in the OECD’s Ottawa ministerial conference on electronic commerce 10 years ago, has been affirmed in venues outside the OECD like the World Summit on the Information Society. In June 2008, it was echoed in the Seoul Declaration for the Future of the Internet Economy, in which Ministers committed to “working collectively with all stakeholders” and invited the OECD to “further the objectives set out in this Declaration through multi-stakeholder co-operation.”

The OECD Secretary-General highlighted the importance of the issue in his closing remarks in Seoul, where he expressed his appreciation for the participation of all non-governmental stakeholders in the Ministerial and called for a “process of formalising the participation of civil society and the technical community in the work of the OECD on the Internet economy.” This process has now been completed.

New co-ordination groups have been set up by representatives of civil society and the Internet technical community to facilitate participation in the ICCP Committee, namely the Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) and Internet Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC). Participation by the business community and trade-unions will continue to be co-ordinated through their long- standing advisory committees, Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) and Trade Union Advisory Committee. (TUAC).

India - MNP approaches

Mobile Number Portability in India within the next year

Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura has said in a statement that they are aiming to have mobile number portability available across the country within the next year.

He said: “MNP service will be introduced within one year across the country.”

The government has already given licenses to implement Mobile Number Portability in the country to two US-based companies.

The service would first be made available in the major cities in the country. It would be expanded to cover the entire telecom circles at a later stage.

Mobile Number Portability would enable mobile users in the country to switch carriers while retaining their existing mobile numbers.

Arabian Gulf - Mobile call prices fall

Mobile call rates to drop up to 20% in Gulf

Mobile phone rates in the Middle East may drop up to 20% this year due to rising competition, technological innovation, and declining project costs, Ghassan Hasbani, vice-president, Booz & Company, told Gulf Times. The mobile customer base in the Gulf region was expected to grow between 5% and 10% in 2009 despite the global economic downturn, he noted. The number of mobile customers in the Gulf region is now estimated at about 45 million, he added.

UK - broadband for Glasgow and Edinburgh

Broadband first for Scots cities

EDINBURGH and Glasgow will be among the first parts of the UK to benefit from a £1.5 billion superfast broadband scheme, it was announced yesterday.

More than 34,000 homes and businesses in the two cities stand to benefit from the investment by BT.

The new system means that, in theory, families will have the technology to watch high definition television through computers, or work from home usADVERTISEMENTing high quality video conferencing.

BT is spending £1.5 billion by 2012 to ensure 40 per cent of UK homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband. The new technology uses fibre-optic cables instead of traditional copper wires, which can provide broadband speeds of up to 40 megabits per second (MBPS).

At present, most users are signed to deals promising 8MBPS, but the average speed is less than half that.

In Edinburgh, the new service will be available initially to some 4,000 customers in the Stockbridge and New Town areas.

More than 30,000 homes and businesses around Glasgow University and in the city's Hillington Park business and industrial area will also be among the first to benefit.

However, Ofcom has refused to impose regulatory barriers on the roll-out of the new technology, meaning it is likely the costs of implementing the new networks will be passed on to customers.

Steve Robertson, the chief executive of Openreach, the BT division responsible for the delivery of the plans, told delegates at a Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) conference in St Andrews yesterday that the first phase of the new technology should be available early next year.

He said: "Superfast broadband is essential to Scotland's future, so it is great to announce this initial set of locations.

"Once again, Scotland is at the forefront of one of the most important projects to take place in recent years. It will play a vital role in the UK's future as a knowledge-based economy."

Work in Edinburgh and Glasgow will begin in early summer, and the new networks will be up and running by early 2010. BT said it would work with utility companies to minimise any disruption during the work.

Alex Salmond, the First Minister, said broadband was already available in 99 per cent of Scotland, and added: "This technology has quickly established itself as vital communications tool for businesses and people of all ages.

"This new service will give customers in two of the country's biggest cities even greater access to the opportunities and services that the internet offers."

Dr Lesley Sawyers, the chief executive of the SCDI, said: "We will be working with the company to identify how more of the country can benefit in the near future."

Jenny Dawe, the Edinburgh city council leader, and Steven Purcell, her Glasgow counterpart, both welcomed the decision.

But Liam McArthur, the Liberal Democrat MSP for Orkney, pointed out that remote and island communities had no access to broadband, or had a service offering slow speeds.

"Unless the government acts to get the improvements rolled out quickly across Scotland, a dangerous chasm risks opening up between the digital haves and have-nots," he warned.

USA - the recession and the cellphone

Recession leads callers to hang up on cell phone contracts
see also New Millennium Research Council

As economic worries grow in America, many consumers are ready to disconnect their expensive cell phone plans and seek cheaper alternatives for wireless communication, according to a survey released Thursday.

The study, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) for the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC), reports that 19 percent of cell phone users polled have already canceled their cell phone contracts in reaction to the financial crisis.

The survey, which earlier this month polled 2,005 adults ages 18 and older via their landline phones, found that two in five Americans are likely to cut back on their contract-based cell phones if the economy worsens.

The NMRC, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that conducts surveys largely for telecommunications companies, suggests that as a result, consumers will turn to alternatives such as prepaid cell phones, or cut back on "extras" such as text messaging and Internet access.

Some may even ditch their cell phones altogether and stick with their landlines (of course, the very fact that the survey was conducted via landline excludes those who already lead landline-free lives).

During a live conference call Thursday morning, representatives of the ORC and NMRC went over the survey's findings and said the poll suggests that "millions" of consumers could end up altering their cell phone services.

Currently, prepaid cell phones are commonly suggested for emergencies, light usage, or avoiding long contracts. However, the NMRC suggests that as consumers continue to disconnect or cut back on their contract-based cell phones, wireless companies such as AT&T and Sprint will offer more less expensive prepaid plans.

Though less expensive prepaid plans offer financial advantages, there are downsides. Handsets purchased with prepaid plans generally have little in the way of advanced features, and that could discourage consumers who keep up with the latest gadget trends.

But like the NMRC suggests, the dramatic changes in cell phone behavior may encourage wireless companies to revise their plans. For example, companies may go the way of MetroPCS, a no-contract company whose customers get "unlimited" plans and cheaper monthly rates in exchange for purchasing more expensive handsets.

NMRC would not disclose details on who funded the survey, although it did say that some telecommunications companies provide financial support.

VDSL - now to 500 Mbps

Ericsson Claims VDSL2 Breakthrough

Ericsson has performed the world's first live demonstration of a VDSL2-based technology achieving data transfer rates of more than 0.5Gbps. This will allow operators to offer low-cost, high-performance connectivity to an increased range of mobile backhaul customers, enterprise users and residential customers.

The Ericsson demonstration achieved data rates of more than 0,5 Gbps over twisted copper pairs using the latest technology for line bonding and crosstalk cancellation for DSL, also known as "vectorized" VDSL2. The technology is suitable for fiber extensions, combining fiber and last-mile copper for backhauling.

This VDSL2-based technology offers unprecedented speeds on existing copper lines, opening up new opportunities for operators to provide customers with broadband services such as IPTV. With this technology, operators can enhance fiber access deployments with copper access in the last mile and thereby maximize the reuse of existing infrastructure. This means more consumers will be able to enjoy true broadband services such as HDTV and video-on-demand in their homes.

The new technology also makes it possible to use existing copper networks as a backhaul for radio base stations, accelerating future rollout of HSPA and LTE-based high-speed mobile broadband services.

Håkan Eriksson, CTO at Ericsson, says: "This demonstration confirms Ericsson's leadership in broadband access technology and our commitment to the continued research and development of DSL technology to improve operators' business with new access solutions. It also proves Ericsson's abilities to provide future mobile backhauling, which will enable quick and cost-effective introduction of Long Term Evolution (LTE) solutions."

UPnP - standardisation and promotion

ISO, IEC Vet UPnP Standards

The UPnP Forum says its UPnP technology has attained worldwide recognition by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

The Ore.-based forum is an industry initiative designed to provide “simple and robust connectivity” among mobile devices from different vendors, intelligent appliances, computers and consumer electronics. Its UPnP architecture leverages TCP/IP and other Web technologies to enable seamless integration of these devices into existing network infrastructures, and the group says it can be deployed on any operating system and works with any type of physical networking media that supports IP – wired or wireless. UPnP device and service standards have been defined and published for Internet gateways/routers, audio-video media devices, printers, scanners, climate control, lighting and wireless LAN access points along with digital security cameras and such advanced features as security, remote user interface and quality of service.

The ISO and the IEC published an international standard version of the UPnP device architecture and device protocols. “This achievement as the world’s first international standard for device interoperability on IP networks solidifies UPnP architecture’s position as the leading technology for discovery and control of networked devices,” the forum adds.

“The IEC, as the major publisher of international standards for electrical, electronic and related products, is particularly satisfied with the publication of the ISO/IEC 29341 series,” comments Gabriel Barta, head of technical coordination for the IEC. “This series marks a significant step forward in the control of devices in the home and similar environments, many of which are standardized in the IEC.”

According to the forum, “The worldwide adoption of UPnP technology has served as the foundation for the unprecedented growth in certified UPnP implementations during the past year, and emphasized how the industry continues to react to current market demand for a common baseline of interoperability for all networked devices. UPnP technology witnessed a record-breaking number of new UPnP implementations certified in 2008. This increase showcases the accelerated adoption of UPnP specifications as the standards for worldwide device interoperability in IP-based networks.”

“UPnP Forum’s specifications have become the international standard for device interoperability in IP-based home networks worldwide,” says Dr. Alan Messer, president of the UPnP Forum. “The adoption of UPnP specifications as ISO/IEC 29341 validates that position and enables the UPnP’s specifications to be adopted more widely in the international community.” Adds Vice President Toby Nixon, “This worldwide standardization encourages the broadest possible adoption of UPnP technology, not only for industry professionals, but also for consumers and end-users.”

South Korea - KT and KTF merger approved

KT Corp. gets final regulatory approval to absorb KTF

KT Corp., South Korea's biggest fixed-line telephone and broadband Internet operator, won final regulatory approval to merge with its mobile phone unit, KTF Co., the nation's telecom regulator said Wednesday.

The approval by the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) will make KT a telecom powerhouse in fixed-line and wireless services, enabling it to better compete with SK Telecom Co., the nation's largest mobile phone company.

"The KCC approved the merger after judging that there would be no particular problem in competition," said Shin Yong-seop, director of the telecom policy bureau.

"Consumers will also benefit from the merger because it will allow the merged company to offer better services at lower prices," Shin said.

Still, the merger is subject to the approval of shareholders of both KT and KTF on March 27. Last month, the nation's anti-trust regulator approved the merger, saying it won't undermine fair competition in the market.

A merged company will be launched on May 18, KT said earlier. Under the proposed terms of the merger, KT will offer 0.719 of its stock for each KTF share.

If approved by shareholders of both companies, the transaction will create a company with annual sales of about 19 trillion won (US$13.3 billion), a total asset value of 23.6 trillion won and some 38,000 employees, according to KT.

KT Chief Executive Officer Lee Suk-chae, a former minister in charge of telecom firms, told reporters that the merger will cut costs and enable KT to offer combined fixed and mobile services at cheaper prices.

KT, a former state-run company, controls more than 90 percent of South Korea's wired telephone market and services nearly 45 percent of broadband Internet users. KTF holds a nearly 30 percent share of the mobile phone market, compared with SK Telecom's 50 percent.

As the nation's telecom market becomes increasingly saturated, companies are trying to promote combined fixed and mobile services to cut costs and woo customers from rivals.

Last year, SK Telecom acquired the nation's No. 2 broadband operator, Hanarotelecom Inc.

South Korea is one of the world's most wired nations, with more than two-thirds of homes connected to high-speed Internet and more than nine out of 10 people owning a mobile phone.

The final regulatory approval was made after the stock market closed. Earlier in the day, shares of KT fell 0.5 percent to 38,600 won, and KTF dropped 1.8 percent to 27,400 won, underperforming the benchmark stock index's 0.5 percent gain.

Ivory Coast - IPO of Onatel

Onatel Raises US$60 mil. in IPO

The Burkinabé government has raised 29 billion CFA francs (US$59.6 million) from the sale of a 20% stake in fixed-line incumbent Onatel through an initial public offering (IPO), according to Reuters. The IPO closed on 31 January 2009 and shares are due to be listed on the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM), the regional stock exchange in Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), on 1 May 2009. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector arm of the World Bank, announced that it plans to purchase up to a 5% stake in Onatel by buying any shares not subscribed to in the offering. The IFC says that its participation is designed to not displace any private investors. If all 20% is sold, then the government plans to sell an additional 3% stake to the IFC at the offer price.

Significance: This follows the government's sale of a 51% stake in Onatel to Maroc Telecom in January 2008 for 220 million euro, which gave Maroc Telecom some 400,000 mobile users (39% of the market) and over 100,000 fixed-line customers at the time. The government has been looking to privatise the operator since at least 2003.

Ericsson - wind-powered base stations

Ericsson Launches Wind-Powered Base Stations for Indian Rural Market

In India, equipment giant Ericsson has officially launched its wind-powered Ericsson Tower Tube radio base station (RBS) site solution, with low environmental impact and low cost of construction and maintenance.

Significance - Ericsson Tower Tube solution has been launched in India.
Implications - The solution is aimed at helping Indian operators to expand into the country's massive rural markets where electricity supply is unreliable in many areas.
Outlook - The deployment of green-energy solutions is on the rise across the global markets, as operators seek to achieve cost-savings and marketing gains.

The Ericsson Tower Tube radio base station houses all equipment within a self-contained site of about 5-metre diameter at the base. The towers do not require feeders and cooling systems, resulting in up to 40% lower consumption of power, which is the biggest operating cost. The solution also makes site acquisitions easier as compared to conventional sites as it requires less area for set up. This will reduce operating expenditures for operators and also bring down the total cost of construction, which ranges between 1.7 million rupees (US$33,484) to 3.5 million rupees per tower, depending on whether a tower is roof-based or ground-based. "This energy-optimised radio base station concept reflects our ability to understand and respond to customer requirements by reducing the total cost of ownership in order to expedite the roll out of mobile communications in India," Ericsson India and Sri Lanka VP (Marketing) P Balaji said in a statement in Mumbai.

Outlook and Implications

Solution to Help Rural Network Expansion: India is adding over 10 million wireless subscribers every month and operators have aggressive targets for setting up towers. The new solution will particularly help in bringing mobile services into the country's massive rural areas, which exhibit the greatest growth potential. At the end of September 2008, mobile penetration in the rural areas, which constitute about 70% of the total population, stood at 11%, while the mobile penetration rate in the urban areas was close to 65%. Although during last year the industry has witnessed a growing trend of more and more operators focusing on the semi urban and rural markets, service expansion still remains a challenge in many rural and remote areas.

TRAI has identified several key hurdles for service expansion in the rural areas, including a lengthy land acquisition process for setting up base stations; unavailability of a reliable power supply; high network maintenance costs; and the low purchasing power of individuals in rural areas. The wind-powered Ericsson Tower Tube solution will help address some of these inhibitors.

Deployment of Energy-Efficient Solutions Globally: Across the globe, operators in both developed and developing markets are increasingly demanding low-cost, energy efficient network solutions to cut costs, and achieve marketing gains from promoting their green credentials. In response, equipment vendors have been tapping into green energy sources and energy-efficient system designs, particularly for use in developing countries and more remote regions that may lack power infrastructure. Telekom Austria in February this year launched its first wind-powered mobile base station, with plans in place to convert up to 10% of its network infrastructure to wind turbine-powered units.

OECD - competition assessment toolkit

Competition Assessment Toolkit

Send Print Increased competition can improve a country’s economic performance, open business opportunities to its citizens and reduce the cost of goods and services throughout the economy. But numerous laws and regulations restrict competition in the marketplace. Many go further than necessary to achieve their policy objectives. Governments can reduce unnecessary restrictions by considering the use of methods in the OECD’s new “Competition Assessment Toolkit”. The Toolkit provides a general methodology for identifying unnecessary restraints and developing alternative, less restrictive policies that still achieve government objectives. One of the main elements of the Toolkit is a Competition Checklist that asks a series of simple questions to screen for laws and regulations that have the potential to unnecessarily restrain competition. This screen focuses limited government resources on the areas where competition assessment is most needed.

OECD - review of China's regulatory reform

China’s advance to a market economy is among the greatest economic success stories of modern times. China has made enormous progress in developing the modern legal and regulatory foundation for the market economy. The private sector is now the main driver of growth, and new laws have gone a long way toward establishing private property rights, competition, and mechanisms for entry and exit comparable to those of many OECD countries. At the same time important challenges remain, including further clarification of the scope of state ownership, reform of relations among central and local governments, firmer establishment of the rule of law, and strengthening of regulatory institutions and processes.
OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform - China: Defining the Boundary between the Market and the State

China's transition has recently been reviewed under the OECD Regulatory Reform Programme. The review focuses on the overall economic context for regulatory reform, the government’s capacity to manage regulatory reform, competition policy and enforcement, and market openness. The review also examines the regulatory framework in the electricity and water sectors. As for OECD countries, the review follows a multidisciplinary and highly interactive approach. A number of OECD instruments and policies are used in this assessment, although the review also takes into account the specific challenges faced by the Chinese authorities.

The review contains a comprehensive set of policy recommendations, which should support China in its efforts to implement regulatory reforms in order to boost economic growth, job creation, innovation and investment.

OECD - infrastructure and investment

Infrastructure investment: links to growth and the role of public policies

Investment in network infrastructure – the energy, water, transport and telecommunication networks – which performs a vital role for the functioning of the economy, can contribute to raising growth and social welfare. But more is not always better. While the paper shows that investment in the network industries has had a positive effect over and above the addition to the capital stock, there is evidence that investment in the past has sometimes been misallocated. This paper identifies the policy framework that promotes investment that is conducive to growth and ensures the appropriate use of infrastructure. Central aspects of this framework are identified as a robust decision making process, improving the selection of investment projects, the introduction of competitive pressures through the reduction of barriers to entry and vertical separation when this is appropriate. In addition, efficient investment can be promoted by the combination of regulator independence and the application of incentive regulation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ICANN - a proposal for reform

ICANN at a crossroads: a proposal for better governance and performance by
Thomas M. Lenard and Lawrence J. White

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—the non-profit company that is at the center of the Internet—has operated under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) since 1998. The MOU was replaced in September 2006 by the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) between ICANN and the DOC, which expires in August 2009. At that time, a decision needs to be made about ICANN’s future. Should the JPA tie with the U.S. Government be retained? Or should the link be wholly severed, as ICANN advocates? And, in either case, what governance structure would best promote Internet efficiency and innovation? This paper evaluates the structure and governance of ICANN to help inform the upcoming decision. In particular, it reviews ICANN’s structure and functions, and also the structures of a number of other organizations that perform a roughly comparable range of private-sector and quasi-governmental coordination and standard-setting functions, to explore what might be applicable to ICANN. We find that although ICANN has control over extremely important aspects of the Internet, it is largely accountable to no one. No organization with ICANN’s level of responsibility operates with the independence that ICANN enjoys, even under the current arrangement of nominal oversight by the U.S. Department of Commerce. ICANN’s proposal for complete privatization and termination of the DOC’s oversight would make the accountability problem worse.

Mobile - identity theft

Mobile users at risk of ID theft

The blurring line between mobiles and computers raises new security issues

A survey of London commuters suggests that 4.2m Britons store data on their mobiles that could be used in identity theft in the event they are stolen.

Only six in 10 use a password to limit entry into the phones, according to the survey by security firm Credant.

The survey found that 99% of people use their phones for business in some way, despite 26% of them being told not to.

Security experts say that password protection and, where possible, data encryption, is essential.

The advent of smartphones has seen the types of information that pass through handsets proliferate and it is now much more common to store sensitive information and work-related details on handsets.

Mobile - dual SIM card handsets

Samsung unveils dual SIM mobile phone

Samsung Electronics has unveiled the world's first full touch dual SIM phone. The Middle East offers the highest potential for growth in the dual SIM market, says Sandeep Saihgal, general manager of mobile phones at Samsung Gulf Electronics. 'Consumers in this region tend to have more than one SIM card, whether they have separate SIM cards for personal and/or professional use,' he said in a press statement.

China - spam SMS

China Mobile ordered to crack down on mass SMS ads

Beijing has ordered China Mobile to crack down on mass text message spam and the sale of mobile phone numbers to advertisers after a media report showed the long-standing problems have survived efforts to stamp them out.

China Mobile subsidiaries in Shandong province in northeastern China have reaped profits by selling numbers and spamming subscribers with ads, state-run broadcaster CCTV revealed in a consumer rights program on Sunday.

Beijing ordered the company, China's biggest mobile carrier, to investigate the report and punish responsible staff, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in a statement (in Chinese) on its Web site. It also called on China's other mobile carriers, China Telecom and China Unicom, to crack down on spam SMS (short message service) messages, the statement said.

China Mobile is looking into the issue, a spokeswoman said. The company's provincial branches are largely autonomous.

Beijing launched a similar crackdown last year after CCTV exposed rampant SMS spamming by Focus Media, an advertising firm that hammered 200 million mobile phones with unwanted ads, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

China had over 640 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2008, according to the MIIT.

Mobile advertising in China's huge market has excited investors, but the mass spamming most effective for advertisers has angered mobile users, said Shaun Rein, director of market intelligence firm China Market Research Group.

"SMS spam advertising has been really big in China, because the fact of the matter is it works," Rein said.

SMS spam, down last year, has risen again as companies desperate for cash turn to selling mobile phone numbers, Rein said.

The MIIT has shut down 14,000 sources of SMS spam and ended severe violations by more than 300 firms since last year, according to its website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

UK - the future of broadband

Ofcom sets out challenge of broadband Britain

Ofcom boss Ed Richards last night set out the full scale of the challenge of realising the government's ambition of getting broadband to everyone in the UK by 2012, with over 1.5m homes currently unable to get the speed promised by Lord Carter in his Digital Britain plan.

Speaking at the The Future of Telecoms at the London School of Economics, Richards unveiled research to be published by the regulator later this week. Over 40% of the UK's estimated 25m households do not have broadband and, of those, Richards said that 55% "have decided they do not want it at all, even though they can afford it – we call these the 'self excluded'".

He added that 30% "are restrained by financial resources but would like to be online – we call these the 'financially excluded'," while "15% don't want it and don't have the resources anyway – we call these the 'dual excluded'".

"So, even though people are bombarded by messages about the range of benefits of being online – whether buying cheap insurance or catching up on last week's soaps – there seems to be millions of people who are not yet persuaded."

He added that 1% of UK households do want broadband but cannot get it where they live - the so-called 'geographically excluded' - but those figures are only for broadband at 512Kb per second.

Communications minister Lord Carter, in his interim Digital Britain report published in January, said he wants universal broadband access by 2012 at speeds of 2Mb per second and above.

At that speed, Richards said, "then the 1% grows substantially to an estimated 15% who simply can't access a service of this speed at present."

That is equivalent to roughly 1.5m homes.

He said it was "time to ensure that anyone who wants a decent basic broadband service can get one".

Lord Carter has made it plain that he believes the UK mobile phone networks have a major role to play in plugging the gaps in broadband coverage while Richards added that in some cases "simple and cheap improvements to in-house wiring can deliver the desired speed improvements".

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mobile - a future in games

Wireless operators need to be gamers, analyst says

The dramatic growth in the video games market presents tremendous opportunities for wireless operators to be the first mover in creating the iTunes of mobile gaming, according to CSMG, the strategy division of management consulting services provider TMNG Global. Gaming has been one of the most resilient forms of mobile entertainment, said Rich Nespola, chairman and chief executive officer of TMNG Global, but service providers must act quickly or risk losing the opportunity to a third party that will.

“To dislodge an incumbent who provides an excellent service is extremely difficult,” Nespola said. “The longer they wait to address this market, which is seeing phenomenal growth even in a recessionary environment, the more they miss that first-mover advantage or open window right now.”

In a report released today, Playing Games: A Revolution In Interactive Entertainment, CSMG indentified increased network access, faster broadband speeds, next-generation consoles and more capable mobile devices as the drivers of this mobile opportunity. Overall United States gaming software sales reached $20 billion in 2008, up from $9.4 billion in 2005. With a 24.6% compound annual growth rate forecasted for 2007 through 2012, mobile games represent the fastest growing segment.

Despite the revenue opportunity, service providers have remained hands off on mobile gaming, said Armaghan Farooq, manager at CSMG, who developed the study. They outsource it to third-party game aggregators to manage it much like Apple does for music via iTunes and, in doing so, miss the opportunity to drive their own revenues from it. Service providers can’t approach games the way they do music, he said. Unlike music, gaming is interactive and can go beyond filling time to potentially being a dominant form of entertainment if it is treated as such.

The study, which surveyed more than 20 North American participants, including cable companies and mobile operators, found that the demographic for gaming has also grown significantly. Once the domain of teenage males, the average age of a gamer has increased to 33 years and female gamers make up almost 50% across many types of games. The expansion of casual games, simpler user interfaces and the proliferation of innovative business models have been the lead drivers of this change at the same time that smartphone adoption and more sophisticated operating systems are encouraging a large developer community to get their games out to a much broader audience.

Because of these market influences, CSMG sees the biggest opportunity for service providers to capture a greater share of mobile gaming coming from the standardization of mobile software platforms. This will encourage mobile game developers to get on board with the promise of increased gamer penetration, gaming ARPU, on and off-deck purchases and operator and developer revenue share.

And why should service providers single out mobile gaming amidst a host of other opportunities, including launching their own application stores? Gaming is simply where the money is, Nespola said. Carriers already have a scalable network infrastructure, established subscriber base, sophisticated billing systems and bundled product portfolios, and they need additional revenue streams as voice reaches saturation. A spectrum of potential business models could exist, according to Farooq, from paying once for lifetime usage, subscription models or creative forms of advertising that go beyond just banner ads. There will also be opportunities for non-intrusive ads and placements within the game itself that generate revenue for both the wireless operator and the developer, he said.

“The bottom line is yet to be determined,” Nespola added. “It will vary carrier-to-carrier, because the same economics don’t prevail for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile – the dominant providers in the US, but they will gravitate towards where they believe they can best leverage their assets.”

Zain - share of 3rd operator in Morocco

Zain acquires 31% stake in Moroccan telco firm Wana

Zain has announced that it has acquired a 31% stake in Moroccan telecom firm Wana for $324m. A unit of Morocco's biggest conglomerate ONA, Wana is an integrated telecom operator currently offering fixed and restricted mobility wireless services, full CDMA mobility services (Wana) and Internet and data services throughout Morocco.

Europe - call for doubling R&D funding

Commission calls for doubling funding for ICT research and innovation

Making Europe the world leader in ICT is the goal of the new strategy proposed today by the European Commission. Today Europe represents 34% of the global information and communication technologies (ICT) market, and its value is growing by 4% per year. However, the value added produced by the EU's ICT sector amounts to only 23% of the total, because both Europe's market and research efforts are fragmented. As a result, Europe is lagging behind its global competitors in ICT research and in the production of innovative ICT-based products and services. The strategy proposed calls on Member States and industry to pool resources and work together more in ICT research and innovation. The strategy also proposes showcase ICT innovation projects to deliver modern services infrastructures in areas like healthcare and energy efficiency.

Europe - EC calls for 20% GHG emission reductions

EU wants ICT industry to cut emissions by 20%
see also COM(2009) 111 final

The European Commission wants the ICT sector to cut its CO2 emissions by 20% before 2015 in exchange for the benefits the industry is expected to reap from EU legislation on smart technologies to tackle climate change.

The ICT industry currently accounts for about 2% of global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to estimates by Gartner, a leading consulting firm. The figure is slightly lower than that for the aviation sector, which is in the process of being regulated by the EU via its introduction into the bloc's emissions trading scheme.

The Commission does not foresee binding targets for the ICT industry, but "recommends" the sector to "show the way for the rest of the economy by already reducing its own carbon footprint by 20% by 2015," said Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding, commenting on a document adopted 12th March by the EU executive on the issue.

Many major companies have already announced commitments to significantly cut their emissions. BT intends to reduce its carbon footprint by 80% by 2016, compared to 1996 levels. The British giant is working towards this target by increasing its reliance on teleworking and by increasing the flexibility of its employees' work (thereby reducing costs and energy consumption), according to a BT spokesperson.

Vodafone plans to halve its CO2 emissions by 2020, while Intel has announced plans to cut its carbon footprint by 20% by 2012. Handset makers, by contrast, are lagging behind somewhat: Motorola and Nokia have committed to 6% reductions by 2012 and 2010 respectively.

The investments that ICT companies are making to become greener will be offset by relevant savings and growing revenues resulting from smart technologies, a trend which the European Union is underpinning with its markedly pro-energy efficiency policies.

One of the measures proposed by Brussels is to increase the use of smart meters to make people more aware of their energy consumption and carbon footprint. This would reduce energy consumption by 10%, according to Commission estimates.

ICT can also reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 17% and the carbon emissions of transport logistics by 27%, believes the EU executive. Brussels is therefore working to broker a partnership between the ICT sector and other major energy-consuming sectors.

More detailed measures are expected in a formal recommendation, which the Commission is aiming to adopt in the second half of 2009.

Social networks - the new electronic mail

Social networks 'are new e-mail'

Status updates on sites such as Facebook, Yammer, Twitter and Friendfeed are a new form of communication, the South by SouthWest Festival has heard.

"We are all in the process of creating e-mail 2.0," David Sacks, founder of business social network Yammer said.

Tens of millions of people are using social networks to stay in touch.

The growth in such services is being heralded as the start of the real-time, pervasive web.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Africa - the role of parliament in an equitable information society


We, the Representatives of the African Parliaments to the Kigali International Conference

Recalling the commitment of our governments to the Millennium Development Goals and particularly those setting ICT targets, together with their commitments at the World Summits on the Information Society (Geneva 2003, Tunis 2005) for an equitable information society for all;

Recalling outcome of the Cairo International Conference of 4th and 5th June 2008 which resulted in the creation of the Africa Parliamentary Knowledge Network;

Recalling that equitable access to information is a right for all;

Recognising the vast inequities to equitable access to information, knowledge, and affordable communications across the continent and the uneven development that this contributes together with the negative impact that the high cost of communications services has on the wider economy;

Considering the critical role the information and communication technology (ICT) can play in the economic growth and development of nations;

Acknowledging that the quality of a democracy is dependent on the rights of the citizenry to express themselves freely and to access information and knowledge in order to make informed decisions;

Realising the significant role that parliaments must play in promoting an equitable information society through the enactment of legislation, which ensures transparency, accountability, openness and effective oversight;

Cognisant of the United Nations role in the promotion of an equitable information society to support parliaments in their legislative activities and ensure the promotion and the adoption of ICTs;

Underscoring the need for mutual assistance, exchange of information, and sharing of experiences and best practices among African Parliaments as recognised by the African Union and Pan African Parliament in their commitment to the harmonisation of policies and the integration of regional markets.


All African Parliaments to:

Adhere to the Africa Parliamentary Knowledge Network (APKN).
Urge the development of policies and initiate and enact laws that promote equitable access to information, knowledge and communication and provide for favourable institutional arrangements for the ICT sector.
Encourage private investment and participation in the ICT sector, while ensuring that strategies are developed to ensure equitable access for all;
Increase the capacity and effectiveness of the parliaments in African States as oversight bodies to ensure the benefits of the enhanced communications services are shared by all; and that the ICT sector contributes to growth and development of national and regional economies;
Create Parliamentary ICT Committees Chairpersons’ Forum to:
provide the necessary critical engagement with proposed legislation,
provide meaningful oversight of its implementation,
harmonise and assure compatibility of the legislations, and
ensure effective implementation of laws in all parliaments through an overarching assessment mechanism;
Encourage the undertaking of research on the ICT sector in order to develop policies based on the analysis of practical experiences in relation to the universal access to information and communication services for all.
Formalise mechanisms to share and disseminate information and knowledge among parliaments.
Ensure the freedom of expression and equitable access to information, upon which the citizenry can base their decisions and create a conducive environment for the institutions of civil society including the media, trade unions and NGOs to promote and practice equitable access to information and communication;
Elaborate a comprehensive master plan for ICTs and the development of electronic information dissemination and storage systems.
To contribute to the implementation of the Kigali Plan of Action on the Development of an Equitable Information Society in Africa.


In the spirit of the Kigali Declaration on the Development of an Equitable Information Society and the Role of African Parliaments, the representatives of the African Parliaments present have agreed to implement the following plan of action.

To establish a repository of policy, legislation and regulation of each country in the area of ICT and relevant research and analysis in the context of the “Africa Parliamentary Knowledge Network “(APKN) and the Africa Information Society Initiative (AISI).
To develop and implement a training programme for parliamentarians to familiarize them with the dynamic ICT field and to update their knowledge in order to enhance their representative, legislative and oversight functions (in the issues related to ICTs) in the context of the APKN and the AISI.
To identify common research needs in the area of ICT and seek support to have it conducted and specifically support and utilize local and international indicator studies and analysis; in order to move towards a more rigorous and evidence based policy development, legislative practice and to monitor progress towards the achievement of an equitable information society for all.
To actively contribute to the online monthly thematic discussion that will be led by identified specialists on relevant topics or legislation being debated/passed in a particular jurisdiction in the context of the APKN Information Society Initiative (

Mobile handsets - declining volumes

Outlook for cell phone makers worsens

Two major market research firms published figures for the fourth quarter of 2008 this week. And they each have bleak news for the cell phone industry.

IDC said it expects the volume of all mobile handsets to decline by 8.3 percent in 2009. And it expects sales of hot smartphones, like Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry phones, to slow to about 3.4 percent growth. Smartphones have been a hot ticket for mobile phone makers over the past year. In December, IDC had predicted a growth rate for smartphones in 2009 to be about 8.7 percent.

But that forecast has changed. Ryan Reith, a senior analyst at IDC, said in a statement that the overall cell phone market was looking gloomier than expected due mostly to the economic crisis. And he said he expected all segments, including smartphones, to be affected in 2009.

Market research firm Gartner published similarly dismal numbers in its market share report for 2008. The firm said that smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 were only up about 3.7 compared to the previous year. And the firm noted that the growth rate had slowed from the previous quarter. In the third quarter of 2008, smartphone sales increased 12 percent compared to year earlier, and sales were up 16 percent in the second quarter. The firm blames the slowing growth on the deteriorating economic situation.

Still, market forecasters believe that smartphones represent the biggest opportunity for mobile device makers. IDC said in its report that consumers are hungry for smartphones that can access the Internet and run different applications.

But the tough economic times may prevent some consumers from upgrading their phones to smartphones in 2009, largely because the prices of these devices are too high. The sweet spot in the market seems to be in the $200 range. Apple's iPhone, T-Mobile's G1, and several BlackBerry devices sell in this range or slightly lower. These devices are subsidized by mobile operators and require users sign a two-year service contract. The data services attached to these devices are also expensive, typically in the $30 a month range. But as the economic noose tightens around consumers' wallets, it's expected that these prices could keep many potential customers at bay.

It's likely over the next year that mobile operators will subsidize the cost of these phones even more to push sales volumes. But the economic malaise might also create a market for smarter, less expensive, feature phones that don't run a full operating system. These phones, which could sell in the $50-and-under range, could still provide many of the Web functions found on smartphones, such as connectivity to social networking sites, e-mail and IM.

A company called INQ is working on such a phone, and another company called iSkoot just announced on Wednesday that it is offering software to allow all cell phone manufacturers to make their cheap feature phones smarter.

But IDC's analysts believe that the fact that the smartphone market can grow at all, when the total cell phone market is expected to decline 8.3 percent for the year, indicates the strength of this segment. And the firm predicts that when the economy turns around, smartphone sales will explode. I tend to agree. This will become especially true if the economic recovery coincides with nationwide availability of new 4G wireless services from Clearwire and Verizon Wireless.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Europe - ICTs for a greenness

Commission pushes ICT use for a greener Europe

As part of its effort to combat climate change and drive economic recovery, the European Commission today called on Member States and industry to use information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve energy efficiency. These technologies are expected to reduce total carbon emissions in Europe by up to 15% by 2020. ICT can not only improve monitoring and management of energy use in factories, offices and in public spaces but above all help make people more aware of how they use energy. With smart metering in their homes, for example, consumers have been found to reduce their energy consumption by as much as 10%.