Saturday, October 31, 2009

Peak Internet Traffic Increases Due to Social Networking and Broadband Video Usage

[cisco] New Cisco Study Reveals Peak Internet Traffic Increases Due to Social Networking and Broadband Video Usage


* Today Cisco announced new findings from the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Usage research effort that confirms service provider networks are carrying a significant amount of visual networking traffic, with more than one-third of the average global broadband connection supporting video, social networking and collaboration applications each month.
* This new Cisco VNI Usage study provides quantitative insights into current activity on service provider networks during the third quarter of calendar year 2009. The research effort is a cooperative program between Cisco and a group of more than 20 service providers worldwide who share their anonymous, aggregated network usage data to help them analyze network usage trends, anticipate infrastructure changes, and develop future architectural guidelines.
* Participating service providers are serving millions of residential subscribers from around the world and represent the mobile, wireline, and cable segments throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific and various emerging markets.
* This new study, focused on actual network traffic, complements the Cisco VNI Forecast and Methodology, 2008-2013, which offers projections for future network growth. Updates to the usage data are planned for the future as a means to measure changes in overall traffic patterns.

Cisco VNI Usage Highlights:

Aggregate Broadband Findings (Q3CY09):

* Globally, the average broadband connection (primarily residential subscribers and some business users) generates approximately 11.4 gigabytes of Internet traffic per month.
o Per connection per day, this amount is roughly equivalent to downloading 3,000 text emails, 100 MP3 music files or 360 text-only e-books.
* Globally, the average broadband connection consumes about 4.3 gigabytes visual networking applications (advanced services such as video, social networking and collaboration) traffic per month.
o Per connection per day, this amount is roughly the equivalent of approximately 20.5 short- form Internet videos or approximately 1.1 hours of Internet video, whether streamed on its own, embedded in a Web page, or viewed as part of video communications.
* Top 1 percent of global subscribers generated more than 20 percent of all traffic.
* Top 10 percent of global subscribers generated more than 60 percent of all traffic.

Peak Broadband Usage During Internet Prime Time:

* In an average day over the reported quarter, Internet "prime time" spans from approximately 9 p.m to 1 a.m. around the world. This contrasts with broadcast TV prime time, which is generally from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. across most global markets.
* 25 percent (or 93.3 megabytes per day per connection) of global Internet traffic is generated during the Internet "prime time" period.
* A peak Internet hour has 20 percent more traffic than a nonpeak Internet hour. The peak Internet hour averages 18 megabytes of traffic per connection (per hour), while nonpeak Internet hours average 15 megabytes of traffic per connection (per hour).
o The peak Internet visual networking hour has almost 25 percent more traffic than average hourly Internet traffic.

New Cisco Study Reveals Peak Internet Traffic Increases Due to Social Networking and Broadband Video Usage - Cisco Visual Networking Index Study Finds Today's Average Global Broadband Connection Generates 11.4 Gigabytes of Internet Traffic per Month

Costa Rica - Broadband Connections Grow 27.3% During First Half of 2009

[cisco] Cisco today announced the results of the Cisco® Broadband Barometer, which reported a 27.3 percent growth in fixed broadband connections in Costa Rica during the first half of 2009.

The increase in broadband connections was mainly in the enterprise and home segments. According to the study, prepared by CAATEC Foundation and sponsored by Cisco, Costa Rica reached 270,757 fixed connections and a 5.8 percent penetration in its population.

The Cisco Broadband Barometer analyzed broadband penetration in public and private schools in the country. Public and private schools experienced a 15 percent and 27 percent broadband growth, respectively, during the first half of 2009.

Despite the growth, Costa Rica still needs around 52,000 new broadband connections to reach the goal defined by the Cisco Broadband Barometer in conjunction with the government. That goal is 325,000 connections and 7 percent broadband penetration by 2010.


* Nearly 52,000 connections were added to the fixed broadband market in Costa Rica during the first half of 2009. There was a 17.7 percent growth in connections with speeds between 512 kilobits per second (Kbps) and 1 megabit per second (Mbps) during the first half of 2009.
* Connections with speeds between 512 Kbps and 1 Mbps represent 37 percent of the fixed broadband market. Connections with speeds higher than 1 Mbps represent only 27.7 percent. The home segment continued to concentrate the majority of fixed broadband connections during the first half of 2009, reaching 206,877 connections and attaining a 23 percent growth.
* The enterprise segment experienced 28.6 percent growth during this same period.
* Broadband connections continue to concentrate in the urban areas. The cantons with the greatest penetration were Montes de Oca (20 percent), Escazu (19.4 percent) and Santo Domingo (17 percent). The cantons with less penetration were San Mateo, Guacimo and Coto Brus, with only 0.7 percent penetration.
* ADSL connections grew 32.2 percent and cable modem grew 19.8 percent. In the educational system. 39 percent of public schools and 61 percent of private schools have broadband connections.
* The majority of public and private schools in the country have connections with speeds between 256 Kbps and 512 Kbps.
* Mobile Internet is still at an early stage in Costa Rica, with only 6 percent of GSM cell phone lines having Internet access activated.
* There are still 52,243 connections needed to reach the goal defined by the Cisco Broadband Barometer: 325,000 connections and 7 percent broadband penetration by 2010.

Costa Rican Broadband Connections Grow 27.3% During First Half of 2009

Egypt - A code of ethics for the use of mobile phones

[bbc] A code of ethics for the use of mobile phones has been launched by Egypt's official telecoms regulatory body.

The 16-point guide includes advice about when to switch phones off and warns against annoying others with ringtones and loud conversations.

Mobile phone technology is "considered one of the greatest technologies (to) emerge in the last few years to serve humanity," it says.

But it should not be used to "annoy or tease" others, the guide continues.

The code was prepared by the country's National Telecom Regulatory Authority and the Consumer Rights Protection Committee.

"This Ethics Code aims to regulate the users' behaviours on using mobile phones especially with the increasing and intense problems and irresponsible behaviour of some users of mobile technology," reads the introduction.

Egypt seeks ethical mobile users

OECD - The impact of the crisis on ICT and ICT-related employment

[oecd] ICT employment trends. Preliminary analysis of available indicators shows that employment is dropping in the ICT sector - notably in ICT goods sectors and mostly remaining flat in ICT services. The paper also highlights some niche ICT activities where ICT employment is increasing despite the crisis.

The impact of the crisis on ICT and ICT-related employment

Europe - 60% of cross border internet shopping orders are refused, says new EU study

[ec] There are widespread problems with refusals of orders for EU consumers trying to purchase goods online in another Member state, according to a new European Commission report on cross border consumer e-commerce published today. An extensive independent mystery shopping exercise was carried out for the Commission where shoppers across the EU tried to purchase a list of 100 popular products –for example cameras, CDs, books, clothes - from a cross border provider. Over 11,000 test orders were carried out. The research found that 60% of cross border transactions could not be completed by consumers because the trader did not ship the product to their country or did not offer adequate means for cross border payment. Latvia, Belgium, Romania and Bulgaria are the countries where consumers are least able to buy cross border (for full list of EU-27 countries ranked see MEMO/09/475 ). But in all but two countries the odds of succeeding in a cross border purchase are lower than 50%. The foregone benefits to citizens are also very clear. In more than half of Member States, 50% or more or the products could be found 10% cheaper (transport costs included) from a website in another country. And 50% of products searched could not be found in national sites and were only offered by another Member State trader. The Communication presents a series of measures to be taken to reduce the complex regulatory environment which is acting as a disincentive for businesses to serve consumers in other Member States. In addition and to boost confidence in online trading, the problems regarding the collection of commercial data and its use to profile and target consumers will be analyzed in a stakeholders forum.

60% of cross border internet shopping orders are refused, says new EU study

Romania - EC has taken legal action to require separation of regulator and operator

[ec] The European Commission today started legal action against Romania for not respecting EU rules that require the separation between those making telecoms rules and those providing telecoms services. The Commission today sent Romania a letter of formal notice, the first phase of an infringement proceeding. This is the second infringement proceeding the Commission has launched against Romania over the independence of its telecoms regulator. The first case, also ongoing, was launched in January 2009 over the regulator's dismissal.

Telecoms: Commission asks Romania to separate regulatory and ownership functions in telecoms

UK - European Commission steps up legal action over privacy and personal data protection

[ec] The Commission today moved to the second phase of an infringement proceeding over the UK to provide its citizens with the full protection of EU rules on privacy and personal data protection when using electronic communications. European laws state that EU countries must ensure the confidentiality of people's electronic communications like email or internet browsing by prohibiting their unlawful interception and surveillance without the user's consent. As these rules have not been fully put in place in the national law of the UK, the Commission today said that it will send the UK a reasoned opinion.

Telecoms: Commission steps up UK legal action over privacy and personal data protection

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finland - everyone will be entitled to 1 Mbps by 2010 to rise to 100 by 2015

[circle ID] Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications announced today that from July 2010, every person in the country will have a legal right to at least 1Mb of broadband connection. Finland is the first country to guarantee broadband access and has already initiated plans to increase the 1MB minimum to 100Mb by 2015.

Communications Minister Suvi Linden says the universal service and Internet connections at the specified minimum speed will help improve the quality and availability of connections in sparsely populated areas. This will in turn contribute to maintenance of rural vitality, increase business opportunities and e-commerce.

Finland First Country to Make Broadband a Legal Right

USA - AT&T will now allow VoIP apps on its 3G network to meet customer expectations

[teleclick] American wireless giant, AT&T, announced today that it will allow VoIP applications to make use of its 3G broadband network.

This is a reversal of the carrier’s previous policy, under which internet telephony software such as Skype was blocked from using the network. This approach came under scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission over the summer after Apple (which has an exclusive partnership with AT&T) excluded Google’s ‘Voice’ application from appearing in its iTunes App Store.

Some industry watchers speculated that AT&T may forced Apple to reject the Google application, in an effort to protect its wireless voice revenue stream. AT&T, however, says it was simply concerned that VoIP traffic would clog its 3G network, slowing down other applications.

The company says that its decision to allow VoIP traffic “was made after evaluating our customers’ expectations.”

AT&T Begins Allowing Mobile VoIP Applications on 3G Network

Intel - A total mobile computing experience - supported by a new range of microprocessors

[intel] At its developer conference today, Intel Corporation demonstrated how from handhelds and netbooks for light-computing to the balanced performance and style of ultra-thin laptops to full-function laptop computing, the company delivers the right combination of priorities for every mobile experience. The Intel Developer Forum keynote by David (Dadi) Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager, Intel Architecture Group, also marked the debut of three new super-fast and intelligent Intel® Core™ i7 processors for laptops.

"Staying connected on an increasingly broad array of mobile devices has become the most exciting and quickly evolving part of technology," said Perlmutter. "Intel is delivering the total mobile experience on each device, offering different levels of performance and power in sleek form factors coupled with compatibility, a superior mobile Internet experience and embedded WiMAX wireless broadband. We're truly taking mobility to the next level of cool."

Based on Intel's award-winning Nehalem microarchitecture, the new Intel® Core™ i7 processors and a new chipset include such features as Intel® Turbo Boost Technology1 and Intel® Hyper-Threading2 Technology. The quad-core chips deliver unmatched processing power on-the-go for the most demanding PC users who create digital video, play intense games or run compute-intensive business applications.

Perlmutter also highlighted Intel's next generation of mobile processors, codenamed "Arrandale," which brings the Nehalem microarchitecture to mainstream laptops. These chips will integrate the dual-core CPU and graphics in the package and incorporate the 32nm manufacturing process and second-generation high-k metal gate transistors for increased performance and power efficiency for mainstream mobile PCs. This integration of platform components will continue into the future with a fully monolithic processor on 32nm, codenamed "Sandy Bridge."

Citing a combination of architectural, design and process enhancements, Perlmutter detailed progress with Intel's "Moorestown" platform, scheduled for 2010 and targeting MIDs and smartphones. He discussed some of the innovative techniques that Intel is implementing, such as Distributed Power Gating, for improved performance and major reductions in power and thermal envelope.

These technologies help to achieve up to a 50x improvement in platform idle power reduction compared to Intel's first generation "Menlow" platform. The reductions are enabling Intel to establish new thresholds in ultra low power while making it possible to run the full Internet and media-rich applications in handheld devices.

Intel's Priority: A Total Mobile Computing Experience

Google - traffic for YouTube is being carried on its own dark fibre

[wired] YouTube may pay less to be online than you do, a new report on internet connectivity suggests, calling into question a recent analysis arguing Google’s popular video service is bleeding money and demonstrating how the internet has continued to morph to fit user’s behavior.

In fact, with YouTube’s help, Google is now responsible for at least 6 percent of the internet’s traffic, and likely more — and may not be paying an ISP at all to serve up all that content and attached ads.

Credit Suisse made headlines this summer when it estimated that YouTube was binging on bandwidth, losing Google a half a billion dollars in 2009 as it streams 75 billion videos. But a new report from Arbor Networks suggests that Google’s traffic is approaching 10 percent of the net’s traffic, and that it’s got so much fiber optic cable, it is simply trading traffic, with no payment involved, with the net’s largest ISPs.

“I think Google’s transit costs are close to zero,” said Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist for Arbor Networks and a longtime internet researcher. Arbor Networks, which sells network monitoring equipment used by about 70 percent of the net’s ISPs, likely knows more about the net’s ebbs and flows than anyone outside of the National Security Agency.

And the extraordinary fact that a website serving nearly 100 billion videos a year has no bandwidth bill means the net isn’t the network it used to be.

YouTube’s Bandwidth Bill Is Zero. Welcome to the New Net
see also Two-Year Study of Global Internet Traffic Will Be Presented At NANOG47

Huawei and ZTE are rising in the supply of mobile equipment

[frost & sullivan] At present, GSM owns over 3.38 billion GSM, WCDMA-HSPA subscribers worldwide and 83.5 percent of global mobile market share. According to the Industry Life Cycle, GSM continues to gain ground till 2014 due to the increase of the emerging markets, relatively low price of GSM endpoints, and GSM technology revolution.

During the past five years, ZTE and Huawei gradually became the mainstreaming equipment providers in GSM market as a result of localized operation, customized invention and strong cost competitiveness. Huawei is likely to seek more market opportunities and demonstrate its competitive strength. ZTE is supposed to continue to find more opportunities and exceed NSN to become one of the top three GSM equipment providers by the end of 2009.

Global GSM Market Analysis

US$2.3 Bn opportunity for mobile operators in off-grid charging - solar phones or external solar chargers

[prnewswire] A new report released today from the GSMA, entitled Charging Choices, has revealed a US$2.3 billion* opportunity for mobile operators through the provision of off-grid charging solutions such as solar phones or external solar chargers in emerging markets. Following extensive research, the GSMA's Green Power for Mobile (GPM) programme, who commissioned the research, estimates there are 485 million mobile users without access to the electricity grid, a factor which severely limits usage opportunities. The report identifies a range of charging choices available that, if implemented effectively, will extend service availability and could boost average revenues per user by 10-14%.

"We are extremely excited that operators are able to provide people in off-grid areas with solutions to power mobile phones, as this will not only improve quality of life and access to information but can also act as a unique and significant opportunity to fuel economic growth," said David Taverner, GPM Programme Manager, GSMA. "The figures we used to calculate the market size of off-grid charging solutions were on the conservative side, so the actual benefit to mobile operators could in fact be much greater than the US$2.3 billion we are estimating. This preliminary market overview is the start of what the GSMA believes will be an important area of industry growth in the coming years."

"Mobile networks are increasingly being deployed in rural areas of emerging markets, where consumer access to the grid is at best limited and unreliable and in many cases non-existent," said Windsor Holden, Principal Analyst, Juniper Research. "As Juniper Research has observed, usage will in large be dependent on consumers being able to charge the handset through alternative methods, and solar-powered chargers in particular could become a key means of facilitating reliable access to mobile services in these markets."

"This GSMA's Charging Choices report is the most comprehensive document I've seen on the emergence and necessity for alternate mobile power solutions in the developing world," said Tom Bryant, VP global distribution, Digicel.

"Providing people in off-grid areas with the means to power their mobile phone is one of the last hurdles to bringing mobile services to the emerging markets," says Paul Naastepad, CEO of Intivation. "We have been involved in this area for several years and with interest gathering momentum, now is the time to give the concept a push so that it can reach its full potential: providing cheap and ubiquitous power to millions of mobile users in emerging markets."

The research has found that there is significant interest in off grid solutions - 60% of mobile operators interviewed already have or are exploring off-grid charging initiatives - but there is currently only limited understanding about the full scope of options and the associated social and business benefits. Pioneers Digicel and Safaricom, however, have demonstrated how the consumer, the environment and the mobile operator can reap the benefits of off-grid charging solutions. Charging Choices provides initial exploration into alternative charging options and examines the types of solutions currently available on the market.

As part of its GPM programme, the Development Fund conducted the study over a three-month period from June through August 2009. It included extensive desk research to identify emerging vendors, their products, and other players in the field, and dozens of interviews and surveys of mobile operators and vendors covering 50 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The GSMA Development Fund launched its GPM programme in September 2008 to extend mobile beyond the grid, with two primary objectives: to systematically reduce diesel consumption by mobile operators through the promotion of renewable energy technologies and energy efficient base stations and to remove the barriers to handset charging in off-grid regions. The programme has recently been recognised by the Clinton Global Initiative for its exemplary approach to accelerating solutions that address climate change, and has been profiled in its 2004-2008 commemorative publication, "Action Speaks Louder than Words."

GSMA Research Shows Off-Grid Charging Solutions for Mobile Phones to Power US $2.3bn Market Opportunity
see also Charging Choices

USA - mobile phone technology provide an opportunity for automotive marketers to establish a valuable online presence

[prnewswire] Rapidly evolving mobile phone technology, including smartphone applications, provide an opportunity for automotive marketers to establish a valuable online presence that customers believe they can't live without, according to industry experts at the 2009 J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Internet Roundtable.

A large and growing proportion of consumers in the U.S. have smartphone devices. Smartphone users tend to keep their devices in close proximity at all times and utilize them primarily as an extension of PC Internet usage. The uniquely interactive and portable nature of mobile devices provides marketers with new challenges and opportunities. While keeping pace with evolving mobile device technology requires ongoing investment, developing an engaging mobile Web presence may also bring considerable benefits.

"Mobile gives marketers the chance to reach more shoppers, more often, in more places and to push specific information to shoppers right up to the point of sale," said Jason Ezell, founder and national account director of Dealerskins. "If you can get into their circle of trust that is their mobile device, you have much more of a direct link to prospective customers from day one of shopping all the way to the day of purchase."

Experts at the conference offered the following strategies for optimizing mobile device marketing:

* Information offered to consumers on their mobile devices needs to be both relevant and respectful. For vehicle shoppers with mobile devices, ad listings, payment calculators, maps and directions and dealer contact information are particularly useful.
* The development of rich media allows use of video and scalable banner ads, which are particularly engaging to viewers.
* To increase the chances that users will return to a mobile Web site, use consumer feedback to continually improve the mobile experience.
* When integrated into an overall campaign, text messaging is a particularly effective as a reminder medium and for eliciting responses from mobile device users. For example, through using text messaging, automotive brands and dealers may be able to bring shoppers in for test drives at 15 percent of the cost of using traditional media.
* When collecting e-mail addresses from vehicle shoppers, ask if the address is for a mobile device, in order to extend mobile-only offers and otherwise target mobile device users.

"Mobile is the connector that allows OEMs to take viewers from being passive to active," said Charlie Taylor, general manager, digital marketing and motorsports, at Volkswagen of America. "As the mobile device experience becomes richer, people decide they don't want to live without certain features or content from a brand, which creates a barrier to exit. We may see the development of more in-dash features that interface with mobile apps that keep owners engaged beyond the point of purchase."

Mobile Devices Provide Automotive Marketers With Access to Users' 'Circle of Trust'

Report entitled "Cloud Computing: Learning from the Pioneers"

[marketwire]Internet Research Group (IRG) today announced the release of its latest report on technology infrastructure, "Cloud Computing: Learning from the Pioneers."

Cloud Computing -- the dynamic provisioning of services over the Internet -- is a growing topic of interest throughout the Information Technology industry. This report focuses on the early adopter use cases for Cloud Computing Services. The Internet Research Group studied early usage of the Cloud through analysis of use case descriptions and interviews with more than fifty Cloud Computing experts. "Cloud Computing: Learning from the Pioneers" categorizes use cases across 100 different organizations.

"The results are interesting because of what has been accomplished in such a short time," noted John Katsaros, co-founder of Internet Research Group. "The results have been surprising when you look at how Cloud Computing can transform the business models of organizations adopting it."

This report creates a meaningful framework for understanding initial usage of Cloud Computing and the impact that Cloud Computing might have on the business models of IT services vendors.

Vendors directly impacted by the Cloud Computing include Amazon, Citrix, Desktone, HP, IBM, EMC, Microsoft, Rackspace, RightScale, Sun Microsystems and VMware.

Internet Research Group Publishes Research Study on Cloud Computing
see also Report table of contents

FMC and femtocell equipment forecast to hit $7.4 billion in 2013

[marketwire] Market research firm Infonetics Research released the second edition of its biannual FMC and Femtocell Equipment, Phones, and Subscribers report.

"So far, we have found no evidence of the economic downturn having a major impact on the pace of FMC rollouts, and it has had only a mild effect on the femtocell space. In the first half of 2009, we saw unabated UMA rollouts at T-Mobile USA, Orange, and Rogers Wireless in Canada, with Turk Telekom joining the bandwagon more recently," notes Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile and FMC infrastructure at Infonetics Research.

"As for the femtocell market, the lack of a clearly defined business model is persuading some service providers to postpone launching femtocell services until the market recovers, while others are moving forward. AT&T is the first operator in the US to launch 3G femtocell services to improve indoor voice and data coverage, and Verizon and Vodafone also have launched commercial femtocell services. We expect at least a dozen major operators to launch in 2010, giving this market a kick-start," explains Richard Webb, directing analyst for WiMAX, microwave, and mobile devices at Infonetics Research.


-- Sales of FMC network element equipment and femtocell equipment are forecast to grow to $7.4 billion worldwide by 2013
-- The number of 2G and 3G femtocells sold for use in GSM/GPRS, CDMA, W-CDMA/HSPA and CDMA2000/EV-DO networks will increase five-fold from 2009 to 2010
-- Sales of security gateways deployed to enable femtocells and dual mode handsets are expected to top $1.0 billion in 2013
-- Nokia increased its lead in the massive dual service phone market in two consecutive quarters, with over a third of worldwide revenue in 2Q09
-- In the very tight race for second position in the worldwide dual mode service phone market, Samsung, Apple, and HTC are within one or two percentage points of each other
-- Worldwide manufacturer revenue from dual mode cellular and WiFi phones dropped 29% in the first half of 2009 compared to the previous six months, as the recession bit into the mobile phone market
-- Worldwide seamless FMC subscribers are forecast to grow nearly 10-fold between 2008 and 2013, to 82 million

Infonetics Research: FMC and femtocell equipment forecast to hit $7.4 billion in 2013

USA - smaller operators are heavily dependent on interconnection revenues

[telephony online] Despite significant declines, many small independent telcos are still heavily dependent on access revenues, which they collect from other carriers for connecting calls to and from their customers. This was one of several key findings of a recent study of independent telcos conducted by the Telergee Alliance, a network of seven certified public accounting firms with telecom specialties.

For calendar year 2008, the median percentage of total operating revenues comprised of interstate access revenues was 36.6% for the 196 respondents, while intrastate access comprised a median 11.1% of total operating revenues. These high values were particularly surprising, considering that interstate access revenues declined a median of 1.3% between 2007 and 2008, and that intrastate revenues declined a median of 7% during that period.

The 2009 Telergee Benchmark Study, made available exclusively to clients of Telergee firms and to TelephonyOnline, surveyed small US telcos with total access lines ranging from fewer than 500 to more than 18,000. Respondents comprise a representative cross-section of the 800-plus independent telcos in the US today, researchers said.

The decline in access revenues was partially a result of fewer access minutes. Interstate access minutes declined a median of 7.7%, while intrastate access minutes declined a median of 10.8%, the study found.

“The decline in access minutes reflects the fact that access lines are down,” explained Rod Ballard, a principal with Jackson Thornton, a Telergee member firm. “They’ve been decreasing over the last 10 years as population is moving out of rural areas. There are also some losses to VoIP. On top of that, the younger generation is more email-driven. They say, ‘Why call when I can Facebook somebody?’”

A decline in per-minute revenues also contributed to lower access revenues overall. “That’s going down as clients negotiate new intercarrier compensation agreements,” Ballard said. “Access charges that used to be three to nine cents per minute now may be down to a penny.”

The accounting term for such heavy reliance on a particular revenue source, Ballard said, is “a high concentration of credit risk.” The best move for small telcos, he said, is to diversify their revenue mix.

Independent telcos still heavily dependent on access revenues
see also Telergee benchmarking study

Europe - legislation allowing 3G in GSM frequency bands has been gazetted

[ec] The path has been cleared today for a new generation of mobile services in Europe with the publication in the EU's Official Journal of new measures that allow 3G phones to use GSM frequencies. This follows the European Parliament and Council of Ministers' agreement, in July, to modernise European legislation – the GSM Directive – on the use of the radio spectrum needed for mobile services. The new EU measures will foster stronger competition on Europe's telecoms market and make it easier for operators to provide faster, pan-European services such as mobile internet alongside today's GSM services. They will also boost the roll-out of wireless broadband services, one of the drivers of the EU's economic recovery.

EU ready for wireless broadband on GSM frequencies

USA - $7.2 billion in stimulus funds is woefully inadequate according to Yankee Group

[cellular news] The current $7.2 billion in stimulus funds earmarked for extending broadband service across the U.S. is woefully inadequate, reaching less than a third of the investment necessary to connect every U.S. household, according to research from Yankee Group.

A report explores several scenarios and finds that even the most bare-bones approach to extending broadband across the country will require funding - and vendor cooperation - far beyond what we see today.

Currently, about 12 percent of U.S. households, including those in some major metropolitan areas, have no access to broadband service, landing the U.S. at a dismal 15th in broadband penetration worldwide. The report examines four possible approaches to addressing the problem: an ultra-cost-conscious "Discount" option, a leverage-what's-in-place "Duct Tape" method, a "Pragmatic" middle-of-the-road approach and an all-fiber-to-the-home "Gold-Plated" scenario. While all reach the Anywhere goal of at least one broadband connection per home, none are perfect. And at a minimum, they all require unprecedented vendor cooperation and regulatory foresight.

"Achieving ubiquitous broadband in the U.S. will hasten economic recovery and put the nation back where it belongs in terms of technology leadership, but it will take a concerted effort on the part of all stakeholders," says Vince Vittore, principal analyst at Yankee Group and author of the report. "A minimum of $24 billion is required, and that's only if networks are deployed in the most efficient manner and much of the middle-mile infrastructure already is in place. While the stimulus is a good start, it's just that: a start."

U.S. Broadband Stimulus Plan to Fall Short by Nearly $17 Billion
See also Ubiquitous U.S. Broadband Will Cost At Least Triple the Current Stimulus Package

spam - accounts for 86 per cent of all electronic mail and 4.5% is "toxic"

[network world] Worldwide spam has surged by nine times and now makes up 86 percent of all emails, says Symantec.

According to the security firm's October State of Spam report, 'toxic' spam or spam that contains malware accounts for 4.5 percent of all spam.

Symantec also said that spammers were concentrating their efforts of exploiting the 'holiday' period. As well as targeting web users with Halloween and Christmas related spam, spammers have expanded their remit to include the Indian festival of light Diwali and the Chinese Moon Festival, both of which are celebrated in October.

The most common subject lines in spam messages are 'Delivery Status Notification (Failure)', 'Return mail' and 'Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender'.

Symantec also said Phishing attacks were down five percent on last month and non-English phishing sites has decreased by 33 percent on last month.

Spam accounts for 86% of all emails

USA - half consumers would buy a green cellphone at the right price

[abi] Results from a 2009 ABI Research survey of 1000 adult mobile phone users in North America reveal that approximately 7% would be willing to pay a premium for an environmentally-friendly handset. A further 40% would choose a green handset over a conventional one if price, features, and performance were equal.

“These survey results mean that almost half of those surveyed were at least committed in principle to use of a green handset,” comments industry analyst Michael Morgan. “However the public is largely uninformed about their availability: only 4% said they were ‘very familiar’ with green handsets.”

Is that “equal in price” condition a deal-breaker? Not necessarily. Some recyclable components may be slightly more expensive, but the vendors have in most cases offered handsets with comparable functionality while keeping costs down. Generally the price differential between green and non-green models is not remarkable.

The cost to handset manufacturers can be, though. Creating a verifiably green handset can mean revamping the whole supply chain and retooling the production process. Watchdog groups such as Greenpeace are on the alert for “greenwashing.” Says Morgan, “There’s an avalanche of information to be managed, just to prove that you’re green.”

Legislation and regulation play roles too. The EU has the most comprehensive regulations in place, with targets which the most proactive handset vendors such as Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson view as worth meeting globally.

However, says Morgan, “There’s a difference between being merely compliant and being truly green. The three key factors are: using recyclable or renewable materials; ensuring that handsets are in fact recycled after use; and introducing low-power chargers. Even more crucial for the long-term: leveraging the lessons learned in this process and applying them right through entire handset portfolios.” As these lessons are applied, ABI Research believes, the percentage of properly recycled handsets will grow from 8% in 2009 to 17% in 2014.

Nearly Half of US Consumers Would Choose a “Green” Handset At the Right Price

USA - FCC invites comments on a report on foreign experiences with broadband policies

[eweek] Industrialized nations that rank above the United States in broadband in a variety of metrics implemented open access policies -- unbundling, bitstream access, collocation requirements, wholesaling, and/or functional separation -- to achieve their success, according to a study commissioned by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and conducted by Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

The study is part of the FCC's task force's work preparing the National Broadband Plan ordered by Congress for February delivery.

"The lowest prices and highest speeds are almost all offered by firms in markets where, in
addition to an incumbent telephone company and a cable company, there are also competitors who entered the market, and built their presence, through use of open access facilities," the report states.

The report adds that open access policies "are almost universally understood as having played a core role in the first generation transition to broadband in most of the high performing countries; that they now play a core role in planning for the next generation transition; and that the positive impact of such policies is strongly supported by the evidence of the first generation
broadband transition."

FCC Study: Open Access Spurs Broadband Growth

See also Berkman Broadband Study

UK - The EC has called for tougher price controls for interconnection with fixed networks

[ec] The European Commission has called on the UK regulatory authority for telecommunications, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), to impose appropriate price control and non-discrimination obligations on all communication providers regarding their fixed termination rates (FTRs). FTRs are the wholesale prices which fixed operators charge for terminating calls on their respective networks. Non-discrimination obligations for alternative providers are necessary to ensure that they apply equivalent conditions in equivalent circumstances. In line with the Commission's Recommendation on Termination Rates, an effective price control obligation leading to cost oriented termination rates is the most appropriate way to address the competition problems in this market.

Commission urges Ofcom to take stronger action on fixed termination rates

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

USA - Customer Satisfaction With Feature-Rich Smartphones Continues to Increase

[prnewswire] Overall satisfaction among smartphone owners has increased considerably over time as manufacturers continue to improve styling, feature sets, usability and software, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Wireless Consumer Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study-Volume 2 and the 2009 Wireless Business Smartphone Satisfaction Study(SM) released today. The J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study(SM)-Volume 2 was also released today.

Satisfaction among consumer smartphone owners has increased by 14 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) from just six months ago, while satisfaction among business owners has increased by 43 index points from 2008 as these devices have become more stylish, customizable and user-friendly.

Among traditional mobile phone owners, overall satisfaction has declined by six index points from April 2009, likely as a result of heightened awareness among traditional mobile phone owners of advanced features available on smartphones.

These three studies measure customer satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets and smartphones across several key factors. In order of importance, key factors of overall satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets are operation (30%); physical design (30%); features (20%); and battery function (20%). For consumer smartphones, key factors are ease of operation (30%); operating system (22%); features (21%); physical design (18%); and battery function (9%). For business smartphones, key factors include ease of operation (29%); operating system (23%); physical design (21%); features (16%); and battery function (11%).

Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones used primarily for personal reasons, with a score of 811, and performs particularly well in ease of operation, operating system, features and physical design. LG (776) and RIM BlackBerry (759) follow Apple in the rankings.

Among customers who use their smartphones primarily for business purposes, Apple ranks highest with a score of 803, followed by RIM BlackBerry (724).

LG ranks highest in overall wireless customer satisfaction with traditional handsets with a score of 723, performing well across all factors, particularly battery function, features and operation.

Wireless Smartphone Findings

The proportion of consumers who purchase more affordable smartphones (those costing less than $100) has significantly increased among most of the manufacturers included in the rankings, compared with the previous wave of the study six months ago. This indicates that wireless carriers are discounting their devices to attract new customers who are willing to pay for more costly service plans.

"Attractive rebates or discounts offered to current smartphone owners, as well as incentives given to traditional handset owners to upgrade to smartphones, are effective ways for wireless carriers to generate revenue and increase market share," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "It is important, however, that manufacturers meet the expectations of those taking advantage of such offers by ensuring the features are intuitive and ultimately rewarding to them in the long run. Providing an easy-to-use, yet powerful operating system with the ability to customize applications to suit owners' individual needs is essential to providing a high-quality and rewarding wireless experience."

Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Findings

The study finds that wireless carriers are offering deep discounts on traditional handsets, with 43 percent of traditional mobile phone owners, on average, reporting they received their handset free of charge. Satisfaction is significantly lower among owners who receive their handsets for free. Among these owners, satisfaction averages just 693, compared with 713 among owners who pay for their traditional mobile phone.

"Satisfaction is notably lower among owners who receive their handsets for free, because these phones often do not offer the full suite of features that owners desire," said Parsons. "When fewer features are available, usage rates also decline, which translates into lower brand loyalty. Offering extensive features that owners can integrate into their daily lives may foster brand loyalty to both the phone manufacturer and wireless carrier, and ultimately result in a more rewarding and satisfying owner experience."

The studies also find the following key wireless handset usage patterns:

* Among consumer smartphone owners, 22 percent want Wi-Fi capability in their next handset, while 21 percent want touch-screen capabilities and 17 percent want GPS capability.
* More than 40 percent of consumer smartphone owners report entirely replacing landline calling with mobile phone calling, while only 27 percent of traditional handset owners have done the same.
* Among business smartphone owners, more than one-half report downloading third-party games for entertainment, while 46 percent report downloading travel software such as maps and weather applications -- indicating business users are also integrating their devices into their personal lives. In addition, nearly one-half of owners (46%) report downloading business utility applications to increase productivity.

The 2009 Wireless Consumer Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study-Volume 2 and the 2009 Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Evaluation Study-Volume 2 are based on experiences reported by 12,595 traditional mobile phone and 3,221 smartphone owners who have used their current mobile phone for less than two years. The 2009 Wireless Business Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study is based on experiences reported by 1,148 smartphone owners who use their smartphone for primarily business purposes. All three studies were fielded between January and June 2009.

Overall Wireless Consumer Smartphone Index Rankings

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Power Circle Ratings
Manufacturer Index Score For Consumers
Apple 811 5

LG 776 3
Industry Average 765 3
RIM BlackBerry 759 3

HTC 739 2
Samsung 739 2
Palm 731 2
Motorola 700 2

Overall Wireless Business Smartphone Index Rankings

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Power Circle Ratings
Manufacturer Index Score For Consumers
Apple 803 5

RIM BlackBerry 724 3
Industry Average 724 3

Samsung 697 2
HTC 692 2
Palm 688 2

Overall Wireless Traditional Handset Index Rankings

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Power Circle Ratings
Manufacturer Index Score For Consumers
LG 723 5

Industry Average 701 3
Motorola 700 3
Sanyo 699 3
Sony Ericsson 697 3
Samsung 695 3

Nokia 672 2
Kyocera 666 2

J.D. Power and Associates Reports: As Customer Satisfaction With Feature-Rich Smartphones Continues to Increase, Satisfaction With Traditional Mobile Phones Declines

Quantify Improved Performance From Advanced Collaboration

[prnewswire] Organizations around the world that deploy the most advanced Internet-protocol-based collaboration technologies achieve more than twice the return on their collaboration investment and perform better than their less collaborative peers, according to a new Frost & Sullivan study released Wednesday (Oct. 14).

"Meetings Around the World II: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration," sponsored by Verizon and Cisco, examines how professionals in businesses and government agencies get their work done by using advanced collaboration tools such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), instant messaging or meeting via high-definition video or Cisco TelePresence(TM).

The study also introduces the industry's first quantitative model for a return on collaboration investment. The groundbreaking measurement, called the Return on Collaboration index, establishes a progressive impact of deploying advanced unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) technologies on business performance, and measures improvements in areas such as research and development, human resources, sales, marketing, investor relations and public relations.

The study found that businesses and government agencies deploying increasingly more sophisticated collaboration tools -- such as VoIP soft phones, immersive video and fixed mobile convergence -- saw a corresponding improvement in business results relative to the amount invested. The overall average Return on Collaboration (ROC) score was 4.2 -- meaning organizations received an average return of four times their investment in deploying collaboration technologies in terms of improvement across business-critical areas.

The organizations surveyed by the study reported that advanced collaboration such as UC&C enhances their ability to produce positive results. For example, research and development managers in organizations deploying UC&C reported that advanced collaboration tools enable products and solutions to be developed more quickly, with an improved chance of market success, a higher degree of quality, and a lower overall cost of development.

The new study builds on the 2006 Frost & Sullivan study -- "Meetings Around the World: The Impact of Collaboration on Business Performance" -- which determined collaboration is a key driver of business performance and collaboration through communications technologies can provide a competitive advantage.

"'Meetings Around the World II' confirms and extends the key findings of the original study and builds on those conclusions," said Brian Cotton, vice president for information and communications technologies for Frost & Sullivan. "This latest research shows adopting progressively more advanced unified communications and collaboration tools can help organizations achieve a corresponding return on collaboration and improvement across all business functions. This return was most dramatic in the areas of sales, marketing, and research and development."

3,662 SMB, Enterprise Decision-Makers in 10 Countries

Frost & Sullivan in May 2009 conducted an online survey of 3,662 information technology (IT) or line-of-business decision-makers in organizations in 10 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the U.S. The survey gauged attitudes and practices within small and medium-sized businesses (50 to 999 employees) and enterprises (1,000 or more employees) in the financial services, government, health care, high technology, professional services, manufacturing and retail industries.

The study was undertaken as organizations around the world grappled with a challenging economy, and results showed use of UC&C solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Nearly half (44 percent) of all organizations surveyed have deployed UC&C tools -- such as user presence on a device, document sharing, immersive video or Cisco TelePresence for near-lifelike visual communications, integrated voice, e-mail and instant messaging, and telephone features and management capabilities on mobile devices and the desktop.

The study also found that 40 percent of organizations that deploy UC&C plan to increase spending on this despite current economic conditions. In addition, more than 80 percent of organizations that have not deployed UC&C tools plan to deploy some form of them in the next two to three years.

Nancy Gofus, senior vice president of global business products for Verizon, said, "Based on this study, we see an era of advanced collaboration on the horizon. Organizations embracing unified communications and collaboration tools in an open, decentralized structure are enabling a more effective work style and cultivating a fertile ground for success. As organizations aspire to become advanced collaborators, even small steps taken along the way can immediately pay off."

Creating a Collaboration 'Network Effect'

The greatest impact of collaboration was where the largest numbers of people interacted for a common goal, including sales, research and development and marketing. By implementing more advanced UC&C tools, the study found, organizations could increase their return across all areas.

This finding suggests that teams using UC&C tools can benefit from a "network effect" -- a theory attributed to Robert Metcalfe, the co-inventor of Ethernet, that holds that the more users on a network, the more value is likely realized from it. While larger enterprises tended to receive greater collaboration returns, small and medium-sized businesses can increase returns by deploying progressively more advanced tools and expanding their reach beyond their organizations working with customers, partners and suppliers.

Blair Crump, Verizon Business group president of worldwide sales, said: "Our customers increasingly are turning to us for consulting, design and implementation services to make the most of their IP connections as a platform for advanced collaboration. Our expert UC&C professional services capabilities combined with our comprehensive solutions portfolio can help organizations embrace this new work style and mobilize their workforce for a competitive advantage."

"The Meetings Around the World II study confirms that collaboration is the next phase of the Internet and at the center of this phase is the network as a platform," said Carlos Dominguez, senior vice president for the office of the chairman and CEO, Cisco. "Having the right collaborative platform helps enable enterprises and organizations to speed decision making, increase productivity and improve interactions with their customers and partners, all designed to give them a competitive edge."

Study, Sponsored by Verizon and Cisco, First to Quantify Improved Performance From Advanced Collaboration

Australia - operators and the regulator have agreed an undertaking on advertising practices

[accc] In a significant multi-party arrangement, telecommunications industry leaders Telstra, Vodafone Hutchison (operating under the Vodafone, 3 and Crazy John's brands), and Optus (also on behalf of Virgin Mobile) have given a court enforceable undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that they will review and improve their advertising practices so that consumers are better informed about the telecommunications products and services they offer.

"The broader telecommunications industry has for some time walked a fine line between compliant and non compliant advertising. The ACCC welcomes the co-operation of the three major carriers in clearly articulating what is fair to consumers and what is not, and their commitment to the basic principle of truth in advertising," ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel said today.

The ACCC identified the 12 most prevalent types of potentially misleading conduct made in telecommunications, and the three industry leaders have undertaken that their advertising will not make these claims in circumstances where they are likely to be misleading to consumers.

Some of the poor practices the agreement covers are:

* Use of terms such as 'free', 'unlimited', 'no exceptions', 'no exclusions' or 'no catches' when this is not the case
* Headline price offers in the form of "price per minute" for mobile phones and phone cards when there are other fees/charges which are not clearly disclosed
* Headline claims relating to price, data allowances, total time allowances, speeds and network coverage where the claims cannot generally be sustained for all consumers.

This undertaking is part of a sustained effort launched by the ACCC earlier this year to clean up telecommunications advertising.

In announcing the acceptance of the undertaking, Mr Samuel said: "Having the three major carriers on board is a critical step, and the management of the major telecommunications companies should be applauded for taking a stand. In honouring this undertaking they will achieve significant sectoral reform in a market which is now relevant to the vast majority of Australians.

"The ACCC recognises there is more to do. The ACCC will now contact the next tier of operators who will be encouraged to adhere to the principles set out in the undertaking. When taken together with the three major carriers, this would then account for almost 90 per cent of the market for telecommunications goods and services in Australia."

"The ultimate test will come as future behaviour in the market is monitored and I remind all companies involved in telecommunications that the ACCC will continue its vigilant monitoring of their advertising practices, and will without hesitation take legal action to deal with any further flouting of the law," Mr Samuel said.

Telecommunications market leaders agree to raise the bar on clarity in advertising
see also undertaking

Australia - Regulator warns on inaccuracy in adverts for Internet services

[accc] The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued an Information Paper to assist companies in complying with the consumer protection provisions in the Trade Practices Act 1974 when advertising mobile and wireless internet.

"The ACCC is concerned by companies over-promising and under-delivering the speeds available on mobile and wireless internet, particularly in the context of network upgrades and increasing wireless internet subscriptions," ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said today.

"This Information Paper is intended to assist the whole industry – mobile and wireless internet retailers, resellers, and network owners – to comply with the law."

In the Information Paper guidance, companies must not advertise 'maximum', 'up to' or 'peak network' speeds if those speeds are not generally achievable or likely to be achieved by consumers using the network.

Under the Act, companies must not make representations that are misleading or deceptive, or are likely to mislead or deceive.

"Companies that act in contravention of the law risk legal action," Mr Samuel warned.

The ACCC considers that any internet speed claims made by companies should be based on appropriate tests of network performance that show the speeds that can and will generally be achieved by consumers using the network on a regular basis.

Companies should also prominently state the factors affecting mobile and wireless internet speeds including congestion and location, given that different speeds will be achieved at different times depending on these variables.

"The Information Paper contains an Industry Checklist to assist companies comply with the law and we urge them to use it before advertising any existing or new mobile or wireless internet services."

This Information Paper is part of a broader ACCC crackdown on advertising in the telecommunications industry. Telstra, Vodafone Hutchinson and Optus (including Virgin) recently gave a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that they will review and improve their advertising practices so that consumers are better informed about telecommunications products and services. This undertaking includes an agreement not to advertise and promote headline broadband speeds that represent to consumers that the speeds are available in circumstances where they are not generally available to consumers.

Telcos warned about mobile, wireless internet speed advertising

Australia - Regulator proposes changes to rules on line rental and call origination

[accc] The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today released a draft decision proposing to vary the class exemptions granted in August and October 2008 for the wholesale line rental (WLR), local carriage service (LCS) and public switch telephone network originating access (PSTN OA) services. The effect of the variations would be to align the obligations of Telstra and other providers of these services.

The class exemptions exempt providers other than Telstra from the requirement to comply with the standard access obligations in the Trade Practices Act 1974 in relation to the supply of these wholesale voice services in certain metropolitan areas.

The original class exemptions were granted when the ACCC made the individual exemption orders for Telstra's supply of the WLR, LCS, and PSTN OA services. The class exemptions were designed to be consistent with the dates and areas of operation specified in the individual exemption orders. The ACCC considered that granting the class exemptions would promote the long term interests of end-users by ensuring that all access providers, including Telstra, would have the same incentives to invest in wholesale voice services.

Following the decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal to vary the individual exemption orders, the ACCC considers the class exemptions should be varied to ensure the dates and the areas of practical operation are consistent with the individual exemption orders.

Proposed variation to class exemptions for wholesale voice services

Europe - agreement on legislative changes almost reached

[euractiv] The European Commission and EU member states agreed yesterday (13 October) on an amended text concerning the rights of Internet holders, which could pave the way for a final deal on the telecoms package.

A new proposal on the table of experts in the European Council scraps the assertion that judicial rulings must be compulsory before the authorities can intervene against serial illegal downloaders. But it takes on board the European Parliament's concerns (see 'Background') and makes a number of concessions regarding "the right to effective judicial protection" for offenders.

A conciliation committee could meet in Strasbourg on 20 October, during the plenary session of the Parliament. If MEPs agree on the new text, the telecoms package could be adopted by the end of year or the beginning of 2010.

EU nears breakthrough on telecoms package

UK - 75% of 16 to 24 years olds "couldn't live" without the Internet.

[bbc] A survey of 16 to 24 year olds has found that 75% of them feel they "couldn't live" without the internet.

The report, published by online charity YouthNet, also found that four out of five young people used the web to look for advice.

About one third added that they felt no need to talk to a person face to face about their problems because of the resources available online.

The findings were unveiled at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

Youth 'cannot live' without web
see also Youthnet

USA - American Tower Corp to raise US$ 600 million in debt

[boston business journals] American Tower Corp., a developer of wireless-telecommunications infrastructure, said it expects to net $594.7 million in a senior, unsecured debt offering.

The Boston-based company said it will use the proceeds to retire senior notes coming due in 2012 and to fund general corporate operations.

The new notes will have an interest rate of 4.625 percent and are being offered at a price equal to 99.864 percent of their face value, the company said in a regulatory filing Wednesday.

With roughly $392 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand as of June 30, American Tower booked $823 million in revenue and $114.9 million in net income during the six months ended June 30.

American Tower preps $600M debt offering

Bahamas - privatisation of monopolist enters due diligence phase

[reuters] The Committee for the Privatization of The Bahamas Telecommunications Company Ltd. ("BTC") announced today that the privatization of BTC continues to progress with significant interest from prospective parties. Upon review of the pre-qualification packages submitted in August, the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas ("the Government") has narrowed down the list of interested parties and has invited a select group of potential buyers to participate in the Due Diligence Phase of the privatization process.

The Due Diligence Phase will provide potential buyers with the opportunity to review business, financial and legal information, as well as meet with key executives prior to submitting an economic bid. Due Diligence will be conducted over the next several weeks and the deadline for bids is currently expected to be the end of November.

Those who have been invited to this phase were selected by the Government based on information submitted evidencing their suitability in accordance with the required pre-qualification criteria. To comply with non-disclosure agreements, the identity of parties invited to participate in the Due Diligence Phase cannot be disclosed prior to the close of the transaction.

Privatization of The Bahamas Telecommunications Company Enters Due Diligence

USA - regulators require divestiture in AT&T's acquisition of Centennial

[reuters] The Department of Justice announced today that it will require AT&T Inc. (AT&T) to divest assets in eight areas in Louisiana and Mississippi in order to proceed with its $944 million acquisition of Centennial Communications Corp. (Centennial). The Department said that the transaction, as originally proposed, would substantially lessen competition to the detriment of consumers of mobile wireless telecommunications services in those areas, and likely would result in higher prices, lower quality and reduced network investments. The divestitures cover portions of southwestern and central Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi.

The Department's Antitrust Division, along with the Attorney General of Louisiana, filed a civil lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the proposed acquisition of Centennial by AT&T. At the same time, the Department and the Louisiana Attorney General filed a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the competitive concerns in the lawsuit.

"These divestitures are necessary to preserve the benefits of competition for wireless customers in these areas of Louisiana and Mississippi," said Christine A. Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division.

According to the complaint, AT&T and Centennial are each other's closest competitor for a significant set of customers in eight Cellular Marketing Areas (CMAs), as defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The complaint alleges that the proposed transaction would substantially reduce competition for mobile wireless telecommunications services in each of these areas. The proposed settlement requires divestitures in these areas to eliminate the competitive concerns.

AT&T is the second largest mobile wireless telecommunications services provider in the United States as measured by subscribers, serving almost 80 million subscribers throughout all 50 states. In 2008, AT&T earned mobile wireless telecommunications services revenues of approximately $44 billion.

Centennial is the eighth largest mobile wireless telecommunications services provider in the United States as measured by subscribers, and provides mobile wireless telecommunications services to approximately 1.1 million wireless subscribers in six states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2008, Centennial earned approximately $1 billion in total revenues.

The transaction also is subject to review by the FCC. The Department has
cooperated with the FCC's separate review of this matter.

As required by the Tunney Act, the proposed settlement, along with the
Department's competitive impact statement, will be published in the Federal
Register. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed
settlement during a 60-day comment period to Nancy M. Goodman, Chief,
Telecommunications and Media Enforcement Section, Antitrust Division, U.S.
Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 7000, Washington, D.C.
20530. At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the U.S. District
Court for the District of Columbia may enter the proposed settlement upon
finding that it is in the public interest.

Divestitures in Eight Cellular Marketing Areas Will Preserve Competition for
Mobile Wireless Customers in Louisiana and Mississippi

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tanzania - broadband is at the centre of an ambitious 6-year ICT policy

[apc] Like its East African neighbours, Tanzania shares an unwavering faith in high-speed broadband. Broadband, the story goes, will be the panacea to myriad societal woes – including poverty, poor education and health services, and a lack of government services. Optical fibre running through the heart of the country has the potential to change the country’s social and economic fabric for good.

This faith is backed-up by policy. Broadband is one of the centerpieces of the country’s ambitious six-year National ICT Policy launched in 2003. In 2005, in an attempt to achieve these policy goals, regulations governing broadband services were incorporated into the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act (TCRA) – ahead of some of its neighbouring rivals.

But, despite these strides, many argue that the country is in danger of slipping behind in the race to build an information society, and its dream of being a competitive regional hub fast vanishing. There is a gap, it is argued, between policy and what is really happening on the ground.

It’s not enough to have a pushy broadband policy in Tanzania

Australia - splitting the fixed network from Telstra would cost AUD 1.2 billions

[the australian] TELSTRA has firmly opposed the federal government's plan to revolutionise the telecommunications industry, claiming that a forced separation of its businesses could cost it more than $1.2billion.

The telco also says the proposed changes threaten to undermine the government's ambitious high-speed broadband strategy, reduce industry competition and disadvantage regional and rural customers.

Releasing its official submission on the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill, Telstra called for significant amendments to be made and for the Senate to delay debate on the proposal until the company's negotiations with the government over the ambitious $43bn national broadband network were completed.

$1.2bn price put on Telstra split

USA - a dispute between AT&T and Google over the definition of Google Voice

[business week] What do Google Voice, AT&T, sex chat lines, and New Deal efforts to provide rural telephone service have do do with each other? Quite a bit, it turns out; the seemingly unrelated issues of sex chat and rural phone service lie at the heart of the dispute between Google and AT&T. The real problem is an antiquated system of telecom regulation that, alas, is not likely to get fixed anytime soon.

To recap the recent action, AT&T complained in a letter to the FCC that Google Voice, Google’s call management service, failed to complete calls to certain rural telephone exchanges. The complaint prompted a letter of inquiry from the FCC to Google. In the meantime, Richard Whit, Google’s top telecom lobbyist, admitted in a blog post that Google did block some calls, but pointed out that AT&T has sought permission to block calls to the same exchanges.

What's behind this mess is a program designed to subsidize phone service to rural areas. Certain rural phone companies are allowed to charge trunk carriers, such as AT&T, state-regulated fees to "terminate" long-distance calls into their systems. A few years ago, some clever business folk realized they could get into the rural phone business. They set up free or low-cost conferencing services and sex lines, routed the calls through their rural phone companies, and made money by collecting termination fees instead of charging their customers.

Google Voice, AT&T, and the FCC: Fighting Over the Wrong Thing

South Africa - reductions in the prices of international leased lines

[itweb] Investment in undersea cables has dramatically decreased the cost per gigabit of international capacity coming into SA, says Telkom.

“In essence, statistical trends clearly show that, while capital investment and overall cable capacity have been significantly enhanced over the recent years, the costs per gig capacity over the concomitant period have drastically dropped,” says Alphonzo Samuels, Telkom's managing executive for wholesale services.

The company says Telkom's own cable system, SAT-3/WACS/SAFE, has seen a price decrease of 90% since 2002. While the company has not indicated actual costs, prices are coming down because of upgrades to technology and increased investment in the other cables.

Samuels says Telkom's undersea capacity has just been upgraded, specifically for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. “For example, by the end of 2009, the SAT-3 and SAFE upgrades to at least three times their current capacity will be concluded,” he says.

By the end of this year, SAT-3 will be upgraded to 340Gbps and SAFE will be upgraded to 440Gbps.

There will be at least nine undersea cables connecting Sub-Saharan Africa to the rest of the world, by the end of 2011.

Samuels says SAT-3 provided the shortest route to Europe, while SAFE was the shortest link to Asia. “Furthermore, S3WS not only offers fully diverse solutions out of SA, but also has adequate spare capacity to fully cater for 2010. From an undersea capacity perspective, therefore, it's all systems go for the World Cup next year,” emphasised Samuels.

'International capacity is cheaper' Telkom is close to completing its SAT-3/SAFE upgrades

South Africa - The Regulator's proposed reduction in interconnection rates is much less than govt and parliament want

[itweb] Interconnect rates should be cost-based, with a reasonable mark-up not exceeding 50% of cost, says the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA).

The regulator met with the operators yesterday in another closed meeting to determine how far the operators have come in renegotiating interconnect rates. Earlier this year, the regulator and operators agreed to begin cutting the rate of interconnect, starting in February 2010.

The operators said they would start implementing a new way of negotiating interconnection rates and would have the new contract agreements in place by the end of December, with full implementation of the new rates as soon as February next year.

While the regulator expected to see some movement on the new negotiations yesterday, ICASA's statement says the industry is in the process of finalising “bilateral discussions on the final [interconnect] rate”.

The statement says the operators are still in the process of negotiations and will meet again near the end of the month when it will consider the final proposals on interconnect. Sources close to the situation say the operators have signed an agreement not to discuss the matter with the media.

ICASA suggests interconnect rate - The regulator's proposed rate is a far cry from what the DOC is looking for

South Africa - Incumbent opposes reduction of interconnection rates to ZAR 0.60

[itweb] Telkom this morning had to fend off angry questions and comments from Members of Parliament who attacked its high interconnection, termination and line charge rates.

On the first day of the Parliamentary Portfolio Communications Committee hearings into interconnection rates, members of the telecommunications sector were packed in for the public hearings.

Parliament has asked for public comments on whether interconnection rates should fall from 125c per minute to 60c per minute, whether a staggered reduction in interconnection rates would be appropriate, and if retail rates should be regulated.

“With all your high charges, I have paid for your salaries several times over. I couldn't care if you went out of business today,” MP Niekie van den Berg told the Telkom delegation.

In response, Telkom SA MD Pinky Moholi said the company supported the reduction in interconnection rates and agreed they were too high.

“However, we cannot charge less than the prevailing rate of 125c per minute, otherwise we would go out of business,” she said.

Moholi went on to say line rental charges were there for the maintenance of the line and this is not a situation SA needs. She said that with copper cabling “...a truck had to roll every time there was a line break. That is why we welcome the ability for us to provide wireless networks. Wireless makes it cheaper for us because we do not have to send out a truck for maintenance.”

Telkom fends off Parliamentary anger - A 60c interconnection rate is not feasible, says Telkom, adding that it is committed to lowering rates

South Africa - Govt has directed the regulator to reduce mobile termination rates

[itweb] The Department of Communications (DOC) policy direction which intends to lower the cost of termination rates between mobile operators has been gazetted.

DOC director-general Mamodupi Mohlala says the department will inform the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications today that the policy direction is now available for the proper processing.

The DOC has taken a firm hand with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) and the mobile operators, after an agreement on how to drop termination rates could not be reached. Under the communication minister's signature, the policy calls on ICASA to, “lower the interconnection rates, specifically the mobile termination rate to a cost-based rate”.

While the directive will still have to pass through the parliamentary process, it is likely the regulator will have to take the direction seriously, as the consumer and media pressure continues to mount.

The DG also wants to get a council up and running to oversee tariff changes before they reach the regulator, which she believes will complement the lowering of interconnect rates, providing a translation of cost reductions to the consumer.

The department hopes to drop the cost of communications as quickly as possible. It also wants to make sure mobile TV solutions are available to South Africans at a reasonable rate by next year.

DOC orders gazetted - The policy direction which aims to drop termination rates will be available for public process by the close of business today
see also Minister's policy direction

Offshoring - increased competition amongst service providers is leading to more innovation

[McKinsey Q] Despite the global downturn, the IT offshoring and outsourcing industry has continued to grow, though at a slower pace. The recession’s main effect has been heightened competition among the hundreds of IT service providers that handle a variety of tasks for global corporations. Now, a small group of winners is emerging from the fray, threatening to erode the offshore franchise of many Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers in countries such as India, the Philippines, and Russia.

Our 2008–09 survey of the global IT offshoring and outsourcing industry—covering 200 relationships among companies in Asia, Europe, and North America, including 65 of the Fortune 200—shows that these rising suppliers have had a broad impact. In fact, they are redefining many traditional management practices; changing the long-standing model for contracting offshore services, by focusing on the quality of services delivered rather than the usual benchmarks of costs per offshore hire; collaborating with clients in new ways; and gaining more control over outsourcing strategies.

What’s more, our results show that this new group of IT service providers is developing the broader and deeper pools of talent that global clients increasingly demand and using progressive techniques to manage and retain these workers. Perhaps that’s why such companies had the highest rankings for overall client satisfaction and employee retention in our survey, logging high scores across their entire client base and showing a consistent year-on-year improvement. By contrast, clients thought that most of the other established Tier-1 and Tier-2 companies were just doing an “average job,” and their performance isn’t improving. In another major shift, they can no longer win bids solely by differentiating on price, since almost all suppliers are now cost competitive.

How innovators are changing IT offshoring

Web - with the growth of mobile broadband its future once again can be reshaped

[McKinsey Q] The future of the Web is up for grabs—again. It was only a few years ago that the Internet made the leap from dial-up to high-speed broadband connections. Today, another transformation looms as those wired connections give way to the possibility of a wireless Web. At the helm of this change is a fast-evolving wireless ecosystem that combines the greater speeds and higher data volumes of today’s wireless networks (such 3G-HSPA and, soon, LTE1) with the growing numbers of smart phones boasting bigger screens, better touch pads, and more processing power.

In the early 2000s, 3G technology was seen as a failure for the mobile-phone industry. By the eve of the Internet bust, companies had shelled out billions for wireless licenses, and the resulting implosion seemed to shut down any hopes (except in Japan) for the existence of a mobile Web. Today, the use of wireless data is growing rapidly and has passed a tipping point. Surveys show that two-thirds of mobile-phone owners access data on their devices—up from only one-quarter three years ago—with 60 percent using them for basic Internet browsing. Spending on smart phones, meanwhile, has soared from barely 3 percent of new-phone purchases to nearly 20 percent in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.2 Consider Austria: although the country is not usually ranked among digital hot spots such as South Korea or Finland, more new Austrian Web users are connecting via wireless data cards in their PCs and notebook computers than by wired broadband connections.

What shape will the wireless Web take?

Niger - problems with SAT-3 in Benin caused a major loss of the Internet

[apc] Since July 2009, Niger and its neighbouring countries such as Benin, Togo and Nigeria have suffered an internet blackout owing to damage to the undersea SAT-3 cable, which links Europe to South Africa via several West African countries, giving them access to high-speed internet. The SAT-3 cable has no landing point in Niger, which is landlocked, but it does land in Benin, a bordering country through which Niger is connected, and which was logically also affected by damage to the cable. Niger and its neighbours, thus found themselves without a connection, with Niger being at Benin’s mercy with regard to reconnection. In the absence of a decent backup system, there is nothing that the citizens of Niger could do in the face of this impasse – 70% of their bandwidth is via Benin. Why does Niger depend exclusively on Benin for its connection, when an alternative (and temporary) satellite solution would have minimised the gravity of the situation?

Niger’s dependence on Beninese infrastructure may be attributed to the fact that Benin, a coastal country, owns the SAT-3 fibre optic cable which, provides Niger’s high speed connection, enabling an increase in speed from 25 Mb/s to 155 Mb/S. The traditional national operator, SONITEL, manages this link, without which Niger would have to resort to satellite connections which are practically non-existent and unaffordable, and therefore inconceivable as an everyday connectivity solution. Powerless in the face of this situation, it became a waiting game for Niger, while the cable ship dispatched to sea by Benin and the SAT-3 consortium from South Africa embarked on repairs.

Internet blackout in Niger: Niger’s dependence on the damaged Beninese fibre optic cable

Monday, October 12, 2009

UK - claims that without broadband rural areas will result in ghost villages

[telegraph] The Rural Coalition is bringing together six national organisations including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Country Land and Business Association, the Local Government Association and the Royal Town Planning Institute.

The new group will be putting pressure on politicians to put the countryside first in the run up to the general election.

Their demands include maintaining post offices, reforming planning laws to better protect the countryside and supporting village life through providing jobs and better services such as fast enough broadband speeds.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph last week the Prince said that schools, doctors' surgeries and other essential services were being left in the internet "slow lane" and the British countryside was in danger of becoming a series of "ghost villages populated by little more than second home owners".

Mark Price, the Managing Director of Waitrose, warned in The Sunday Telegraph that Britain is in danger of losing "our green and pleasant land" because our taste for cheap imported food means small farmers can no longer survive.

The new coalition agrees that Government has "undervalued the countryside and failed to meet the needs of rural communities".

Matthew Taylor, the Lib Dem MP and Chairman of the Coalition, said policy needs to change in order to support a modern countryside that can thrive in the modern world.

“The coalition has come together in the belief that a more sustainable future for all rural communities is both essential and achievable. It demands a fundamental change of approach at both national and local level," he said.

“The Rural Coalition is seeking a debate setting this new agenda for the countryside to meet the challenges of the 21st century, in order to present a clear, workable policy framework to whoever is in Government after the election."

The Government has promised everyone will have speeds of 2 Megabits per second (Mbps) by 2012.

However, at the moment people in rural areas are missing out because it is not worth the while of Internet operators to put in super fast broadband in more remote places.

The Commission for Rural Communities estimate at least two million people in the countryside have slower speeds than 2Mbps, not to mention those 166,000 in "not spots" where there is no broadband at all.

Charles Trotman, Head of Rural Business Development at the Country Land and Business Association, said better rural broadband is a key part of helping businesses to thrive.

He pointed out that small businesses in the countryside are a key part of the national economy yet around 100,000 are struggling to get fast enough broadband connection.

"High-speed Internet access will be essential in years to come for all businesses – rural and urban – and those communities that do not have it will be at a severe economic and social disadvantage," he said.

Among those affected by slow internet speeds is Gareth Jones, a farmer from Builth Wells, Powys, who says he struggles to find prices for his stock, details of farms auctions and fill in government forms online because he has to rely on a dial-up service.

A report by the communications regulator Ofcom in July said rural broadband users were getting internet connections a third slower than those living in urban areas.

It found that the average speed delivered in urban areas was 4.6 megabits per second (Mbps) compared with an average of 3.3 Mbps for rural consumers.

Countryside groups call for better broadband access

Australia - Telstra opposes separation of its network infrastructure

[The Australian] TELSTRA has firmly opposed the government's plan to revolutionise the telecommunications industry, claiming a forced separation of its business divisions could cost it more than $1.2 billion.

The proposed changes, the subject of a Senate inquiry, also threatened to undermine the government's ambitious high-speed broadband strategy, reduce industry competition, and disadvantage regional and rural customers, the telco warned yesterday.

Issuing its official submission on the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill, Telstra called for significant amendments to be made and for the Senate to delay debate on the proposal until the company's negotiations with the government over the ambitious $43bn National Broadband Network were completed.

Public hearings on the new bill are to be held next week in Canberra and Melbourne.

"The current problems with the telecommunications market in Australia stem from a lack of investment in infrastructure caused by the current regulatory regime, not from a flaw in market structure," the company argued in its 27-page submission to the Senate.

"This bill will exacerbate those problems, not fix them. It is unworkable, damaging to both Telstra shareholders and the interests of consumers."

Telstra was one of about 90 interested parties to respond to the proposed changes that, if passed, will lead to the structural separation of its business divisions, either voluntarily or by force.

Unless it complies, the former government-owned monopoly faces missing out on access to spectrum for next-generation wireless services, deemed crucial for its growth, as well as the forced sale of its interest in pay-TV network Foxtel, which it co-owns with Consolidated Media Holdings and News Limited, publisher of The Weekend Australian.

The proposal, widely interpreted as an ultimatum, is aimed at increasing competition in the sector.
Not surprisingly, it has been panned by many Telstra investors, including the Australian Foundation & Investment Company, which lodged its own submission earlier this week.

Telstra's shares fell when the proposed reforms were announced in September, but have since partially recovered. The stock closed down 7c yesterday to $3.16.

Emphasising the company's continued support for the federal government's broadband vision, Telstra chief David Thodey described the bill as unnecessary and destructive for "approximately 1.4 million Australian shareholders who purchased Telstra shares from the government over the past 12 years".

Telstra's calculations, which have taken into account similar experiences overseas, estimate the cost of functional separation to be in the range of $500 million to more than $1.2bn.

"The Telstra board and management have consistently stated that we can only agree to proposals that represent fair value to shareholders, and which protect the interests of our employees and customers," Mr Thodey said.

He also raised concerns that the bill would divert attention and resources away from the planned NBN migration, making it harder for the government to achieve its objective of bringing high-speed broadband to Australian consumers.

It was, however, Telstra's suggestion that competition in the market was adequate, a recurring feature of its submission, that riled its rivals.

"Notwithstanding the multiple inquiries, and commissions and findings, Telstra still thinks there's no problem with competition," Macquarie Telecom government affairs manager Matt Healy said.

He accused Telstra of using the NBN as a smokescreen.

"This bill is not about NBN, it's about improving competition," Mr Healy said.

"We would urge the Senate inquiry to dispense with this submission."

The reforms' emphasis on increasing competition was reiterated last night by the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

"They will drive lower prices, better quality and more innovative services," a spokesman for Senator Conroy said.

"Telstra has a duty to act in the interests of its shareholders and the leadership team has given every indication that it intends to do so. However, the Government must act in the national interest. We are in positive discussions with Telstra and are confident that we can achieve a win-win outcome for shareholders and the Australian public."

The Senate committee is expected to submit its recommendations to the government by October 26.

Telstra opposes separation

Analyzing calling patterns, the investigators were able to infer which contacts were friends with 95 percent accuracy

[scientific american] How do you know if someone’s your friend? Ask your cell. Because your phone knows who your friends are. Sometimes even before you do. Or so says a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists who study social networks have long been hampered by one thing: their subjects are not always reliable reporters. They don’t lie about their associations, but their ability to recall how much time they spent with Tom, Dick or Cody last month is not always accurate.

So scientists have been searching for a better way to track relationships. Which is where mobile phones come in. Researchers handed nearly a hundred subjects souped-up cell phones that recorded information about calls, text messages and even how physically close callers were to those they contacted. Analyzing calling patterns, the investigators were able to infer which contacts were friends with 95 percent accuracy. In some cases, the patterns revealed a friendship in the making months before people declared someone a pal.

The data could also predict job satisfaction: people who spend all day on the phone with friends, it seems, are generally not stoked about their work. So remember—keep your friends close. And your cell phone even closer.

Phone Networks Reveal Relationships - A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that researchers deduce social networks with great accuracy simply by analyzing mobile phone use. Karen Hopkin reports
see also Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences