Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EU legislation costing Britain

[pa] More than two-thirds of the cost of British regulation is laid at the EU's door in a new report.

The total domestic and European regulatory burden on the national economy has been £176 billion since 1998, according to an Open Europe analysis of over 2,300 of the Government's own impact assessments.

The amount is roughly the same as the country's budget deficit, and 72% of it - £124 billion - results from EU-generated legislation, claims the report.

This means that EU regulation in the past eleven years has cost every UK household an average of £4,912, the report says.

Open Europe, the independent think-tank campaigning for EU reform, says domestic laws are 2.5 times more cost effective than EU regulations.

And while it acknowledges that the Government and the EU have taken "positive steps" to reduce the red tape burden, "the cost of regulation to the private and public sector keeps on going up every year".

The annual cost of regulation has doubled each year since 2005, when the Government launched its "Better Regulation Agenda", says the report, adding: "This is in no small part due to a failure to stem the flow of new, costly EU regulations."

But the report makes clear that the share of EU regulation is actually falling: While the average share of regulatory cost derived from the EU has been 72% in the last 11 years, it was only 59% last year, compared with 65% in 2008.

Open Europe estimates the "benefit/cost ratio" of EU rules since 1998 at 1.02, meaning that for every £1 of expense on implementing an EU rule, only £1.02 of benefit has been generated.

In contrast, the report says the benefit/cost ratio for domestic law is 2.35, making it far more cost effective to regulate nationally than via the EU. At this rate, EU regulations "come dangerously close to failing an overall cost-benefit analysis", the report warns.

EU legislation costing Britain
see also Still out of control - measuring 11 years of EU regulation

USA - AT&T expands 24 Mbps U-verse high speed Internet to all 120 U-verse TV markets

[prnewswire] AT&T is giving more consumers a faster broadband choice that doesn't break the bank. AT&T today announced the expansion of AT&T U-verse(SM) High Speed Internet Max Turbo to every U-verse market, offering broadband speeds of up to 24 Mbps downstream and up to 3 Mbps upstream.

Available today for AT&T U-verse residential and small business customers, Max Turbo is the fastest Internet package available from the nation's leading provider of broadband services. AT&T U-verse services are offered in 120 markets across 22 states. Max Turbo was initially launched in Austin, San Antonio and St. Louis in December 2009.

"Max Turbo is the latest example of how we're bringing consumers and small businesses the choice of better services and faster speeds with AT&T U-verse," Mark Collins, senior vice president of data and voice products, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "With a large majority of U-verse TV customers bundling U-verse Internet, we know we're giving our customers the broadband choice they want. Customers value our high-quality and integrated bundle of award-winning U-verse TV, fast Internet and voice and wireless services, and they love that we're continually adding more to improve their experience — more features, more apps and more speed."

AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet Max Turbo is available to eligible residential customers for $65 a month as part of a bundle with AT&T U-verse TV. Professional standard installation is included for new U-verse TV customers, and current U-verse Internet residential and small business customers can upgrade their package at any time.

AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet Max Turbo is available to eligible small business customers for $95 a month.

In addition to more speed, U-verse Internet customers have the freedom to enjoy their broadband connection in more places — all at no extra cost. U-verse Internet customers can stay connected with on-the-go access to the nation's largest Wi-Fi network with more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi(SM) hotspots. Consumers and small businesses can visit for a list of AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the U.S.

AT&T is the nation's largest provider of wireless and wireline broadband service, with 17.3 million broadband subscribers, including 2.1 million U-verse broadband connections as of the fourth quarter of 2009. More than 90 percent of U-verse TV customers bundle U-verse High Speed Internet.

Residential customers who bundle U-verse TV and Internet services enjoy several innovative applications, powered by AT&T's Internet Protocol (IP)-based network. For example, U-verse TV and Internet customers have the ability to program DVR recordings from their Web-connected mobile phone or PC; view personalized, on-screen weather, sports, traffic and stock information via AT&T U-bar; and the ability to view personalized tournament brackets on their U-verse TV screen during college basketball season. AT&T U-verse TV ranked "Highest in Residential Television Service Satisfaction in the South and West Regions Two Years in a Row," according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 and 2009 Residential Television Service Provider Satisfaction Studies(SM).

AT&T Expands 24 Mbps U-verse High Speed Internet to all 120 U-verse TV Markets

Roamware Eliminates Over 30,000 SIM Boxes in Less than Six Months

[prnewswire] Roamware, Inc., a global leader in mobile roaming software and solutions, today announced the unprecedented uptake of its SIM Box Detector solution launched in third quarter of 2009. The solution enables telecom operators to eliminate unauthorised usage of GSM Gateways to bypass paying toll/interconnect fees. In less than six months Roamware's solution has been already deployed in six operator networks and is in trial stages with over a dozen operators globally.

Rogue international transit carriers use this mechanism to bypass mobile termination and effectively impact the termination revenues of mobile operator. The toll bypass results not only in significant revenue leakage for carriers and mobile operators, but is the source of a variety of service issues including call setup delays, poor voice quality, network congestion, and spectrum management issues.

Dr. John Jiang, CTO and EVP of Product Management commented, "Roamware's SIM Box Detector constitutes of a comprehensive, multi-dimensional quality management solution, which is installed in the core of the operator network. It is able to simulate calls from foreign destinations to a range of numbers within the network and traces the routing of the call to effectively identify SIM box installations on a 24/7 basis in the long term improving network congestion, voice quality and revenues."

Typically, interconnect/termination fees account for 15% of operator revenues, with SIM Boxes in play, operators incur revenue drainage between 5%-20%. Over the past year alone, over half a million unique SIM cards boxes used by GSM Gateway operators around the world have been identified. Roamware estimates that telecom operators lose up to 8 Euros per SIM card used in a SIM box per day, leading to over 100s of millions of Euros in revenue loss.

Dr. Jiang, added, "Today, SIM Boxes are prominent in many parts of the world, including Latin America, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. There are many issues that operators face in identifying fraud numbers, including identifying inaccurate SIM card numbers and increased usage of the networks to run tests. Roamware is able to overcome these challenges with a 99.999% accuracy rate in tracking SIM Boxes and blocking the SIM cards on a real time basis. In our engagement with GSM operators over the last six months we have identified and deactivated tens of thousands of SIM Box gateways across regions."

Roamware's SIM Box detector's key features include high accuracy rates, dependable and swift detection, automatic deactivation of SIM Box cards, non-intrusive of network usages reducing the congestion on networks, unlimited testing and usage of MSISDNs and random selection preventing fraudsters from identifying detection patterns.

Roamware Eliminates Over 30,000 SIM Boxes in Less than Six Months

Mobile - Global femtocell subscriber base to reach 75.8 million by 2015

[prweb] The global market for femtocells is expected to witness robust growth given the ongoing trend among mobile operators to shift to smaller access points from large base stations. The market for affordable and smaller cells is expected to find increased demand, as against expensive micro and macro base stations, owing to enhanced focus on countering the impact of economic recession. In this regard, femtocells, microcells, and picocells offer low-cost indoor mobile phone coverage services. Femtocells operate in equal frequencies and in similar way as large tower micro and macro base stations that operate through a cable-modem broadband Internet service or DSL, to address the needs of small spaces.

North America and Europe account for about 60% share of total number of subscribers in the global femtocells market, as stated by the new market research report on femtocells market. The number of femtocell subscriptions is projected to witness rapid expansion due to the growing demand for improved 3G-coverage in indoor settings. Rapid rise in the worldwide mobile subscriber base also presents vast growth opportunities for the niche femtocells market. The market for solutions such as femtocells, remote radio units and pico base stations is also driven by the migration of global wireless carriers towards advanced 3.5G networks. Such a migration contributes to the demand for supporting 41-45 dBm at antenna mast to ensure provision of HSUPA and HSPDA coverage in indoor settings.

Femtocell shipments to North America are expected to witness rapid growth, driven by the growing consumer demand for improved coverage in indoor surroundings. On the other hand, converged services, integrated triple-play set top boxes, and advanced applications are expected to be the driving forces for the femtocells market in majority of the European and Asian countries. The number of subscribers in the North American femtocells market is anticipated to reach 10.3 million by 2014.

The femtocell market faces numerous challenges due to factors such as cost, business model, multimodality, air interface, technology, network integration, route-to-market, semiconductor approach, RF interference, improving coverage, and interop testing. Another key challenge for the development of femtocells is the fact that Wi-Fi technology is widely used in majority of the smartphones and PCs, which prevents consumers from migrating towards the relatively new femtocell technology.
Key players profiled in the report include 2Wire Inc., Airvana Inc., Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Ip.Access Ltd., Motorola Inc., NEC Corporation, NETGEAR Inc., Nokia Siemens Networks, picoChip, Pirelli Broadband Solutions SPA, RadioFrame Networks Inc., and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Global Femtocell Subscriber Base to Reach 75.8 Million by 2015, According to New Report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

Mobile - Most wireless phones to be smartphones by 2011

[computerworld] With all the attention on smartphones, especially the iPhone and the Droid, it might seem odd that only 21% of U.S. wireless phone subscribers were using a smartphone at the end of 2009.

That's the finding of a recent Nielsen survey and analysis reporting that smartphones are catching on fast and will represent the majority of all wireless phones by the end of 2011.

Smartphones will also account for about 35% of all wireless phones in the U.S. by the end of 2010, according to a blog on NielsenWire.

The findings are a reflection of a Nielsen survey of 75,000 wireless users and the phones they said they plan to buy, but the figures also take into account the falling prices, the increasing functionality of smartphones and an "explosion" of applications for the devices, said Roger Entner, a Nielsen analyst.

"We are just at the beginning of a new wireless era where smartphones will become the standard device consumers will use to connect to friends, the Internet and the world at large," Entner said, noting that 45% of the survey respondents indicated that their next device would be a smartphone.

The Nielsen findings seem somewhat at odds with the recent trend among major U.S. carriers to sell cheaper phones that emphasize text messaging and don't have the processing power or storage to serve up applications the same way a smartphone can.

For example, at CTIA last week, AT&T officials touted a wide variety of new quick-messaging devices, noting that about 35% of their subscribers have a smartphone (including the iPhone), but many users want a less expensive phone and will put up with less functionality than that offered by a smartphone. Even so, Nielsen expects continued growth with smartphones.

The company found that slightly more males buy smartphones than do females, by 53% to 47%. That difference is not nearly as large as is reflected by crowds that show up for first-day sales of smartphones at Apple stores and for various carriers, where men easily outnumber women by nine to one.

Nielsen also found that Hispanic Americans and Asians are slightly more likely to have a smartphone than would be expected based on their overall population in the U.S., which Entner called a "trend we see in the adoption of other mobile data services." The Nielsen survey also found that 66% of smartphone buyers get them for personal use, as compared to business use, which somewhat contradicts the trend of more companies authorizing their users to buy smartphones for both business and personal usage.

In addition, Nielsen reported that in the past six months, 77% of new smartphone buyers remained loyal to their previous wireless carrier, while only 18% switched to a new provider to get a smartphone. Entner said the percentage of those who switched carriers to get a new smartphone was no higher than the average of all wireless subscribers who switched.

Wi-Fi on a smartphone was seen as a big reason to own a smartphone by half the respondents, since they use the faster network to quickly download applications and content.

Most wireless phones to be smartphones by 2011, Nielsen says

China - 3G market: user base in steady growth

[digitimes] The user base of 3G mobile communication service in China has been steadily growing, with the number of subscribers increasing by 1.52 million in February 2010 to 16.06 million, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on March 29.

China Mobile Communications, China Telecom and China United Telecommunications (China Unicom) are the only three 3G mobile telecom carriers in the country.

February 2010 Subscribers

Operator Increase Total Standard Cities
(000s) (million)
China Mobile 790 6.86 TD-SCDMA 238
China Telecom 320 5.14 CDMA2000 342
China Unicom 410 4.06 WCDMA 335

China market: 3G user base in steady growth

Jordan - Orange launches 3G+ network in Amman, Irbid and Zarqa

[ame] Orange Jordan has announced the launch of its 3G+ networking services, the first of its kind in the kingdom. Initially, the new network will deliver services to select areas in Amman, Irbid and Zarqa, and will gradually expand over the next six months to reach most populated areas in the country.

Orange launches 3G+ network in Jordan

Bharti awaits green lights for Zain deal

[ft] India’s Bharti Airtel is expected to pay for the African assets of Zain of Kuwait only once the Middle East operator receives regulatory approvals for the sale, in a move that shows the political risk of operating in the continent.

Within two weeks Bharti is also expected to dispatch to Africa one of its top executives, Indian telecoms veteran Manoj Kohli, to begin turning round the underperforming Nigerian network.

Bharti and Zain are expected to sign a sale and purchase agreement for the Middle Eastern company’s African assets excluding Sudan and Morocco as early as Tuesday in Amsterdam in a $10.7bn transaction that would create an emerging markets telecoms powerhouse.

But payment from Bharti is expected to be made in at least two stages depending on the progress of regulatory approvals, according to people familiar with the deal.

The first set of regulatory approvals, which would include Nigeria, Zain’s biggest African asset, is expected to pose few problems and to be cleared in the next few weeks.

The second set, which would account for about one-fifth of the total revenues of Zain’s African networks, could take longer.

Gabon has already raised questions about Zain Gabon’s compliance with telecoms regulations.

“It’s not that we are blocking the sale, it’s suspended while we wait for the results of the (telecom regulator’s review),” an advisor to Gabon’s information minister told Reuters on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

One person familiar with the Bharti-Zain deal said the payments could be held in an escrow account pending regulatory approvals.

The Zain deal will make Bharti the biggest mobile group operating exclusively in the fast-growing markets of India and Africa, with a combined 165m subscribers.

Standard Chartered and Barclays are advising Bharti on the deal while UBS is advising Zain. Both declined to comment, as did Bharti.

Concerns over the deal led to sharp falls in Bharti’s share price after it was announced, although the stock has since recovered some ground, on Tuesday finishing up 0.69 per cent at Rs312.30 per share

Zain is the market leader in about two-thirds of the African markets but its competitors are growing more rapidly, leading to concerns that its supremacy is about to be challenged.

People familiar with the matter said that while Bharti planned to retain its African management teams, it would send Mr Kohli, its former head of Indian operations, to Nigeria as soon as possible to begin working on achieving synergies between its domestic operations and the African networks.

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Bharti awaits green lights for Zain deal

Mobile Web Presence Based Revenues to generate $6bn by 2012 driven by Mobile VoIP and IM

[tekrati] The value of presence based Mobile Web 2.0 services will increase to more than $6 billion by 2012, according to industry analysts at Juniper Research. Increasing smartphone penetration in developed markets, allied to rising global usage of both on-net and off-net mobile IM (instant messaging) will help to drive this trend.

Defining Mobile Web 2.0

Web 2.0 has been the catalyst for renewed growth in the mobile industry, comprising:

* Presence – SMS-based presence (alerts) and server-based presence services
* Geolocation – services that enable users to share location details with other users, third-parties or applications, collaborate with those nearby, and exploit local knowledge
* Social Web – including social networking sites, user generated content, and a variety of sub-categories including blogs and dating

The report found that monetising Mobile Web 2.0 services was still posing a challenge across the mobile value chain. Nevertheless, it concluded that opportunities exist for service providers across a range of business models, ranging from subscription-based services to ad-funded solutions.

Presence services on the increase

The Mobile Web 2.0 report found that revenues from presence-based services were currently almost exclusively derived from operator-billed mobile IM accounts.

Mobile VoIP traffic on the other hand has been severely constrained by the need for higher speed networks such as 3G or HSPA in order to provide the QoS (quality of service) required. In addition many operators have historically sought to block VoIP services in order to protect their voice revenues. Juniper believes that both these issues will begin to ease as mobile broadband becomes more prevalent and new operator business models facilitate the inclusion of VoIP services.

Mobile Web Presence Based Revenues to generate $6bn by 2012 driven by Mobile VoIP and IM, says Juniper Research

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mobile - OECD has published policy recommendations on international mobile roaming

[oecd] In the context of work on international mobile roaming services (IMRS), a first report (DSTI/ICCP/CISP(2009)8/FINAL) found prices to be unreasonably high, considering the underlying costs, and identified some of the causes for this price level. This report aims to examine and suggest possible solutions and policy options that may address the problem of high IMRS charges. It assesses their viability and possible side effects.

International Mobile Roaming Services: Analysis and Policy Recommendations

UAE - FNC telecom survey makes case for change

[business 24 7] The UAE Telecom Regulatory Authority is doing its best to break the stranglehold of monopoly, said a top official from the TRA, responding to a study that found prices of telecommunication services in the country, especially for international calls and broadband internet, are higher than those in several Arab and European nations.

The Federal National Council study is the first detailed survey of its kind in the country and it was compiled by a special committee chaired by FNC member Hamad Harith Al Midfaa.

The study findings refute the common perception that telecom charges in the UAE are low compared with several other countries, especially those of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a bloc of 30 countries.

The issue of high telecom tariff had also been raised in a recent FNC session, and when Emirates Business contacted the TRA, Director-General Mohammed Nasser Al Ghanim reiterated what he had told the council then: "The authority is working to break the monopoly, but it is not an easy thing to do."

As an example of its efforts in this direction, the senior official cited how the TRA helped telecom giant etisalat's rival company du obtain sea cables to boost its international activities and to expand its network. Du now covers 95 per cent of populated areas of the UAE, said Al Ghanim.

However, even with the increased competition, more evidently needs to be done. The survey committee found big gaps in the tariff structure, especially when it comes to international calls (residence) and broadband internet (residence and business). In Saudi Arabia, prices are 41.9 per cent lower; in Qatar 11 per cent; and in Bahrain 3 per cent.

In Germany, it is lower by 94 per cent; Canada 93 per cent; Norway 89 per cent; Japan 19 per cent; and Korea 7 per cent. On an average, prices in OECD countries are 66 per cent lower.

The FNC committee said although UAE's broadband internet services of less than 1 MB are the cheapest in the Gulf, they are high in comparison with the average OECD prices. In Turkey it is lower by 72 per cent; Sweden 65 per cent; and Denmark 63 per cent. On an average, OECD charges are 56 per cent lower.

FNC telecom survey makes case for change

Nortel CVAS Boosts Carriers Competitive Advantage with 4G Mobile VoIP Solution

[connected planet online] Nortel Carrier VoIP and Application Solutions (CVAS) unveiled new wireless and 4G Mobile VoIP solution enhancements that equip carriers to deliver a superior user experience, reduce network deployment costs and speed time to market.

Nortel CVAS’ 4G Mobile VoIP solution equips operators to integrate seamlessly with all cellular technologies, including 2G, 3G and the latest 4G LTE and WiMAX networks. The solution delivers a consistent set of voice, messaging and multimedia services to all of the subscriber’s devices, with seamless hand-off across WiFi, GSM 2G/3G, CDMA 2G/3G, HSPA/+, WiMAX and LTE networks.
Nortel CVAS’ new enhancements in 4G Mobile VoIP equip carriers with advanced routing capabilities for querying a Home Location Register (HLR) to optimize call routing into the cellular network, billing enhancements to facilitate billing correlation between legacy cellular and SIP networks, and roaming support on a foreign cellular operator’s network.

The solution offers integrated wireless signaling gateway capability that allows operators to leverage their existing OAM systems for fault management, performance management, provisioning and billing. Subscribers can enjoy a better communication experience because the solution enables seamless hand-off between mobile and broadband networks, as well as advanced features like single identity, presence, web-based call screening, visual voicemail, and SMS to IM interworking.

Nortel CVAS is implementing the first large scale 4G VoIP network that offers voice continuity between 4G mobile VoIP, existing 2G/3G cellular voice and WiFi. In addition, Nortel CVAS has deployed VoIP solutions that leverage the subscriber’s laptop and mobile device in parallel for call control and multimedia service enrichment.

“As the carrier VoIP market leader and tier one vendor in 4G Mobile VoIP, Nortel CVAS is uniquely positioned to help carriers deliver a rich communication experiences to subscribers, regardless of their location, device or network type,” said Samih Elhage, president, CVAS, Nortel. “Our 4G Mobile VoIP solution simplifies operator deployments and eliminates the need for costly upgrades to existing Mobile Service Control Points and back-office systems, which results in lower costs and faster time to market for carriers. In addition, Nortel CVAS mobile VoIP and FMC innovations have been deployed by several leading service providers across the globe.”

Nortel CVAS 4G Mobile VoIP solution enhancements are expected to be available in the second half of 2010, and are powered by the latest software releases of the Nortel CVAS’ Adaptive Application Engine SIP software engine (Rel A2E 8.0). The solution can be deployed as a stand-alone SIP Application Server, as a 3GPP IMS-compliant application server or as an upgrade for carrier customers who have already deployed Nortel’s industry-leading Communication Server (CS) 2000 IP Multimedia softswitch.

Nortel CVAS is the recognized leader in the Carrier VoIP space, having shipped more than 121 million Carrier VoIP and Multimedia ports, including over 10 million SIP lines to leading wireline and wireless carriers globally. Nortel has consistently been ranked as the #1 Global Carrier VoIP and Softswitch leader since 2002. Nortel CVAS has customer deployments in all continents with leading carriers and provides VoIP solutions to 80 percent of IDC’s worldwide listing of top 20 carriers (by revenue). For more information on Nortel CVAS see For the latest Nortel news, visit

Nortel CVAS Boosts Carriers Competitive Advantage with 4G Mobile VoIP Solution

India - FDI in telecom not that rosy

[times of india] Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) appears to be bypassing the telecom sector, despite India being one of the most attractive and fastest growing telecom markets. An analysis of the ownership details revealed by nine bidders for the 3G auctions opening on April 9, reveals that the average FDI holding is just below 40% (39.7%).

This changes the common perception that FDI levels in the telecom sector are very high. It also reveals that despite the fact that FDI limits were raised from 49% to 74% five years ago, foreign investors have not utilized the higher investment ceiling.
In addition, foreign telcos have given the 3G auctions a miss. This has wiped out the possibility of a large chunk of fresh FDI inflow and also reduces the auction’s potential to generate telecom minister A Raja’s original revenue target of Rs 40,000 crore.

Among the nine bidders, Vodafone accounts for the highest FDI at 70.9%, which includes Vodafone’s investments and some of Essar’s own foreign investments. The second largest FDI is in Aircel with its foreign investor — Global Communication Services Holding (GCSH) owning 64.9%. Deccan Digital, which owns 34.9% is, in turn, also held 25% by GCSH. So in that sense, the exact foreign holding in Aircel is closer to 74% through direct and indirect routes.

The other two bidders with leading foreign investments are Etisalat and S Tel. Etisalat Mauritius holds 44.73% in Etisalat India with Delphi Investments holding 4.27%, totalling 49%. Bahrain-based BMIC Ltd owns 42.7% of the 49% FDI in S Tel. Bharti Airtel and Idea both have roughly 40% FDI. Pestel Ltd is Bharti’s largest foreign investor with a 15.5% holding, followed by foreign FIs, foreign companies and shareholders who own 17.9% FDI. Idea has FDI of 40.5% through TMI and P5 Asia Investments.

Tatas have an FDI of 34.1%, mostly through NTT Docomo, which is the single largest foreign investor at 26.5%. The only bidder that has 100% Indian investment but barely any 2G operations is Videocon. Reliance communications also has a very large chunk of its total investment held by Indian promoters.

While foreign investments coming in after the 3G bidding is over is a possibility, the lack of foreign investors’ interest in 3G bidding or even investing up to the full 74% FDI limit in 2G operations should be of concern to the government. In fact, Telenor, one of the major new foreign investors is staying away from 3G auctions altogther.

FIs had made it clear in 2008 that 3G bid conditions presented huge entry barriers to new entrants in general and foreign investors in particular. Despite this, a year after the first set of guidelines were issued, the 3G entry norms were not adequately altered, resulting in nine bidders joining the race for three pan-India 3G licences but without any new Indian or foreign investor in contention.

FDI in telecom not that rosy

USA - Can 4G wireless take on traditional broadband?

[cnet] The 4G revolution in wireless won't just make Web surfing on your mobile phone faster; it could help you say good-bye to traditional cable and DSL broadband.

Clearwire's 4G WiMax service, currently the only 4G wireless service on the market, offers average download speeds between 3Mbps and 6Mbps, which are comparable with many DSL and cable modem services on the market.
4G wireless graphic

As a result, consumers in the 27 markets where Clearwire currently offers service now have another choice for their broadband service. And many are deciding to ditch cable and DSL for 4G wireless.

Tim Elliott, who lives in Atlanta, is one of those customers. Ten months ago when Clearwire came to town, Elliott, who had subscribed to an AT&T DSL package, canceled his service and signed up.

Elliott said he was convinced to subscribe to the service because he got a free Netbook as part of a promotion. He added that he plans to stick with Clearwire even after his contract expires because he likes the convenience of having broadband anywhere. Even though he could have gotten free Wi-Fi access to any AT&T hot spot as part of his old AT&T DSL subscription, Elliott said the ubiquity of WiMax makes the service more valuable to him.

"I love being able to go anywhere in town with my laptop and not worry about finding a hot spot," he said.

Elliott isn't the only subscriber who has decided to cancel his existing broadband service for Clearwire's 4G wireless service. In fact, Clearwire's chief commercial officer, Mike Sievert, said during the company's fourth-quarter 2009 earnings call last month that roughly half of the company's subscribers are using its new Clear brand 4G wireless broadband service as a replacement for DSL and cable modem services.

Sievert's comments are the first indication that 4G wireless could actually compete in the duopolistic broadband market. Wireless executives at this week's CTIA trade show in Las Vegas may downplay this fact as they tout new mobile devices for 4G. But as 4G wireless speeds continue to match speeds for traditional broadband, 4G wireless will serve as a viable replacement for some consumers who are not interested in subscribing to a costly triple-play package of TV, phone, and Internet services.

Indeed, other 4G wireless services will offer similar speeds to those offered today from Clearwire. Verizon Wireless is building its own 4G network using a technology called LTE and is expected to launch the service in 25 to 30 markets by the end of the year. It claims that the average download speeds it has seen in its test networks are between 6Mbps and 12Mbps.

But Verizon and AT&T, which will test 4G LTE technology later this year, have been careful not to talk much about 4G wireless as a broadband replacement service. After all, these companies sell DSL services and they have each invested billions of dollars upgrading their wired networks to provide faster fiber-based services. Verizon has taken fiber all the way to the home with its Fios service. And AT&T has extended fiber to neighborhoods to boost high-speed Internet speeds.

Neither AT&T nor Verizon Wireless have talked about how they will price their 4G wireless services. There are some indications that the companies plan to implement usage-based pricing, which would likely discourage many people from using their 4G wireless services as a replacement for DSL.

But it's clear from the recently released National Broadband Plan that the Federal Communications Commission expects 4G wireless to be a broadband competitor. Today, about 95 percent of the U.S. population has access to at least one broadband provider, according to the FCC's report. About 13 percent have access to only one provider, while the vast majority, roughly 78 percent, have access to two providers, cable and DSL. Only 4 percent have access to three or more providers.

The FCC recognizes that broadband needs to be delivered not only to the 4 percent who don't have it, but also that more competition is needed in markets with only one provider. Even though two competitors are better than one or none at all, three could be even better, which is why many consumer groups have advocated for more competition even in markets with two suppliers.

The problem is that putting broadband infrastructure in the ground is expensive. And earlier attempts to force competition in the telecommunications market through regulation have not been successful.

Now it looks like the FCC has acknowledged that getting a "third wire" into the home is unlikely, and it has instead turned its attention to 4G wireless.

"Bringing down the cost of entry for a facilities-based wireline service may encourage new competitors to enter in a few areas, but it is unlikely to create several new facilities-based entrants competing across broad geographic areas," the National Broadband Plan says. "Bringing down the costs of entry and expansion in wireless broadband by facilitating access to spectrum, sites, and high-capacity backhaul may spur additional facilities based competition."

Aside from the economic drivers that make 4G wireless a good choice as a third competitor to traditional broadband, other factors will likely drive it in this direction.

Just as people fell in love with the idea of being able to talk on the phone wherever they were with a cell phone, it won't take long before people will also begin to appreciate accessing broadband anywhere and everywhere. Once mobile broadband becomes ubiquitous, it's easy to see how some of these people may decide to stop paying for two broadband services, much like many cell phone users decided to get rid of their home phones. In fact, 2009 marked the first time that cell phone households in the U.S. surpassed households that only had traditional phones.

"People first added cellular phone service to their monthly budgets because they wanted mobility," Sievert said. "We are starting to see the same thing in mobile broadband. People are attracted to the convenience, but they'll eventually realize they can consolidate services."

The trend is seen first among young adults. Just as people under 30 were the first to ditch home phone service, they are also the first to use wireless-only broadband.

"Right now, substituting 4G wireless for regular broadband appeals mostly to young people who often live with roommates," Sievert said. "They want to be able to take their broadband anywhere."

To be fair, wireless-only broadband will not appeal to every consumer, especially ones who consume a lot of bandwidth. Because of the physical limitations of any wireless service, it will never keep pace with the super-fast speeds of services delivered on fiber networks. Therefore, 4G wireless will never satisfy the needs of the most bandwidth-hungry users.

That said, average users looking to reduce their overall monthly communications spending could see wireless broadband as an alternative to pricey triple-play packages that promise lower prices for broadband in exchange for subscribing to expensive TV packages and phone service.

But will 4G wireless networks help force down the price of their competitors? Maybe. If the FCC can successfully make 500MHz more bandwidth available in the next decade as they plan, new wireless companies may emerge, which could translate into three, four, five, or even six broadband competitors in any given market. This level of competition could finally force prices lower on broadband services for consumers.

Today, the market is a long way from major shifts in price. Currently, Clearwire's prices are competitive, but the company's not undercutting traditional broadband players by much if at all in some markets. In fact, its unlimited home service, which offers up to 6Mbps on downloads and 1Mbps on uploads, is priced comparably to AT&T's 6Mbps DSL service, which is also $40. Verizon, which offers a 7Mbps DSL service, charges $55 for the service. Meanwhile, cable operators typically offer faster speed connections for roughly the same price as the Clearwire service.

It's evident that Clearwire isn't looking to compete on price.

"There may be some people who subscribe to our service to save money," Sievert said. "But I don't think that's the main motivation. I think people like the convenience of the mobile experience."

One reason Clearwire may not be launching a price war could be that two of the nation's largest broadband providers are investors in Clearwire. Time Warner Cable and Comcast have each contributed billions of dollars to Clearwire to help the company complete its network. As part of the deal, they are reselling the 4G service as an add-on to their existing broadband customers.

Even without significant discounts for the Clearwire 4G wireless service, this still offers broadband subscribers a choice. In the second half of this year, even more consumers in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C., will also have the option of ditching their cable modem or DSL providers to get broadband wirelessly. And for some people, a little bit of choice is better than no choices.

"It's nice to just be able to have a choice," said Elliott, who also admitted the Clearwire service costs almost as much and performed as well as his previous broadband service. "I guess it's the lesser of the other evils out there."

Can 4G wireless take on traditional broadband?

USA - AT&T connects everything to its network

[cnet] First it was e-readers and Netbooks. Now AT&T wants to connect dog collars and pill caps to its wireless network.

AT&T's Glenn Lurie, who heads up the company's emerging devices business, sees a world in which any device can be connected over AT&T's wireless network. And for almost two years, he has been working to get as many devices signed up on the AT&T network as possible.

The business is just beginning, but at the end of 2009, AT&T reported it already had one million devices that were not cell phones connected to its network.

Initially, these devices were mostly Netbooks, e-readers, digital picture frames, and GSM navigation devices.

"Netbooks and e-readers are the low-hanging fruit," Lurie said during an event at the CTIA trade show here this week, where he provided an update on the emerging device business.

The company is now branching out and offering wireless connectivity to a slew of products. This week AT&T announced a pet tracking collar that allows dog owners to locate their lost dogs.

"There are 25 million people who say they treat their dog as well as their children," he said. "I'm not one of them, but the right type of product with the right business model is out there to develop a product for this market."

Indeed, there are countless other gadgets that could be "connected" to AT&T's wireless network, including the top of a pill container that senses when someone has taken their medicine. Using the wireless network, it can alert people if they've forgotten to take their medication or it can inform a concerned doctor or family member, Lurie said.

Other devices that AT&T has announced, include cargo pallets used to track shipped containers and a low-cost 3G gaming device. AT&T is also still adding new Netbooks and computing tablets to its network, such as the upcoming Apple iPad, which can connect to AT&T's 3G wireless as well as the new OpenPeak tablet computing device, which Lurie said was "game-changing."

Today, the emerging device business doesn't contribute much revenue to AT&T. And service margins are low. But Ralph de la Vega, AT&T Mobility's CEO and president, said that the company is taking a long-term view when it comes to the business. And he predicts that emerging devices will contribute $1 billion in revenue annually to AT&T in about five years.

"This is a long-range bet," he said. "In the short term it's not that significant to the financials. But we look at this on a five-year horizion and it will contribute a billion dollars in revenue, which can be significant even to a company the size of AT&T."

AT&T connects everything to its network

China - Mobile firm drops Google search

[bbc] China Unicom is to stop using Google search on Android handsets.

The second biggest operator in China is believed to be taking the step in reaction to Google's decision to stop offering a censored search service.

Instead of using Google search, handset makers will be able to decide which search service to use on phones that run Google's mobile operating system.

At the same time Google said it would withdraw more of its uncensored search services in China.

The China Unicom deal will first have an impact on Android phones being developed for it by Motorola and Samsung.

The move could be a big blow for Google as China has far more people owning and using mobiles than it does using the net.

Chinese mobile firm drops Google

Mobile - RainedOut Wins Mobility Award for Best Alerting Service

[PRnewswire] From CTIA Wireless 2010, Omnilert®, LLC announced today that RainedOut™ has won a Mobility Award for Best Alerting Service. The prestigious award was presented by MobileTrax, LLC during the Wireless Innovators Dinner.

"The Mobility Awards have honored the brightest innovators in mobile computing and wireless data communications for the past 15 years," said J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., Principal Analyst at MobileTrax, LLC. "RainedOut is a real breakthrough for communities. It allows people to be more comfortable in their lives by knowing that relevant, time-sensitive information can be instantly delivered to the palm of their hand."

"We are very excited about MobileTrax's recognition, as it will increase the awareness of this valuable communication service," said Ara Bagdasarian, CEO of Omnilert.

RainedOut wins mobility award for best alerting service

Mobile - Knowledge Gap in Key 4G Technology Area

[PRnewswire] While Evolved Packet Core (EPC) technology is widely seen as a key building block for 4G mobile networks, most network operators are in danger of falling behind competitors in the race to embrace and deploy EPC, according to preliminary results of an industry-wide survey now being conducted by UBM TechWeb's Light Reading.

Light Reading's Evolved Packet Core Benchmark, sponsored by Tellabs, measures network operators' EPC readiness through a series of questions covering basic understanding of EPC technology, current and projected investment, resource commitment, and level of engagement with potential EPC suppliers. The study is part of the new Light Reading Benchmark Series, which aims to provide telecom industry professionals with a quick and powerful way to assess their organizations' technology readiness compared with their competitors.

Among early respondents to the EPC Benchmark, more than 60 percent of network operator respondents said EPC is essential to their companies' five-year network plans, but only 40 percent said their company now has a team in place to track EPC development, and only 34 percent said their company is "extremely familiar" with EPC.

Based on overall evaluation of survey responses, about 25 percent of respondents to date work for operators that can be described as "EPC savvy"; about 50 percent work for companies that are at risk of falling behind the EPC deployment curve; and the remaining 25 percent are in need of an EPC wake-up call.

Light Reading Survey Reveals Knowledge Gap in Key 4G Technology Area

Africa - Zain asset sale could take 'months' to close

[ame] Asaad al-Banwan, chairman of Kuwait's Zain has said the closing of the deal with India's Bharti Airtel could take weeks or months, Reuters has reported. "The deal will be signed in the next few days ... but the closing of the deal could take weeks or months, for our assets to be transferred under a new name which is Bharti," he said. The deal, which excludes Sudan and Morocco, is valued at $9bn.

Zain asset sale could take 'months' to close

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mobile ecosystem makes strides

[network world] Multiple cylinders are firing within the mobile ecosystem, which should help network speeds keep pace with mobile devices and vice versa.

Clearwire expects its WiMAX network with joint venture partner Sprint Nextel to cover 120 million people in the United State. by year-end. So that users have something to connect to it, Sprint has announced its first WiMAX phone for the network, the HTC EVO, which runs the Android mobile operating system and is due to ship this summer.

The EVO is being billed as the first U.S. 4G phone, capable of falling back to 3G (EV-DO Rev. A) signals. It supports high-definition videoconferencing and can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot connecting up to eight devices. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Note that while the term "4G" is being used liberally to describe the EVO and next-generation broadband mobile networks in general, formal standards for 4G are yet to be determined. Among the several contenders are 802.16m, a next-generation WiMAX air interface, and LTE-Advanced. 4G standards fall under the purview of the International Telecommunication Union – Radiocommunication (ITU-R) sector and call for 100Mbps mobile data rates and 1Gbps stationary rates, while near-term WiMAX and LTE data rates fall more in the vicinity of 10Mbps.

Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow's widely reported keynote address from the International CTIA Wireless 2010 event, in fact, encouraged some convergence of WiMAX and LTE industry efforts. He indicated that working together instead of vehemently pitting one technology against the other would contribute to having "worldwide roaming and worldwide scale." That's something enterprises have been requesting for many years.

In that spirit, a dual-mode WiMAX/LTE chipset announced at Mobile World Congress by Beceem Communications last month and due by the end of next year could eventually contribute to future handsets' ability to use the "best available" mobile network -- LTE or WiMAX. Products built on it will support "seamless roaming and switching between [different configurations] as needed," according to the company's Feb.16 announcement.

Mobile ecosystem makes strides

Mobile - Sales of dual-SIM handsets to double in 2010

[digitimes] Sales of handsets with dual-SIM cards in the global market are expected to double in 2010 after the segment registered a strong growth of 74% in 2009, according to industry sources citing data from market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Total sales of dual-SIM handsets will reach 100 million units in 2014, accounting for 7% of global handset sales, Strategy Analytics data showed.

Handset solution vendors, including MediaTek, Spreadtrum Communications, Infineon Technologies and recently Qualcomm, have all ventured into the segment, noted the sources, who also indicated that Infineon's new XMM 2138 platform is designed for the development of single- and dual-SIM handsets.

While branded handset vendors such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics (LGE), Motorola, HTC and Acer have already launched related dual-SIM devices, Nokia reportedly also plans to launch its first dual-SIM model in the second quarter of 2010 targeting the markets in China and Russia, the sources revealed.

Sales of dual-SIM handsets to double in 2010, sources say

Mobile - handsets may eat away entry-level digital still camera market

[digitimes] The low-end digital still camera (DSC) market is coming under intensifying competitive pressure from cell phones that are sporting increasingly high-resolution image sensors, according to iSuppli.

The average resolution for handset cameras' CMOS sensors will rise to 5.7 megapixels in 2013, up 171.4% from 2.1 megapixels in 2009. In comparison, DSC average megapixels will rise to 13.9 in 2013, up only 46.3% from 9.5 megapixels in 2009.

"iSuppli believes that handsets may soon begin to cannibalize the low end of the DSC market as they incorporate higher megapixels and flash capabilities," said Pam Tufegdzic, consumer electronics analyst at iSuppli. "This is likely to occur first in Asia and Europe as consumers in these regions seem to be more comfortable with taking pictures using cameraphones. As the number of megapixels in these phones rises and as consumers begin to use phones instead of cameras to take photos, iSuppli believes the quality of some handset cameras will rival low-end point-and-shoot cameras, presenting a competitive threat."

While upping the megapixels in a phone's camera will deliver better-quality images with smoother and less pixelated features, overall image quality actually is determined by a combination of factors, including low apparent levels of noise and strong low-light performance, iSuppli noted.

"Thus, a high-resolution cameraphone may produce poorer image quality than a DSC because it has less sensitivity or poorer dynamic range, resulting in a relatively shallow contrast," Tufegdzic said. "This may discourage some consumers from risking a precious family photo or another memory-keeping moment on a cameraphone."

These deficiencies can be remedied in a cameraphone with the addition of optical zoom, auto focus, an improved flash and more sophisticated image processing electronics. OEMs will be focusing on these areas in order to improve the overall quality of photos in handset cameras, iSuppli indicated. The firm also believes features such as image stabilization, automatic judgment and multiple image capture will migrate from DSCs to camera phone modules during the next few years.

Handsets may eat away entry-level DSC market, says iSuppli

USA - FTC seeks comment on children's online privacy protections; questions whether changes to technology warrant changes to rules

[cybertelecom] "In light of rapidly evolving technology and changes in the way children use and access the Internet, the Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on the costs and benefits of an FTC rule designed to protect children online.

"The FTC’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule became effective on April 21, 2000. COPPA imposes requirements on operators of Web sites or online services that are aimed at children under 13 years of age, or that knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. Among other things, the Rule requires that online operators notify parents and get their permission before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children. It also requires that the operators keep the information they collect from children secure, and prohibits them from requiring children to turn over any more personal information than is reasonably necessary to participate in activities on their Web sites.

FTC Seeks Comment on Children's Online Privacy Protections; Questions Whether Changes to Technology Warrant Changes to Agency Rule

Mobile - Data traffic outstrips voice calls

[ft] Data traffic has exceeded the volume of voice calls across the world’s wireless networks for the first time, highlighting the challenge facing mobile phone operators as they struggle to adapt to surging demand for mobile internet services.

The crossover occurred in December when 140,000 terabytes of data content, such as e-mails, music and video, was handled by mobile carriers, surpassing voice traffic, according to measurements by Ericsson, the world’s largest network equipment vendor.

“This is a significant milestone with some 400m mobile broadband subscriptions now generating more data traffic than the voice traffic from the total 4.6bn mobile subscriptions around the world,” said Hans Vestberg, Ericsson chief executive.

Ericsson said global data traffic nearly tripled in each of the past two years and forecast that it would double annually during the next five years as more people sought mobile internet access via laptop computers and smartphones.

Ericsson highlighted social networking websites, such as Facebook, as one of the biggest sources of mobile data.

Data traffic outstrips mobile voice calls

China - Mobile broadband to overtake fixed broadband in 2014

[digitimes] According to a new report from Ovum, China's 3G mobile broadband (MBB) connections will overtake fixed broadband connections by 2014. The primary drivers include growing demand for mobility, cheaper devices and attractive pricing strategies for MBB arising from the operator's ambitious 3G growth plans.

Ovum predicts high growth rates of MBB connections over the next few years, from 30 million of total connections in 2010 to 377 million in 2014. That represents 1157% growth from 2010. Ovum expects that handsets will account for 86% of total connections by 2014, explained Tracey Chen, senior analyst at Ovum.

Notebooks currently dominate connections, but handsets will increase dramatically during the next years, overtaking laptop users. This trend is driven by high handset penetration and operator efforts to market mobile Internet services on these handsets. However, notebook users will contribute a disproportionate share of revenue due to more lucrative pricing plans, said Chen.

Extensive municipal government investment in Wi-Fi technology (so-called "wireless city" projects) will be a medium term threat to MBB in the low-end consumer segment, particularly for notebooks, because these Wi-Fi services are offered free of charge. Though Wi-Fi is not allowed on handsets at this time, any relaxation can only increase the threat.

In the long run, the threat posed by Wi-Fi in the low-end market will depend on whether significant government support for Wi-Fi is sustained. In response, the operators offer dual mode 3G plus Wi-Fi datacards, and have chosen a mixed 3G/Wi-Fi strategy.

In contrast to the low-end market, Ovum expects that medium to high-end consumers and enterprise customers will prefer the network coverage and information security advantages of 3G MBB. Operators have worked with a few municipal governments to redeploy 3G networks for use in wireless city projects. This is eating into their 3G spectrum allocations, leading to accelerated consumption of their limited spectrum resources. Spectrum management issues, particularly the allocation of further 3G spectrum, require clarification and will hold back mass deployment of 3G until resolved.

Finally, the China mobile broadband market is in its early stages. In the coming years we expect to see mobile broadband grow in sophistication, with more segmented pricing and packaging, national mobility coverage and wider device choices to attract different user groups.

Mobile broadband in China to overtake fixed broadband in 2014, says Ovum

USA - FCC's proposed 'non-discrimination' standard deliberately ignores economic literature and communications law jurisprudence

[prnewswire] The Federal Communications Commission's recently proposed "non-discrimination" principle is incompatible with established definitions of discrimination in the economics literature and communications jurisprudence according to a new law and economic analysis released by the Phoenix Center today. As a result, the analysis, Non-Discrimination or Just Non-Sense: A Law and Economics Review of the FCC's New Net Neutrality Principle by Phoenix Center Chief Economist Dr. George Ford and Phoenix Center President Lawrence J. Spiwak, warns that the Commission's "flawed standard is likely to create numerous unintended consequences that are antithetical to economic welfare and the stated goals of the Commission in promulgating the rules in the first instance."

Under the FCC's proposed new non-discrimination rule, "a broadband Internet access service provider may not charge a content, application, or service provider for enhanced or prioritized access to the subscribers of the broadband Internet access service provider." As Ford and Spiwak explain, however, "standard and prioritized/enhanced [broadband] services are different services, and a different price for different services is not discrimination under any meaningful standard." Stated another way, argue the authors, the "FCC has concluded that it is discriminatory if a gallon of water has a different price than a gallon of milk."

"Even under the best designed, analytically consistent regulations, there can be costly unintended consequences. When regulations are fabricated from whole cloth, however, the risk is likely to be much higher, since the impacts of such regulations have not been contemplated theoretically or measured empirically," says study co-author Dr. George Ford, the Phoenix Center's Chief Economist. "For example, the FCC's proposed rule will likely block efficient voluntary transactions and block quality improvements. When that happens, consumers and content providers lose. Eventually, it will be the content sector pleading for the elimination of this rule."

"The intent of our analysis is neither to challenge the FCC's jurisdiction to protect an 'Open Internet' nor the broader idea that the FCC should establish clear rules in the first instance," according to Phoenix Center President Lawrence J. Spiwak. "Instead, we merely seek to point out the patent analytical flaws in the FCC's current proposed approach so as to avoid heartache later on down the road."

FCC's Proposed 'Non-Discrimination' Standard Deliberately Ignores Economic Literature and Communications Law Jurisprudence
See also Phoenix Center Policy Perspective No.. 10-03: Non-Discrimination or Just Non-Sense: A Law and Economics Review of the FCC's New Net Neutrality Principle

Twitter spam shows large fall

[network world] Twitter has published figures that appear to show a dramatic fall in spam on the service.

In a blog statement, the company reckons that the number of 'spammy tweets' posted per day is now around 1 percent and falling, a sharp drop compared to the high point last August of between 8 and 11 percent.

"We're constantly battling against spam to improve the Twitter experience and we're happy to report that it's working," says the company, which now employs a special Trust and Safety team just to battle the problem.

The exact definition of spam on Twitter involves detecting more complex patterns of behaviour than it would on email. The most obvious problem is the setting up of bogus accounts which then generate tweets or direct messages that lead to malicious websites, but also the repeated following and 'unfollowing' of users in order to attract attention, Twitter says.

Twitter spam shows large fall

Consumers Don't Relate Bot Infections to Risky Behavior

[prnewswire] A significant percentage of consumers continue to interact with spam despite their awareness of how bots and viruses spread through risky email behavior, according to the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) based on a new survey it released today covering North America and Western Europe. Even though over eighty percent of email users are aware of the existence of bots, tens of millions respond to spam in ways that could leave them vulnerable to a malware infection, according to the 2010 MAAWG Email Security Awareness and Usage Survey.

In the new survey, half of users said they had opened spam, clicked on a link in spam, opened a spam attachment, replied or forwarded it – activities that leave consumers susceptible to fraud, phishing, identity theft and infection. While most consumers said they were aware of the existence of bots, only one-third believed they were vulnerable to an infection.

"Consumers need to understand they are not powerless bystanders. They can play a key role in standing up to spammers by not engaging and just marking their emails as junk," said Michael O'Reirdan, MAAWG chairman.

"When consumers respond to spam or click on links in junk mail, they often set themselves up for fraud or to have their computers compromised by criminals who use them to deliver more spam, spread viruses and launch cyber attacks," O'Reirdan said.

The research findings on awareness of bots, email security practices, and attitudes toward controlling spam were generally consistent with the first MAAWG consumer survey in 2009 covering North America. The new 2010 survey was expanded to cover Western Europe and looks at consumers' attitudes in Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It Won't Happen to Me Syndrome

Less than half of the consumers surveyed saw themselves as the entity who should be most responsible for stopping the spread of viruses. Yet, only 36% of consumers believe they might get a virus and 46% of those who opened spam did so intentionally.

This is a problem because spam is one of the most common vehicles for spreading bots and viruses. The malware is often unknowingly installed on users' computers when they open an attachment in a junk email or click on a link that takes them to a poisoned Web site, according to O'Reirdan.

Younger consumers tend to consider themselves more security savvy, possibly from having grown up with the Internet, yet they also take more risks. Among the survey's key findings:

* Almost half of those who opened spam did so intentionally. Many wanted to unsubscribe or complain to the sender (25%), to see what would happen (18%) or were interested in the product (15%).
* Overall, 11% of consumers have clicked on a link in spam, 8% have opened attachments, 4% have forwarded it and 4% have replied to spam.
* On average, 44% of users consider themselves "somewhat experienced" with email security. In Germany, 33% of users see themselves as "expert" or "very experienced," followed by around 20% in Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.A., 16% in Canada and just 8% in France.
* Men and email users under 35 years, the same demographic groups who tend to consider themselves more experienced with email security, are more likely to open or click on links or forward spam. Among email users under 35 years, 50% report having opened spam compared to 38% of those over 35. Younger users also were more likely to have clicked on a link in spam (13%) compared to less than 10% of older consumers.
* Consumers are most likely to hold their Internet or email service provider most responsible for stopping viruses and malware. Only 48% see themselves as most responsible, though in France this falls to 30% and 37% in Spain.
* Yet in terms of anti-virus effectiveness, consumers ranked themselves ahead of all others, except for anti-virus vendors: 56% of consumers rated their own ability to stop malware and 67% rated that of anti-virus vendors' as very or fairly good. Government agencies, consumer advocacy agencies and social networking sites were among those rated most poorly.

The survey was conducted online between January 8 and 21, 2010 among over a thousand email users in the United States and over 500 email users in each of the other five countries. Participants were general consumers responsible for managing the security for their personal email address.

Both the survey's key findings and the full report are available at the MAAWG Web site, The 2010 research was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, and the full report includes country comparisons for many of the questions along with detailed charts.

Consumers Don't Relate Bot Infections to Risky Behavior as Millions Continue to Click on Spam

USA - Wireless broadband access in rural areas has significant cost advantages over wired access

[prnewswire] A study authored by Brattle Group principal Coleman Bazelon and sponsored by Qualcomm shows that wireless broadband access has significant cost advantages over wired access in reaching homes in rural areas, making it an attractive and efficient option for meeting the broadband needs of rural America.

Current U.S. policy promotes nationwide broadband deployment and adoption, with an emphasis on meeting the needs of unserved and underserved communities. To assist policy-makers in evaluating different approaches to serve the most rural counties in the U.S., the study examined the relative costs of providing wireless and wireline infrastructure to the least populated areas of the country -- those covering about six percent of the population and half of the landmass of the U.S.

The key difference between providing broadband services to urban versus rural areas is the significantly different population density of customers, which directly impacts the fixed costs of providing wireline and wireless network service. The report's analysis focused on the per household costs of the fixed part of the distribution network, or the cost of running distribution wires (typically along telephone and utility poles) for a wireline network and the cost of towers, radios, and antennas for a wireless network.

Applying a cost per mile of $12,500 for a cable distribution network and taking into account road and housing density in rural areas, the analysis found that the average cost per household for wireline broadband infrastructure is an estimated $2,426. Wireless networks cover the areas around cell sites. Taking account of the capital and spectrum costs of covering rural areas, the analysis found that the average cost per household for wireless broadband infrastructure is an estimated $300.

By comparing the costs and coverage of wireline versus wireless broadband, the study found that providing broadband access for significant portions of the U.S. would be less expensive if access were provided by wireless rather than wireline infrastructure, with savings ranging from up to $1,000 per household in a few select counties to more than $7,500 per household for much of the Great Plains and Intermountain West. In total, the area analyzed in this study covered about 1.7 million square miles, or more than 56 percent of the U.S. land mass (excluding Alaska), and almost 18 million people, more than one-third of the population of non-metro counties and almost six percent of the total U.S. population. The study found a wireless cost advantage in all counties examined.

"Even using conservative estimates for the analysis, the findings of this study clearly show the economic superiority of wireless for serving rural America," notes Dr. Bazelon. "As the Federal Communications Commission implements its National Broadband Plan, including the recommendation to create a Mobility Fund in the universal service program to provide funding to cover the costs of extending wireless coverage in rural areas, and the federal government prepares to spend billions of dollars on rural broadband infrastructure, wireless broadband infrastructure should play a central role," he concluded.

Wireless Broadband Access in Rural U.S. Has Significant Cost Advantages Over Wired Access
see also full text of report

Telepresence growth to peak in 2009-10 - Frost & Sullivan

[PRnewswire] Large businesses are increasingly turning to video as an alternative to travel when budgets are strapped - among the gainers are telepresence solutions. Revenues for ready-built telepresence suites in Asia-Pacific grew an estimated 71.1 percent in 2009 (up from 46.6 percent in 2008).

For 2010, Frost & Sullivan expects a growth of 64.4 percent, with revenues of just over US$73.0 million by year-end. Weaker growth is expected thereafter.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Asia-Pacific Telepresence Market, finds that the market - covering 14 Asia-Pac countries, including Japan - earned estimated revenues of US$44.4 million in 2009. The market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 22.9 percent (2009-2015) per annum, before reaching a market size of US$110.1 million by end-2015.

If you are interested in more information about this study, then send an e-mail to Sarah Lourdes at, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website and country.

Although a far more costly visual communication tool to conventional video conferencing systems, Frost & Sullivan industry manager Pranabesh Nath believes that "the immersive nature of telepresence enhances user experience and productivity, while simultaneously trimming the operational expenditure of a company.

"Major vendors were quick to seize the opportunity presented by the harsh economic climate and were successful in selling a large number of ready-built systems in the last two years," he adds. "Many even offering generous discounts to make a sale."

Not for long; Nath expects stiff competition in the next two years from more affordable mid-range high-definition (HD) video conferencing systems, as well as customised immersive solutions which system integrators are starting to offer at lower price points.

Growth in revenues for ready-built telepresence systems are expected to decline sharply after 2010, dropping to 32.1 percent growth in 2011 before falling to well below ten percent for subsequent years. No growth is expected in 2015; of course by then, the unit-price for ready-built systems would have declined too.

Nath is not ready to dismiss it though. "Telepresence is a small, but very visible segment that is expected to significantly impact the visual collaboration market," he says.

"We are already witnessing a blurring of boundaries between an immersive telepresence suite and conventional HD video system, and this will only accelerate in the next one to two years," he adds.

Vendors currently market telepresence systems as ready-built units, but in future, Nath believes it is quite likely that newer business models will emerge from greater involvement with service providers offering customised immersive systems as a managed service. He expects this to show promising uptake as it eliminates the need for users to invest in hardware and in-house maintenance skills.

Asia-Pac accounted for just over 15 percent of the world telepresence market in 2009. Regional adoption was highest in Australasia which accounted for 30 percent (US$13.5 million) of the Asia-Pac revenues last year.

Telepresence Growth Peaks in 2009-10, Frost & Sullivan Predicts

Friday, March 26, 2010

UK - A quarter of internet users aged 8-12 say they have under-age social networking profiles

[ofcom] A quarter of children aged 8-12 who use the internet at home say they have a profile on Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, new Ofcom research revealed today. These sites have a minimum user age of 13.

But 83 per cent of these children have their profile set so that it can only be seen by friends, and 4 per cent have a profile that can't be seen. Nine in ten parents of these children who are aware that their child visits social networking sites (93 per cent) also say that they check what their child is doing on these types of sites. However one in six (17 per cent) parents of this group are not aware that their child visits social networking sites.

Ofcom's annual Children's Media Literacy Audit provides an overview of media literacy among children and young people and their parents and carers. The report also includes internet audience data which showed that amongst 5-7 year old home internet users, just over a third (37 per cent) visited Facebook in October 2009 (but did not necessarily have a profile).

A quarter of internet users aged 8-12 say they have under-age social networking profiles

UN tells Iran to stop jamming int'l broadcasts

[ynet] The UN telecommunications agency says Iranian jamming of international satellite broadcasts is "forbidden" and has ordered the Islamic republic to clear the interference.

The International Telecommunication Union stopped short Friday of blaming the government for the jamming, but said the source was clearly from Iranian territory. ITU said Friday it was acting on a complaint from France, representing satellite provider Eutelstat.

UN tells Iran to stop jamming int'l broadcasts

Bahrain fixed line, mobile numbers grow

[ame] Bahrain's telecoms regulator has said the number of fixed lines in the kingdom rose from 220,000 at the end of 2008 to 230,000 by the end of Q2 2009. At the end of Q2 2009 there were about 1.4 million mobile subscribers in Bahrain, with prepaid subscribers representing 83% of mobile subscribers, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said.

Bahrain fixed line, mobile numbers grow

Egypt prohibits mobile VoIP calls

[ame] Amr Badawy, the executive president of Egypt's National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, has announced the start of a ban on international calls made through mobile internet connections, Reuters has reported. 'The ban is on Skype on mobile internet, not on fixed, and this is due to the fact it is against the law since it bypasses the legal gateway,' he said. Under Egyptian law, international calls must pass through a network controlled by majority state-owned Telecom Egypt.

Egypt prohibits internet voice calls

UAE limits VoIP to local firms

[ame] Mohammed Gheyath, executive director for technology development affairs at the UAE's Telecoms Regulatory Authority, has said that only local firms will be given licences for VoIP, Reuters has reported. 'No licences for international companies like Skype for the time being, they can join existing licensees and have partnerships with them,' he said. Currently, local operators Etisalat and Du as well as satellite firms Yahsat and Thuraya are licensed to offer VoIP.

UAE limits VoIP to local firms

Internet in the Andes: New APC research

[apc] The Andean region has some of the lowest fixed telephone line, mobile telephony and broadband penetration rates of all Latin America, the continent with the starkest economic disparities in the world. In the 90s, Andean countries adopted new liberalisation and privatisation policies in order to attain universal access. Almost 20 years later, these promises have not been fulfilled. APC studied each country through national reports in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela in order to understand this failure. As the State in countries like Venezuela and Ecuador has begun to play a more pro-active role, the research also analyses their effectiveness and the opportunities and challenges of this renewed involvement. The end goal is for civil society in the region to have the solid tools they need to ensure that inclusive and democratic policies around broadband are put in place.

The project under which research was carried out is called Communication for Influence in Latin America and the Caribbean (CILAC). CILAC also promoted the creation of AndinaTIC, a network of civil society organisations from the Andean region that are working on ICT policy advocacy. AndinaTIC members produced national advocacy reports, which are available below.

Internet in the Andes: New APC research

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mobile - Telecom operators join forces against mobile spam

[Reuters] Telecom operators are cooperating to halt extensive mobile spamming spreading from Asia to Europe and North America as this could hurt their brands and alienate subscribers.

The telecoms industry group GSMA unveiled on Wednesday a new spam reporting service, a world wide centre of messaging threats and misuse, analysing mobile users reports.

The new service, operated by messaging security firm Cloudmark, is in trials with operators including AT&T, Korea Telecom and Vivendi's SFR.

Unwanted mobile messaging -- spam, viruses or phishing attacks -- have surged in Asia as messaging prices have dropped to zero or close to zero, and already account for around 20 percent of all text messages. "We believe this will move over to Europe and United States probably during the next 18 months," Hugh McCartney, chief executive of Cloudmark told Reuters in an interview.

So far in Europe and North America less than 1 percent of messages are spam, McCartney said.

"Operators just want to make sure it will never reach the level seen in Asia," he said.

So far mobile telecom operators in the mature markets have been able to block most of the so far simple attacks, but Cloudmark and other mobile and messaging security firms expects risks to grow as messaging costs fall, attracting spammers.

Cloudmark, majority-owned by private equity firms including Summit Partners and Nokia Growth Partners, competes with bigger rivals Symantec and Cisco in messaging security market.

Telecom operators join forces against mobile spam

China cuts 2010 telecom capex by 21 percent

[eetimes] With its 3G building binge largely over, China's three major telecom operators will cut their spending on capital equipment by more than 20 percent in 2010. The decline is greater than expected, driving analyst to anticipate lower revenues for system and chip makers including Ericsson.

China's carriers were a bright light in the downturn of 2008-2009 as they finally gave the green light to building out their 3G cellular networks. With the build outs largely complete, market watchers had expected declines in 2010, but not ones as steep as the carriers reported in recent quarterly financial calls.

China's carriers are now expected to spend a total of about 262 billion renminbi, down 21 percent from 2009, and mobile spending should be down about 25 percent, according to Barclays Capital. Flat spending in Europe and an uptick in U.S. mobile network spending will offset the losses.

Overall capex on wireless networks will dip 1.8 percent worldwide, according to a recent iSuppli report.

China Unicom which reported its plans Tuesday (March 23) is taking the biggest cuts, slashing its total capex budget 35 percent in 2010 to 73.5 billion renminbi.

China Telecom is keeping its wireline spending flat at about $28 billion renminbi, but it expects to cut its mobile spending by 50 percent in 2010 to about 26.8 billion renminbi after doubling mobile capex in 2010, Barclays reported.

For its part, China Mobile will only shave its total capex five percent in 2010. Like the other carriers, it will increase spending on wireless handsets as it tries to more than double its 3G subscribers to 10 million in 2010. For China Mobile that means about US$500 million in additional handset subsidies this year.

Among equipment vendors, Ericsson is likely to suffer most, followed by Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel Lucent, Motorola and China's top equipment vendors HuaWei and ZTE. Among chip makers, Altera and Xilinx have the greatest exposure to the market for base stations and other wireless gear.

Despite the downturn in China spending, Barclays Capital did not change overall revenue estimates for the FPGA makers. Analysts noted wired telecom business from Cisco, HuaWei, ZTE and others remains strong. In addition, capex for wireless systems in the U.S. is expected to be up about 12 percent in 2010, driven in part by the first deployments of FPGA-rich LTE systems and high-end 3G services.

Dell 'Oro Group recently estimated carriers will spend about $240 million on LTE this year, soaring to $5 billion in 2014.

Analysts from J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. were more cautious on the impact for FPGA makers, though they maintained neutral ratings for Altera and Xilinx.

"We believe Xilinx and Altera are at risk of an inventory build up," said J.P. Morgan Chase analysts in a research note. "The China base station market represents roughly eight percent of total Xilinx revenue and 12 percent of total Altera revenue," it said.

China cuts 2010 telecom capex by 21 percent

Africa - Bharti a game changer

[financial express] Bharti Airtel’s entry into the African market has caught the world’s attention as apart from making the company the country’s first truly multinational telecom operator, the move is being largely viewed as a potential game changer in one of the world’s most attractive telecom markets, Africa. The world would now watch with rapt attention how Sunil Bharti Mittal transplants his low cost-high volume mobile business across the Indian borders and once the task is successfully accomplished would emerge as the unchallenged telecom czar who rewrote the entire economy of the telecom business.

It is not that the task comes without challenges. The foremost would be to turn the African operations of Zain profitable in a market dominated by formidables like Vodafone and Bharti’s first preference to enter the African market, MTN.

The top 10 mobile operators in the continent share the bulk of 77% subscribers. Of the continent’s 334 million serviced mobile phone customers, the UK-based Vodafone, which is the world’s largest mobile firm by revenues, holds the highest market share of close to 18.7%. The South African telecom giant MTN is a close second with 18% market share and Bharti’s latest acquisition, Zain is third with a subscriber market share of 11%.

A market leader in its home market, Bharti has successfully kept Vodafone a distant second in the GSM mobile space in India and would enter the African market with the confidence and practical experience to take on the company it has not allowed to snatch its leadership slot in India. But then in India it had the first mover advantage, something which is lacking in Africa.

Secondly, the tariff wars in India have conditioned Bharti enough to understand the price sensitivity in emerging market economies, which has resulted in the company’s lean cost model. Bharti has championed the outsourcing model wherein it has retained only the core function of a telecom operator and outsourced the rest of the activities to market leaders in those activities who best know how to do it.

Finally, unlike India, no other telecom market in the world provides operators an environment to post fat Ebitda margins of close to 40% with the lowest price, which is the average revenue per user. In Africa, the Arpu is approximately $8 while in India it is around $5.

But there is a lot of difference between creating a successful greenfield venture and building a profitable company spanning...

Game changer in Africa

Africa - The Rationale For Indian Telecommunications Investment In Africa

[glg group] Although India and Africa are vastly different in many respects they are also very similar in terms of their current total populations and aggregate, or average wealth, as well as their history of European colonialism. Mobile telecommunications is another area of similarity between the subcontinent and the continent. In both environments mobile telephony has emerged as the vehicle through which tens indeed hundreds of millions of Africans and Indians have gained their first access to telecommunications services for voice communication and messaging. The economic and social impacts of this development – the result of a combination of technological progress and market liberalization – have already been remarkable. Yet the potential of telecommunications access has only just begun to be exploited. It will be multiplied many times as and if new broadband wireless networks are deployed. Both Africa and India pose formidable challenges to the further development of affordable, more powerful telecommunications services, which are in some key respects very different from those confronting operators in regions such as Western Europe, North America, and Japan. These obstacles are the result of low income levels and major deficiencies in infrastructure (transport, electric power) as well as institutional weaknesses and episodes of social violence that erupt in many localities. Nevertheless it is encouraging how many innovations have been introduced from inexpensive terminals adapted to harsh environments to renewable, self-contained energy sources to imaginative distribution channels and operational procedures to enable affordable, suitable and useful services to be brought to millions of low ARPU users. Indian operators have been pioneers in these developments. Interest in the low cost Indian operator model has been heightened by Bharti's attempts to become a major player in Africa through an acquisition. So it is instructive to assess the differences between Africa and India to understand the extent to which Bharti's Indian experience can be transferred to Africa. There are significant differences between India and Africa in terms of the economies of scale that can be achieved and the required investments given their very different population densities, workforces, and political and regulatory structures. Africa includes over 50 countries and hence regulatory regimes, while India has one regulator, albeit with 23 mobile license areas or circles. India is also a high density area, so it inevitably enjoys greater economies of scale and lower capex per population covered compared to African countries. Furthermore India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a large service sector. Hence not only does the Indian economy do more value addition and exhibits a relatively higher propensity to spend than Africa, but it is better equipped to implement the outsourcing model for which Bharti and its private sector compatriots are well known.Nevertheless the potential for growth in Africa is enormous. Mobile markets in Africa are turning into a battleground between operators based in Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, and India, and quite likely China. M&A will undoubtedly be part of the initiatives and competitive maneuvering that will define and reshape the future structure and dynamics of these markets that are not only important in their own right, but also provide core elements of the capabilities available to Africans that can enable them to enhance the quality of their lives and the wealth of their economies.

The Rationale For Indian Telecommunications Investment In Africa

CRASA - ‘Impact Assessment important in telecommunications system development’

[chronicle] IMPACT Assessment (IA) is an essential step in the development of telecommunications systems in the Southern African region as it prepares the evidence for decision makers on the pros and cons of making various policies, a telecommunications expert has said.

In his presentation at a three-day Communications Regulator’s Association of Southern Africa (Crasa) workshop being held here, the telecommunications regulatory advisor, Mr Eric Borgstrain, said: “Impact assessment enables the regulatory authorities to make better policies and laws and explains why actions are necessary and facilitates better informed decision making among other things.”

He said the southern Africa regulators should embrace IA.

In his presentation, an independent telecommunications policy analyst, Mr Evan Sutherland, told the delegates that IA helped eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulations.

“There is a need for constant review of policies in order to continuously meet the needs of the consumers,” he said.

Crasa operations manager Ms Bridget Linzie said it was being acknowledged that IA was
an effective tool for modern, evidence-based policy-making that facilitates for structured framework for handling policy challenges.

“It is also being advised that these IA should be embedded in all our policy and regulation making process.”

Ms Linzie took time to note that the global realisation that Information Communication and Technologies (ICTs) were an integral part of the social and economic development brought in the need for an efficient telecommunications system.

“Even our own governments have come to an agreement that ICTs are tools that will allow us to achieve the millennium development goals. While our business has understood that it is the telecomm system, through effective information and communication exchange, that has brought in business efficiencies and growth. In addition the telecoms system has rendered decision making more effective and extended the markets to global magnitude,” she said.

More than 100 delegates drawn from different Sadc countries are meeting in Victoria Falls for an impact assessment workshop, which is running under the theme: “Promoting a change in Sadc culture in policy and regulation making”.
The meeting continues today.

‘Impact Assessment important in telecommunications system development’ - Why Isn’t My House Out-Thinking My Dog Yet?

[] Seen any sci-fi movies in the past decade? Good. Then this scene should be familiar: As you move through your sparsely furnished apartment, lights automatically flick on and off. Your heating system anticipated your arrival and raised the temperature to 72 degrees. Your oven is preheated and ready to cook that cryo-packed meal you picked up at Blade Runner Joe’s. Welcome to the smart home of the future! Or not.

On the spectrum of technology’s unfulfilled promises, home automation — or domotics — sits somewhere between flying cars and holodecks. As predictable as our personal routines may seem, there’s enough variability to make intelligent automation insanely difficult. It requires devices and networks that simply don’t exist. “There’s no consumer-level AI yet,” says Gordon Meyer, author of Smart Home Hacks.

But while sassy robo-maids and self-cleaning floors are still a far-off fantasy, remote-controlled homes are a reality. In fact, you probably own the device that would make it all possible: your smartphone. This sensor-crammed, Web-enabled wonder is perfect for monitoring and controlling your abode.

The software is already being developed. Between the iPhone, Android, and Symbian, there are dozens of apps that’ll let you tweak your thermostat and lights or cue up a little mood music from the road. Unfortunately, these solutions are usually tied to a single appliance or system and depend on proprietary hardware or services. Home automation needs a standard platform to go mainstream.

Burning Question: Why Isn’t My House Out-Thinking My Dog Yet?

USA - Prison Mobile Phone Debate Jammed Up in the System

[wired] On paper, it’s a no-brainer: Prisoners have mobile phones they are using to run gangs, call friends, and intimidate witnesses. Tech companies have the equipment to jam the phones by flooding the airwaves, and prisons want to use them. But the 1930s law setting up the nation’s telecommunications bureaucracy makes such jamming illegal.

That drives Howard Melamed, the CEO of CellAntenna, crazy. Witnesses are dying and gangs are flourishing because Congress has yet to put the Safe Prison’s Act bill on President Obama’s desk, Melamed argues. His company, which mostly sells tech to expand cell coverage inside buildings, also does some business in jammers. And over the last seven years, he’s become one of the most public faces of the campaign to rid prisons of rogue cell phones.

“Criminals behind bars are doing what they do best which is break the law,” Melamed said. “People are being killed by criminals using cell phones in prisons to arrange hits on witnesses.”

It’s not an insignificant problem. Mobile phones make their way into prisons by visitors smuggling them in — in whole or in part — or from prison employees who can make thousands of dollars per cell phone. Since cell phones aren’t explicitly considered contraband under federal law, there’s not much punishment for employees who sneak them in. California found more than 4,000 phones in 2009, while the feds found close to 2,000 in their prisons and work camps. In a recent case in Maryland, a number of employees were indicted after the DEA wiretapped a jailed gang leader, catching him complaining about having to settle for salmon and shrimp, instead of lobster, to go with his champagne.

Prison Mobile Phone Debate Jammed Up in the System

USA - Competition lacking in National Broadband Plan

[tmcnet] The National Broadband Plan released by the Federal Communications Commission last week has come under fire from public interest groups.

Those groups cite a concern that the plan doesn’t go far enough in increasing competition in the broadband market.

According to the New America Foundation, a 100-megabit broadband connection costs as little $16 per month in Sweden and $24 per month in Korea, while service that is only half that fast costs $145 per month in the U.S.

“The Berkman Center report commissioned by the FCC (News - Alert) provides an in-depth assessment of the regulatory and economic environments of numerous countries around the globe. As an agency committed to making "data-based policies" the FCC's omission of extensive research they themselves commissioned from The National Broadband Plan is glaring,” said Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Initiative, New America Foundation.

More competition would lower the prices for consumers, public-interest groups say.

The “open access” rules sought by public-interest groups would require large phone and cable TV companies to lease their networks to smaller competitors so they can offer services at their own prices. Because it is so expensive to extend lines to every home and business, they say, such obligations may be the only way to drive competition in many markets.

“Open access and infrastructure-sharing have proven to be a key differentiator between countries whose broadband services are faster and cheaper and those, like the U.S., who are lagging behind. This phenomenon, in fact, parallels the assessment conducted by "The Economist" last September looking at how companies overseas have expanded mobile telecommunications to customers whose average return per user is a tiny fraction of what we pay here in the U.S.,” Meinraht said. “As ‘The Economist's’ special report underscores, whether fixed line or mobile, sharing of telecommunications infrastructure lowers the prices for customers.”

The National Broadband Plan has set a goal of 100 Mbps service provided to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020 and also calls for releasing 500 MHz of additional spectrum for wireless broadband.

Competition lacking in National Broadband Plan