Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Europe - EC concludes that competition on the EU's roaming market is not yet strong enough to provide better choice and even better rates to consumers

[ec] EU mobile operators have reduced their roaming charges in line with the maximum price caps established by EU rules, first introduced in 2007 and amended last July, according to the European Commission's interim report on roaming published today. Price transparency has improved. The cost for roaming calls has decreased by more than 70% since 2005 and sending a text message between EU Member States costs 60% less. However, consumers still do not enjoy significantly lower tariffs than those imposed by EU rules. The Commission's report therefore concludes that competition on the EU's roaming market is not yet strong enough to provide better choice and even better rates to consumers.

Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: "The cost of using mobile phones or devices when abroad in the EU has fallen continuously since the adoption of the first roaming rules. But three years since the rules came in, most operators propose retail prices that hover around the maximum legal caps. More competition on the EU roaming market would provide better choice and even better rates to consumers."

Under the amended roaming rules adopted in June 2009, EU citizens benefit from lower tariffs for voice and SMS roaming services and are better informed about the prices that they pay for data roaming . The cap on the maximum price consumers pay for roamed voice calls fell from €0.46 to €0.43 per minute (excluding VAT) as of 1 July 2009 and will decrease further to €0.39 per minute as of 1 July 2010. The capped-price of a text message fell by almost 60% to €0.11 as of 1 July 2009. The prices that operators charge each other for data roaming will drop from €1 to €0.80 per MegaByte uploaded or downloaded as of July 2010.

Although legislation has led to lower prices, the today's report shows that, despite the introduction of regulatory limits, the EU roaming market is still not competitive enough to provide the best choice and price to consumers. Retail prices tend to cluster around the EU regulated maximum price caps. At the end of 2009, the EU legal maximum for roamed voice calls was €0.43 per minute, and consumers who chose the "Euro- tariff" paid on average €0.38 per minute for making a roaming phone call Euro-tariff consumers also paid on average €0.17 per minute for calls received while roaming, slightly below the legal cap of €0.19.

In the Commission's view, EU rules give operators plenty of margin to offer more attractive roaming tariffs below the regulatory limits. Ultimately the difference between roaming and national tariffs should approach zero by 2015, in line with the objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

For data roaming, the report confirms that wholesale prices have fallen to well below the EU maximum (€1 per MegaByte uploaded or download). Operators were charging each other an average of €0.55 per MegaByte at the end of 2009. Average consumer prices have also fallen, from €3.62 per MegaByte to €2.66 at the end of 2009. The Commission expects operators to pass on savings at wholesale level to consumers as lower retail prices, which it will continue to monitor.

The Commission's analysis also shows that consumers are making more use of roaming services. Despite an estimated 12% decline in travel, overall volumes of calls received and SMS sent while abroad in the EU have grown over the past two years. In particular, 20% more text messages were sent in the summer of 2009, than in the previous summer, following the introduction of the EU-wide 11 cents SMS price cap.

Data roaming services grew by more than 40 % in volume terms in 2009. As smart phones and other hand-held devices become more widespread, this trend is expected to continue.

The Commission will review the 2009 roaming rules in full by the end of June 2011. It will assess whether their objectives have been achieved and whether the market for roaming services is working as it should – namely as a Single Digital Market.

Telecoms: roaming prices down but competition still not strong enough, says Commission report
see also interim report

Friday, June 25, 2010

Europe - Spanish presidency has said its objectives on the digital agenda were achieved - now for Belgium

[Spain] The Spanish Presidency of the European Union believes its goals in telecommunications, energy, industry and the information society have been achieved, with actions such as the approval of the European Digital Agenda.

The Secretary of State for Telecommunications and the Information Society, Francisco Ros, underlined this today, Thursday, before the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Investigation (ITRE), where he gave an overview of all of the actions carried out over the past six months.

Ros said the EU Council of Ministers has approved the new European Digital Agenda, an action plan that aims to create a Single Digital Market and boost European consumers' online confidence.

Moreover, the Spanish Presidency has worked hard for energy to be included as one of the goals of the EU 2020 Strategy, within the iconic initiative “A resource-efficient Europe”.

Another achievement mentioned by Ros was the official launch, during the Conference on the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) held in Madrid, of the first four industrial clean energy technology initiatives: wind energy, solar energy, smart grids and carbon capture and storage.

The Spanish Presidency has also behind the design of the European Strategy on clean, energy-efficient vehicles, including specific measures on the electric vehicle, which will be fundamental for Europe's future in terms of energy, industry and technology.

Spain has achieved its goals in telecommunications, energy and industry

Nigeria - Govt insists that SIM must be registered and sale of unregistered cards stopped

[automated reader] The Nigerian government has directed all telecommunications operators in the country to discontinue the sale of unregistered SIM cards used in mobile phones, a senior official said Friday.

New SIM cards can't be sold "without capturing the necessary data," the News Agency of Nigeria reported Dora Akunyili, minister of communications, as saying in Abuja Thursday during a meeting with telecommunications operators.

The Nigerian Communications Commission, or NCC, in December announced that SIM card registration would begin in the country in March 2010 but postponed it to May 1.

It said SIM registration was part of efforts to curb crime in the country and would begin with new SIM cards purchased by new subscribers.

Akunyili said at a meeting with telecommunications operators in Abuja that some telecommunication operators were "resisting the registration of new SIM cards."

"There is no going back on SIM card registration," she said.

Nigeria Demands Compliance With SIM Card Registration

Internet - ICANN has created dot XXX, so it is time to secure your own domain to protect yourself

[bbc] Official approval has been given for the creation of an internet domain dedicated to pornography.

The board of net overseer Icann gave initial approval for the creation of the .xxx domain at its conference in Brussels.

Icann's approval will kick off a fast-track process to get the porn-only domain set up.

ICM Registry, which is backing the domain, said .xxx would make it easier to filter out inappropriate content.

The decision ends a long campaign by ICM Registry to win approval.

Stuart Lawley, chairman of ICM, welcomed the decision and said it was "great news for those that wish to consume, or avoid, adult content".

Sex domain gets official approval

Pakistan - Govt will monitor major website that might be considered blasphemous to the state religion

[bbc] Pakistan will start monitoring seven major websites, including Google and Yahoo, for content it deems offensive to Muslims.

YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and Bing will also come under scrutiny, while 17 less well-known sites will be blocked.

Officials will monitor the sites and block links deemed inappropriate.

In May, Pakistan banned access to Facebook after the social network hosted a "blasphemous" competition to draw the prophet Muhammad.

The new action will see Pakistani authorities monitor content published on the seven sites, blocking individual pages if content is judged to be offensive.

Telecoms official Khurram Mehran said links would be blocked without disturbing the main website.

Pakistan to monitor Google and Yahoo for 'blasphemy'

USA - Senate Ctte held a hearing on universal service on the high-cost fund for broadband

[tmc] The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a full committee hearing today titled Universal Service: Transforming the High-Cost Fund for the Broadband Era.

Witness List: Panel I The Honorable Michael J. Copps, Federal Communications Commission The Honorable Mignon Clyburn, Federal Communications Commission The Honorable Meredith Atwell Baker, Federal Communications Commission Panel II Mr. Jeff Gardner, Chief Executive Officer, Windstream Communications Mr. Delbert Wilson, General Manager, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative Mr. John Gockley, Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, US Cellular Corporation Mr. Paul Waits, President, Ritter Communications Mr. Kyle McSlarrow, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Cable and Telecommunications Association

Key Quotations from Today's Hearing:

"Universal service is a cherished principle. In years past, it has meant that this nation connects every community with basic phone service. But in years ahead, it must mean that we connect our communities with broadband. This subject is not simple, and updating the universal service system is not easy. But it is enormously important, and it is the right thing to do." Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

"It is my belief that high-value broadband is the Great Enabler of our time. This technology infrastructure intersects with just about every great challenge confronting our nation today-- jobs, business growth, education, energy, climate change and the environment, international competitiveness, health care, overcoming disabilities, opening doors of equal opportunity, news and information, our democratic dialogue. There is no solution for any of these challenges that does not have some broadband component to it." The Honorable Michael J. Copps, Federal Communications Commission

"Without modern communications systems, the economic viability of rural areas is in doubt. To fully participate in our 21st Century economy, all consumers--no matter where they live in our great nation--must have access to broadband technology. Yet, 14-24 million Americans do not even have access to broadband at home." The Honorable Mignon Clyburn, Federal Communications Commission

"There is absolutely more to be done to reach the remaining seven million unserved households that the [Broadband] Plan has identified. We must strive to get more broadband--with faster speeds--deployed to more Americans in more places." The Honorable Meredith Atwell Baker, Federal Communications Commission

"Rather than preserve a flawed program, universal service must be reformed to direct funds more equitably and rationally across all of rural America. As senior members of this committee know well, changing universal service is difficult. Yet, today we have reached the point where significant change is the only way to fulfill the mission called for in the National Broadband Plan." Mr. Jeff Gardner, Chief Executive Officer, Windstream Communications

"We believe that broadband offers the promise of a better tomorrow for all Americans, but especially for those living in rural America. Broadband is the great equalizer between rural, suburban, and urban regions, because distance and location disappear. Truly, broadband capability yields the ability for rural communities and their citizens to effectively compete in the global economy." Mr. Delbert Wilson, General Manager, Hill Country Telephone Cooperative

"We are supportive of the goals of the National Broadband Plan and we think that with some common sense adjustments that it can provide the way forward for deployment of fixed and mobile broadband throughout rural America." Mr. John Gockley, Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, US Cellular Corporation

"[Rural broadband expansion] will require recognition of the need for focus and commitment at the local level, as well as the need to protect small business from being quashed amid the battles and maneuvers of the telecommunications titans. Rural broadband is a role best suited to rural specialists."
Mr. Paul Waits, President, Ritter Communications

"The universal service program has long been a critical element of our nation's communications policy, ensuring that all Americans have access to rapid and efficient communications services at reasonable rates - and it will undoubtedly remain a cornerstone of communications policy in the broadband era." Mr. Kyle McSlarrow, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Cable and Telecommunications Association


Apple - One in four iPhone devices break within two years, mostly cracked touchscreens

[teleclick] One in four Apple iPhone devices break within two years, according to data from SquareTrade, and independent warranty provider that covers the device.

SquareTrade has insured upwards of 25,000 iPhones, 25.6% of which have failed within two years of being purchased. The majority of these incidents are accidental, however, often involving a cracked touchscreen. Only 7.5% of iPhones suffer from faulty hardware within the first two years.

Despite the inevitable occurrence of some failures, SquareTrade ultimately describes the iPhone as “one of the most reliable smartphones on the market.”

“We see the evidence that malfunction rates in the first year (excluding accidents) is much lower for the iPhone than for Blackberry and [Palm] Treo,” SquareTrade said in a statement. “The overall failure rate at 1 year – 17.6 percent - was lower than the 23 percent overall failure rate for BlackBerrys at 1 year.”

25.6% of iPhones Break Within Two Years

USA - A judge reduced the sentence and forfeit of QWEST CEO for insider trading in 2001

[law.com] A federal judge on Thursday cut former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio's insider trading sentence by two months and reduced the amount of money he must forfeit by $7.4 million.

Nacchio was convicted of selling $52 million in Qwest Communications International Inc. stock in 2001 based on nonpublic information that Qwest was in danger of missing its sales forecasts that year.

Nacchio originally was sentenced in 2007 to six years in prison and was ordered to forfeit $52 million, but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the sentence should be recalculated to focus on how much of Nacchio's profits actually came from having insider information.

The new sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger is five years and 10 months with a forfeiture of $44.6 million. Krieger left intact the original fine of $19 million.

Nacchio already has served 14 months in a prison in Pennsylvania. He waived his right to attend the re-sentencing hearing, which stretched over three days this week.

Krieger announced a new sentence range earlier Thursday based on a calculation that Nacchio's gain was $23 million to $32 million -- not far from the original $28 million that the trial judge found.

Krieger said that under federal guidelines, she could sentence Nacchio to up to 6 1/2 years in prison based on the new calculation, but she also could consider other factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Hearty suggested a sentence of 6 1/2 years, a $19 million fine and forfeiture of $44 million. He argued that Nacchio didn't give investors a clear picture of Qwest's revenues, even when asked by investors and analysts, and that Nacchio used his position to pump up Qwest's stock price when he was selling his own shares.

When a chief executive of a large public company abuses his position to "line his own pockets," it undermines confidence in financial markets, Hearty said.

"This is the most aggressive type of insider trading case there can be," Hearty said.

Nacchio's attorney, Sean Berkowitz, countered that the executive believed in his company. He suggested a prison sentence of 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years.

"He has lost practically everything except his family. He has suffered and continues to suffer a great deal," Berkowitz told Krieger.

Berkowitz said Nacchio rose from working-class roots to lead Qwest's growth from $240 million in revenue to $2 billion in revenue and was the center of his family.

Hearty agreed Nacchio was an "American success story" but said it appeared "extreme arrogance and greed" took over.

Former Qwest CEO's Sentence Cut by 2 Months, Forfeiture by $7.4 Million

Australia - A new company will take over Telstra's universal service obligations now it is to participate in NBN

[it wire] The Government would set up a new company to take over most of Telstra's universal service obligations if the agreement just signed by Telstra and NBN Co is consummated.

Communications minister, senator Stephen Conroy, said: "The government would establish a new entity, USO Co, with Commonwealth funding of $50 million in 2012-13 and 2013-14, increasing to $100 million annually thereafter and with the remaining funding needed being contributed by industry, as it is at present."

The Government would also provide $100 million to Telstra to assist in the retraining and redeployment of Telstra staff who would "be affected by this very significant reform to the structure of the telecommunications industry."

The Government would also require NBN Co to be the wholesale supplier of last resort for fibre connections in greenfield developments from 1 January 2011. It said that these contributions had been provided for in the 2010-11 Budget.

USO Co would assume responsibility for most of Telstra's Universal Service Obligations for the delivery of standard telephone services, payphones and emergency call handling from 1 July 2012.

However the Government has given no indication as to how its responsibilities would be implemented (ie whether it would be resourced to deliver services or whether it would simply contract provision to other telcos and manage the deliver of services).

New company to deliver USO if Telstra does deal with NBN Co

Australia - the Communications Alliance is reviewing the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code governing relationships with customers

[it wire] Communications Alliance has set up a steering group to review the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code that regulates the behaviour of service providers in billing, credit management, complaint handling, customer contracts and the information contained in advertising. Significantly industry and consumer representatives will have to reach consensus if changes are to be made.

The members are: Fay Holthuyzen, independent chair; Allan Asher, CEO, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN); Brenton Philp, general manager compliance strategies branch, ACCC; Kath Silleri, executive manager content and consumer, ACMA; John Stanton, CEO of Communications Alliance; Keith Besgrove, first assistant secretary digital economy services, DBCDE; John Horan, general counsel of Primus; David Quilty, group managing director, public policy & communications, Telstra. A second consumer representative will be appointed shortly.

Stanton welcomed the appointment of Holthuyzen, described as "a former deputy secretary of the Federal Department of Communications and a widely respected figure in the telecommunications industry," as the independent chair of the Steering Group.

In the coming days the group will release an issues paper that will "outline key areas of focus for the TCP Code review as well as initial contributions by regulators, consumer groups and the industry in relation to the Code."

It will then seek public comment on the issues paper and make a recommendation on whether to revise the Code and setting the terms of reference for the revision.

However the only members eligible to vote on this decision will be the two industry members - Quilty and Horan - and the two consumer representatives - Asher and one yet to be appointed. So they will have to achieve consensus if changes are to be made.

Stanton told iTWire that this was the first time such an arrangement had been put in place.

In earlier times consumer bodies have been highly critical of Comms Alliance's (and its predecessor ACIF's) code development process claiming it was difficult of them to have any influence in industry dominated working committees.

Holthuyzen said that, if it were decided that the Code required revision, several working committees would be established, reporting to the Steering Group. Comms Alliance aims to deliver a revised code to the ACMA for registration early on 2011.

Once registered conformance to the code by all service providers will be mandatory.

Comms Alliance reviews consumer protection rules

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Africa - Airtel begins to set out its strategy, including USD 100M investment in Uganda

[idg] Following the completion of Bharti Airtel's deal to acquire 15 of Zain's country operations in Africa, company executives have embarked on a tour of the continent, meeting media and local officials in an effort to promote the mobile telecommunications giant's growth strategy.

Following the completion of Bharti Airtel's deal to acquire 15 of Zain's country operations in Africa, company executives have embarked on a tour of the continent, meeting media and local officials in an effort to promote the mobile telecommunications giant's growth strategy.

Airtel, as the company will be known in Africa, has promised to drive its network coverage deep into rural areas, providing affordable services.

"This is our first step in Africa, which means our commitment to Uganda is the highest," said Manoj Kohli, the CEO of international operations and co-Managing Director, at a press conference in Kampala, Uganda, at the end of last week.

Airtel will invest $100 million in the Uganda operation, Kohli said during the press conference, which kicked off the company executives' tour of Africa.

"We believe we have inherited very well-run operations and look forward to working with our team of highly talented professionals," Kholi said.

The Kampala visit signalled the actual takeover of operations, expected to be completed in October, when the company will launch a rebranding drive, Kholi said.

Bharti paid a total of US$10.7 billion for Zain's African operations, minus Sudan and Morocco. Kholi said that of the total, $9 billion is the equity value of the transaction, and $1.7 billion is debt that Bharti is taking on.

Asked at the Kamapala conference whether Bharti is looking at other African markets now that they are on the continent, Kholi said, "Zain is a good start and 15 countries is a good start."

Kholi said that while Zain has not been keen on the Internet segment of the communications market, Airtel is set to offer data services and more.

"We would like to give our customers good music, good TV and when we get the 3G license, we will give our users high speed broadband access," Kholi said.

In addition to voice services, Airtel provides broadband Internet, IPTV, digital TV and more in its home market of India. Bharti Airtel has said that it plans to bring its ecosystem of global partners to Uganda and this will result in additional employment opportunities for Ugandans.

Countries in which Bharti has acquired the operations are Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Ghana. Others are Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Zain is the market leader in 10 of the 15 countries and in second place in four countries.

With the successful completion of Zain's acquisition, Bharti Airtel, which started as a small company in 1995 in New Delhi, is now the fifth largest mobile telecom company in the world, with over 180 million customers.

Bharti Airtel officials tour Africa to promote strategy

USA - Poll finds more adults than teenagers are guilty of sending text messages

[ny times] If you think it is teenagers who are primarily guilty of sending text messages while driving, think again.

According to a new poll from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, adults are more likely to have performed this behind-the-wheel juggling act, as well as talking on cellphones from the driver’s seat.

The poll, released last Friday, contrasted its adult results from earlier this year with a 2009 survey of teenagers. Both were conducted for Pew by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

In the 2009 poll, 34 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds who used their phones for sending text messages said they had done so while driving. In the 2010 poll, 47 percent of adults admitted to it.

Adults also lead when it comes to talking on cellphones while driving. According to the latest Pew poll, 75 percent of cellphone-owning adults say they have talked on the phone while driving, compared with just over half (52 percent) of 16- and 17-year-olds in the earlier survey.

And 44 percent of adults and 40 percent of teenagers in the two polls say they have been passengers in vehicles whose drivers used their cellphones “in a dangerous way” or in a way that “put themselves or others in danger.”

One in six adults who own cellphones (17 percent) go further and say they have actually bumped into either a person or an object because they were distracted by their cellphones.

Among the latter group is Matt Howard, chief executive of ZoomSafer, which makes software that can put cellphones into a no-texting mode when, through a variety of means (including Bluetooth pairing and GPS-detected speed above 10 miles per hour), the software determines that owners have gotten behind the wheel of a car.

Mr. Howard said he was moved to start the company after he hit a 9-year-old boy, a neighbor, with his car while driving distracted in northern Virginia two years ago.

“I was addicted to my mobile device,” he admitted. “I decided there was an opportunity to help other people and to help myself.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures from 2008 show 5,870 fatalities and 515,000 injuries in police-reported crashes that had driver distraction as a factor.

Studies have concluded that drivers using their phones while driving are four times more likely to cause an accident than those not engaged.

The Pew study said that 82 percent of American adults 18 or older own cellphones (up from 65 percent in 2004). Among those adults, 58 percent of them use text messaging. The 2009 poll said that 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own phones and 66 percent send text messages.

Sending text messages while driving is prohibited in 28 states, the Pew report said, and seven (plus the District of Columbia) prohibit all hand-held cellphone use on the road.

Study Finds Adult Drivers Are the Worst Text Messaging Offenders

Australia - Govt has admitted Telstra to the National Broadband Network , amending the Telecoms Bill

[it wire] The Government has released a set of amendments to its stalled telecommunications regulatory reform legislation in the wake of the deal struck the Telstra on customer migration to the NBN and the closure of the copper network.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the changes to the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009 would give greater regulatory certainty to Telstra and the industry for the transitional period during the construction phase of national broadband network when Telstra customers are progressively moved to the new fibre network.

The amendments give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) a clear mechanism to consider an enforceable undertaking from Telstra to structurally separate its business as it retires its copper network.

Senator Conroy said the changes will give the industry greater clarity of how the separation process will take place, and cuts Telstra some slack to allow it to seek a formal approval from its shareholders on its stated plan to migrate fixed line customers to the NBN infrastructure.

The amendments address a number of the issues that have been raised with the Government since the Bill was introduced in September last year.

Senator Conroy's office said there remained other issues related to the bill that Government was considering which may also require further amendments.

The reform legislation is central to the Government's whole communications strategy. It says the Bill strengthens consumer protections, generates more competition, encourages better services and lower prices – all in the interests of consumers, business and the economy more broadly.

The Bill has been stalled in the Senate since September. In recent months, the Opposition has stacked its speaker list each time the Bill has been presented, prompting Government accuse Coalition of filibustering and choking the Senate legislative program.

Conroy deals ACCC into NBN-Telstra agreement

Italy - Competition Authority has opened a probe into Telecom Italia for abuse of dominance

[wsj] Italy's Antitrust Authority said Thursday it was opening a probe into allegations Telecom Italia SpA (TI) was abusing its dominant position in the nation's telecommunications market.

The charges were brought by rivals Fastweb SpA (FWB.MI) and Wind SpA, the competition regulator said on its website.

Italy's Antitrust Body To Probe Telecom Italia

USA - Google won in its case with Viacom on alleged copyright abuses

[law.com] A federal judge handed Google Inc. a major victory Wednesday by rebuffing media company Viacom Inc.'s attempt to collect more than $1 billion in damages for the alleged copyright abuses of Google's popular YouTube service.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York embraces Google's interpretation of a 12-year-old law that shields Internet services from claims of copyright infringement as long as they promptly remove illegal content when notified of a violation.

That so-called "safe harbor" helped persuade Google to buy YouTube for $1.76 billion in 2006, even though some of the Internet search leader's own executives had earlier branded the video-sharing service as "a 'rogue enabler' of content theft," according to documents unearthed in the copyright infringement case.

Stanton "blessed the current state of play on the Internet," said Eric Goldman, a Santa Clara University associate professor who specializes in high-tech law. The affirmation was cheered by Internet service providers and free-speech groups who believe the Digital Millennium Copyright Act helps give more people an outlet to express themselves.

"Without this decision, user-generated content would dry up and the Internet would cease to be a participatory medium," said David Sohn, a lawyer for the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Viacom, the owner of popular cable channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, called Stanton's decision "fundamentally flawed" and vowed to appeal. That virtually ensures a legal brawl that already has dragged on for more than three years will spill into 2011 and perhaps beyond.

"Copyright protection is essential to the survival of creative industries," said Michael Fricklas, Viacom's general counsel. "It is and should be illegal for companies to build their businesses with creative material they have stolen from others."

The bitter battle revolves around Viacom's allegations that YouTube built itself into the Internet's most watched video site by milking unlicensed use of copyright-protected clips stolen from professionally produced show such as Viacom's "The Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show."

The pirated material came from the millions of people who have uploaded clips to YouTube since its 2005 inception. About 24 hours of new video is posted to YouTube every minute.

YouTube's whirlwind success led to the Google sale that generated huge windfalls for the video channel's founders, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim.

Citing e-mail exchanges among those founders, Viacom depicted the founders and other YouTube employees as video pirates who were more interested in getting rich quick than adhering to copyright laws.

But Stanton concluded YouTube's actions outweighed the words of the YouTube founders.

In dismissing the lawsuit before a trial, Stanton noted that Viacom had spent several months accumulating about 100,000 videos violating its copyright and then sent a mass takedown notice on Feb. 2, 2007. By the next business day, Stanton said, YouTube had removed virtually all of them.

Stanton said there's no dispute that "when YouTube was given the (takedown) notices, it removed the material."

Since it was sold to Google, YouTube has developed a system that helps flag copyright violations when videos are posted. Viacom argues those copyright detection tools prove YouTube could have done more to keep illegal content off its site.

Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, said the company is confident Stanton's decision will hold up. The 30-page ruling is "thoughtful, thorough and well-considered," Walker said in an interview. He also hailed the decision as "a victory for a new generation of creators and artists eager to showcase their work online," Walker said.

Facebook, eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc. were among the Internet companies that had backed Google in its battle with Viacom.

The evidence that accumulated before Stanton reached his decision proved embarrassing for both sides.

An early e-mail exchange among Hurley, Chen and Karim showed at least one of them may have knowingly violated copyrights as they posted video clips during the service's early stages.

"Jawed, please stop putting stolen videos on the site," Chen wrote in the July 19, 2005, e-mail. "We're going to have a tough time defending the fact that we're not liable for the copyrighted material on the site because we didn't put it up when one of the co-founders is blatantly stealing content from other sites and trying to get everyone to see it."

Other documents showed Viacom had hoped to buy YouTube before getting trumped by Google, making it seem as if the media company's later claims of copyright abuse may have been a case of sour grapes.

A July 2006 e-mail from Fricklas, Viacom's top lawyer, even disputed that YouTube was engaged in rampant copyright infringement. "Mostly YouTube behaves," Fricklas wrote.

Federal Judge Hands Google Victory in Viacom's $1 Billion Suit Over YouTube Content

Kenya - Registration of SIM cards with a deadline for the end of July 2010

[bbc] Kenya has started to register all mobile phone numbers in a bid to cut crime.

Users will have to supply identity documents and proof of address before they get a number.

Any numbers still unregistered at the end of July will be disconnected, the government says.

The BBC's Odhiambo Joseph in Nairobi says many people there support the move, hoping it will make life more difficult for criminals.

Kidnapping gangs often use unregistered mobile numbers to text ransom demands, he says.

Police commissioner Mathew Iteere told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that mobile phones must be registered because they could now be used like computers.

"It has become a tool of banking, it can be used to steal data, [to] transmit unauthorised information and perpetrates huge frauds."

Information ministry official Bitange Ndemo last week said registering the numbers would help the authorities tackle terrorism, drugs-trafficking and money-laundering, as well as the sending of hate messages.

Neighbouring Tanzania has already started a similar exercise, so our reporter says it is not controversial.

He says the outlet he visited was packed with people registering their numbers.

Kenya has about 20 million mobile-phone users - about half the population - and has a well developed mobile-phone banking network.

Between 97-99% of mobile-phone users in Africa use pre-paid vouchers, reports the news agency Reuters.

It is easier to use pre-paid vouchers without registering an address.

However, some analysts say registering people in some African countries may be difficult if they do not live in a house with an official address.

Kenya registers mobile phones to cut crime

Europe - 13th July Workshop for research in "ICT for Governance and Policy Modelling"

[ec] This will address the following issues: - Current trends in research and applications in the field of "ICT for governance and policy modelling"; - Impact of research in this domain; - Opportunities for constituency and consortia building for future research; - Opportunities for international cooperation. The objective of the workshop is to discuss and identify potential opportunities for achieving a bigger momentum and wider impact for this new research on "ICT for governance & policy modelling" – in particular through a larger project activity including an increased industrial participation.

Constituency building Workshop for research in "ICT for Governance and Policy Modelling" under the future FP7 ICT Work Programme

Europe - EC launched a consultation on use of ICTs to help older European live independently

[ec] A consultation inviting citizens, businesses and researchers to share ideas on how best to use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to help older Europeans live more independently, and more generally to establish new ways to put ICTs at the service of the most vulnerable members of society, has been launched by a high-level panel established to advise the European Commission on the functioning of the Ambient Assisted Living joint programme (AAL JP). The panel is chaired by former European Commissioner Meglena Kuneva. The public consultation runs until 1 July 2010.

Digital Agenda: European high-level panel consults on ICT solutions to help elderly to live more independently - Last days to submit comments

USA - Analysis of the Rural projects for broadband - USD 1.068 billion awarded to 68 recipients in 31 States

[daily yonder] In phase one of the Rural Utilities Service's funding for improved Internet service, last-mile projects, co-ops and private companies came out on top.

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) last week released a detailed report of its Round 1 broadband stimulus awards -- all 68 of them. It’s a good read, particularly for the advice communities still planning broadband projects can glean from descriptions of proposals that RUS has funded so far.

Connecting Rural America summarized the allocations in Round 1 and some of the expected benefits. RUS awarded $1.068 billion to 68 recipients in 31 States and one U.S. Territory. This report also provides details on many of the projects that received awards.

Before diving into the report, it’s important to remember that this was a process unlike any previous broadband initiative. Though the stimulus program received a lot of criticism, much good came from it that will ripple out to other communities.

RUS contends that the projects it funded will bring broadband service to 529,249 households, 92,754 businesses, and 3,332 anchor institutions such as schools, libraries and hospitals across more than 172,000 square miles. These broadband programs should create approximately 5,000 immediate and direct jobs. The summaries of award winners list additional expected benefits.

The report confirms what everyone following individual award announcements suspected, which is the heavy emphasis on wired networks: 48 projects are fiber networks and 14 are DSL, while only 23 are wireless. Because the report doesn’t show the awards for hybrid wired-and-wireless networks, it’s hard to say how many grantees are deploying them. However, I got the sense from some applicants’ comments during Round 1 that there should have been more hybrids funded. I concur.

While fiber is generally accepted as the most future-proof broadband technology, I don’t believe it is the best solution for all communities for reasons such as cost, terrain, distance between residential customers and so forth. I feel RUS could have gotten a bigger bang for its bucks even for last-mile projects by funding more proposals that were heavy on wireless -- such as WiMAX -- while relying on fiber mainly for select institutions.

Whose Broadband Did RUS 'Stimulate'?

Thailand - Govt planning to convert concessions to licences, after many years of consideration

[totaltele] Government has been trying to give private operators full licences for some time to level playing field.

Thailand's Ministry of Finance plans to propose to the Cabinet within a month a plan to convert existing telecommunications concessions, granted by state agencies to private mobile phone operators, into telecom licenses to ensure fair competition in the industry.

The Thai government has been trying for several years to resolve unfair competition in the telecom industry caused by differences in the details of the concessions granted to private operators by telecom state enterprises TOT PCL and CAT Telecom PCL. However, differences between the government and private operators on the valuation of the concessions have formed a key obstacle in previous attempts to convert the concessions.

The ministry's State Enterprise Policy Office has been assigned to work on the details of the plan, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said late Monday.

Korn said he has discussed the matter with the Information and Communications Technology Minister Chuti Krairiksh, the industry regulator National Telecommunications Commission, TOT and CAT Telecom although he has yet to discuss it with private operators.

Thailand's key mobile phone operators include Advanced Info Service PCL, Total Access Communication Industry PCL, and True Move, a unit of telecom group True Corp. PCL.

The plan to convert the concessions will take place in tandem with the NTC's plan to hold an auction in September to issue three licenses for the 2.1 gigahertz spectrum, allowing mobile phone operators to offer 3G services that could be upgraded to 3.9G.

3G services allow users to transfer data and download content at substantially faster speeds than second-generation technology, while enabling more sophisticated applications such as video telephony, television on mobile phones and e-commerce transactions. Data transmission under 3.9G would be several times faster than conventional 3G.

Thailand to mull plan to convert telecom concessions in one month

USA - FCC defends decision to hold a closed meeting with operators on broadband plan

[broadband breakfast] In response to the outcry by the press and consumer protection groups Federal Communications Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus has posted a comment about the closed door meeting held by the FCC with major telecom firms.

In the brief post on the FCC blog Lazarus says that the commission has met with a number of different organizations after the Comcast decision and has done so within all rules and regulation setup by the organization.

“To the extent stakeholders discuss proposals with Commission staff regarding other approaches outside of the open proceedings at the Commission, the agency’s ex parte disclosure requirements are not applicable. To promote transparency and keep the public informed, we will post notices of these meetings here at blog.broadband.gov. As always, our door is open to all ideas and all stakeholders.”

The post also has a copy of a letter from Markham Erickson the Executive Director of the Open Internet Coalition that lists the participants and the purpose of the meeting. The letter lists representatives from Verizon, AT&T, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Google, and Skype. They met with Lazarus, Paul de Sa, Chief of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis and Zachary Katz, Deputy Chief of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.

FCC Chief of Staff Defends Closed Door Meeting with Telecom Lobbyists

Canada - increased competition from new competitors, will limit profit growth going forward

[it business] Both Canada's telecommunications and information technology services industries came out of the recession in decent shape, with strong consumer demand for new wireless handhelds and business desire to drive IT efficiency sustaining demand. However, the Conference Board of Canada reports weak price increases and rising costs, fueled by increased competition from new competitors, will limit profit growth going forward.

In its spring 2010 forecast for the industries, the Conference Board of Canada said that new data services and offerings and the increasing cultural change around handheld computing becoming more a part of our daily lives will help drive wireless growth, counter-balanced by increased completion from new entrants which will keep prices competitive. In the IT services industry, the long-delayed IT refresh cycle and the increasing demand for IT services and products from the health care industry will drive growth, while moderating corporate profitability may hamper business will for IT investment.

“New products, such as smartphones and digital TV, and the growing use of wireless services helped the telecom industry through the recession,” said Maxim Armstrong, an economist for the Conference Board of Canada. “As the economy rebounds growth in demand for industry services will accelerate. However, competition will limit price increases for both telecoms and computer services firms. New entrants into the Canadian wireless market are also forcing telephone service providers to control escalating costs and make investments in new technologies.”

In the telecom space, the forecast indicates telecom profits surpassed $7 billion in 2009, just above 2008 levels. Anticipating a five per cent increase in costs this year tanks to rising interest rates and stronger wage increases, the report forecasts a dip in profits to $6.7 billion in 2010, with a return to the 2009 level by 2013.

“The arrival of the new entrants is therefore forcing existing providers to lower their prices and diversify the kind of services they offer,” says the report. “In fact, existing wireless carriers had already begun to adjust their product offerings and packages before the new entrants arrived. As consumers change their preferences and the way they use cellphones, companies have to adjust the types of services they offer in order to meet the changing demands.”

The report also sees the computer systems design industry (including software and website development and management and computer-related support services) facing cost increases this year which will not be compensated for by revenue increases, resulting in a third consecutive yearly decline, to $1.3 billion.

“There are actually many examples of innovations that have been developed for health-care providers and used in other countries that have yet to be fully implemented in Canada-such as telemedicine, electronic medical records, and a multitude of applications compatible with smart phones and other similar devices. For several reasons (including security, privacy, reliability, or regulatory issues), Canadian health-care providers are taking longer to integrate these tools into their everyday practice,” says the report. “Nonetheless, this creates a whole new line of business-one with huge potential for computer systems designers.”

Competition will limit Canadian growth in telecom, IT services

USA - Continuing debate over mandating national data roaming within the USA, opposed by major carriers

[information week] Opinions are divided among the nation's largest wireless carriers and public interest groups on whether the Federal Communications Commission can and should mandate automatic mobile data roaming. Expressing opposition to the proposed rule were Verizon Wireless and AT&T, while Sprint, along with public interest groups, rural carrier associations, and smaller carriers are in favor of it.

The rule is aimed at protecting mobile and smartphone users from being hit with high roaming charges when they use out-of-network wireless data services for Web surfing and e-mail. The FCC first put out a notice proposing the rule in April. Initial comments on the proposal were due Monday.

Since 2007, carriers with technically compatible networks are required to sign agreements allowing their users to connect to competitors' networks while roaming for a "reasonable" cost. In a nod to the growing use of wireless broadband, the new proposal would extend that requirement to include wireless data service.

Verizon argued that the rules aren't necessary since several carriers already voluntarily have entered into agreements. "The commission has repeatedly found that heightened regulatory obligations could discourage investment and innovation," Verizon said in its comments. "Because the facts do not show that there is a market failure or that consumers are being harmed in any way, the commission should continue its hands-off approach to mobile data services and should not adopt a data roaming requirement."
AdTech Ad

Verizon also stated that the FCC has no legal authority to compel mobile data roaming since under the Communications Act, it is not classified as a common-carrier service. FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, who supported the rulemaking proposal in April, urged commenters to send in their opinion on whether the FCC can move forward with the rules in the wake of a recent federal appeals court ruling that questioned the FCC's authority to regulate broadband.

In a blog post published in April, AT&T maintained that the proposed rule would discourage companies that already own wireless spectrum from developing their resources. Instead, smaller companies would take advantage of "home roaming" at the expense of building out their own networks, according to AT&T.

But T-Mobile USA argued that the FCC should extend its efforts on mobile voice roaming to mobile data. "Increased consolidation in the wireless industry has limited the number of potential roaming partners, making a data roaming rule critical to ensure that T-Mobile and other carriers can be competitive with their larger rivals," Tom Sugrue, T-Mobile USA's VP for government affairs, said in a statement. "A data roaming rule would also benefit rural customers and promote facilities-based investment in rural areas."

Sprint Nextel expressed similar support for the proposal.

The proposal also received the backing of the Rural Cellular Association, which represents regional carriers with fewer than 10 million subscribers. The public interest group Free Press also supports the proposal.

"The proposed data roaming rules will help smaller wireless companies offer affordable nationwide mobile broadband services, increasing competition and ultimately lowering prices for all wireless consumers," M. Chris Riley, Free Press' policy counsel, said in a statement. "Data roaming is an essential component of reform for the mobile broadband market."

FCC Data Roaming Proposal Divides Opinions

South Africa - With the end of caps, traffic volume is growing, mostly due to mobile broadband

[mybroadband] Affordable uncapped services only recently entered the local market, but traffic volumes are already burgeoning

South African broadband subscriber numbers continue to grow, mainly because of the strong uptake of mobile broadband services from Vodacom and MTN.

This growth means the overall data traffic on broadband providers’ networks is also growing rapidly. Both mobile operators have recently reported hundreds of terabytes (TB) of data traffic on their network, with ADSL networks carrying far more data than that.

MTN South Africa CTO Sameer Dave recently said that their network currently carries around 220 TB of data traffic on its network, and this figure is expected to grow to between 250 TB and 260 TB during the World Cup.

Vodacom’s data traffic is more than double that of MTN. According to Vodacom CTO Andries Delport Vodacom South Africa is currently carrying between 500 TB and 600 TB of data traffic on its network, with strong future growth predicted.

It is common knowledge that many international mobile operators’ networks are buckling under the growth of data usage on their networks, but both Dave and Delport are confident that their networks are robust enough to cope with growing demand.

Traffic on ADSL networks however far exceeds that of the mobile operators despite having far fewer subscribers on their networks.

While recent statistics are not publicly available, Internet Solutions’ Broadband General Manager Royden Dall revealed in late 2009 that they had exceeded 1 Petabyte (1 000 Terabytes) of monthly DSL traffic on their network.

The traffic on the country’s ADSL networks is also expected to increase significantly on the back of a slew of affordable uncapped ADSL services entering the market over the last few months.

South Africa’s Petabytes of broadband traffic

South Africa - Cabinet approved the national broadband policy to achieve greater accessibility and affordability

[mybroadband] Cabinet has approved a broadband policy for South Africa to ensure wider, cheaper internet access, government spokesman Themba Maseko said on Tuesday

Maseko told a post-Cabinet briefing the policy's main aims were "greater accessibility and affordability" and implementation would proceed at local, provincial and national levels of government.

South Africa's low broadband penetration has been seen as a stumbling block to economic and societal development.

The department of communications released its draft broadband policy in September last year.

Broadband policy approved by Cabinet

Broadband - Study of pricing plans that recover a greater share of costs from the heaviest users

[prnewswire] A new study released today by the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy looks at how broadband pricing plans that recover a greater share of costs from the heaviest users, including high-bandwidth consuming content providers, would help the United States achieve universal broadband adoption sooner and accelerate the end of a digital divide across income, racial and ethnic lines. The study found that such a digital divide should end before the end of this decade, if Internet Service Providers (ISPs) apply flexible pricing strategies.

The paper, by economists Robert J. Shapiro, Former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, and Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy, and Kevin A. Hassett, Director of Economic Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, notes that the exploding demand for bandwidth, primarily from video applications, will require that the ISPs invest several hundred billion dollars to expand the broadband infrastructure. The study also finds that the pricing approaches used to fund those investments could largely determine the pace of broadband adoption over the next decade. The study utilizes findings from the FCC's National Broadband Plan to update an earlier analysis released last fall.

"Pricing models that recover costs equally, on a per-household basis to all subscribers, will substantially slow adoption," Shapiro and Hassett find. "However, a more flexible pricing model that recovers a greater share of these additional costs from high-bandwidth consumers or content providers would keep most subscribers' fee low and facilitate broadband adoption by all groups of Americans. Under this model, effective universal adoption should be achieved by all racial and ethnic groups by 2018 or 2019."

Shapiro and Hassett say pricing models are critical, because price is the largest factor determining whether a household subscribes to broadband. They observe that given the additional investments required to accommodate fast-rising demand for bandwidth and to avoid Internet congestion, the prevailing flat-fee pricing plans which charge the same fee for both modest and very heavy use of bandwidth will slow how fast lower-income Americans subscribe to broadband services. The paper finds that under the flat-fee pricing approach, fewer than 85 percent of Americans will have home broadband service by the end of this decade – well short of the 100 percent goal set by President Obama. For African Americans and Hispanics, who account for a disproportionate share of lower-income households, adoption rates would be 82 and 83 percent, respectively, if the cost of additional investment is borne equally by all consumers.

"Small price increases for current broadband users, especially middle-income and high-income subscribers, are unlikely to drive them back to dial-up. However, higher prices may have a much larger impact on the Internet subscription choices of households currently without service or using dial-up. Moreover, the evidence suggests that lower-income households are particularly sensitive to higher broadband prices," the study says.

The paper assumes that high bandwidth users, whose bandwidth consumption is fueling the growth of infrastructure investment needs, are relatively insensitive to price increases. It also observes that if that assumption does not hold, the largest share of the additional infrastructure investment could be funded through higher fees from the heaviest bandwidth-consuming content providers.

According to Shapiro and Hassett, "The same narrowing differences in broadband adoption would occur if the 80 percent share of the additional investment is passed along in higher charges to bandwidth-intensive content or applications providers, rather than their consumers. Some such approach would be the most efficient way to ensure that very high-bandwidth users do not drive up the costs of basic broadband service for everyone else."

The authors argue that as a matter of national social policy, average users should not be required to subsidize high-bandwidth consumers and content providers, as they have to date.

"Government policy should protect the ability of ISPs to employ flexible pricing strategies and ensure that government does not, even inadvertently, effectively compel pricing practices that would perpetuate differences in broadband adoption by income, race or ethnicity," added Shapiro and Hassett.

Study Says Regulators Should Preserve Pricing Flexibility for Broadband Service to Help Close Digital Divide
see also full text of the report

UK - fall in mobile broadband subscriptions due to failure to live up to users' expectations

[it pro portal] A recent study conducted by price comparison website Broadband Expert has indicated at fall in mobile broadband subscriptions in the UK.

Broadband Expert suggests that the reason for the drop is that the do not live up to users' expectations.

The study reported a 57 per cent drop in the number of people subscribing to broadband services via Broadband Expert.

Sales of mobile broadband services, which were estimated at around 3,000 in May 2009, fell to just 1,300 in May 2010.

Broadband Expert also cited data released by search intelligence agency Hitwise, which showed a fall in 50 per cent in mobile broadband-related internet searches in the UK.

Rob Webber, Broadband Expert’s commercial director, said: “Sadly the technology has not lived up to the hype; we receive a huge amount of feedback from customers complaining of inconsistent or non-existent connections and speeds comparable to dial-up or worse.”

Webber said that the industry should receive a boost once the superfast LTE (Long Term Evolution) network is introduced.

He stated: "We're already seeing companies rolling out LTE networks in the US and Europe, but the UK is still 12-18 months away from this."

Mobile Broadband Fails To Live Up To Hype

UK - Govt will hold a conference on the broadband Universal Service Commitment

[techwatch] Following the budget, the government has invited internet businesses to Whitehall for a one day conference next month.

They will debate on what must be done to get the entire country connected to the internet under the Universal Service Commitment (USC), which should mean a minimum 2 Mbps broadband service for all homes throughout the UK.

The invitation comes from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) unit, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The man in charge is Ed Vaizey, who already faces an uphill struggle as all government departments are being asked to significantly cut their budgets.

Providing a fixed, rural broadband service has always been a problem, although there are some alternatives such as mobile broadband or satellite broadband, which can offer the desired service at a price!

Government to hold broadband conference

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

South Africa - Telkom, having sold its stake in Vodacom, will launch a mobile operator later this year with national roaming on MTN

[iafrica] Telecommunications group Telkom said on Monday that it remains on track to launch its mobile service in 2010.

Speaking at a teleconference as part of the company's annual results announcement on Monday, Reuben September, Telkom Group CEO confirmed that the launch remained on track for 2010, although the he did not specify a date.

"Telkom is at an inflection point with growth in traditional fixed-line voice revenues declining. The majority of global fixed-line incumbents have discovered that a successful operation requires an integrated mobile business. We believe that there is a market opportunity in South Africa as mobile voice and especially mobile data are still experiencing growth," the group said.

Defensive strategy

It said that a product range spanning both mobile and fixed value pools would enable the group to defend itself more effectively against competitors and to grow revenues.

Telkom said it planned to use mobile technology to offer fixed-line services in areas where it was experiencing operational challenges such as copper theft, breakages, slow copper roll-out to new greenfield areas, etc.

Telkom recently signed a national roaming agreement with MTN covering services such as Voice, 2G and 3G data, SMS, MMS and USSD on a national basis. "In addition, Telkom will also offer a full international roaming service at launch through another established and experienced international service provider.

"To take these services to market, Telkom is required to negotiate mobile interconnect agreements with other mobile and fixed operators. These negotiations are at an advanced stage," it said.

Base station rollout

Telkom said it had ordered 2000 base stations, which are in the process of being constructed in the first year.

"We plan to have 40 percent of our own population coverage at launch which will be grown as required over five years. Full national coverage will be provided through the roaming agreement with MTN".

It pointed to a capital expenditure of R6-billion over five years, as a requirement to implement mobility.

"We are negotiating innovative financing structures with our suppliers in order to potentially reduce our capital investment in favour of operating lease-type payments which include technology renewal.

"We are also continuing to negotiate arrangements with distributors and retailers," Telkom said.

Growth in subscribers

The telecommunications group pointed to 16299 W-CDMA subscribers at the end of March 2010, an increase of 210.3 percent from 5253 subscribers reported at March 2009, who were provided with mobile data services and fixed look-alike products in those areas hard hit by copper theft.

Telkom will initially offer prepaid, postpaid, hybrid voice, and hybrid data services provided by a unified 2G voice and data and 3G voice and data network.

Telkom set to go mobile

New Zealand - Regulator to review the bitstream access obligation on Telecom NZ

[comcom] The Commerce Commission today commenced a review to determine whether Telecom New Zealand Ltd faces limited competition in the provision of the unbundled bitstream access (UBA) service. The supply of the UBA service became subject to a competition test from December 2009. The UBA service allows telecommunications operators to supply a range of broadband services and gives them the ability to differentiate their retail products from Telecom’s retail broadband services.
Currently Telecom is required to supply the regulated UBA service to other telecommunications operators throughout New Zealand. Where the Commission finds that Telecom faces limited competition in an area, then the regulated UBA service will remain available in that area. In other areas where Telecom is not found to face limited competition, then it is likely that Telecom would no longer be required to provide the regulated service.

The Commission is today seeking information from providers and purchasers of wholesale broadband services, including Telecom. The Commission will consider the information received before releasing a draft review report. The Commission is expecting to release this report by mid September 2010.

Commerce Commission commences competition review of UBA service

Solomon Is. - Govt and World Bank agree funding for an independent regulator

[solomon times] The government and the World Bank today signed a support agreement towards the recently established Independent Telecommunications Commission in Honiara.

Established under the Telecommunications Act last year, the Commission is to promote and regulate competition in the sector as new telecommunication companies enter the market.

Finance Minister Francis Billy Hilly signed the grant agreement with the World Bank, worth nearly $50 million Solomon dollars with about $22 million dollars of the total funding being provided by Australia.

The grant is expected to finance the Telecommunications Commission over the next five years.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Mr Hilly says the signing marks a major achievement of the C-NURA government.

He says the government had seen that people were missing out under the previous monopolistic telecommunications structure.

Meanwhile, the telecommunications commissioner, Nicholas Williams says this is a substantial support that is sufficient for the commission's purpose.

Mr Williams says that the main emphasis will be on liberalizing the Telecommunications market to allow fair competition in the country's Telecommunications sector.

World Bank Funds Independent Telecommunications Commission

Mobile - study finds living near a mast does not cause childhood cancer

[pa] Living close to a mobile phone mast does not increase the chance of a pregnant woman's baby developing cancer before he or she reaches the age of five, a study from Imperial College London has found.

Researchers looked at almost 7,000 children and found those who developed cancer aged four or younger were no more likely to have a birth address close to a mast than their peers.

The study included 1,397 British children aged up to four who were registered with leukaemia or a tumour in the brain or central nervous system between 1999 and 2001.

The proximity of their birth address to a mast was compared to that of four healthy children of the same gender who were born on the same day, chosen randomly to act as controls.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London and the study's lead author, said: "People are worried that living near a mobile phone mast might affect their children's health.

"We looked at this question with respect to risk of cancers in young children. We found no pattern to suggest that the children of mums living near a base station during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cancer than those who lived elsewhere."

The study, published on the website of the BMJ medical journal, is the largest of its kind and was funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme.

Researchers only considered the address the mother was living at when the baby was born as information on any previous or subsequent addresses was not available.

The information came from national registers and researchers did not have individual contact with families.

Prof Elliott is principal investigator for the UK arm of the cohort study on mobile communications (COSMOS), which launched in April 2010 and will run for 20 to 30 years, following the health of around 250,000 participants in five European countries.

Mobile phone masts no cancer risk for babies - study

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

UK - Govt has abandoned a broadband tax, but will use money left over from Digital Switchover

[bbc] Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed that the 50p a month landline tax ear-marked for next-generation broadband will be scrapped.

Instead the government will leave the majority of super-fast broadband roll-out to private investment.

Some money will be available for rural roll-outs, he said.

The Conservatives opposed the introduction of the broadband tax and it was dropped from the Finance Bill at the end of the last parliament.

Speaking about the decision to scrap the tax, he said: "I am happy to be able to abolish this new duty before it is even introduced. Instead, we will support private broadband investment, including to rural areas, in part with funding from the Digital Switchover under-spend within the TV Licence Fee."

Government drops broadband tax

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mobile - Apps revenues to exceed USD 30 Billion by 2015, Apple alone sold 4Bn by April 2010

[marketwire] A new report published today by Juniper Research forecasts that, the combined revenues from apps funded by pay-per-download (PPD), value-added services (VAS, including freemium and subscription) and advertising is expected to rise from just under $10 billion in 2009 to $32 billion in 2015.

But while Apple's App Store has achieved app downloads on an unprecedented scale -- 4 billion by April 2010 -- the report cautions brands and developers against ignoring users of other platforms/handsets. According to Juniper, such a move could be counterproductive, particularly in developing markets, where the user base of iPhones (and indeed smartphones per se) is extremely low.

"If the mobile industry wishes to introduce a model based on applications, then it must ensure that those applications are accessible by a wide range of handsets ranging from smartphones to mass market devices," said report author, Dr Windsor Holden.

Furthermore, uplift in download volumes does not necessarily equate to an uplift in industry revenues. The majority of application downloads from the App Store are free; other storefronts launched in the wake of the App Store also report that comparatively small proportions of apps (typically 5-15%) are paid for. Thus, building a business model aimed at both maximizing consumer adoption of applications and at maximizing content revenues can be extremely problematic.

Mobile Apps Revenues to Exceed $30 Billion by 2015, Juniper's Latest Mobile Apps Research Finds

4G - Strong trend to LTE, forecasting download speeds 25 to 50 Mbps

[marketwire] Market research firm Infonetics Research recently published 4G Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, for which senior analysts asked operators about their 4G network build-out plans, deployment strategies, challenges, technical and commercial drivers, and the 4G services, applications, and devices they plan to offer.

"Better spectral efficiency tops the list of technical drivers for service providers upgrading to 4G," notes Richard Webb, directing analyst for WiMAX, microwave, and mobile devices at Infonetics.

"We asked service providers around the world when they anticipate their 4G networks will be complete with commercial services running. Two-thirds said 2012 to 2014, which is a realistic timeframe when an equipment and device ecosystem based upon an IMT-Advanced definition of 4G seems likely," adds Stéphane Téral, Infonetics Research's principal analyst for mobile and FMC infrastructure.


* 82% of service provider respondents plan to follow the W-CDMA to LTE deployment scenario, and of those, 53% plan to deploy HSPA+ before LTE
* Half of the service providers believe 4G downlink speed will be between 25Mbps and 50Mbps at service launch, while 42% believe downlink speeds will be in excess of 50Mbps, suggesting that operators are getting more ambitious
* 82% of service providers say they plan to launch mobile VPN services, showing the growing importance of the mobile enterprise business
* Service providers appear to have sorted out their voice migration strategy (which was unclear in a similar Infonetics survey conducted last year), with IMS identified as the key architecture
* Over half of the service providers surveyed plan to offer voice services over 4G one year after commercial launch

Infonetics Research: 4G survey shows majority of operators will deploy HSPA+ before LTE
see also Infonetics

Digicel - Subscribers up 15% to 10.8 million across 32 markets

[marketwire] Digicel, the best value mobile operator in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific, continued to exceed expectations today by announcing yet another strong set of financial results for the year ended 31 March 2010.

With subscribers up 15% to 10.8 million across all 32 markets -- driven in particular by major growth in the Central American and Pacific markets -- Digicel closed out the year with revenues of US$2.2 billion. This represents a 12% gain year on year and a compound annual growth rate of 24% from 2007 to 2010 when all Digicel markets are included.

In terms of Digicel Group Limited (which comprises 24 markets across the Caribbean and El Salvador), revenues were US$1.75 billion -- up 1% year on year and 5% in constant currency terms -- with EBITDA margin increasing to 43%, up from 39% the previous year.

In those 24 markets, Digicel achieved a significant 31% growth in data revenues year on year while the postpaid subscriber base grew by a considerable 18% year on year. Digicel also continued to lead the way across the region in the provision of BlackBerry services with BlackBerry user numbers going up by 138%.

Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves, comments; "It's been another great year for Digicel. Our promise and commitment to our customers to deliver best value, best service and best network is continuing to translate into sustained growth and strong performance resulting in us once again over delivering against all of our internal targets."

He continues; "I would like to thank our customers for their ongoing loyalty to Digicel and to assure them that our focus continues to be on ensuring that they benefit from being with the Bigger, Better Network. In addition, I would like to thank our fantastic staff for their continued great work, commitment and enthusiasm -- they are the bedrock of our success."

Key achievements in the year include:

* Digicel Group announced the acquisition of its sister company, Digicel Pacific Ltd in a deal worth US$825m. Digicel Pacific operates in six markets and had 1.7 million subscribers at the year end.
* Digicel raised a total of US$1.8 billion via the international bond markets - the proceeds of which were used to acquire Digicel Pacific Ltd, refinance existing debt and for general corporate purposes
* Acquisition of Orange Dominica Ltd - as a result, Digicel is delivering its best value services to a much larger customer base in Dominica
* Launch of first mobile service ever in Nauru - Digicel's sixth market in the Pacific and 32nd worldwide
* Continued growth in Jamaica against the backdrop of increased competition with Digicel growing its subscriber base by 3% and underlying revenues by 2% year on year

In addition, as the largest mobile provider and largest private investor in Haiti, Digicel's priority in the aftermath of the January 12th earthquake was to ensure customers could stay connected and to do whatever it could to help. In total, Digicel has donated over US$20 million to support the relief efforts in Haiti -- as well as undertaking a number of humanitarian initiatives including food, temporary housing and aid distribution programmes to help Haiti to rebuild. Digicel Chairman, Denis O'Brien, was named Goodwill Ambassador to the City of Port-au-Prince by the Mayor of the city in recognition of his efforts.

In the coming year, Digicel customers can look forward to the impending launch of consumer WiMAX services across Jamaica and 3G+ launches in the French West Indies and Bermuda.

Digicel Group Announces Strong Financial Results for the Year Ended 31 March 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Internet - 22% of online time spent in Messaging, commenting, blogging, sharing and “liking”

[ny times] Messaging, commenting, blogging, sharing and “liking” now fill up 22 percent of all time spent online each month, according to Nielsen, a market research firm.

Nielsen published statistics on Tuesday saying that people spend one in every four and a half minutes of their online time on a social network or blog. In the aggregate, Web users spend a total of 110 billion minutes on social Web sites and blogs each month.

The study says that this is the first time social networks or blogs are “visited by three-quarters of global consumers who go online.” This number has also increased 24 percent since the same time last year. In addition, Web users spent almost six hours during the month of April on social sites, versus 3 hours, 30 minutes during April of last year.

The most popular social brands online are Facebook and YouTube. In Brazil, the list includes Orkut, a social networking site owned by Google.

Last week, comScore reported that Web users were watching 13 billion videos on YouTube a month. Facebook also said that its users were watching 2 billion videos each month.

According to the Nielsen report, Facebook managed to steal the show in terms of global time spent online. Its nearly half a billion users spend six hours a month there. Facebook also proved to be the most popular social site in Italy. Two-thirds of Italian Web users visit the site each month.

Brazil seems to be the most socially connected country, with 86 percent of its Web users visiting a social network for an average of five hours a month. And Australians spend the most time on social sites, racking up an average of 7 hours 20 minutes in April.

Google led the way as far as online reach. According to Nielsen, 82 percent of the world’s Internet users visit the site each month and spend an average of 1 minute 20 seconds navigating and searching.

Other sites that made it into the top 10 most visited on the Web include Microsoft MSN and Bing, Yahoo, AOL, eBay and Apple.

22 Percent of Internet Time Is Social, Nielsen Says

New York - Financial transaction carried over low-latency, high-bandwidth network

[marketwire] RCN Metro Optical Networks, a division of RCN Corporation and a premier provider of fiber optic-based network solutions, announced today continued momentum and growth in the financial services industry. The Company's strength in this segment is evidenced by double-digit revenue growth over the last 18 months.

"According to a recent study by Atlantic-ACM, New York retail metro transport spend is predominantly driven by the financial services industry, which require both connectivity between office facilities, data centers and financial exchanges," says Dr. Judy Reed-Smith of Atlantic-ACM. "RCN Metro is one of the leading providers of high speed connectivity for Financial services with 18.4% market share in New York Metro area in 2009."

With more than a decade of experience serving the financial services industry, RCN Metro has a deep understanding of the requirements, applications and issues that this segment faces. It has been able to develop services and solutions tailored to meet those needs as evidenced by the nearly 250 financial institutions they serve, and it is connected to 17 of the world's leading financial exchanges spanning its network footprint, including New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Toronto.

"Today, nearly every trade conducted on the NY-based financial exchanges touches our network; a network that has become synonymous with reliability, scalability, and low-latency," said Felipe Alvarez, President, RCN Metro. "The financial services industry has always been one area of great strength for us. We've experienced dramatic growth in this market over the past year and plan to build on this momentum in the year ahead with the lighting of our Xtreme Network and further expansion into financial exchanges and colocation facilities."

RCN Metro's newly lit "Xtreme Network" is a one of a kind, high capacity, high availability network ring featuring a state-of-the-art ROADM/DWDM-based core infrastructure, offering a capacity of 88 40 Gig channels with growth to 100 Gig channels via 17 spans. Each span on the Xtreme Network has the capability of transporting 88 100 Gig channels. This network connects to the key exchanges and data centers relevant to financial services firms.

Unlike other commercial networks, the Xtreme Network has the ability to keep traffic within New Jersey or extend out into New York, based on a customer's specific requirements for exchange connectivity. Since plans for this network ring were announced, over 30 customers have purchased connectivity to the Xtreme Network as well as space in RCN Metro's state-of-the-art, high-density colocation facility at 165 Halsey St., Newark, NJ.

Other service providers claim to offer networks built for the financial services industry, but RCN Metro is the only provider to offer guaranteed, ultra low-latency and unmatched connectivity to all of the major financial exchanges and colocation centers in this region.

Demand for Low-Latency, High-Bandwidth Connectivity Fuels RCN Metro's Dominance in Serving Financial Services Industry

UK - Tesco Mobile is number one network for customer satsifactionthe

[marketwire] Tesco Mobile has beaten the traditional mobile networks to the coveted spot of number one Pay as you go mobile network for customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 UK Mobile Telephone Customer Satisfaction Study.

The authoritative industry study measures customer satisfaction with Pay as you go and contract plans among the leading UK mobile network providers.

Tesco Mobile scored particularly high scores for call quality and coverage, cost, handsets and customer service.

The study highlighted that usefulness of incentives and rewards offered is the most important aspect of offerings and promotions and is a key opportunity for networks such as Tesco Mobile to differentiate themselves and elevate mobile customer satisfaction.

The J.D. Power and Associates study backs up other industry polls that also show Tesco Mobile leading the market. CFI Group has ranked Tesco Mobile as number one for overall customer satisfaction for the previous 14 consecutive quarters and the Which? Magazine awarded Tesco Mobile Pay as you go a Best buy award in May 2010.

Lance Batchelor, Chief Executive Officer for Tesco Mobile and Tesco Telecoms said, "Tesco Mobile is all about great value and exemplary customer service, so it's great news to have such a powerful endorsement to show we're getting it right for customers."

The J.D. Power and Associates 2010 UK Mobile Telephone Customer Satisfaction StudySM is based on responses from 3,300 Pay as you go and contract mobile phone customers throughout the UK. The study was fielded in March and April 2010.

Tesco Mobile Number One Network for Customer Satsifaction

Enterprise Mobility Management has emerged as the essential tool top performing organizations use to take control of the full mobility lifecycle

[marketwire] Zenprise, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise mobile management and device management software, today announced findings from a research report conducted by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company, titled "Enterprise Mobility Management: Optimizing the Full Mobile Lifecycle." More than 200 companies worldwide were surveyed for the report, which found top performing organizations ("Best-in-Class") are deploying Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions to lower total cost of ownership (TCO), enforce compliance to company policy and governance issues and secure the mobile edge of the network.

"Enterprise Mobility Management has emerged as the essential tool top performing organizations use to take control of the full mobility lifecycle of their mobile ecosystem," said Andrew Borg, senior research analyst for wireless and mobility, Aberdeen.

Aberdeen distinguished the respondents as Best-in-Class, Industry Average and Laggard organizations. Analysts used three performance criteria to determine their status: TCO per mobile employee, percentage of employees provided with secure mobile access to enterprise network and data, and percentage of lost or stolen devices not successfully recovered

Findings included:

* EMM impacts the bottom line -- By leveraging EMM, TCO per mobile employee in a Best-in-Class company averaged $189, 23 percent lower than the Industry Average and significantly lower than Laggards who spend $588 per employee.
* Top performers are mobile -- Best-in-Class organizations mobilize 84 percent of their employees -- an increase of 22 percent over the last 12 months. By comparison, Industry Average organizations mobilized just 46 percent and Laggards only 33 percent of their workforce.
* EMM reduces number of lost/stolen devices -- Top performing companies saw a seven percent reduction in unrecovered lost or stolen devices, 2.7 times the Industry Average and 26 times the Laggards.
* Diversity and complexity of mobile platforms is exploding -- The number of viable mobile platforms in the workplace has more than doubled from three or four platforms a year ago to eight or nine as more employees are bringing personal devices into the workplace. The majority (74 percent) of Best-in-Class companies support more than one mobile platform and device type.
* You can't manage what you can't see -- 70 percent of Best-in-Class organizations developed a detailed inventory of all devices accessing the corporate network, and 40 percent of those extended that inventory to include employee-liable devices.
* Remote control management capabilities contribute to competitive advantage -- Of Best-in-Class companies, 70 percent centrally manage mobile devices over the air, and 65 percent can update mobile software over the air. More than half (58 percent) are able to remotely lock and wipe data from a lost or stolen mobile devices.

The Aberdeen survey also found that Best-in-Class organizations leveraged EMM capabilities to ensure that end user devices are properly authenticated before accessing company network and data. Almost three quarters of the Best-in-Class track the level of network and data access provided to each employee, which helps them to enforce security policies. Further, these companies are more likely to implement processes to control which software is installed on end-user devices to minimize security risks and ensure network performance is protected from malware and other threats.

"The recent trend of re-consolidation of mobility under IT management indicates the evolving maturity of enterprise mobility as core infrastructure, essential to remaining competitive in today's global economy," Borg continued.

"Mobile devices have become an extension of an employee's personal and business identity and as a result the enterprise mobility landscape is becoming increasingly complicated given the proliferation of platforms, operating systems, applications and media to manage and secure," said Ahmed Datoo, Vice President of Marketing, Zenprise. "This report validates how leading companies are taking control of enterprise mobility by adopting technologies that provide the same level of control and visibility over their mobile assets as they do over traditional IT resources such as desktops and laptops."

Survey Finds Enterprise Mobility Management Lowers Cost, Improves Security and Supports More Devices
see also Aberdeen report

Mobile - Advertising to grow 37% annually to 2015

[marketwire] Coda Research Consultancy forecasts that mobile internet users via handsets in the US will rise to 158m in 2015, and smartphone owners will rise to 194m in the same year. In view of this, prospects for revenues from mobile advertising are considerable, and we predict they will increase by a compound annual growth rate of +37% across the forecast period to 2015.

Mobile Advertising Forecasted to Grow 37% Annually to 2015

Mobile - Purchases of real and digital goods to rise to USD 200 billion by 2012

[marketwire] A new study by Juniper Research forecasts that the value of digital and physical goods that people buy with their mobiles will reach $200bn globally by 2012, compared to just less than $100bn this year. Digital goods include entertainment and tickets, whilst physical goods include groceries, gifts and books.

The new study on Mobile Payments for Digital and Physical Goods found that the availability of secure, easy-to-use, payment applications and the growing realisation of users that they can make ecommerce purchases by mobile will drive the market.

Report author Howard Wilcox gave more details: "Our research showed that the purchase experience has been enhanced by improved mobile commerce transaction processes due to faster mobile networks, more powerful devices and much more user friendly Smartphone apps. Amazon Payments for example has recently introduced payment-processing tools for mobile devices, enabling Smartphone users to buy with one click."

However, the Juniper report also underlined that retailers and merchants need to communicate the cost of transactions clearly so that people are not discouraged from buying by mobile.

Further key findings from the mobile payments report include:

* The frequency of physical goods purchased will be higher than average in developed regions such as North America and Western Europe;
* Brands, retailers and merchants have a significant opportunity to increase their revenues through highly targeted marketing campaigns, using apps and mobile web payments as a convenience play for users.

The report adopts an innovative new quadrant approach to compare the positioning of mobile payments vendors. The forecasts provide detailed five year regional data for mobile payments for digital & physical goods, showing key parameters including subscriber take-up, transaction sizes and volumes. The study also reveals the strategies that are being used to enable users to pay by mobile through case studies from companies such as 1-800Flowers.com and Zong.

Mobile Payment Transactions to Double in Value to $200bn by 2012, According to Juniper Research

North Africa and Near East - Italtel launches IP/NGN services for corporates customers

[marketwire] Italtel, a leading company in the development and integration of products and services for Next Generation IP/NGN Networks, will be unveiling a new suite of managed services based on Cisco and Italtel solutions specifically designed for enterprises during the Cisco Expo 2010 Libya, which is taking place in Tripoli on 22 and 23 June, 2010.

The initiative builds on Italtel's recent successes in the Italian market and throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and will allow Italtel, a gold sponsor of Cisco Expo 2010 Libya, to play a key role as a Cisco Gold Certified Partner delivering managed service solutions for Service Providers.

Highlights / Key Facts:

* Cisco provides managed service solutions as a way for its partners, like Italtel, to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. It helps companies envision, build, and market a new generation of value-added managed services delivered over an extensible, efficient Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure. The innovative managed services that Cisco offers can help partners capture new revenue streams and expand into different managed services markets.
* Italtel is already deploying the 'Cisco Managed Office in a Box' solution, which includes connectivity, conferencing and collaboration tools, security, and a virtual private network (VPN), to key service providers in EMEA. The solution will allow companies of all sizes throughout the North African region to access highly secure site-to-site Internet-based communications; collaborate more effectively to offer better services to their customers; share ideas and intelligence and save costs.
* Cisco's managed services offering will provide Italtel's customers with:
o A complete end-to-end solution built and tailored to meet their individual business needs and get the benefit of better service support.
o Solutions that are easy to purchase, manage and upgrade.
o A solution that takes away the hassle allowing customers to concentrate on running their day-to-day businesses.
o Increased productivity to help manage costs and ultimately increase the profitability of their businesses.
* The breadth of the Cisco managed services technology portfolio helps to deliver a unique market opportunity to Italtel. It builds upon the Cisco and Italtel IP Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) and infrastructure to provide communications solutions that span media types, such as voice, video, email, collaboration, and contact centers.

Executive Quotes:

Mr. Antonio Cassese, executive vice president Sales Operation International Markets, Italtel: "Within Italtel's internationalization program in the emerging markets, the North Africa region represents a key target market due to its outstanding economic growth, the high level of investments and the presence of international companies. We strongly believe that these market conditions will present service providers with a good opportunity to sustain such economic growth by offering new advanced unified communication services. Thanks to the IP-MPLS backbone projects recently awarded in the region, Italtel believes that now is the right time to promote the second wave of telecommunications innovation by introducing new services and solutions designed to address the challenges and opportunities that the enterprise market will soon bring to the whole region."

Yvon Le Roux, vice president, Cisco, Africa Levant: "The demand for managed services in the global information technology (IT) market is growing as companies strive to streamline their IT costs. The breadth of the Cisco managed services technology offering will help to deliver a unique market opportunity for Italtel. Cisco's managed & hosted collaboration services suite enables service providers to offer their customers breakthrough productivity, operational cost savings, and better customer service. In synergy with our key partners, we are keen to promote the next generation network that will enable providers to capture new revenue streams, expand into new markets, and differentiate themselves."

Italtel to Launch Managed Services for the North African Enterprise Market at Cisco Expo 2010 Libya