Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wi-Fi - NTT has a deal for Wi-Fi roaming with China Telecom through Aicent

[mobility wire] NTT Communications (NTT Com) announced today a Wi-Fi roaming relationship with China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom) via Aicent, Inc. (www.aicent.net) to enable NTT Com customers travelling in China to use China Telecom’s wireless local area network (WLAN) access points for data roaming, beginning November 22.

Subscribers of NTT Com’s HOTSPOT™ WLAN service in Japan, including Course 1-3, Biz Remote Access Internet Type, OPEN Plan or OPEN Plan Light, will have access to more than 100,000 access points in 31 provinces, government-ruled municipalities and autonomous regions.

Subscribers will be able to use the roaming service without application and there will be no startup fee. Access will cost 25 yen (tax free) per minute.

China Telecom is a major state-owned telecom operator in China providing fixed-line and mobile services, Internet connection and applications services. As of the end of 2009, China Telecom had 194 million fixed-line subscribers, 62.36 million mobile (CDMA) subscribers and 61.75 million broadband subscribers.

NTT Com to Offer WLAN Roaming in China via China Telecom

Broadband - Satellite firm has raised USD 1.2 Bn for a global network

[wsj] Satellite communications company O3b Networks said Monday it has raised $1.2 billion from a group of investors and banks, its final funding round before the launch of its global satellite broadband network.

O3b, which is backed by Google Inc. (GOOG), plans to launch its fiber-quality Internet service serving emerging markets in the first half of 2013, after securing $770 million of debt financing and $410 million of equity investment.

The firm's name refers to the "other 3 billion" people in the world currently without access to broadband Internet.

"We are looking to connect the unconnected, now we can start to do that," Chief Executive Mark Rigolle told Dow Jones Newswires.

The company already has around 10 customers for its service, who have signed deals worth $500 million to $600 million to use its infrastructure, Rigolle said.

O3b is selling capacity on its network on a wholesale basis to Internet service providers and telecom companies. Rigolle said he expects the strongest long-term demand to come from mobile phone companies in emerging markets, which lack the fiber-optic infrastructure to offer their subscribers high-speed Internet access. O3b's network will be able to offer "backhaul" connections in place of a fiber network.

"Fiber is not an option in the Amazon, or in Indonesia with thousands of islands," Rigolle said.

Shareholders include Google, satellite operator SES SA (008808732.LU), HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.LN), and Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA). Following the fundraising SES is the largest shareholder.

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales SA (HO.FR) and Finmeccanica SpA (FNC.MI), is currently building O3b's first eight Ka-band satellites.

O3b is fully-funded for the launch of these, and will generate enough cash to expand its fleet once the service begins, Rigolle said.

O3b Secures Funding For Broadband Satellite Network

Broadband - 29% of citizens had access speeds of 10Mbps

[rethink-wireless] Although Europe is seeing stronger broadband growth than the US, it is still far from reaching its high speed access targets, and needs to take more decisive action on spectrum to help address the issue. The European Union has seen average connection speeds double in the year to July 2010, but still has a steep hill to climb to hit the targets set out in its Digital Agenda.

New research by the European Commission, the EU's executive body, found that 29% of citizens had access speeds of 10Mbps or as of July 2010, up from 15% in July 2009, but said the region faces a "long road" to reach its objective of basic broadband (5Mbps) for all by 2013, and high speed access by 2020. The definition of 'high speed' is to be increased to 30Mbps, but only 5% of lines currently exceed that speed. The EU has also set a target of at least half of European households subscribing to speeds above 100Mbps by 2020.

Neelie Kroes, commissioner for the Digital Agenda, called for an urgent EC radio spectrum proposal to accelerate roll-out of mobile broadband, especially where there is little wireline infrastructure. "Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe's prosperity," Kroes said. "Take-up and available speeds are improving, but we need to do more."

Broadband subscriptions grew from 23.9 per 100 citizens to 25.6 by July 2010, while mobile broadband connections grew 45% year-on-year. Total connections are 128m, over half the EU's 220m homes. The Netherlands and Denmark have the highest number of household connections, with 80% penetration, while seven other member states have higher take-up than the US level of 26.4 per 100 individuals (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and the UK).

EU falling short of broadband targets, says report

Australia - CEO says NBN will have capital costs of 10 to 11 per cent

[the australian] NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley is staring down claims that the high speed internet project will involve a "destruction of capital".

The business case for the government-owned NBN Co, released last week, shows the weighted average capital costs for the project are likely to exceed its internal rate of return.

NBN Co's capital costs are expected to average 10 per cent to 11 per cent over 30 years.

Although NBN Co has not released its forecast returns, it has indicated they are likely to be above the long-term bond rate of about 5.4 per cent.

Mr Quigley acknowledged it was a "fair statement" to assume the rate of return would be lower than the capital costs.

But in an interview on ABC TV yesterday, Mr Quigley defended the situation, saying he would not characterise it as a destruction of capital.

"I would say that the project will . . . have a return above the government bond rate and in addition is going to generate a bunch of external benefits," Mr Quigley said.

Until about 2013, the capital costs are expected to be about 25 per cent before falling as the project becomes more mature and the risks involved decline.

NBN Co issued the summary last week to secure the support of independent senator Nick Xenophon for legislation to split Telstra.

Although the summary showed the project would require $35.7 billion in capital expenditure to 2020 and a further $13.8bn in payments to Telstra for decommissioning its copper network and making its infrastructure available for the rollout, Mr Quigley said the two figures should not be added together.

"It's not a reasonable thing to do," he said.

"They are two different buckets."

Mr Quigley maintained the payments to Telstra were an operating expenditure.

He said the operating costs were predicted to be higher because of the deal with Telstra, but argued this was offset by the higher revenues on NBN Co associated with the proposed deal.

He is maintaining his position despite the Coalition's communications and broadband spokesman Malcolm Turnbull saying the costs of the project had taken a "significant hike" to total $49.5bn.

The Alliance for Affordable Broadband, members of which include the chief executives of AAPT, Pipe Networks and BigAir, argues the total cost could reach $55.2bn when interest costs are added in.

Mr Quigley said yesterday that the deal with Telstra had significantly boosted the returns from the project, but he refused to reveal further detail.

"I know, but I can't reveal that number," he said. "What I can tell you is that it's substantially better, otherwise we wouldn't have done the deal."

He said the deal was "absolutely positive" because it would lift NBN Co's returns, while benefiting Telstra.

Telstra, NBN Co and the government announced a non-binding heads of agreement in late June. The agreements are expected to be finalised by the end of the year, meaning the deal could go to an extraordinary general meeting of Telstra shareholders around the middle of next year.

Quigley defends cost of National Broadband Network

France - Minister calls for 70% of the territory should be covered in very high speed broadband

[rapid tv news] Speaking at the third digital forum Les Assises du Numérique in Paris, Minister Eric Besson, responsible for Industry, Energy and Digital Economy, has set a 10 year challenge for very high-speed broadband: namely, by that time, 70% of French territory must be covered.

As part of the Great Loan, or so-called Grand Emprunt, €4 billion will be use to stimulate digital economy, the Minister said, and €2 billion will go to broadband and fibre infrastructures.

In his speech, Eric Besson also indicated that, as part of the extension of broadband networks, he will launch on early 2011 the call for bids for the use of the new frequencies made available by digital dividend.

Regarding the existing mobile phone operators, they will have to make room for MVNO, when 4G mobile licences are granted. The tenth MVNO now represent 6% of the market and frequencies will be shared into four lots, to prevent any single company dominating the market.

French Minister of Culture Frédéric Miterrand also spoke at the event, speaking in favour of the control of the broadcasting and access to knowledge productions, of pluralism and creator copyrights. He also mentioned the necessity to reform EC VAT on online cultural goods such as VOD services.

"EC rules forbid to get a lower VAT for cultural industries online services, while book edition, press and pay TV’s VAT is lowered into the physical market. Such a situation is paradoxical. We need to debate about this question… so as to [make] cultural industries more competitive into digital era,” he said.

Very high-speed broadband to cover 70% of French territory by 2020

UK - Analyst calls for Virgin Media to acquire or partner with Three

[isp review] Ovum, a technology and telecoms analyst firm, has suggested that cable operator Virgin Media could support its plans for a national UK Wi-Fi Hotspot service (public wireless broadband internet access points) by acquiring or partnering with Three (3) .

Ovum claims that 3's data-centric network, which delivers one of the most comprehensive 3G mobile phone and Mobile Broadband services, would benefit Virgin's Wi-Fi ambitions (original news) and boost Three (3) with some extra scale.

Ovum's Principal Analyst, Steven Hartley, told V3:

"BT uses infrastructure already in place to provide Wi-Fi services, but its offering doesn't generate much revenue. Virgin, meanwhile, will have to create a [wireless] infrastructure and then try to differentiate itself. By partnering with Three, the opportunity to cross sell is present as Virgin has a reputation as a content provider and a lot of multimedia that it wants to push out."

However in practice this would be a lot more complicated to achieve, not least because Virgin Media already has a successful mobile platform (Virgin Mobile) that is based off a T-Mobile (Everything Everywhere) partnership (3 is an independent partner in a related network sharing deal with EE).

Similarly Three (3) concentrates on Mobile Broadband, while Virgin specifically wants to leverage its faster cable network to produce a directly competing Wi-Fi solution. It's also worth remembering that Three (3) doesn't have a Wi-Fi Hotspot service of its own. We feel that such an acquisition would in fact be highly unlikely and indeed unnecessary.

Ovum Predicts Virgin Media UK Acquisition of 3 Mobile to Support WiFi Hotspots

Australia - A Parliamentary Committee is to scrutinise the NBN plan

[the australian] The Committee being created to scrutinise the taxpayer-funded National Broadband Network will be stacked with Labor MPs and not operate until July.

This has sparked fresh criticism about inadequate scrutiny of the country's biggest infrastructure project.

The committee - promised by Julia Gillard to secure the support of independent senator Nick Xenophon for crucial legislation to end Telstra's market dominance and pave the way for the NBN - will have 16 members, of whom nine will be Labor-nominated. It will be chaired by independent Rob Oakeshott.

It has also emerged that the committee, which can draw on advice from the Productivity Commission, will not start operating until July. This is despite the NBN Co's plans to have started a number of trials in Tasmania and on the mainland by then.

As parliament continued to thrash out the Telstra legislation and debate over the costings of the NBN intensified, Victoria's Labor government vowed that if returned to power in tomorrow's election, it would automatically connect households and businesses in the state to the NBN unless they refused. The state government said it would rapidly implement an "opt-out" model for the network, as this would save money in the future. Tasmania's government has already adopted this approach to shore up the project.

"If someone is running broadband, going to the cost of running broadband down the street, you want to have it connected to homes whether people are using it or not," Victorian Treasurer John Lenders said.

The state would "seek national harmony" with the Gillard government to achieve the plan. The move puts pressure on other states to follow suit.

Meanwhile, debate is raging about the summary of the NBN business case released on Wednesday to secure the support of independent senators for the Telstra legislation.

A coalition of telco companies that includes AAPT claimed the project costs would top $50 billion.

In an open letter to NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley, the Alliance for Affordable Broadband said when interest costs and $13.8bn in payments to Telstra were added to the $35.7bn of upfront capital spending required to roll out the high-speed project, the cost could reach $55.2bn.

The business plan was based on creating a new monopoly, reducing competition and stranding assets, the group said.

Stockbroking analysts said the business plan lacked detail on important information including pricing and rollout schedules.

But the Prime Minister maintained that the total expenditure of the NBN as stated in the business case was $35.7bn, down from earlier estimates of $43bn.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy hit out at the alliance, claiming it represented "almost no customers".

The NBN has dominated parliament this week, with Ms Gillard seizing on a Coalition bid in question time to table photographs of "ugly" NBN cables to label the Liberal Party "Luddites" who were opposed to progress.

This comes amid reports yesterday that in Tasmania the broadband speed being delivered under NBN is slower than promised, with one resident of Midway Point writing to the Hobart Mercury to say he was getting only between 10Mbps and 28Mbps on his 50Mbps plan.

Although senator Nick Xenophon and Family First's Steve Fielding have pledged to support the Telstra bill, ensuring its passage, parliamentarians could be forced to sit for an extra day today so the government can push it through the Senate before the summer break.

The government says its legislation to break Telstra into wholesale and retail arms, which was still being debated in the Senate last night, must be voted on by 3pm today at the latest.

Senator Xenophon implemented yesterday a series of amendments to the Telstra bill to increase the transparency and oversight of the telco's separation and those amendments will be voted on before the legislation is put to a vote.

He defended the composition of the new oversight committee, which mirrors the make-up of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit.

Senator Xenophon said MPs would be able to participate in the committee and "that was made very clear to me, they can't backtrack on that . . . it will allow for robust debate".

But South Australian Liberal senator Mary Jo Fisher countered that only the 16 elected committee members would be permitted a vote, it would be allowed to set its own terms of reference and politicians would be permitted to give evidence.

"It will be a parade ground for government MPs peddling government propaganda," she said.

The government yesterday also introduced long-awaited legislation setting out the regulatory framework for the NBN known as the National Broadband Network Companies Bill and Access Arrangements bills.

The bills had been amended since earlier drafts and deals cut with crossbench senators and MPs, and now mandates the Productivity Commission to inquire into the impact of privatisation after the rollout is complete.

The government said the bills would ensure wholesale services were delivered on an open and non-discriminatory basis.

But University of NSW consumer law expert Frank Zumbo said he already had "concerns around the issue of price discrimination".

Senator Xenophon said although he had not scrutinised these bills, he would be concerned if there were any potential for price discrimination and said Associate Professor Zumbo's views should be heeded.

These bills are expected to be properly debated next year, despite warnings by Senator Conroy's department that they should be considered time-critical and passed by the end of this month.

The delay in the bills threatens the NBN Co's ability to disclose detail about pricing for the superfast network. The NBN Co wants to put a special access undertaking that relates to its pricing to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, but not until the bills are passed.

Labor MPs stack NBN group

Broadband - Commissioner Kroes likens broadband to digital oxygen

[silicon republic] The European Commission (EC) vice-president for the Digital Agenda has described broadband as "digital oxygen" and essential for Europe’s prosperity following the publication of statistics on broadband connections in Europe today.

The research found that in July 2010, 29pc of EU broadband lines had speeds of at least 10 megabites (MBps) which was up from 15pc the previous year – something which the EC believes is of the utmost importance.

“Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe’s prosperity and well-being. Takeup and available speeds are improving, but we need to do more to reach our very fast broadband targets.

“In particular, we need urgent agreement on our proposal to ensure radio spectrum is available for mobile broadband, for which demand is growing very fast,” said EC vice-president for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.
Greater need for broadband

There is a greater need for better broadband services more than ever, with entertainment and business becoming further dependent on the service operating at optimal capacity, which is reflected by the continuing increase in broadband takeup across the EU.

There was an average of 25.6 subscriptions for every 100 citizens (23.9 one year earlier) and an annual growth in mobile broadband of 45pc, with six mobile broadband dedicated access devices (USB keys or dongles) per 100 citizens, especially in Finland, Austria and Denmark.

Nine EU countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK) have levels of broadband takeup above the US levels of 26.4 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, according to OECD May 2010 statistics.

Greece and the Czech Republic made the best progress in the last year (measured by per capita growth).

Digital Agenda

The EU target – as outlined in the Digital Agenda for Europe - of giving every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and ultra-fast broadband by 2020, is still some distance away, however, as the number of broadband lines grew only 8pc throughout the EU - slower than the 11pc growth of a year before.

The Digital Agenda 2020 targets are at least 30 Mbps available for all, and half of European households subscribing to speeds above 100 Mbps.

Broadband is 'digital oxygen' for Europe's prosperity
see also EC press release

UK - A broadband pilot for Fetlar in the Shetland Islands with EU funding

[top10] Plans to operate a super-fast broadband pilot on the Scottish island of Fetlar have been boosted by the provision of EU funding.

The European LEADER fund has granted first stage approval for £50,000 to the project, half the total required to run a new 25Mb broadband trial, reports the Shetland News.

Shetland Telecom wishes to improve access to broadband services on Fetlar in order to prevent further depopulation – just 70 people inhabit the island at present.

Marvin Smith, Telecoms Project Manager at Shetland Islands Council (SIC), commented: "Getting next-generation broadband into Fetlar will be technically challenging, so we see it as an ideal place to test the technology.

"The experience gained can be used to evaluate the potential for similar services in other areas."

Back in September, it was announced that European Regional Development Fund had provided a £367,000 grant to SIC in order to hook the Shetland Islands up to a fibre-optic broadband cable running between Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

Scottish Island secures funding for superfast broadband pilot

USA - USD 3.6 million govt funds for a broadband for Native Indian communities

[indian country today] Hopi Tribal Chairman LeRoy N. Shingoitewa commended the board of directors and employees of Hopi Telecommunications Inc. and USDA Rural Development for a $3.6 million loan-grant for a broadband project that will serve Hopi and Navajo communities during a Community Appreciation Event held Nov. 17 in Polacca, Ariz.

The event featured a catered meal, activities, entertainment and an award presentation by Alan Stephens of USDA Rural Development. Stephens, along with representatives from Hopi Telecommunications Inc. and Shari Farrington, a representative from Congressman Trent Frank’s Office, R-Ariz., presented a plaque and made the announcement of the $3.6 million loan-grant combination.

According to HTI, the loan-grant combination, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be used to design, engineer and construct a fiber-optic connection between the Hopi Reservation and the world. HTI will plan to build 61 miles of fiber-optics between the communities of Jeddito and Holbrook, Ariz. This system will help connect 22 community facilities on the Hopi Reservation to the world with faster broadband speeds.

HTI reports several entities will directly benefit from this fiber connection including the Hopi Cultural Center, the Hopi Health Care Center, Hopi Police and courts, area schools and tribal offices. HTI also plans to construct facilities and install equipment to provide broadband services to subscribers that are currently not being served around the communities of Jeddito and Spider Mound. Approximately 400 residences in the Jeddito and Spider Mound communities do not have access to telephone or broadband services.

Shingoitewa is thankful to everyone involved in bringing this project to fruition.

“I appreciate the work of Hopi Telecommunications Inc., specifically for their efforts to help improve telecommunications on the Hopi Reservation and in parts of the Navajo Nation. I am very happy to know we are taking necessary steps to transitioning into the 21st century with the use of technology. We have become part of a modern world, and updated telecommunications is critical for the services we provide on the reservation.”

Frank sent a letter that was read by his representative congratulating Hopi for receipt of the loan-grant and for their work to help bring needed infrastructure enabling Hopi to be linked to the outside world.

Carroll Onsae, president and general manager of HTI, said he works to ensure that people are not left behind and said there is a need to keep up with demands with how health care is delivered, with the delivery of education and with other critical services involving technology.

According to HTI, the three-year project is slated to begin in early 2011. Currently, HTI is working on right-of-ways and preliminary engineering.

$3.6 million broadband project will benefit Hopi, Navajo communities

USA - Digital divide is confirmed and strong in terms of income levels

[la times] A decade after broadband Internet became widely available, a stark digital divide still separates American citizens by income, according to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Nearly 90% of U.S. households making more than $75,000 annually have broadband connections, the study found. For households making between $30,000 and $50,000, the number is closer to 65%. And of those homes making $30,000 or less, only 40% have high-speed Internet.

The federal poverty level for 2009 was $22,050 for a four-person household.

The gap in broadband adoption aligns with a number of other differences in the ways income brackets use technology, Pew noted.

Among them is that 74% of the highest earners get news from online sources, while only 34% of the lowest earners do. Higher earners are substantially more likely to own and use cellphones, with 20 percentage points separating the highest and lowest brackets. The survey even found that 12% of more affluent Americans own electronic reading devices, compared with 3% of the lowest bracket.

The general home broadband adoption rate, as of 2010, was about 66%, according to another study by Pew. That's up from 33% in 2005, and just 3% in 2000.

Broadband access in U.S. still mainly for the well-off, Pew finds

Australia - Half the electorate want a business case for AUD 43 billion NBN

[reuters] Almost half of all Australians voters want to see a business case in support of a planned $43 billion fast broadband network, a poll showed on Tuesday, as mounting political tensions over the project test the minority government's ability to control parliament.

The super-fast broadband was a key election promise for Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Labor, which relies of the support of Green and independent lawmakers to rule. The upper house this week began debating competition laws underpinning its construction.

But a Newspoll in the Australian newspaper showed 42 percent of respondents wanted a cost-benefit analysis of the fibre network wiring up most homes in the country, while 23 percent wanted construction to go ahead on a project the government says will supercharge national output.

"It will drive economic growth and productivity, and ensure Australia is at the forefront of the digital revolution. The Gillard government is committed to making sure all Australians, no matter where they live or work, can have access," Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters.

The major conservative opposition is hoping crossbench lawmakers vote down competition legislation clearing the market landscape for the state-run network, which will be the country's largest ever infrastructure project.

"What the government is doing here is turning back the whole history of reform by establishing a great big new government monopoly and then using the power of the Parliament to legislate in a way that will prevent other parties with fixed-line networks from competing," said opposition communications and broadband spokesman Malcolm Turnbull.

But the influential Greens party struck a deal with the government on Monday to support laws splitting the country's biggest phone company, Telstra Corp , into wholesale and retail arms in return for a guarantee that the broadband network would not be privatised in future without a vote in parliament.

The laws to be voted on within days are crucial to construction of the broadband as they help prevent Telstra from taking on government network operator NBN Co., which will offer wholesale high-speed network access to retailers.

With only three sitting days left this year for parliament to pass the laws, the government is in urgent talks with key independent Senator Nick Xenophon to support the package and separate legislation allowing NBN Co. to act as a monopoly.

"At the moment, it's still pretty much a Mexican standoff," Xenophon said in Melbourne.

The government has hired external corporate advisers to test the still confidential business case for the broadband. A parliamentary committee is also examining the network's benefits, but will not report back until next August.

Half of Australians want cost analysis of broadband network- poll

Thailand - Telcos have signed an MoU with the Ministry to support a national broadband policy

[wirelessfederation] Thailand’s six major telecom operators have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support the country’s national broadband policy which aims to extend broadband coverage and accessibility nationwide.

Information and Communication Technology Minister Chuti Krairiksh has confirmed the report.

The six firms include two state-owned operators–TOT PCL and CAT Telecom PCL–and four private companies comprising Advanced Info Services PCL, Total Access Communication PCL, Digital Phone Ltd., and True Move, a mobile phone unit of True Corp. PCL.

As per the agreement, the companies will seek ways to promote infrastructure and network sharing as well as fair network management and network usage fees.

According to the national broadband policy approved by the Cabinet earlier this month, the government intends to boost broadband coverage to 80% of the population by 2015 and to 95% by 2020. It also aims to provide broadband Internet access at a speed of no less than 100 megabits per second in economically important provinces by 2020.

Thai telecom companies sign deal to support national broadband plan

Australia - An investment bank is developing a report on the NBN

[the australian] Yet another investment bank is working on a report to the Gillard government on the National Broadband Network.

Lazard is due to deliver within weeks a review of the proposed $11 billion NBN Co deal with Telstra.

Lazard is expected to report to a committee that includes bureaucrats from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, the Department of Broadband and Finance.

The review, commissioned three months ago, is examining the non-binding heads of agreement between the government, Telstra and the NBN Co.

The agreement was struck in June to break a damaging impasse between Telstra and the government over the NBN.

Under the deal, Telstra will allow access to its pits and pipes for the NBN rollout and gradually shut down its copper network.

Instead of competing with the NBN Co, Telstra will become its biggest customer under the plan.

The deal is still being negotiated and it is expected that critical documents on the deal could be released by Christmas, and would go to Telstra shareholders for a vote in mid-2011.

This comes as Finance commissioned corporate advisers Greenhill Caliburn to review the robustness of the NBN Co's business case.

Yesterday, a former economics adviser to Bob Hawke suggested that hiring outfits such as Greenhill Caliburn would do little to silence calls for a cost-benefit analysis of the NBN.

The government has stared down demands from the Coalition and prominent business leaders to submit the project to a full cost-benefit analysis.

Port Jackson Partners director Rod Sims said a cost-benefit analysis would look at the project from the point of view of the community's needs, and this was at the "opposite end of the spectrum" to the work being done by corporate advisers who would "necessarily" conduct a commercial assessment.

Mr Sims said there was a risk that in trying to improve the commerciality of the NBN, competition was thwarted.

Meanwhile, concerns within the business community are growing about the project.

A new survey of 3000 people released yesterday found that 60 per cent of people disagreed the $43bn spend on broadband was worthwhile when the funds could instead be spent on health, education and transport.

However, 28 per cent approved of the spending, the survey by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and Business Spectator found.

In responses to the survey, almost 60 per cent of people said that existing technologies gave them sufficient broadband speeds and almost two-thirds did not want to pay a significant premium for faster speeds.

The government has promoted the NBN as providing speeds of at least 100 megabits per second to the areas covered by the project.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia research director Michael Porter said the significance of the survey was that it showed many people were not swayed by the case for mandating the $43bn NBN and he thought a big concern was the impact on competition.

One more investment bank review of NBN deal

Spam - Call for greater involvement of ISPs in the suppression of spam

[ispreview] The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released new research into the role that broadband Internet Service Providers (ISP) around the world can play in helping to mitigate the impact of Botnet's (i.e. Trojan / Malware infected computers), which SPAMMERS abuse to spew out approximately 83.4% of all junk email (Symantec’s MessageLabs 2009 data).

Over the period 2005-2009, between 60% to 74% of all infected computers (i.e. SPAM sending IP addresses worldwide) were located within networks of around 200 ISPs in the wider OECD area. However just 50 ISPs account for half of all infected machines and the vast majority of these are legitimate providers.

Thankfully many ISPs claim that their organisations already have practices in place to tackle spam/botnets, where they contact and in some cases quarantine customers whose machines are infected with malware. Virgin Media UK has done this before, as have a few others. However the OECD warned that this practice is not as widely adopted as it could be, doesn't catch enough infected computers and no data is available to show its true effectiveness.

OECD Study Nudges World Broadband ISPs to Crackdown on Botnets and SPAM

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lebanon - Warnings that foreign infiltration of telecoms network exposes social, political and economic security

[naharnet] A telecommunications expert warned on Saturday that the whole of Lebanon has become completely exposed to Israel through its infiltration of the telecommunications sector.

He told As Safir Saturday that Lebanon's social, political, and economic security is under threat.

He noted that Israel's infiltration of telephone lines of Hizbullah members may not just be limited to the three fighters, as had been reported, but the infiltration may include hundreds or thousands of numbers.

"The more we expand our search and investigations, given the advanced technology in the telecommunications sector, the more dangerous discoveries we will find," he said.

Telecommunications Expert: Social, Political, Economic Security is Threatened, Country is Completely Exposed

Lebanon - Inflitration of telecoms network should be referred to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

[naharnet] Mustaqbal movement circles close to Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Saturday the importance of the discovery of Israel's infiltration of Lebanon's telecommunications sector.

They said: "This matter should be immediately referred to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon."

They told As Safir Saturday that attention must be given to the details published in the media as they would only help in confusing and influencing the public, "which therefore entails handing the infiltration over to the STL."

Mustaqbal Prefers that Israeli Infiltration of Telecommunications be Referred to STL to Avoid Influencing Public

Thursday, November 25, 2010

China - 3G customer numbers now exceed 38 million (October 2010) majority of whom are WCDMA

[digitimes] There were a total of 38.64 million subscribers of 3G mobile communication services in the China market as of the end of October 2010, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on November 24.

The 3G user base increased by 25.38 million subscribers or 191.4% on year, MIIT indicated. The user base consisted of 16.98 million (43.94%) TD-SCDMA subscribers for China Mobile, 11.66 million (30.18%) WCDMA subscribers for China United Telecommunications, and 10 million (25.88%) CDMA 2000 subscribers for China Telecom, MIIT pointed out.

China market: 3G users top 38 million at end of October, says MIIT

China - Mobile subscriber numbers have risen to 842 million at the end of October 2010

[digitimes] There were 842.04 million subscribers of mobile communication services in China as of the end of October 2010, growing by 1.05% on month and by 15.42% on year, according to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The number of subscribers accounted for 62.5% of the country's population (user density).

At the end of October, there were 300.08 million subscribers of fixed telecommunication networks in China, translating into a user density of 22.6%. In the same month, mobile phone subscribers in China sent 67.38 billion short messages, averaging 2.59 short messages per phone number a day.

China market: Mobile phone users top 842 million in October

Africa - Operators selling excess electricity in rural areas to supplement revenues

[idg] The falling pace of rural electrification projects and the desire of mobile network operators to raise average revenue per user have pushed the GSM Association to partner with Lighting Africa to sell excess power to communities.

The falling pace of rural electrification projects and the desire of mobile network operators to raise average revenue per user have pushed the GSM Association to partner with Lighting Africa to sell excess power to communities.

Lack of electricity has forced mobile operators and tower-sharing companies to generate alternative power from diesel generators, solar and wind, and so they usually have up to 5 kilowatts of excess power. The Community Power from Mobile (CPM) initiative pulls resources from the GSMA Development Fund and Lighting Africa, a joint World Bank, IFC program.

"While the rest of the world is enjoying increased electrification levels, Africa's non-electrified population is growing steadily, projected to reach 700 million by 2030. The situation is particularly acute among the rural poor, who account for 88 percent of those without electricity," said Arthur Itotia Njagi, Lighting Africa's program manager. "Partnering with the mobile-phone operators promises to develop new business models and delivery models for modern off-grid lighting and related energy services."

Operators such as MTN and Safaricom have been permitting base stations to charge devices such as mobile handsets, lanterns and household batteries, mainly to curb theft. The new initiative is the first time excess power will be used for businesses, clinics, vaccination refrigerators, schools and homes.

"The mobile industry is experiencing unprecedented infrastructure growth in off-grid regions in the developing world, where nearly 1.6 billion people live without access to the electricity grid, and we estimate that 485 million of those have access to mobile-phone services," said Chris Locke, managing director, GSMA Development Fund. "As base stations are typically the only powered infrastructure within walking distance of the community, the Community Power from Mobile initiative can simultaneously improve the business case for off-grid telecoms and have significant societal impact."

According to a 2009 report by GSMA titled "Community Power -- Using Mobile to Extend the Grid," operators will deploy 640,000 off-grid base stations by 2012 across the developing world in close proximity to off-grid populations. By mid-2012, the partners expect CPM will have developed commercially viable business models and assisted 10 mobile network operators to expand their rollouts across the developing world.

"Availability of off-grid handset charging has been demonstrated to raise average revenue per user by 10 to 14 percent, equivalent to an additional revenue opportunity of $2.3 billion if the 485 million off-grid subscribers had access to handset charging," added Locke.

The project is expected to lower cases of theft and increase security, but the idea of increasing ARPU is also likely to attract more operators.

GSMA, Lighting Africa to sell excess power in rural areas

Spectrum - GSM Assn argues for harmonisation of policies in Asia Pacific, claiming large potential benefits

[gsma] The GSMA today unveiled new independent research that highlights the positive impact harmonised spectrum allocation for mobile could have on the Asia Pacific region. The report*, released by the GSMA and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), states that if governments allocate the 700 MHz band for Mobile Broadband deployment, it would bring much greater economic and social benefits to Asia Pacific than if allocated for services such as broadcasting. These benefits include a $729 billion increase in GDP for Asia Pacific countries by 2020, more than two million newly-created jobs across the region, and a $131 billion increase in tax revenues.

"Asia Pacific is a leading mobile market capable of driving large economies of scale and now has the opportunity to play a pivotal role in setting the standards for spectrum harmonisation," said Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA. "By allocating the 700 MHz band to mobile, Asia Pacific countries could enjoy significant socio-economic benefits and provide millions of people with low-cost mobile services essential for their needs, such as Internet connectivity, especially in rural areas, and much needed access to education, financial and health services. Non-harmonisation of the 700 MHz band will significantly reduce these benefits for the entire region, so it's imperative that governments and regulators take a coordinated approach to spectrum allocation."

"The unprecedented amount of spectrum freed up in the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial television, known as the 'digital dividend', is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Vaishali Rastogi, Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group. "The evidence from our research in Asia Pacific overwhelmingly suggests that the socio-economic benefits of allocating the 700 MHZ band to mobile will far outweigh alternatives such as broadcasting."

Harmonisation of the 700 MHz band will ensure that Asia Pacific countries use the same frequency to deploy Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the next-generation Mobile Broadband technology. Deploying LTE in this band will drive large economies of scale and reduce capital and equipment costs for providers, accelerating the roll out of networks and lowering costs for consumers. It will also provide significant social benefits, particularly in rural areas not served by fixed broadband, such as improved access to education, the availability of new financial and health services, the wider use of e-government tools and improved interactions between governments, businesses and consumers. LTE in the 700 MHz band will also improve indoor availability of Mobile Broadband in urban areas.

The report states, however, there are two conditions that are essential for fulfilling the unique opportunity Mobile Broadband could provide the Asia Pacific region. These are:

* All Asia Pacific countries should allocate the 700 MHz band to Mobile Broadband deployment and services.
* All Asia Pacific countries should implement the same technical specifications (the Asia Pacific Telecommunity's (ATP) 2 x 45 MHz band plan for the 700 MHz band) to achieve harmonisation and ensure that every country and its consumers benefit from economies of scale and lower equipment and handset costs.

Spectrum Harmonisation for Mobile Crucial for Socio-Economic Development across Asia Pacific, says GSMA

UK - Senior judge warns Internet access will be the death of the jury system

[bbc] The jury system may not survive if it is undermined by social networking sites, England's top judge has said.

In a lecture published on Friday the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, raised major concerns about the use of the internet by jurors.

He said: "If the jury system is to survive as the system for a fair trial... the misuse of the internet by jurors must stop."

Lord Judge said some jurors had used the internet to research a rape case.

Earlier this year a judge in Manchester had to dismiss a jury and restart a trial, The Sun reported, after a juror went onto her Facebook page, gave details of a trial and asked friends: "Did he do it?"

Lord Judge, who is the most senior judge in England and Wales, said it was too easy for campaigners to bombard Twitter with messages in a bid to put pressure on jurors who might be looking at it.

Top judge says internet 'could kill jury system'

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

UK - National Auditor's report on OFCOM found its needs to link intended outcomes with activities

Ofcom: The effectiveness of converged regulation

Ofcom has saved some £23 million over the last five years. However, with its complex remit across the telecommunications sector, Ofcom needs a better articulation of the intended outcomes of its activities and how its work achieves those outcomes.

USA - Not having a broadband connection costs households USD 7,000

[pc world] A lot of people in Washington, D.C., talk about the cost of the digital divide, but the Internet Innovation Alliance has assigned an actual number to the value of a broadband subscription: about US$7,700 a year.

The average U.S. household can save more than $7,700 each year by bargain hunting online with a broadband connection, broadband advocacy group the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) said in a study released this week.

"Broadband is a great investment for penny-pinchers," said Bruce Mehlman, cochairman of the IIA.

The average U.S. family can save more than $2,700 a year in entertainment and more than $1,500 in travel through broadband, according to the study. A household can also save nearly $1,000 a year in housing when looking for rental listings online and more than $950 in groceries by shopping online, according to the study, authored by Nicholas Delgado, a financial planner and principal of Chicago-based financial advisory firm Dignitas.

All this for the cost of a $490-a-year broadband connection. And that's not even factoring in more intangible benefits of broadband, including information on jobs, better communication with friends and family, easier access to health-care information, and applications to help households save energy, Mehlman said.

"We're certainly at a time in the global and national economy when there's a lot of focus on saving time and saving money," Mehlman added. "Ways to use information technology to save money seems like a very timely topic to us."

Delgado looked at the average costs of items offline and compared them to the costs of the same items offered on websites or discounts offered by sites such as Couponmom.com. To determine an annual cost savings of more than $2,700 for entertainment, he looked at sites such as Groupon.com, Livingsocial.com and Bargainseatsonline.com to find savings for activities including concert tickets, sporting events and restaurant dining.

Beyond the large-ticket items, broadband can save Web users about $95 a year on gasoline, $76 on nonprescription drugs and $193 on newspaper subscriptions, with most newspapers offering free news online. The numbers are based on an average U.S. household income of $63,000.

This week, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report saying that 36 percent of U.S. residents don't subscribe to broadband at home. Only 4 percent of the nonsubscribers said they didn't buy broadband because it wasn't available to them.

IIA commissioned the study because the people there had an intuitive sense that "bargain shoppers willing to put in the time" could save significant money online, Mehlman said. "This information offers you a compelling reason that going online can save you money," he added.USa

Study Puts Cost on Broadband Divide: $7,700
see also Report from Internet Innovation

UK - Digital Champion calls for an overhaul of e-government to improve access and use

[bbc] The government's "digital champion" has called for a revolution in the way it deals with the public online.

Martha Lane Fox, who reviewed the Directgov website, said it must become easier to access government services and make payments over the internet.

Shifting half of its contacts with the public online could save the government more than £2bn a year, she said.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said it was "ridiculous" that many benefits were not available online.

Martha Lane Fox urging online government 'revolution'

Monday, November 22, 2010

France Telecom - Following network sharing deal in UK, it plans similar deals elsewhere

[telegeography] France Telecom (FT) board member Olaf Swantee is quoted as saying the telecoms behemoth will look to secure more mobile network sharing deals in 2011. The Paris-based group concluded a major deal with Deutsche Telekom last September to merge their respective UK networks in a plan designed to shave EUR4 billion (USD5.5 billion) off their network maintenance and admin costs. ‘In 2011, I expect us to start new network share programmes outside ... the UK,’ Swantee said yesterday in London.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that in October this year Everything Everywhere (EE), the joint venture between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, announced that it had opened access to their respective networks to customers of either operator. The previous month EE revealed it would allow Orange and T-Mobile customers to roam without additional charges on each other’s networks. The company also announced at the time that it will undertake an advertising campaign costing around USD6.38 million to inform customers of both Orange and T-Mobile that the roaming option is available to them.

FT to replicate UK mobile network sharing deals next year

Australia - Govt will have a Parliamentary Ctte examine costs and benefits of the NBN

[abc] The Federal Government says a parliamentary committee will examine the economic and social benefits of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Government has been under pressure to subject the NBN to more scrutiny.

Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese announced late last night that he had referred the $43 billion project to a Lower House committee.

"What this committee will look at is how the NBN will make a contribution to regional economic growth and employment to the delivery of government services and programs to achieving health and educational outcomes to business efficiencies and revenues," he said.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says the inquiry should be held by a Senate committee and not one dominated by Government MPs.

"They really are just a creature of Government and I'm not sure what the value is of a committee like that with Government-dominated numbers marching around the landscape demanding people tell it how great the NBN is going to be," he said.

"A committee like that will only have value if there are some critical voices on there and all the hard questions get asked."

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon says the inquiry would not convince him to support a crucial NBN-related bill.

He is still demanding the Government release its business plan for the network before Parliament rises on Thursday.

Government sets up broadband inquiry

Wales - Claims that some parts of the Principality will have to wait 30 years for broadband

{walesonline] Rural Wales will have to wait almost 30 years before every home is connected to broadband because a flagship Assembly Government scheme to tackle blackspots has flopped, it has been claimed.

Andrew Smith, a business development manager with TFL Marketing, said the Assembly Government’s broadband support scheme had failed to catch on in rural areas.

In July, it was announced any house or business that cannot get broadband or receives a connection which is consistently less than 512 kilobytes per second will qualify for financial assistance of £1,000.

The Assembly Government said it had approved more than 345 applications and continues to urge rural householders to take advantage of the assistance.

But with the policy launched on July 21, 345 approvals equates to just over 20 per week.

Mr Smith said there are around 30,000 Welsh homes in areas with no access to broadband – meaning that at the existing rate of approvals, it will take more than 28 years to bring broadband to all of rural Wales.

Those in not-spots can use the £1,000 on an individual basis to buy satellite broadband or club together with others on community schemes to help fund new communications infrastructure like masts.

Mr Smith, whose firm provides wireless broadband throughout South West and Mid Wales, said his company was involved in just two schemes: one representing 30 households and the other around 200.

He said: “If you’ve got a situation where there’s four or five people then notionally you’ve got £4,000 to £5,000 on getting a solution in.

“But it might cost £10,000 for TFL to go through the process of extending its network, putting a mast up and bringing that signal in as well as all the costs of putting the hardware on the houses.”

A not-spot is usually the result of distance from the local telephone exchange – the further away the weaker the broadband signal becomes.

Avonline, which provides satellite broadband in rural Wales, said they have been disappointed by the response to the scheme and have started publicising it themselves.

Justin McKenzie, the Bristol firm’s broadband services supervisor, said they had sent out around 390 quotes connected to the support scheme and were receiving about five orders per week.

“We thought there was going to be a lot more quotes and orders coming through a lot quicker.

“We’ve done a few radio adverts ourselves and have advertised in the local papers – we also do mail shots and that’s just to try to attract some interest in it,” said Mr McKenzie.

Mr Smith said marketing for BT’s Race to Infinity scheme to roll out super-fast 40-megabyte broadband has been far more effective than publicity for the Assembly Government’s programme.

Under Race to Infinity, BT is asking people to vote for their communities to be connected to 40Mb broadband so the company can assess where demand is highest.

The firm has promised to make cash available for infrastructure to the five areas receiving the most votes.

Mr Smith said even though people in rural Wales had far less chance of getting broadband through this competition it had caught the imagination in a way the Assembly Government’s scheme had not. He said: “I can go down to local shops and there’s a poster in the window encouraging people to register for Infinity.

“You won’t see anything like that with the Assembly scheme because it hasn’t captured the imagination.”

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said in addition to the 345 approved applications a further 415 were being completed.

He said: “The Assembly Government is determined to find ways of opening up access for the relatively few areas in Wales that remain unable to benefit from broadband services.

“If Wales is to have a competitive infrastructure then access to broadband is vital.

“This scheme will allow businesses and individuals to get online and develop our knowledge economy.”

Households in rural areas could be facing 30-year wait for broadband

USA - AT&T Claims to have the fastest mobile broadband service

[prnewswire] The nation's fastest mobile broadband network is getting even faster and delivering strong voice performance, according to comprehensive third-party national drive testing.

AT&T* has invested nearly $6 billion in wireless-related initiatives over the first three quarters of 2010, a 55 percent increase over the first three quarters of 2009. These efforts are resulting in national average mobile broadband speeds that are substantially faster than the competition, with the nearest competitor running 20 percent slower than AT&T on average nationally, and our largest competitor by subscriber count running 60 percent slower than AT&T on average nationally.

These are the findings from the latest comprehensive, scientifically valid national drive testing conducted by industry expert testing firm Global Wireless Solutions Inc. (GWS). GWS compiles wireless network performance results covering more than 950,000 road miles in more than 400 U.S. markets representing about 88 percent of the U.S. population, making it one of the most comprehensive and thorough studies of U.S. mobile network performance.

Data has quickly emerged as a primary mode of mobile communication, as more and more Americans view video, upload pictures, send e-mail and surf the Internet from their wireless devices. And as people use more mobile broadband, a 20 percent difference in speed can make a real difference in getting things done. For example: based on national average speeds, AT&T customers could download an MP3 album (40 megabytes) more than a minute faster with AT&T than the next-fastest wireless network. An 80-megabyte video file would download about 2 minutes faster on average with AT&T as opposed to the next-fastest network. The same video file would take more than 5 minutes longer to download on average with AT&T's largest competitor's network.

"Data is now the preferred form of mobile communication, and faster mobile broadband speeds make virtually every app more enjoyable and efficient for the user," said Iain Gillott, president of wireless industry analyst firm iGR. "As the market continues to develop, wide availability of fast mobile broadband will be increasingly important to mobile subscribers, both consumer and business users alike."

The GWS drive tests also revealed that 98.59 percent of voice calls connected over the AT&T network nationwide are completed without interruption. That's a difference of about one-tenth of one percentage point, or one call in 1,000, from the only higher score in the industry.

Assuming a positive regulatory environment, AT&T plans to invest between $18 billion and $19 billion in our wireless and wireline networks in 2010, including a $2 billion increase in wireless-related network investment over 2009 levels. AT&T is investing to enhance the speed and coverage of its mobile broadband network through the addition of hundreds of new cell sites; additional layers of wireless capacity in markets across the country; and deployment of HSPA 7.2 and HSPA+ software and fiber-optic backhaul connections to support even faster mobile broadband speeds.

"We're very pleased with the nationwide results of GWS drive testing, which demonstrate that we're delivering a superior mobile broadband experience on a nationwide basis," said John Donovan, AT&T's chief technology officer. "Our top priority for the weeks and months to come is to continue our focus on network enhancements and improvements to ensure continued access to fast mobile broadband speeds and reliable voice service."

AT&T has focused on delivering the best overall mobile broadband experience for our customers, building a powerful network and leading the industry in multiple technologies that enhance the mobile experience, including:

* The nation's largest Wi-Fi network**, with more than 23,000 Hot Spots in all 50 states. Qualifying AT&T smartphone customers can access virtually all of these hotspots automatically. AT&T Wi-Fi connections continue to skyrocket, with 106.9 million connections on AT&T's U.S. Wi-Fi network in the third quarter, exceeding the total of 85.5 million connections made during the entire year in 2009.
* Pilots of Wi-Fi hot zones to cover high-traffic areas in major cities to provide another powerful option for broadband on the go.
* Thousands of distributed antenna networks that enhance coverage and capacity in large buildings, campuses and public areas where people tend to congregate, like stadiums and convention centers. Such systems can increase capacity in their coverage areas by more than 1,000 percent.
* AT&T Microcell, which can enhance in-home coverage for customers.

AT&T Delivers Nation's Fastest Mobile Broadband Network by Wide Margin

Wales - Govt calls for broadband in rural communities to support move to knowledge economy

[broadband choice] It is highly important more communities in Wales are given access to broadband services, a leading politician has said.

Deputy first minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is working hard on the rollout of the service, with 345 approvals for home broadband granted since July and a further 415 in the pipeline, reports the Western Mail.

He said politicians are looking to open up access to broadband for the areas of Wales which can't receive it at the moment.

Under an initiative launched in the summer, houses or businesses which don't get broadband and have average connection speeds of less than 512 Kb/s can qualify for financial assistance of £1,000.

"If Wales is to have a competitive infrastructure then access to broadband is vital," Mr Wyn Jones explained.

"This scheme will allow businesses and individuals to get online and develop our knowledge economy."

An initial £2 million was allocated to the funding support scheme when the WAG announced it earlier in the year.

Broadband rollout 'vital to Wales'

Asia-Pacific - Broadband market growing, supported by social media and web 2.0

[prlog] The social media revolution and Web 2.0 have enhanced prospects for the Asia Pacific broadband market. More and more consumers are feeling the need to connect online and the Internet has become a highly indispensable tool. Broadband service affordability is increasing with falling prices of devices, such as PCs and net-books as well as broadband subscription pricing. Broadband service is becoming increasingly affordable for consumers.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Asia Pacific Broadband Market, finds that the year-on-year market revenue growth rate declined in 2009. The revenue is expected to grow from USD 41,697.3million in 2009 to USD 62,236.7million in 2015 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9 percent.

“The Asia Pacific fixed broadband subscriber base grew at an impressive rate of 20.5 percent over the previous year to reach an approximate 187 million base subscriber at the end of 2009,” says Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst, Adeel Najam.

“The growth in subscribers base is mostly fueled by the emerging markets within Asia Pacific whereby the high level of competition is pushing down the prices of entry level packages” explains Najam.

Governments in the region, such as Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore, are funding roll-outs of fiber-based high-speed broadband networks. Fixed broadband technology is evolving with digital subscriber line (DSL), cable broadband, and passive optical network (PON) being able to support higher throughput service at a lower capital expenditure (CAPEX) per subscriber.

Due to the regional household broadband penetration rate of less than 20 percent, the market is still at its growth stage and the CAGR from 2009 to 2015 is expected to be more than 10 percent. By 2015, subscribers from the emerging markets will account for more than 78 percent of the subscribers in the region.

Although market prospects look upbeat, there are some impediments stalling its momentum. The high CAPEX per subscriber for investment poses a challenge for fixed broadband providers. To build better business cases, providers are offering bundled services and optimizing the potential of the deployed local loop.

In some markets, the high-leased pricing from incumbent fixed operators makes it difficult for alternative ISPs to offer broadband service competitively. In such a scenario, providers must penetrate new market segments and bundle their services to provide enhanced value to their subscribers.

For high-speed broadband access, there have been investments in fiber to the premises (FTTP) and fiber to the home (FTTH) networks in Asia Pacific. Most operators favor DSL, but many in the developed markets are migrating to FTTH/fiber to the building (FTTB) if they are able to find a business case. In the emerging markets, FTTH/FTTB will be confined to the urban areas. Many pay TV providers in the region are also using data over cable service interface specification (DOCSIS) to provide cable broadband service to their consumers.

Faced with average revenue per user (ARPU) decline, operators in the emerging markets are depending on subscriber expansion to grow their revenue streams. Providers in the saturated markets are foraying into the content business with internet protocol TV (IPTV) and some are experiencing success. Broadband providers are experiencing stiff competition from worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WIMAX) and other mobile broadband providers.

“Providers in these markets have had to bring their tariffs down and try to differentiate with a premium service,” says Najam.

Najam further notes, “Many providers now offer both and mobile broadband and fixed broadband service – fixed broadband for high speed service at home and mobile broadband for access on the go.”

Affordable Broadband Enables Strong Traction for the Technology in APAC, finds Frost & Sullivan

Australia - Concern that lack of transparency on NBN means there is something to hide

[smh] I'm starting to get a really bad feeling about Labor's plan for a national broadband network. The more it resists subjecting the plan to scrutiny, the more you suspect it's got something to hide.

I fear Julia Gillard is digging herself in deeper on a characteristically grandiose scheme her swaggering predecessor announced without thought to its daunting implications, when she should be looking for ways to scale the project down without too much loss of face.

The obvious way to start that process would have been to accede to calls for the Productivity Commission to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis.
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But as each day passes, the issue is becoming more politicised, with too much of the government's ego riding on pretending the plan is without blemish.

The case for a thorough cost-benefit analysis needs no stronger argument than that, at $43 billion, this is the most expensive piece of infrastructure this country has seen.

It's true the plan has a lot of attractions. Top of the list is the structural separation of Telstra's network from its retail business so its retail competitors get fair access to the network. This is something the Howard government should have seen to before it privatised Telstra.

I accept that, if city people are going to continue cross-subsidising the bush - as they will; it's clearly the electorate's ''revealed preference'' - there's no more sensible way to do it than ensuring the bush has access to high quality telecommunications, thereby doing what we can to reduce the tyranny of distance.

I don't have an in-principle objection to a network with natural-monopoly characteristics being owned publicly rather than privately, provided governments don't use their powers to shore-up or abuse that monopoly in a way any private owner would and should be prevented from doing.

And I admire the government's consciousness of the need for us to be ready to adopt and exploit the opportunities for benefit that future technological advances will make possible.

The Productivity Commission could be required to ensure its cost-benefit analysis ranged far wider than a mere commercial evaluation, taking account of present and potential ''social'' benefits (''positive externalities'') and acknowledging those whose value it can't quantify.

But there are three aspects of the plan that worry me. They're things economists are trained to see, but to which non-economists are often oblivious.

The first is the mentality that says, we've got a lot of messy and inadequate telecom arrangements at present, so let's scrap 'em all and start afresh. Copper wire to the home - make Telstra turn it off. Telstra and Optus's existing rival optical fibre-coaxial cables to many capital-city homes - close 'em down.

This Ruddish approach would be fine if resources were infinite, or if getting a brand spanking new broadband network was the Australian public's only desire. But resources are finite, both sides of politics have sworn to eliminate all government debt and we have an infrastructure backlog as long as your arm. In two words: opportunity cost.

Second is the idea of building a gold-plated broadband network up to eight times faster than any present application needs, so we're ready for anything that may come along one day.

If you think that shows vision and foresight, you're innocent of ''the time value of money''. Every dollar you spend now rather than later comes at an extra cost: the interest you have to pay between now and when you start using the idle capacity.

True, it's a false economy to build something today without allowing for reasonable growth in your use of the item. But there comes a point where allowing for more growth than you're likely to see in ages becomes a waste of money. Private businesses that do this - like home owners who overcapitalise their properties - do their dough. Government businesses survive either by over-charging their customers or falling back on the taxpayer.

The final worry is the way that - notwithstanding the break-up of Telstra - the plan involves deliberately reducing competition from other networks in the telecommunications market. Why's that a good idea?

And why would the government plan to do it? Because it knows its network will be hugely over-engineered and the only way of charging consumers the high prices needed to recoup that excess cost is to turn broadband into a monopoly.

If Gillard had any sense of self-preservation she'd be using the Productivity Commission to get herself off a nasty hook.

NBN secrecy creates the impression the government has something to hide

Internet - Facebook likened to the "crack cocaine" of the Internet

[seroundtable] Hitwise released a report saying Facebook.com generates nearly 1 in 4 page views in the US. It well surpassed Google in terms of in visits and greatly surpassed Google in terms of "page views."

Hitwise said, "The market share of page views for Facebook.com was 24.27% last week, 3.8x the volume of the 2nd ranked website YouTube.com with 6.93%." Google's volume in page views was 5.32%, but keep in mind, Google owns YouTube.

A WebmasterWorld thread has some fun conversation around this latest metric. One person's post, I made the title of this article.

You have to separate "pageviews" from "visits". Every time someone clicks "refresh" in their browser, it's a pageview. I know a lot of people who leave a tab permanently open to facebook, and pop over to it every 10 or 15 minutes and click refresh to see if there's any updates.

It's the crack cocaine of the internet.

Facebook: "Crack Cocaine Of The Internet"
see also Hitwise report

Internet - Facebook, Apple, etc denounced as walled gardens likely to cause balkanisation

[atlantic wire] The Internet—as a few highly-visible prognosticators see it— is undergoing a radical shift toward a more closed, app-driven environment. Facebook, Apple, and media giants are all building "walled gardens" to control users' experiences, causing some considerable hand-wringing over the demise of the browser-dominated, free-wheeling Internet days.

The latest to make such a prediction is the man credited with inventing the Web itself: Tim Berners-Lee. In a Scientific American essay, he argues that if current trends continue unchecked, the Web will devolve into walled-off, "fragmented islands" where information cannot flow freely. While Berners-Lee notes that "by no means" is the Web "dead," there needs to be a consensus in the scientific community and the press to "preserve" the openness that we have gained and "benefit from the great advances that are still to come."

Social-networking sites—and Facebook in particular—are exacerbating the problem. The more information is entered into Facebook, "the more you become locked in," he writes. "Your social-networking site becomes a central platform—a closed silo of content, and one that does not give you full control over your information in it. The more this kind of architecture gains widespread use, the more the Web becomes fragmented, and the less we enjoy a single, universal information space."

The danger of these Web giants, as he sees it, is that one search engine, social-networking site or browser "gets so big that it becomes a monopoly, which tends to limit innovation." And for those who argue that closed systems are "just fine," he reminds readers of what America Online was like in the '90s:

Some people may think that closed worlds are just fine. The worlds are easy to use and may seem to give those people what they want. But as we saw in the 1990s with the America Online dial-up information system that gave you a restricted subset of the Web, these closed, “walled gardens,” no matter how pleasing, can never compete in diversity, richness and innovation with the mad, throbbing Web market outside their gates. If a walled garden has too tight a hold on a market, however, it can delay that outside growth.

Inventor of the Web: Don't Let Internet Become 'Fragmented Islands'

Africa - Bharti has begun rebranding its African operations from Zain to Airtel

[telecoms] India-based Bharti Airtel, the new owner of Zain’s African assets has begun the re-branding process across the 16 operations in the region.

With the unveiling of the new brand identity, Airtel becomes the master brand for all the group’s 19 operations in Asia and Africa covering over 200 million customers. In Africa, Airtel replaces the Zain brand across the board, with the Zap mobile money service re-branded Airtel Money with immediate effect.

According to Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti: ” Our African customers will now be able to enjoy the same best-in-class brand experience as our customers across India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. We remain committed to taking our network deeper into Africa, ensuring our services touch the common man and bridge the digital divide in the continent.”

Zain completed the $10.7bn sale of its African operations (excluding Morocco and Sudan) to Bharti in June of this year, allowing the Middle Eastern firm to will refocus on its “highly cash generative operations” at home.

As part of the unveiling the new brand, Airtel also announced the launch of a new ultra low cost handset package which effectively provides a Nokia mobile phone free of charge to all new subscribers. The package is priced at around $23 and includes a Nokia 1280, Airtel SIM card and the equivalent value in Airtel talk time and text messages.

Bharti rebrands Zain Africa operations

Friday, November 19, 2010

UK - Broadband speeds are now mapped, including identification of the blackspots

[daily mail] A digital divide in Britain means that those in the countryside are far more likely to have a poor broadband connection than those who live in urban areas, according to a new study.

The only city to feature on a list of download blackspots was Worcester while Farningham, Kent and the north Devon market town of Holsworthy were the only towns south of London to make the list.

Scotland was particularly badly served, with four of the top ten being north of the border.

But with an average download speed of just 1.3Mb, Farningham has the slowest broadband in the UK.

In Farningham, it would take 45 minutes to download just one music album and a dismal 12 hours to download a movie.

The second slowest location for broadband in Britain is the historic town of Duns in the Scottish Borders, with an average download speed of 1.43Mb.

In third place is the village of Harbury in Warwickshire with a measly 1.51Mb, according to new research conducted by broadband comparison website Top10.com.

Many of the 20 locations with the slowest broadband in the UK are rural villages or small market towns, showing a clear rural/urban divide. However, one city, Worcester, made it into the list of blackspots with an average download speed of just 2.01Mb.
Go slow: With an average download speed of just 1.30Mb, Farningham in Kent has the slowest broadband in the UK

Go slow: With an average download speed of just 1.3Mb, Farningham in Kent has the slowest broadband in the UK

Scotland has four of the slowest UK locations, with Stevenston (1.76Mb), Dunoon (1.9Mb) and Banchory (1.95Mb) featuring in the list alongside Duns.

At the county level, Lincolnshire fares the poorest with three villages and towns in the list of broadband blackspots: Brigg (1.71Mb), Ancaster (1.88Mb) and Grantham (1.97Mb).

Alex Buttle, director of broadband comparison website Top10.com, which carried out the study, said: 'Probably the biggest surprise is that a city, Worcester, made it into the top 20 list of broadband blackspots out of more than 2,000 towns, villages and cities surveyed.

'With a population of just under 100,000, that’s a lot of people and businesses reliant on sub-standard broadband speed.

'It’s a shame that in this day and age broadband blackspots continue to exist. The UK needs to offer top broadband speeds across the country regardless of geographic location, which is something the UK’s networks are failing to deliver.

'With Virgin, BT and other networks now making their super-fast fibre optic networks a priority, let’s hope this converts into improved broadband speed for people in every area of the UK, whether urban or rural — and however low the population

Over 98,000 speed tests were conducted with each town, village or city undergoing a minimum of 50 broadband speed tests

The average UK broadband download speed was 6.86Mb.

Users can discover the broadband speed in their area by visiting

Revealed: The broadband blackspot map of Britain

New Zealand - 2degrees is concerned that the Rural Broadband Initiative will reduce choice for consumers

[news talk zb] 2degrees wants assurances the rural broadband initiative will lead to greater choice for customers

The nation's fastest-growing mobile player wants assurances the Rural Broadband Initiative will lead to real choice for consumers.

Vodafone and Telecom are pushing a joint proposal worth about $300 million.

But newcomer 2degrees is worried it'll end up being a high-speed version of the mobile duopoly we already have. Chief Executive, Eric Hertz, says without public funding, none of the mobile operators would be considering fast rural broadband.

He'd like an assurance the funding will see more than two players competing equally and vigorously. He says history has shown how mobile phone users fare, when competition is left to the incumbents.

Assurances sought over broadband plans

Australia - OECD has questioned the Govt's spending plans including the NBN

[herald sun] A WIDE-ranging assessment of the economy has questioned the Gillard Government's plan to rein in spending, the proposed resources tax and the National Broadband Network.

In its Economic Survey of Australia released yesterday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said the nation's prospects for growth remained bright.

The report argued that revenue from a resources tax should be parked in a fund to offset any future Budget shortfall.

While the tax was "justified", spending decisions should be disconnected from resource tax revenues, the report warned.

It also recommended broadening the scheme and eliminating state royalties, as suggested in the Henry Tax Review. The Government plans to use resource tax revenue to cut the corporate tax rate, assist infrastructure needs in the mining sector and boost superannuation for low-paid workers.

Referring to the Government's bid to cap spending growth at 2 per cent of gross domestic product, the report said spending limits were appropriate but might be tougher to enforce once the stimulus spending measures faded. It recommended cutting support programs, especially those for the agricultural and automotive industry.

Like the International Monetary Fund, the OECD believes the base of the GST should be broadened and the rate increased.

This would allow for income tax to be lowered.

It also said that while the NBN promised benefits, it might not be the most cost-effective strategy. AAP

OECD questions broadband scheme

Australia - OECD questions cost-effectiveness of NBN project

[smh] The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) believes Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) promises large benefits, but may not be the most cost-effective strategy.

Releasing its Economic Survey of Australia on Sunday, the OECD says at a cost of $43 billion, or 3.25 per cent of gross domestic product, it also entails "substantial financial uncertainties".

The OECD says the Gillard Government's strategy will improve internet services for the entire population and promote a fairer competition between private firms on retail services.
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Part of the plan is to shut down Telstra's existing copper network and the country's main cable network.

"While establishing a monopoly in this way would protect the viability of the government's investment project, it may not be optimal for cost efficiency and innovation," the Paris-based institution says.

It says research has stressed the value of competition between technological platforms for providing broadband services.

"It would therefore be preferable to maintain competition between technologies in the broadband sector and, within each technology, between internet service providers," it says.

The federal opposition has strongly criticised the government for not producing a business plan for the NBN, but key cross-bench independents that helped form a minority government are supportive of the plan.

Last week in a re-released version of the so-called Red Book, Treasury said the NBN program carries significant risks, including financial risks for the public balance sheet and risks around competition and efficiency in telecommunications and related markets.

"The government's response to the NBN Implementation Study will set the parameters for the outcomes in these areas for decades to come," it said.

"It therefore warrants very careful consideration by cabinet in coming months."

The Red Book, which is a series of recommendations from Treasury for the incoming Labor government, was reissued with some restrictions that had previously been blacked-out in the document under an FOI removed.

The coalition's cheaper $6.3 billion broadband and telecommunications plan announced during the August election campaign would select private sector companies to build and execute a national network based on both fixed and wireless technologies.

Keep broadband competition: OECD

Australia - Minister has criticised the OECD for its comments on the AUD 43 Bn NBN project

[the australian] COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy has ridiculed the OECD over its warning that the NBN could stymie the development of better internet-based technologies.

Senator Conroy has also rejected fresh opposition demands for a cost-benefit analysis of the $43 billion project, saying no such study could possibly dispute the need for better broadband service.

As his opposition counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, accused the minister of behaving as though cost was "no object", economist and Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin backed the push for a cost-benefit analysis and a group of smaller communications providers, the Alliance for Affordable Broadband, reportedly wrote an open letter to all independent MPs urging them to support the NBN's referral to the Productivity Commission for analysis.

This would ensure "the right decision is made" and that the NBN's benefits "are actually achieved at the right cost".

Independent senator Nick Xenophon told Fairfax newspapers he would urge his lower house independent colleagues to support the move "if we can make sure it does not delay the NBN rollout".

While Wayne Swan and Kevin Rudd have repeatedly used OECD research and reports to back key Labor positions - including on climate change, retirement incomes and childcare - Senator Conroy yesterday questioned some of the findings on the NBN rollout in the Paris-based body's latest report.

The OECD report, released late on Sunday, backed the delivery of better broadband services but questioned the government's approach of using public money to build an optical fibre network and acting as a wholesaler to telecommunications companies, which will use it to sell retail products to consumers.

The report warned that the approach would create a public monopoly that could inhibit the development of better internet technologies, describing it as a "picking-the-winner strategy".

It was produced by the OECD with the co-operation of the Treasury, which also warned the government in its Red Book - the post-election advice given to an incoming government - that the NBN posed a potential risk to public balance sheets.

Yesterday, as the Treasurer welcomed the OECD's "stunning endorsement of the government's economic strategy", Senator Conroy noted it also endorsed the potential for productivity gains that would be provided by the NBN.

When asked about the OECD's criticism, he appeared to question future-proofed technology" for the next 30 to 50 years.

Last night, Dr Ergas, who worked for the OECD for a decade, told The Australian he had not discussed the NBN with the body, although it would be aware of his views from papers he had written.

"Why Senator Conroy would think the OECD can be listened to when they agree with him and not listened to when they don't agree with him is obviously a puzzle," Dr Ergas said.

And Mr Turnbull said the OECD worked "in close collaboration" with the Treasury to produce its report. "Their concern is considerable and that, of course, is reflected in the advice the Treasury gave the government in its Red Book," he said.

Despite Senator Conroy's questioning of the OECD, the Treasurer earlier seized on the OECD's report to tell the ABC he was "delighted to accept" the agency's work because "the overwhelming majority of the report" backed the government's economic strategy.

Dr Ergas said the OECD had highlighted the challenge of getting the NBN's benefits to match its costs, with its assessment that the NBN could be justified if it resulted in a 0.5 to 1.5 per cent cut in spending on health, education, electricity and transport.

With those sectors adding up to 15 per cent of the economy, the NBN would have to deliver national savings of about $2bn a year to justify its cost. Dr Ergas said an asset delivering a permanent $2bn a year saving would have a current value of $37bn (assuming interest rates of around 6 per cent). "Presumably, that is their estimate of how big the gap is between the costs and benefits of the NBN," he said.

Earlier, Mr Turnbull renewed his calls for a cost-benefit analysis into the NBN, saying the government's failure to have ordered a probe was "one of the most disgraceful abrogations of fiscal responsibility in our nation's history". Mr Turnbull said everyone agreed that broadband was a desirable service but that a prudent government would examine all possible ways of achieving its objectives.

Senator Conroy said a cost-benefit analysis was unnecessary and the government had spent $25 million investigating the viability of the project.

"The financial case is viable," he said. "It is a big plus. There isn't a cost-benefit analysis study anywhere in the world that suggested that the broader benefits is a negative. So you put a plus and a plus together and you get, funnily enough, two pluses."

Professor McKibbin said a cost-benefit analysis was necessary and the government was spending a lot of money "without due diligence". "Don't forget the horizon we are talking about is at least a decade or further into the future and while you can't know what the future looks like, you have to know whether your investment is highly likely to be in a positive pay-off or even any sort of success at all," Professor McKibbin said.

"This is the biggest investment the government has ever taken in the economy and it's got to be subject to evaluation and assessment. What's remarkable about the OECD criticism is that basically our representative is the Australian Treasury. For them to criticise a policy means there is an issue there that needs to be addressed."

Business Council of Australia president Graham Bradley backed the concerns about competition. "The business council has consistently called for a full cost-benefit analysis, including a review by the Productivity Commission, of future benefits," Mr Bradley said.

Stephen Conroy rejects OECD's broadband doubts

Australia - Govt defends its NBN plan on cost-effectiveness following criticism from OECD

[afp] Australia defended plans for a national broadband network after the OECD raised questions over its cost-effectiveness and said it might stifle innovation.

The National Broadband Network (NBN), which will be rolled out by a government corporation and will connect 93 percent of the country's population, has been described as Australia's biggest ever infrastructure project.

"While establishing a monopoly in this way would protect the viability of the government?s investment project, it may not be optimal for cost efficiency and innovation," the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned in a report, which groups the world's top economies.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government had spent 25 million dollars (24.7 million US) on an implementation study that showed the scheme was financially viable and could deliver fast, affordable Internet, boosting the economy.

"If you read the entire OECD report it clearly shows that there are significant productivity gains to be made from going ahead with the National Broadband Network," Conroy told reporters.

Conroy said it had always been the government's objective to establish a "wholesale-only, open-access monopoly" because infrastructure competition in the telecoms sector had historically "failed to deliver". He added that the government planned eventually to sell shares in NBN.

"Most public utilities are monopolies that have been in the public interest over time and we're very comfortable (with that). But the key here is we said from day one we're going to privatise this," he said.

He denied the approach would stifle the entry of new technologies, saying fibre-optic cable was "future-proofed".

"When somebody invents something faster than the speed of light, which is the science that fibre works on, that's going to be a pretty exciting day. I look forward to that day," he joked.

"But for the foreseeable future the fibre optics networks... is the future-proofed technology for the next 30 to 50 years, that's what the technology experts are actually saying."

Australia hits back at OECD over broadband network

UK - BT claims to have 1.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots including FON

[isp review] Telecoms operator BT UK has today confirmed that it is still the country's largest Wi-Fi Hotspot (public wireless broadband) provider after it passed the 2 Million Hotspots mark last week when BTOpenzone connected up London's Charing Cross Tube Station (here).

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail, said:

"Demand for wireless access is growing at a record rate, we’ve have added more than 780,000 hotspots in the last six months and will continue to meet the demand as more and more smart-phone, laptop, tablet, iPod and e-reader users choose WiFi to stay connected when they are out and about. What’s more our BT Total Broadband customers have free and unlimited access to the largest WiFi network in the UK included in their broadband package."

BT claims that its two million-strong Wi-Fi estate is the biggest in the UK and comprises Hotspots from the BT FON Wi-Fi Community, BT Openzone, plus BT Openzone hotspots via the BT Business Hub. The hotspots are available in homes, independent businesses, high street chains, major city centres and now the underground.

BT Hooks Up 2 Million WiFi Wireless Broadband UK Hotspots

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Australia - OECD raises questions over the cost of the NBN in its economic review

[arn] The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) recently released comments calling for more telco competition im Australia and questioning the Government's NBN plans. Here are the unedited comments from the summary of the "OECD Economic Surveys: Australia, November 2010" report:

In the telecommunication sector, the government’s project of building a new fibre network, the National Broadband Network (NBN), holds the promise of delivering potentially large benefits.

However, as the cost amounts to 3¼ per cent of GDP, it also entails substantial financial uncertainties. The authorities’ strategy will improve Internet services for the entire population and promote a fairer competition between private firms on retail services.

Part of the plan is to shut down the existing copper network and the country’s main cable network. While establishing a monopoly in this way would protect the viability of the government’s investment project, it may not be optimal for cost efficiency and innovation. Empirical studies have stressed the value of competition between technological platforms for the dissemination of broadband services.

It would therefore be preferable to maintain competition between technologies in the broadband sector and, within each technology, between Internet service providers.

The existing regulation guaranteeing third party access to infrastructure, the National Access Regime (NAR) developed in the mid-90s, raises a number of issues concerning the appropriate balance between efficient use of existing networks and stimulating private investments. The implementation of the NAR implementation over the past 15 years seems to vary across industry. A detailed assessment would help draw lessons from the experience to date and finetune regulatory provisions.

Adequate and well-functioning infrastructure is a key ingredient to growth and wellbeing. The benefits to activity of efficient spending in energy, water, transport and communication sectors go well beyond their contribution to capital accumulation. Good infrastructure facilitates trade, bolsters market integration and competition, fosters the dissemination of ideas and innovations and enhances access to resources and public services.

These benefits are particularly important for Australia because of its size, the geographical dispersion of its population and production centres, and its remoteness from other markets.

Nevertheless, Australia has an important infrastructure deficit. This is in part due to underinvestment in the 1980s and 1990s, while the rebound in capital spending at the beginning of the 2000s has been insufficient to deal with capacity shortages exacerbated by the strong demand generated by the mining boom, expected population growth, technological progress and environmental concerns.

To ease these shortages, the authorities have put bolstering infrastructure to the top of their economic policy agenda. This entails greater government expenditure in this area, but also structural reforms to optimise public and private investment choices and the use of existing facilities with better regulation.

OECD’s unedited comments on the NBN and telecommunications