Friday, January 28, 2011

Nigeria - ISPs are not passing on savings from reductions in prices on international links

[the nation] AFTER the fanfare of the launch of Glo 1 and Main One submarine cables –two milestone investments in infrastructures which promised to revolutionalise the telecommunications sector, the prospects of imminent reductions in cost of access and enhanced value added services for Nigerian internet users would seem increasingly forlorn.

Reason? Internet Service Providers (ISPs) apparently do not as yet consider the current time as being ripe for tariff reduction.

At the recent commissioning of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), the spokesman for the ISPs, Chima Onyekwere, while admitting that the dawn of submarine cables and the functionality of the Exchange Point ought to have heralded a downward trend in the pricing of bandwidth however insisted that price reduction was still far from being on the cards.

According to him, most ISPs have subsisting satellite contracts with international bandwidth operators. His words: "It becomes difficult to automatically stop the ongoing contract in order to take advantage of the recently deployed fibre optic cables from Glo 1 and Main One because the contract must continue to run until it expires".

The summary: any expectations of price crash and the value added services would have to await the expiration of the existing ISP contract. When? Three years? Five years or more?

We shudder at the implication of such attitudes, given what it portends for the otherwise liberalised sector. First, it guarantees that the ISPs signed on to the new infrastructure can go on to maintain non-competitive prices under the cover of the cartel, while pretending that cost structures remained unchanged. Equally, it guarantees that value added offerings taken for granted in other climes can remain on hold here for as long as the ISPs deem fit.

Thirdly, the same would obviously hold true for the much touted last mile investments to deepen internet penetration; it would remain a mirage.

For a body which ordinarily should be at the forefront of extending the frontiers of the usage of the Internet, we find the position of the ISPs as curious as it is disingenuous. Needless to add also that it is defeatist and retrogressive, the very antithesis of competition advertised as driving the sector.

The danger isn’t just that the position ignores the issues of consumer interests, it rather dangerously seeks to subordinate national goals and aspirations to the narrow business concerns of the few service providers.

The central issue remains whether users of the Internet in Nigeria are not entitled to price/cost relief in the circumstances that the undersea cable offers a cheaper and more robust alternative to the services offered through satellite?

This after all was what was promised. Why should an extraneous factor suddenly become an issue, and why should Nigerians be denied the full benefits of the investment only because a cartel took a business decision that turns out to be short-sighted?

Although the Nigerian business environment is often described as high risk, the potential of the country’s telecommunications sector has not only remained a global reference, it remains a barely tapped goldmine. Much as the nation welcomes initiatives to harness the locked-in potential, we must say that the system is ill-served by the business philosophy which puts profits upfront – over and above issues of value delivery.

We expect the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to, in fact wake up to this new regulatory challenge, with a view to detecting whether collusion is in the works. Without question, there are great benefits to be derived from drastic reductions in access charges; but even more is our conviction that the surest strategy to get more and more Nigerians to sign on to the World Wide Web is the lowering of the entry barrier.


Mobile banking - Within 2-3 years one half of mobile subscribers will use financial services

[juniper research] According to a new report from Juniper Research, the array of financial services possible via mobile phones are proving so attractive that some developing countries are seeing unprecedented penetration levels of up to one in two mobile subscribers within two to three years from launch. Regionally, the report identifies that some developing regions will achieve a rate of 1 in 5 money service users over the next 2 years which is a remarkable level of adoption for such new services.

“Our research found that, money transfers, bill payments and airtime top-ups constitute the typical top three mobile money services in an operator’s portfolio. Increasingly though merchant payments are being offered and operators can, via partnerships with supermarkets for example, enable people to pay for their shopping this way,” according to report author Howard Wilcox, Senior Analyst.

However, Juniper Research’s new report - Mobile Money Transfers & Remittances: Markets, Forecasts & Vendor Strategies 2011-2015 - also warns that prospective users can be discouraged to join such services if the KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements are too onerous, or simply not achievable.

Further findings from the new report include:

• Domestic transfers, airtime top-ups and bill payments account for at least 60% of all applications
• Following the recession international mobile money transfer users will more than double by 2013, driven by migrant workers, with services launched by MNOs and remittance hubs for country specific migration corridors

Rapid take-off sees 1 in 5 mobile users register for mobile money services in some developing regions by 2013 according to new Juniper report

Low latency networks - Amsterdam and Milan stock exchanges are now linked at microsecond latencies

[interoute] Interoute, owner operator of Europe’s largest next-generation network, has completed two new high speed connectivity routes directly into the major financial hubs of Amsterdam and Milan. Financial institutions can now benefit from the fastest, most direct routes between 24 of Europe’s most significant stock exchanges and multilateral trading facilities (MTF).

Low latency connections between financial trading hubs are essential to high frequency trading (HFT), which enables financial institutions to increase trading volume, source better price discovery and improve market efficiency. With the largest financial footprint in Europe, Interoute Fast Trade is guaranteeing round trip delay times between 28 European countries, including direct connectivity into 24 of the major stock exchanges and MTFs.

“Taking the advantage in the financial sector has moved beyond milliseconds to microseconds, making fast connections between key financial hubs imperative,” said Lee Myall, UK Regional Director at Interoute. “We are committed to supporting the financial sector as it moves towards a reliance on high frequency trading. By connecting Milan and Amsterdam via our Fast Trade product we are providing financial institutions with the highest trading speeds between the most important financial hubs in Europe.”

The network extension connects into the Italian derivatives exchange in Milan, Borsa Italiana, as well as the financial ecosystem located inside the Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centre in Amsterdam.

Jonathan Wright discusses Fast TradeInteroute Fast Trade is a point to point service based on Interoute's optical platforms, offering ultra low latency connectivity between 28 countries in Europe. When bandwidth is purchased, it is solely dedicated to the financial institution, ensuring that latency does not vary, even during the most volatile trading times. Equally, the contractual round trip delay of Fast Trade circuits is based on the exact route that the circuit will take and is measured before handover to the nearest 10th of a millisecond. This forms the basis of its premium service level agreement, which allows organisations to cancel if the service level guarantee is breached during contract term.

Milan and Amsterdam trading hubs now linked via Interoute’s European low-latency network

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pakisatan - ISP report subscriber numbers passed one millionPakistani Internet Service Providers crossed one million mark for broadband internet subsc

Pakistani Internet Service Providers crossed one million mark for broadband internet subscribers in the country by totaling 1.052 million broadband subscribers in October 2010, up from 994,911 subscribers in September 2010, according to the recent most data provided by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

DSL companies added the most subscribers for broadband and stood at 516,167 subscribers in October 2010, up from 488,946 in September 2010.

EvDO service providers added a total of 15,540 subscribers in one month, while WiMAX companies added a total of 14,066 subscribers in the month. Total number of WiMAX subscribers in the country has hit 306,665 mark, up from 292,599 a month ago.

DSL remains the top technology used for broadband internet in the country, while WiMAX stands seconds. EvDO is swiftly adding its share for the broadband subscribers.

HFC and FTTH remains the lowest adding subscribers technologies in the country.

Broadband Subscribers in Pakistan Cross 1 Million

Brazil - Al Gore called for a defence of the Internet as a network of the people

[the hill] Al Gore called on the public to "defend the Internet" in a speech at the Campus Party Brazil conference this week.

"Do not let it be controlled by governments or by large corporations," he said in a rousing speech. "It is a network of people "

The remarks suggest support for two distinct policies: net neutrality, which calls on the government to prevent phone and cable from toying with Internet traffic, as well as Internet freedom, the concept that the government must not censor Internet content.

It does not sit well with the phone and cable companies when the ideas are conflated.

AT&T's top policy executive Jim Cicconi said in The Washington Post a couple of years ago that it is "disturbing" when policymakers equate "the outright censorship decisions of a communist government to the network congestion decisions of an American ISP. There is no valid comparison, and it’s frankly an affront to suggest otherwise."

He was responding to remarks by then White House technology official Andrew McLaughlin. McLaughlin's had said net neutrality and Internet censorship are "intrinsically linked."

“If it bothers you that the China government does it, it should bother you when your cable company does it,” McLaughlin had said

Al Gore: 'Defend the Internet'

USA - President promises mobile broadband for 98 per cent of the population

[wirelessweek] President Barack Obama pledged to expand access to mobile broadband services to nearly all U.S. residents during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

"Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans," he said. "This isn't about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age."

The President said access to high-speed wireless Internet services could help rural farmers and small business owners better sell their products; help first responders cope with emergency situations; and improve education and healthcare. The pledge was part of his larger initiative to invest in the nation's infrastructure.

In a statement, Sprint government affairs executive Vonya McCann said the company "commends President Obama for his leadership in promoting nationwide access to advanced wireless services and working to ensure that our nation's first responders get what they have long needed and deserved, wireless interoperable public safety broadband services."

Yesterday, the FCC moved to lay the groundwork for interoperability of national mobile broadband networks and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) reintroduced a bill that would pay to build and maintain a nationwide mobile broadband network for first responders.

Obama: Mobile Broadband for 98% of Americans

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

USA - President called it a nation of Google and Facebook, but also spoke of a "Sputnik moment" echoing 1957

[mashable] In addressing American innovation in the State of the Union Address, President Obama called America a nation of Google and Facebook. The mention is significant not only because Obama has been known for leveraging social media, but also the timing of the mention. Google announced many job openings today and the Associated Press reported that the company could hire more than 6,000 people this year. And it’s no coincidence that President Obama mentioned the word jobs 25 times in his address.

According to the transcript, President Obama said, “None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”

The buzz on social media, especially Twitter & Facebook, is gravitating toward the subject of economy and technology, which isn’t a surprise. In a poll prior to the address on the U.S. Politics Facebook Page, when asked, “What is the most important theme for President Barack Obama to address during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday?” some 78% of the respondents said the “economy.”

But what caught fire on Twitter was President Obama’s quote and reference to the Soviets beating America to space with the Sputnik, which became a trending topic. Obama said, “Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.”

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment,” he said. This quote was referenced in thousands of tweets.

Obama: “We Are a Nation of Google and Facebook”

Internet - Akamai reports 7% growth in IP addresses year-on-year

[akamai] Akamai Technologies, Inc., the leading provider of cloud optimization services, today announced the release of its 3rd Quarter, 2010 State of the Internet report available for download at Leveraging information gathered from the Company's global server network, the report provides insight into key Internet statistics such as broadband adoption, mobile connectivity, and attack traffic, as well as trends over time.

Highlights from Akamai's quarterly report follow:

Internet Penetration

In the third quarter of 2010, over 533 million unique IP addresses, from 235 countries/regions, connected to the Akamai network. This represents 6.6% more IP addresses than the second quarter of 2010, and 20% more than the same quarter a year ago. All of the countries in the top 10 saw quarterly growth, with South Korea’s 11% increase the largest amongst that group. Annual growth was strong as well, with seven of the top 10 countries experiencing double digit percentage increases. Notably, China grew by over 30% in the last year, adding approximately 15 million unique IP addresses.

Mobile Consumption

The average data consumption experienced by mobile providers grew during the third quarter on 101 of the 111 listed providers. Eighty-nine of the mobile providers saw consumption of data downloaded from Akamai increase on a year-over-year basis. In addition, 35 providers doubled the average monthly volume of content downloaded from Akamai year-over-year.

Mobile Connectivity

A mobile provider in Russia took the top spot for the highest average connection speed among the known mobile network providers, reaching nearly 6 Mbps. In reviewing average peak connection speeds, a provider in Slovakia has again topped the list with an average peak connection speed of nearly 23 Mbps, gaining approximately 2.5 Mbps from the second quarter. Average peak connection speeds remained strong in the third quarter, with fifteen providers achieving speeds in excess of 10 Mbps, and all but two of the 111 listed providers achieving speeds of 1 Mbps or more. Looking at trends over time, six providers recorded greater than 100% quarterly growth in average peak connection speeds, with 41 increasing 100% or more year-over-year.

Attack Traffic

The U.S. remained the top source of observed attack traffic, followed by Russia. In aggregate, the two countries were responsible for just over 20% of observed attack traffic, with the balance coming from 207 additional countries/regions. Aggregated at a continental level, Europe was responsible for the highest percentage of observed attacks. In looking at attack traffic from just mobile network providers, Italy remained in the top spot at 28 percent. The United Kingdom saw the largest quarterly increase (nearly 80%) in observed attack traffic from known mobile network providers.

Global Connection Speeds

Globally, the average connection speed once again increased, both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, reaching nearly 2 Mbps. Taiwan’s 24% quarterly growth was the most significant among the top 10 countries/regions, enabling it to achieve an average connection speed of 5 Mbps. In examining the average peak speeds around the world, only four countries/regions had speeds of 30 Mbps or more – South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Romania.

100 Fastest Cities Worldwide

In reviewing the top 100 fastest cities around the world based on average connection speeds during the third quarter of 2010, the report reveals the following findings:

* Cities in Asia overwhelmingly continued to dominate the top 100 list, once again accounting for three-quarters of the list, with 61 cities in Japan and 13 cities in South Korea and Hong Kong
* After several quarters in first place, Masan, South Korea fell to third place globally, bested by South Korean cities Taegu and Taejon
* Constanta, Romania ranked as the fastest city in Europe (#48 out of 100)
* Only thirteen U.S. cities made the list, with San Jose, CA ranking as the fastest U.S. city (#57 out of 100)

In the third quarter, the city view of average peak connection speeds in the U.S. was again dominated by cities on the West Coast. The Boston Metro area was the sole East Coast location to be included in the top 10.

Fastest U.S. States

The overall average connection speed for the U.S. as a whole in the third quarter of 2010 was 5.0 Mbps. Delaware continued to maintain its standing as the state with the fastest average connection speed. The overall average peak connection speed in the U.S. during the third quarter was 20 Mbps. In looking at high broadband adoption in the U.S. during the third quarter, trending was mostly positive. Quarterly increases in high broadband adoption of 10% or more were seen in 23 states and the District of Columbia, with New Mexico topping the list at 60% growth. In reviewing year-over-year changes in U.S. broadband adoption, four states (Alaska, Minnesota, Montana, and Alabama) grew more than 100% year-over-year, with Alaska’s massive 191% growth leading the way.

Akamai State of the Internet Report Spotlights Latest Global Speed and Attack Trends from Fixed and Mobile Internet Connections

Taiwan - Chairman of China Telecom has visited equipment suppliers and discussed roaming and an undersea cable

[capital vue] Taiwan's makers of telecom equipment are hoping to sell 60 million units of 3G phones worth almost $8.26 billion to China Telecom (0728.HK) on the arrival of Wang Xiaochu, chairman of China Telecom in Taiwan, reports, citing CENS.

According to the report, Taiwan’s telecom equipment suppliers are expected to win a majority of the procurement contracts as they are the main producers of CDMA 2000 mobile phones.

Taiwanese telecom equipment providers are also a major source of broadband internet access equipment.

The talks between Wang and executives of Taiwan’s telecom companies will cover the connection of undersea lightwave cables cross the straits, roaming services, value-added services for 3G mobile phones, the supply chain of mobile phones, wireless hotspots and fiber broadband.

Taiwan has a complete industrial chain for CDMA mobile phones. Genie Network Resources Management (GenieNRM) is a major supplier of chips for CDMA 2000 phones while HTC is a major mobile phone supplier to China Telecom.

China Telecom Chairman Visits Taiwan

Gartner - Cloud computing ranks as the top concern of CIO's agendas for 2011

[betanews] What do CIOs care most about? Cloud computing, says Gartner. They see the cloud as opportunity to freeing up resources that will be reinvested in future growth. Gartner released the findings of its 2011 CIO Agenda survey on Friday.

According to Gartner, the typical IT organization invests two-thirds of its budget to daily operations. Moving to the cloud will fee up between 35 percent to a whopping 50 percent of operational and infrastructure resources for reallocation elsewhere.

"Over the next five years, CIOs expect dramatic changes in IT as they adopt new technologies and raise their contribution to competitive advantage," Mark McDonald, a Gartner research vice president said in a statement. "Leaders will implement new infrastructure technologies to achieve increased efficiency and to redirect IT resources to create greater business impact." Resulting changes will range from "re-imaging IT's role in their organization to the creative destruction necessary to break old practices and redeploy resources to new initiatives."

More than 2,000 CIOs -- from 50 countries and 38 industries, responded to Gartner's survey. Three percent said that the majority of their IT infrastructure ran in the cloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS) technologies. While a seemingly small number, Gartner called cloud adoption as progressing faster than expected. Based on CIO responses, Gartner expects the number to rise to 43 percent within four years.

Cloud computing offers several important advantages to IT organizations:

1. Provide employees access to their files and data anytime, anywhere and on anything. This is true whether the organization self hosts or outsources cloud services to Microsoft, or another vendor.

2. Better secure data from loss or theft. Too much valuable data leaves organizations via laptops and smartphones, creating security and privacy risks. A properly-run cloud service can keep more files and data behind the firewall, rather than roaming the planet on employees' corporate-issued--or even personal--equipment.

3. Diminish maintenance hassles and overhead. If Microsoft releases a new version of CRM or Exchange, the average IT organization might take years rolling it out to employees. Hosted SaaS makes the newest version immediately available to everyone, without requiring time-consuming and costly testing, certification and deployment.

4. Reduce hardware upgrade costs. Many organizations can use existing client hardware longer and dramatically reduce server infrastructure when adopting cloud services, particularly those that are outsourced.

5. Reduce software upgrades and maintenance costs. For example, Microsoft's "Software Assurance" program requires subscription-like fees for the promise but not guarantee of future software versions. IT organizations can pay for exactly the number of hosted seats they need on real subscription basis and with assured upgrade benefits.

The aforementioned cost benefits are one of the key factors driving more IT organizations to the cloud. According to Gartner's CIO survey, most IT organizations will spend about the same in 2011 as the previous year, but well below pre-recession levels. Gartner doesn't expect IT budgets to return to 2008 levels for at least another three years.

"CIOs and IT have been boxed in between modest budget growth and growing legacy requirements," McDonald, said in the statement. Cloud computing, including SaaS and social networks enables "the CIO to redefine IT, giving it a greater focus on growth and strategic impact. These are two things that are missing from many organizations." Besides cloud computing, CIOs ranked virtualization as a priority, citing similar cost-savings and infrastructure-changing benefits. The two technologies are "well-suited for this budget reality, as they offer similar service levels at lower budget costs," McDonald said.

The entire list of priorities in order of importance:

  1. cloud computing;
  2. virtualization;
  3. mobile technologies;
  4. IT management;
  5. business intelligence;
  6. networking,
  7. voice and data communications;
  8. enterprise applications;
  9. collaboration technologies;
  10. infrastructure; and
  11. Web 2.0.

Gartner: Most CIOs have their heads in the clouds

Pakistan - Regulator claims to have achieved 90% of goals for 2010, including QoS surveys

[nation] Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has successfully achieved 90 percent of its targets and goals for the year 2010 and set new targets and goals for the year 2011.

The annual meeting of PTA held here on Friday reviewed and proposed targets and goals for the year 2011. Chairman Pakistan Telecommunications Authority Dr Mohammed Yaseen chaired the session while Member (Finance), Syed Nasrul Karim Ghaznavi, Member (Technical), Dr. Khawar Siddique Khokhar & Director Generals of the Authority attended the meeting, says a press release issued here on Friday.

On this occasion, the Chairman Pakistan Telecommunications Authority showed his satisfaction over the progress of different Pakistan Telecommunications Authority departments and appreciated their efforts in carrying the vision and objectives of the Authority.

He emphasized on the expeditious completion of incomplete tasks and directed the concerned divisional heads to supervise and ensure their compliance in this regard.
It was appreciated in the meeting that keeping its performance intact over the years, Enforcement Division, has conducted several surveys during 2010 on quality of service, which has helped Authority to take cognisance of the situation wherever necessary. In addition a lot many illegal networks were unearthed.

The Finance Division of PTA was successful in recovering long outstanding Pakistan Telecommunications Authority dues against the defaulter companies. The studies made by Strategy and Development Division were also appreciated.

The Law & Regulations Division and Commercial Division did a lot of research work and produced maximum Research Papers on different Regulatory Issues.

The ICT Directorate conducted consultancy on recommending various strategies for improving ICT situation in Pakistan it carried out some other important tasks like conducting 3G seminars in Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad.

PTA meets targets for 2010

M-Banking - MasterCard and Telefonica are to combine interests in Latin America

[wsj] MasterCard Inc. (MA) and Telefonica SA (TEF) unveiled a venture that would allow the Spanish telecommunications giant's mobile subscribers in 12 Latin American countries to use their cellphones for financial services such as person-to-person money transfers and bill payment.

The venture is seeking to tap potential customers who, for reasons such as having low income or living in remote areas, have little or no access to traditional banking systems. Latin America has been a bright spot for Telefonica, offsetting weakness at its Spanish operations. MasterCard, meanwhile, has seen payments grow faster outside the U.S. than in it.

The deal, available to Telefonica's Movistar-brand mobile subscribers in Latin America, will also feature services such as mobile airtime reload and retail purchases. The companies said it will "provide a better alternative to paying with cash for both consumers and merchants."

MasterCard's Class A shares closed Monday at $239, while Telefonica's American depositary shares finished at $25.28. Netiher was active in recent premarket trading.

MasterCard, Telefonica In Latin American Mobile-Finance Venture

Arab World - telecommunications sector in the Middle East witnessed a remarkable 24 percent growth of participants annually during the last 15 years

[kuwait times] The third workshop for the Salem Al-Ali Award Forum was held on Sunday night under the title 'Telecommunications in Kuwait and the Arab World: Reality and ambitions.' The workshop was hosted by Saad Al-Barrak, CEO and managing Director of Zain in Saudi Arabia (KSA). The forum's opening speech, made by IT Award Forum Coordinator Ahmed Idriss Al-Dossari, started with a biography of Al-Barrak's career. He also spoke about Al-Barrak's prizes and activities in the field of telecommunications in Kuwait w
hile he worked as a Zain Kuwait CEO.

Al-Barrak thanked the forum and Sheikh Salem Al-Ali for his unlimited support, for the award and for all those that serve the development goals of Kuwait and the Arab World. He spoke about the current situation of telecommunications in Kuwait, in the Middle East and its future. He pointed out that the telecommunications sector in the Middle East witnessed a remarkable 24 percent growth of participants annually during the last 15 years, especially in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The gross revenues witnessed in the Middle East, an increase of 15 percent annually, is the highest in the world. Focusing on Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries, Al-Barrak mentioned that the average revenue of every user in the region is the highest in the Middle East. He said that it is expected that the number of cell phone users will reach 7.2 billion in 2015, 324 million of which will be in the Middle East.

He pointed out that the telecommunications sector has reached a saturation point and that it is now time for legislative authorities to protect consumers and lead competition between different telecommunication companies. He added that competition amongst telecommunications companies is important for offering additional services for consumers.

Mideast telecom sector witnessed 24pc growth in last 15 years

Lebanon - New Prime Minister is Vice-Chairman of MTN, formerly of Investcom

[wsj] Former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire Sunni businessman, was poised to take the lead of Lebanon's new government after winning the backing of a Hezbollah-led majority in parliament.

An independent bloc in the legislature said Monday it would support Mr. Mikati, a parliamentarian representing the northern city of Tripoli. The move delivered Hezbollah and its allies enough votes for a victory in an election scheduled to conclude on Tuesday, in what would be the final blow to the party of Saad Hariri, the U.S.-backed former prime minister.

Hezbollah drove the collapse of Mr. Hariri's government by leading the withdrawal of ministers from his cabinet nearly two weeks ago.

Hezbollah's Choice Set to Lead Lebanon

Cyprus - CyTA will appeal a €3.4 million fine for violating competition regulations

[cyprus mail] THE Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) plans to appeal a €3.4 million fine for violating competition regulations to the Supreme Court.

The Committee for the Protection of Competition (CPC) fined the authority after complaints were filed by companies Netsmart and Thunderworx, claiming Cyta had refused to provide the necessary substructure and services so the two companies could become active in the local telecommunications market. The CPC ruled that this was a violation of free competition rules.

But speaking to the House Finance Committee yesterday, CyTA deputy manager George Koufaris said the semi-government organisation felt the CPC decision was wrong and had therefore decided to appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court. He added that CyTA paid €1.3 million back in December - the first installment for the fine - and planned to cough up a further €1.9 million now. The funds for the first fine, according to Koufaris, were taken from the authority's fund for unexpected expenses, while the second would come from Cyta's supplementary budget.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chairman, DIKO's Nicolas Papadopoulos, said any behaviour by semi government organisations that violate the principle of competition would never be accepted.

"Competition operates for the benefit of consumers and any organisation or company that violates these basic principles must deal with the sanctions of the law," said Papadopoulos.

CyTA to appeal anti-competition fine

Mobile - Telefonica and China Unicomare to expand their alliance

[bbc] Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica and Chinese operator China Unicom have agreed to expand their alliance, with both investing an additional $500m (£312m; 367m euros) in the other.

Following the new investments, Telefonica will hold a 9.7% stake in its Chinese partner, while China Unicom will own 1.4% of the Spanish firm.

Under the agreement, China Unicom could get a seat on Telefonica's board.

In 2009, the two partners agreed a tie-up and invested $1bn in each other.

Telefonica and China Unicom strengthen ties

Monday, January 24, 2011

Web 2.0 - McKinsey suggest that this technology is finally paying off

[mckinsey quarterly] Every new technology has its skeptics. In the 1980s, many observers doubted that the broad use of information technologies such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) to remake processes would pay off in productivity improvements—indeed, the economist Robert Solow famously remarked, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” Today, that sentiment has gravitated to Web 2.0 technologies. Management is trying to understand if they are a passing fad or an enduring trend that will underwrite a new era of better corporate performance.

New McKinsey research shows that a payday could be arriving faster than expected. A new class of company is emerging—one that uses collaborative Web 2.0 technologies intensively to connect the internal efforts of employees and to extend the organization’s reach to customers, partners, and suppliers. We call this new kind of company the networked enterprise. Results from our analysis of proprietary survey data show that the Web 2.0 use of these companies is significantly improving their reported performance. In fact, our data show that fully networked enterprises are not only more likely to be market leaders or to be gaining market share but also use management practices that lead to margins higher than those of companies using the Web in more limited ways.

The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday

Mergers - Analysis of how ICTs affect the successes and failures of outcomes

[mckinsey quarterly] With the number of mergers and acquisitions expected to rise over the next few years, many companies are looking for ways to improve their M&A skills—especially their ability to assess and integrate target companies successfully. We’ve all heard about deals where the stars seemed aligned but synergies remained elusive. In these cases, the acquirer and target may have had complementary strategies and finances, but the integration of technology and operations often proved difficult, usually because it didn’t receive adequate consideration during due diligence.

Understanding the strategic value of IT in M&A

Mobile handsets - Apple is changing the screws to increase profits and reduce customer choice

[wired] Apple doesn’t want to let you inside your iPhone, even if all you want to do is fix it.

That’s what repair company iFixit claims, at least. The company recently discovered that Apple has quietly switched the screws in the latest shipments of the iPhone 4 from a basic Phillips head to a tamper-resistant screw that you can’t remove with any screwdriver you’d buy at a hardware store.

The screw in question is called a “Pentalobe”, a five-point head with a round shape resembling a daisy.

How Apple Is Screwing Your iPhone

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Femtocells - Global survey commissioned by Femto Forum finds 60% of broadband households interested

[eurocomms] The Femto Forum and international research firm Parks Associates today announced that femtocells, small wireless base stations designed to provide five bars of local wireless signal strength, are climbing up global consumers’ “want” lists as determined by the most comprehensive survey to date of consumer attitudes toward femtocells in developed markets.

The survey, which included 6,100 consumers across six countries (China, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States), found that nearly 60% of broadband households with mobile phones are interested in femtocells, with improved indoor voice coverage serving as the leading driver for interest. Further findings show that femtocells could prevent large numbers of consumers from changing carriers due to poor voice coverage, while also strongly appealing to heavy mobile data customers.

The survey revealed that not only is the quality of in-building voice services the chief driver for femtocells, it is also the single most important criteria by which consumers rate their mobile operator. The improvement that femtocells bring to voice services could prevent up to 42% of consumers currently considering leaving their operator from doing so. Furthermore, 18% of consumers are willing to switch to an operator offering femtocells and 36% of consumers in multicarrier households might switch carriers in order to consolidate with a single provider offering the service.

The findings are also said to show that heavy mobile Wi-Fi users are among the most interested in femtocells, with approximately 83% finding them appealing. This finding contradicts the notion that Wi-Fi alone resolves all indoor coverage issues, and can be attributed to femtocells’ abilities to improve voice coverage and preserve battery life. In fact, heavy mobile data users of all descriptions were so interested in the technology that they were willing to pay the most for femtocell services among all surveyed.

Among those who wanted femtocells, 68% found at least one advanced femtocell service either very or extremely appealing. Such services include Virtual Home Number, which rings every cell phone in the home, or Family Alerts, which warn when a subscriber such as a child or elderly relative has left or returned home.

“Despite the survey covering mature mobile markets, the results show that consumers’ biggest concern remains the most basic one – voice coverage. This is not only driving significant interest in femtocells, it is also the central reason why most consumers switch wireless operators,” said Harry Wang, director of mobile product research, Parks Associates. “However, the appeal of femtocells clearly extends beyond improved coverage. A significant number of users are very excited by the advanced services enabled by femtocells, indicating that the appeal extends widely. Beyond this, heavy users of mobile data are both the most interested in femtocells and the most likely to pay for the service.”

“This research underscores the importance that femtocells will have on a global scale, and is a clear indicator of the widespread adoption that we can expect in the coming year as consumers become more aware of them,” said Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum. “Already in the US, femtocells outnumber outdoor cell towers, with subscribers installing these plug-and-play access points to greatly improve wireless coverage in their homes and offices. And, while coverage is a key benefit, there are a variety of other advantages that femtocells enable including improved battery life and faster data speeds that will allow for advanced consumer applications and services.”

Global survey finds 60% of broadband households interested in femtocells

World Bank - An interview with its CIO on the transformation of its use of ICTs

[mckinsey quarterly] Shelley Leibowitz has spent much of her career leading IT organizations at some of the financial industry’s top firms, including Morgan Stanley and Greenwich Capital (now part of Royal Bank of Scotland). A year ago, she left Wall Street for a new challenge: to become CIO of the World Bank Group. The heart of that opportunity involves modernizing the institution’s IT capabilities so that technology makes a vital contribution to its global mission of reducing poverty and promoting economic development. Shelley Leibowitz spoke with McKinsey’s Aamer Baig at the World Bank’s Washington, DC, headquarters about its new directions and managing change, as well as lessons learned during her transition.

Transforming public-sector IT: An Interview with the World Bank’s CIO

Bhutan - An evaluation of a project to bring telecoms to rural communities

[itu news] A cooperation project between the Royal Government of Bhutan, the Government of India, ITU and the Universal Postal Union connects isolated communities.

Bhutan is, indeed, a country of remote villages that have remained largely disconnected from the world and from one another until recently. News travelled as it had for centuries, on foot. Telephones, and not to mention data services that are so common elsewhere, were simply non-existent. Even today, Bhutan’s telephone penetration stands at 12.2 per cent in urban settings and a mere 4.9 per cent in rural areas. In the most connected community, Internet connections are present in less than 4 per cent of households with most communities under 1 per cent. And yet it is generally accepted that access to information and communication technology (ICT) services is an important component of both social and economic development. ICT encourages national and international trade, facilitates both business and personal banking transactions and lays the foundation for tourism, construction and other key employment sectors.

ICT Success stories: Reaching the remote in Bhutan

China - China Mobile wll trial TD-LTE in six cities at a cost of RMB 1.5 billion

After some delay, China will launch TD-LTE this year. China Mobile (CMCC) plans to build trial networks in six cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou with an average 500 BTSs per city, large enough for commercial service. CMCC plans to spend 1.5 billion yuan ($225 million) for the project. In the meantime, MIIT, the government agency that regulates the telecom industry, has reportedly allocated a bandwidth of 50MHz between 2.5-2.6GHz, a spectrum very likely for future LTE service.

Can LTE Boost China Mobile?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

USA - Mosaic dispute over roaming on AT&T wireless networks

[fiercewireless] The data roaming debate before the FCC continues to spark acrimonious arguments among the nation's wireless carriers, this time with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Wisconsin carrier Mosaic Telecom trading barbs over their data roaming negotiations.

In a Jan. 14 filing with the FCC, Mosaic wrote that it attempted to add a 3G data component to its existing 2G voice and data roaming agreement with AT&T, but that AT&T said it wasn't interested in such a deal. However, Mosaic said AT&T changed its tune in November, after the issue garnered the attention of FCC officials.

"AT&T did in fact reach out to Mosaic on November 15, 2010 to negotiate a 3G data roaming agreement. Mosaic responded with proposed roaming rates on the very same day. However, after a short series of e-mail exchanges, AT&T has stopped communicating with Mosaic."

Added Mosaic: "AT&T's brief epoch of ‘outreach' to the GSM mobile carrier community ... was posturing, plain and simple."

AT&T took issue with Mosaic's claims. In a Jan. 18 filing with the FCC, AT&T blasted Mosaic, arguing the carrier distorted the exchange. "Mosaic omits to note that its proposal was to immediately reduce the contract rates for all roaming traffic--2G and 3G--by more than 70 percent from the levels to which AT&T and Mosaic had agreed in their existing contract," AT&T wrote. "Moreover, AT&T has not ‘stopped communicating' with Mosaic--AT&T is in the process of responding to Mosaic's rate proposal."

AT&T also said Mosaic's 3G devices operate in AWS, 1900 MHz and 850 MHz bands, meaning that the carrier can rely on other operators, including T-Mobile USA, for roaming services.

Mosaic, part of Chibardun Telephone Cooperative, offers wireless service in Wisconsin. The company this month signed a deal with Nokia Siemens Networks to upgrade its network to LTE technology.

The FCC is currently considering whether to apply automatic roaming rules to mobile data. Larger wireless carriers have argued that the FCC should not mandate data roaming agreements, while smaller carriers have argued the opposite.

Indeed, AT&T's dispute with Mosaic isn't the first dust-up in filings on the issue. For example, the Rural Cellular Association and the Rural Telecommunications Group in a joint FCC filing wrote that, "AT&T told RCA it will not negotiate any 3G data roaming agreements unless it helps to fill-in its nationwide coverage map." AT&T also has spared with T-Mobile over 3G data roaming.

Mosaic: AT&T won't let us roam onto 3G network

Indonesia - Regulator is to investigate mobile roaming charges

[the jakarta globe] The Business Competition Supervisory Commission laid out its agenda for the year, with plans to prioritize probes of cellular roaming charges in the telecommunications sector and electricity rate hikes.

Nawir Messi, the newly elected chairman of the antimonopoly body, also known as the KPPU, on Thursday said there were indications that roaming charges, both national and international, were too expensive and overburdening consumers.

“The amount you pay compared to the amount of time you use the telephone while roaming may be too expensive. We’re still investigating the pricing method of the roaming tariff and benchmarking the tariff with other countries,” he said on Thursday.

He said there was no objective explanation on the roaming charge pricing.

In addition, the KPPU has received reports from the public that the charges were too expensive compared to other fees for other services such as SMS charges, which have decreased over the years.

International roaming charges vary from $1 per minute to $4 per minute depending on the call’s destination.

The tariff is also set in cooperation with the destination country’s mobile phone operators

The KPPU also said there were indications of unfairness in a government attempt to cap electricity price hikes at 18 percent.

“The policy created discrimination among industries. While some industries ‘enjoy’ the capping, others pay the tariff according to the amount of electricity that they use,” he said.

In July, the government implemented a regulation stating that no industry would experience an electricity rate hike greater than 18 percent.

The regulation came after state electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara, backed by the government, decided to increase its electricity rates.

Several industries claimed the uncapped rate hike would raise their power bills by up to 80 percent. PLN removed the cap last year, saying it would violate business competition laws by creating unhealthy competition.

Nawir said the policy would be revised if it was proven to violate competition laws.

In addition, the KPPU plans to focus on monitoring the energy, food and public infrastructure sectors, as well as companies with high market share.

“These sectors are prone to practices of monopolies or cartels. We’re here to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” Nawir said, warning that economic challenges may tempt companies to engage in unhealthy practices.

“Rising oil prices, the food price crisis and a possibility of capital outflows may prompt the government to shift its economic policies. Any changes in the economic policy that could hurt business players may trigger them to cooperate instead of compete,” he said.

Roaming Fees, Rate Hikes Squarely in KPPU’s Sights

UAE - Etisalat reported 200% growth in roaming traffic

[bikyamasr] Etisalat has witnessed at 200 percent growth in roaming traffic in 2010, the leading mobile operator in the Middle East and North Africa announced on Monday. This includes traffic from Etisalat’s United Arab Emirates customers, as well as its international clientele.

The observation was made concurrently at both the Pacific Telecoms Council (PTC) in Hawaii and at Roaming Congress MENA 2011, which Etisalat is hosting this week in Dubai.

Ali Amiri, Etisalat’s Executive Vice President, Carrier and Wholesale, suggested the design of a new roaming strategy. “We are witnessing a trend in roaming, and in particular data roaming, which is undergoing exponential growth. We have seen our data roaming traffic increase more than 200% last year,” he said, adding, “More people are roaming more often and they are accessing more services through increasing numbers of specialist devices. These are trends that will continue for years to come and as such, we see no reason for any slowing in the growth of roaming traffic.”

Abdulraheem Aqeel, Vice President, Service Delivery Management, Carrier and Wholesale Services, Etisalat, gave a keynote speech at the Roaming Congress in which he explained the technology trends driving roaming growth. Aqeel attributed the growth to four aspects: the ability of mobile operators to act as Internet Service Providers, the increase of consumers using the same device for personal and professional matters, the increasing in web browsing, and the implementation of new services, such as location-based applications.

“Etisalat provides a Roaming Replicator service which effectively provides access to more than 600 networks worldwide through a single connection to many operators across the Middle East, Africa and Asia region. This has proven to be an efficient method of rolling out services as our group expands into new countries and provides a competitive advantage in many of our emerging markets. Our roaming hub is one of the key services from our Smart Hub in the UAE,” Abdulraheem concluded.

Etisalat sees 200% growth in roaming traffic in 2010

Myanmar (Burma) - China Unicom has an agreement for international mobile roaming

[china tech news] Just in time for the heated Chinese travel season, China Unicom and Myanmar Post and Telecommunications have signed a agreement in Kunming, Yunnan, to jointly provide GSM international roaming service to China Unicom's users in Myanmar.

This is reportedly the first international roaming service agreement signed between Myanmar and an overseas telecom operator, making China Unicom the only operator in China and the first in the world to launch this service in the country.

Myanmar Post and Telecommunications is the only telecom company in Myanmar, which is the largest foreign trade partner for China's Yunnan province. The trade volume between Myanmar and Yunnan accounts for over 50% of the trade volume between Myanmar and China.

China Unicom Launches International Roaming Service In Myanmar

China - At the end of 2010, mobile sbscribers were reported as over 840 million

[reuters] China Mobile, China's largest mobile carrier, said its total mobile subscribers in December rose to 584 million, including 20.7 million 3G subscribers.

China Unicom, the country's No. 2 mobile carrier, said its total mobile subscribers increased to 167.4 million for the month, including 14.1 million 3G users.

China Telecom said its total mobile subscribers rose to 90.5 million in December.

China's mobile subscriber total rises to 841.9 mln in Dec

India - Appelate body upheld the fine against Uninor for failure to construct its network

[economic times] Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Wednesday directed Uninor to pay Rs 6 crore to the government as penalty for delay in rolling out services in two circles, as per its license conditions. Passing an interim order, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal directed Uninor to pay 6 crore, 60% of the penalty imposed by the Department of Telecom , in the circles of Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. TDSAT's direction came over a petition filed by Uninor challenging 10.30 crore penalty imposed by DoT for not complying with the rollout obligations.

TDSAT's bench also issued notice to DoT, directing it to file its reply in two weeks.

Telecom tribunal slaps 6-cr penalty on Uninor

India - Three Chinese building a network in Nepal were arrested having crossed the border into India

[afp] Indian police said Wednesday they had arrested three Chinese employees of telecom group Huawei who strayed into Indian territory from Nepal.

The two men and a woman were seized on Monday in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, about 180 kilometres (110 miles) from state capital Lucknow, border police officer Deva Anand told AFP.

"The three Chinese nationals were arrested because they were found inside Indian territory without a passport and visa," he said by telephone from Bahraich district.

The suspects, who said they were installing mobile phone towers in Nepal, were produced before a local court on Tuesday and were remanded in custody for 14 days.

Huawei's spokesman in India, Suresh Vaidyanathan, said the company was "aware of the arrests and was cooperating fully with the police to determine the facts."

The Indian government has expressed its suspicions about Chinese telecom providers in the past.

Last year, it restricted imports of Chinese equipment and blocked several deals between Indian companies and Chinese vendors amid fears the kit could be vulnerable to hackers or be compromised by Chinese intelligence agents.

Chinese telecom companies have big hopes of doing business in the Indian mobile market, the fastest growing in the world with nearly 600 million subscribers.

Indian police arrest 3 Chinese telecom employees

UK - An undersea cable is being laid to support broadband for Shetland Isles

[bbc] Work to connect Shetland to the outside world through broadband thanks to a fibre-optic telecoms cable has begun.

Shetland Islands Council decided to invest £1.4m to tie in to a link that Faroese Telecom laid down to Scotland, rather than wait for BT to do it.

The Shetland Telecom project is expected to take three months to lay the 13 miles of cable.

The hope is the link will attract new business to the islands, as well as supporting existing business.

The initial land work will be followed by a sub sea connection.

It will replace the relatively slow and sometimes unreliable current link.

Shetland fibre-optic telecoms cable work starts

Tunisia - The fall of the government has forced Tunisie Telecom to delay its IPO

[wireless federation] State-owned telecoms operator Tunisie Telecom (TT) may not be able to go ahead with an investor road show for its planned listing in Paris and Tunis due to the unstable political situation in the country. TT had been expected to hold investor meetings in London, Paris and Switzerland in the coming week.

According to Daniel Broby, chief investment officer at Silk Invest, the state of emergency and departure of the president will clearly delay the Tunisie Telecom IPO. The advisers to the IPO will, in our opinion, have to err on the side of caution and delay to the second quarter or beyond.’ As it stands, Tunisia’s government holds a 65% stake of TT, with the rest held jointly by Dubai’s TECOM Investments and Dubai Investment Group (DIG).

Tunisie Telecom forced to delay its initial public offering (Tunisia)

India - Prime Minister launched the mobile number portability service, intended to boost competition

[] The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, who formally launched the nation-wide rollout of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service here on Thursday said telecom sector is one of India's known and praised success stories, and added that the occasion marks a very important milestone in the evolution of telecommunications in India.

"Many years ago, someone asked me to define development and I thought about it and the simplest answer I could improvise was that development is about widening human choices and in the Telecom Sector, what we are witnessing today and what we have witnessed in the last decade, is a shining example of how our telecommunications services have helped to widen human choices in a very important area of nation's economic activity," said Dr. Singh.

"I am therefore very happy to participate in this function to launch the Mobile Number Portability service all over our country. Today's occasion marks a very important milestone in the evolution of telecommunications in our country," he added.

Speaking at a function in Vigyan Bhawan to mark the occasion, Dr. Singh complimented Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and his talented team, the telecom service providers and the Mobile Number Portability operators for this great innovative step forward.

Praising the success of the telecom sector, Dr. Singh said: "Telecom services in our country have witnessed very rapid growth over the last decade and today we are the fastest growing telecom market in the world."

"The prices of our telecom services are among the lowest globally. We can be reasonably proud of our achievements in this very important sector, which has the potential to act as a catalyst for the growth of other sectors of our economy," he added.

Dr. Singh further said with a major contribution from mobile services we have already achieved a tele-density of about 65 percent.

"The Mobile subscriber base has today reached around 750 million from a mere 33 million in March 2004. On the average about 15 million new subscribers are being added each month. More of our countrymen have been touched by this revolution than by any other program, product or service in the history of our nation and that too at a pace unprecedented in the world at large," said Dr. Singh.

"Mobile Number portability (MNP) which is being launched today will allow customers to change their mobile operators in their Service Areas while retaining the mobile numbers originally assigned to them, thereby avoiding the inconvenience of switching to new numbers," he added.

The Prime Minister further said this service would enable a subscriber to exercise his or her choice and get products and services in accordance with his or her preferences.

"It is expected that this service will go a long way in enhancing customer satisfaction. Affordability has always been an issue for any new service. I have been told that keeping this in mind the service of Mobile Number Portability has been made accessible and affordable to all by keeping the charges as low as Rs 19," said Dr. Singh.

"Moreover, it is up to the service provider to charge or not to charge the incoming customer and so a customer may actually end up paying even less for this service," he added.

The Prime Minister said competition all over the world enhances the efficiency of businesses, and improves the availability and quality of products and services.

"The telecommunications sector is a prime example where the fruits of increased competition are visible to all. It is believed that Mobile Number Portability, besides enabling a subscriber to change operators without losing his or her original number, will also trigger greater competition," said Dr. Singh.

"The telecom service providers will seek to improve the range and quality of their services in order to retain their existing subscribers and also to attract subscribers from other operators. This should further spur the growth of the Indian telecom sector," he added.

PM flags off MNP service, says telecom sector one of India's success stories

UK - Rural broadband prices could fall as a result of action by regulator

[PA] Rural areas of the UK could be set for cheaper broadband following new rules reducing the amount BT can charge for its wholesale service.

Communications regulator Ofcom said it had proposed cutting the prices BT can charge in parts of the country where it is the sole provider of wholesale broadband services, which is mainly in rural areas.

The proposed price reductions are between 10.75% and 14.75% below inflation, which Ofcom said could increase competition between retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

The changes could also lead to a better quality service by enabling ISPs to allocate more bandwidth per customer to deliver faster broadband, Ofcom said.

Nearly 12% of UK households, or around three million homes and businesses, could benefit from the proposals, the regulator added.

They are mostly in rural areas including parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the south west of England, Norfolk, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland.

Ofcom said it expected to publish a statement on the new controls in the summer and planned to introduce them shortly afterwards.

BT said it was crucial for the proposals to strike a balance between control and incentives to invest in rural areas.

A spokesman said: "BT understands Ofcom's desire to move from voluntary to more formal wholesale broadband pricing controls in the most rural parts of the country given this defined market is getting smaller as deregulation expands elsewhere.

"It is key that the details strike the right balance between control and incentives to invest in rural areas. As the UK's main investor in rural broadband, we will engage fully in the consultation process which follows to make our case."

Rural areas may get cheap broadband

India - Govt is planing a national broadband network to 160 million homes

[global telecoms business] India is planning a carrier-neutral national broadband network designed to connect 160m homes in three years

India’s telecom minister will unveil a blueprint for the country’s National Broadband Plan by the end of March. Kapil Sibal, the minister for communications and information technology, has said that the plan is to connect 160 million households with high-speed internet connections by 2014.

Sibal has consulted industry representatives to finalise the framework for the NBP and develop a strategy to roll out optical fibre. According to the plan, the fibre network will be treated as a national resource and will be equally available to operators for providing broadband services.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended the NBP should be funded through a universal service obligation fund and loans from the government.
The minister met key stakeholders including the regulator, industry representatives and mobile, internet and cable providers as well as Rail-Tel and the Power Grid Corporation.

India to unveil national broadband plan

USA - President has called for a systematic review in order to reduce red tape

[washington post] President Obama on Tuesday ordered every federal agency to conduct a systematic review of existing regulations, a concerted effort to banish red tape at a time when the administration is eager to promote economic growth and to repair its fractured relations with the business community.

With a new executive order and two presidential memorandums, Obama laid out a regulatory strategy that aims to walk the fine line between protecting public health and safety and freeing business to pursue profits. Many of its principles are already in use, senior administration officials said. But the formal order puts agencies across the government on notice that, when making new rules, they must avoid "unreasonable burdens on business," as Obama put it in an op-ed in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

"Over the past two years, the goal of my administration has been to strike the right balance. And today, I am signing an executive order that makes clear that this is the operating principle of our government," Obama wrote. "This order requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive."

Business groups, such as the Business Roundtable, have been calling for months for such a review.

Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the move was a positive first step, but he added that the administration needs to do more for the business community.

"Congress should reclaim some of the authority it has delegated to the agencies and implement effective checks and balances on agency power ... " he said, "repealing or replacing outdated or ineffective regulations, ensuring realistic cost-benefit analyses using quality data." He said the review should include the recently enacted health care and financial reform laws.

Republicans in Congress generally praised the order but also urged Obama to do more to assist business.

"Today's Executive Order from President Obama shows that he heard the same message I did in the last election - that Americans are sick and tired of Washington's excessive overreach and overspending," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement. "While I applaud his efforts on this new Executive Order today, we must go further."

Senior administration officials said Obama has given agencies 120 days to create a plan for reviewing regulations. The order also lays out a set of principles for adopting new rules, including that agencies "must consider costs and benefits and choose the least burdensome path."

In the Wall Street Journal piece, Obama cited several models he wants to see agencies follow, including the Environmental Protection Agency's elimination of a rule last month that required companies to treat the artificial sweetener saccharin like other dangerous chemicals. He also cited collaboration between the EPA and the Department of Transportation last year to "turn a tangle of rules" on fuel efficiency "into one aggressive new standard."

And this week, Obama wrote, "the FDA will lay out a new effort to improve the process for approving medical devices, to keep patients safer while getting innovative and life-saving products to market faster."

Obama orders all fed agencies to review regulations

UK - Regulator has modified incumbent operator's wholesale pricing with a view to reducing retail prices

[it pro] Ofcom has forced BT to cut its Wholesale broadband prices in areas where it is the sole provider of internet connectivity.

By lowering the cost of leasing BT’s broadband infrastructure, Ofcom hopes to encourage more competition from retail internet service providers (ISPs) in the often rural areas and to pass on cost savings to the consumer.

The regulator has proposed price cuts of between 10.75 per cent and 14.75 per cent below inflation.

“Ofcom’s aim is to incentivise BT Wholesale to continue to improve its efficiency,” said a statement from Ofcom. “This could make it cheaper for other communications providers to roll out services and should ultimately benefit consumers in those areas through lower prices.”

The price cuts could influence up to three million homes in the UK – 12 per cent of all households – in areas such as the South West, Norfolk, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland, as well as remote areas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ofcom also hoped the changes would help improve broadband speeds as ISPs would be able to buy more capacity. It also confirmed it would exclude ADSL 2+ connections from the price cuts, encouraging BT to invest in the new technology that could carry much faster speeds over copper networks.

The new pricing is set to come into effect in the summer.

Ofcom orders BT Wholesale price cuts

Forecast - 3G) networks will continue to be the dominant wireless networking platform of choice throughout 2011

[prnewswire] Deloitte today released its forecast of top themes and trends for the telecommunications sector in 2011, and predicted that third-generation (3G) networks will continue to be the dominant wireless networking platform of choice throughout 2011 even as fourth-generation (4G) networks begin to proliferate in the market and demand for faster mobile data upload and download speeds continues to increase.

"While 4G networks will offer customers a substantially enhanced data experience, the reality is that 3G network technologies will continue to serve as the backbone for the majority of mobile data traffic for the next few years to come," said Phil Asmundson, vice chairman and technology, media and telecommunications industry leader, Deloitte LLP. "As carriers look to leverage their current investments in 3G networks and still unutilized 3G spectrum, Deloitte believes the adoption of next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks will be deployed in coordination with existing 3G networks to maximize overall return on investment and customer experience."

Among Deloitte's top telecommunications trends for 2011, highlights include:

Getting to 4G cheaply: will many carriers opt for 3.5G instead?

In 2011, the deployment of next generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks will fall short of industry expectations due to the continuing viability of the latest third generation (3G) wireless technologies. Fewer than 30 LTE carriers in six countries are likely to offer commercial service by the end of 2011. The adoption of 4G might be slower than expected because some mobile providers have not fully utilized their existing 3G spectrum. Also, LTE, as it exists today, does not offer the quantum leap in speeds and features over 3G as experienced in previous generational upgrades.

Wi-Fi complements cellular broadband for "data on the move"

In 2011, the volume of data uploaded or downloaded from portable devices via public Wi-Fi networks will grow at a much faster rate (25 to 50 percent) than the volume carried over cellular broadband networks. Wi-Fi's increasing share of the mobile device data load will likely have a ripple effect by slowing the growth rate of cellular broadband traffic, potentially helping improve margins for mobile providers' data services.

Cellular broadband will increasingly revolve around specific applications for users that can justify the cost premium by taking full advantage of the technology's wide-area coverage, mobility, and integrated security.

What is "in store" for Wi-Fi: online comparison shopping on aisle 3

In 2011, 25 percent of North American big box and anchor tenant retailers are likely to begin offering free in-store Wi-Fi access to shoppers. In the past, retailers have resisted offering Wi-Fi access, fearing it would allow consumers to comparison shop using their smartphones or tablets. However, this fear may have been misguided. When shoppers do in-store online comparison shopping, preliminary and anecdotal evidence suggests they are more likely to purchase at that store, especially when an online search reveals that competitors' prices are similar. In-store Wi-Fi can become a way to enhance the customer's in-store experience and allow store employees to spend more time on service and sales, instead of responding to routine inquiries.

Video calling: the base goes mainstream, but usage remains niche

In 2011, video calling will be cheaper, better, and more widely available than ever; a boom in demand, however, is unlikely. While video calling continues to grow, the vast majority of business and consumer calls will remain purely voice-based; most callers do not yet perceive a need for video. Despite many recent innovations, video calls still cannot compete with the richness and depth of face-to-face meetings.

Deloitte Analysis of Top Telecommunications Themes and Trends for 2011

Mobile phones - Sony Ericsson is looking to a new line of smartphones to boost growth

[reuters] The company, which on Thursday posted fourth-quarter earnings well short of analyst expectations, last month launched the Xperia Arc and further launches are due next month based on Google's Android software.

But the new models are not due to hit stores in time to boost first-quarter earnings, leaving the group with an awkward gap having already had to slash prices to attract Christmas shoppers to its aging handsets.

With price pressure on old models continuing, the new launches will come too late to have significant impact on first-quarter figures at the company, a 50-50 venture of Sweden's Ericsson and Japan's Sony Corp.

"We always have profitability top of mind, but I do have to admit there will be some challenges in Q1," Chief Financial Officer Bill Glasier told analysts on a conference call.

He said the company was targeting profitability in the current three-month period.

In the fourth quarter Sony Ericsson shipped fewer phones than expected and at a lower average price -- down 12 percent from previous quarter at 136 euros.

Its poor fourth-quarter performance contrasted sharply with iPhone maker Apple Inc, whose results beat forecasts this week.

"It's clear Sony Ericsson had to work hard to maintain profitability," said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. "Prices came under substantial pressure due to both competition and a product mix lacking high-tier, higher margin offerings."

Sony Ericsson Chief Executive Bert Nordberg admitted the company had underestimated the speed needed to launch new products, but said it would be quicker to the market this year.

"We expect a better year than last," Nordberg said when asked about outlook for the venture's sales and profits in 2011.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said: "The competition is so tough you cannot afford not to refresh your portfolio ... "They need to step up their pace of product introduction."

Shipments in the quarter totaled 11.2 million, up on the previous quarter but down 23 percent on the same period in 2009.

Sony Ericsson expects modest growth in the handset market as a whole this year.

The handset market has recovered from a slump in 2009 to grow around 13 percent last year, a Reuters poll of 32 banks, brokerages and research firms showed.

Growth has been strongest in the smartphone segment -- PC-like handsets that offer Internet surfing, gaming and easy access to social networking sites like Facebook.

Sony Ericsson has also slashed costs and focused on high-end smartphones that run on the Android operating system, turning a string of quarterly losses into profit last year.

That momentum seems now to have stalled and Sony Ericsson has not kept up with more nimble rivals such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.

"The overriding (message) ... here will be that it's a disappointment and I think it's going to be in stark contrast to numbers we will see coming out of Samsung in particular, but also Motorola, LG Electronics and HTC," said Nicolas von Stackelberg, analyst at Macquarie Research.

"Those we think are the winners currently of the smartphone boom. Apple is already there, doing very well."

Sony Ericsson made a pretax profit of 35 million euros ($47 million) on sales of 1.53 billion. Analysts in a Reuters poll had an average forecast for a pretax profit of 79.7 million euros and sales of 1.82 billion.

Sony Ericsson is looking to a new line of smartphones to boost growth after a disappointing end to last year

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Guernsey - Broadband speeds are rising from 4 to 8 Mbps

[bbc] Maximum broadband internet speeds will be increasing across the Bailiwick of Guernsey from Monday.

Cable and Wireless is upgrading the network from a maximum of 4Mb per second to 8Mb per second.

Factors such as the computer's distance from the telephone exchange will dictate the actual connection speed.

Cable and Wireless is installing additional street boxes to boost the speed for those people who live further from the telephone exchanges.

Users who buy their service from Cable and Wireless will get the speed increase at no cost.

Anyone who gets the service from a different internet service provider will also get the increased speed, but it will be down to their provider to decide if they will have to pay more.

Guernsey maximum broadband speeds to double

Friday, January 07, 2011

Jersey - Jersey Telecom to offer FTTH up to 1 Gbps in new developments in St Helier

[comms-express] Households and businesses in Jersey are benefiting from superfast broadband speeds thanks to a new fibre trial launched by a local provider.

Jersey Telecom is delivering broadband with speeds of up to 1Gb across a network of fibre cables.

Residents living in the Castle Quays development in St Helier were the first to enjoy the new service, which is believed to be the fastest outside South Korea.

"We don't think anyone else is doing this at the moment," said Jersey Telecom chief executive Graeme Miller.

"One of the most difficult things is demonstrating the speed because we have not been able to find any commercial sites that provide a gigabit link that people can use."

The price of the service, once commercially available, has not yet been confirmed. However, Mr Miller did indicate that he expects it to be around £100 a month.

It comes after the Shetland Islands Council got the green light from the European Union to launch a new superfast broadband project that will link fibre cables with mainland Scotland.

1Gb fibre broadband trial launched in Jersey

Australia - Concern that the NBN may repeat mistakes made with the privatisation of Telstra

[smh] Bitter experience shows that private monopolies gouge their customers.

WHITE elephant or monumental achievement? A few experts have been buzzing this week with confident predictions of how the federal government's plan to spend $36 billion on a national broadband network will turn out. Some know it's a stinker; others are equally convinced it's a winner.

What on earth are we to make of this? Two sharply opposed camps of expert opinion, each apparently certain of the other's delusion.
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The answer is to beware of them all, because nobody - including the Gillard government and the company it has set up to build the broadband network - really knows for sure how the NBN is going to turn out, particularly as an investment for taxpayers.

The only thing we can be sure of at this time is the promised physical performance of the network.

By the mediocre standards of today's broadband - with its reliance on the old Telstra copper wire network - this new thing will be a corker, among the best in the world. More speed and capacity than you can poke a USB stick at.

But predictions about the NBN's financial viability - and, by extension, whether it is a prudent investment of a colossal, unprecedented sum of public money - are highly speculative.

Big unknowns surround the network. How many Australians will be prepared to cough up a lot more money every month for faster broadband speeds? Will new, or even existing wireless technologies pull the rug from underneath public demand for the NBN?

Be in no doubt: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is taking an educated punt on the future, and splashing billions of our taxes to back it. Publicly he expresses confidence. Privately he should be worried.

The business plan released this week by NBN Co forecast a 7.04 per cent rate of return on investment. That's ridiculously precise for this stage in proceedings, years out from the completion of the network.

Moreover, there isn't a respectable private business in Australia that would go for an investment offering such a paltry return. Only taxpayers' money could be invested so ''courageously'', as Sir Humphrey Appleby would say.

Should we, as taxpayers, live in fear of the financial failure of the NBN? Perversely, perhaps not. If alternative predictions of a prosperous future for the network turn out to be correct, this virtually assures another, potentially more gruesome prospect: that the government will seek to cash in on the success and sell it into private hands.

As it stands, the government has left open the question of NBN's ownership, thanks partly to the Greens, who have secured a deal for a parliamentary vote before any decision to privatise the network.

But the mere fact that private ownership of the NBN is on the table is a cause for concern. Parliament has only recently passed legislation to separate Telstra's wholesale and retail arms - in effect, partially correcting the monumental error of its initial transformation from a public monopoly into a private one. Why would we do this again?

The Howard government's privatisation of Telstra will go down as one of its crowning disgraces. With three separate public share offerings, it achieved what should have been impossible: the simultaneous fleecing of millions of mum-and-dad investors (who were fooled into buying shares at inflated prices) and the gouging of millions of phone and internet customers by a private monopoly.

When Telstra's fixed-line network is eventually retired, it is envisaged that the NBN will essentially be a replacement natural monopolist, albeit as a purely wholesale supplier to the various competing retail telcos.

If it remains publicly owned, the NBN will doubtless tend to exhibit some of the sins expected of a vast government monopoly, such as inefficiency and waste. The only significant check on these failings will be the government of the day and, ultimately, the voters. It is far from a perfect option.

The alternative is potentially worse. A private NBN, being profit-driven, may well be a more efficient and lean operation than a public one. The problem is that, in the absence of competitors, the private operator - no matter how strictly regulated - will also be strongly motivated to take undue commercial advantage of its position, leaving customers to pick up the tab.

Telstra's record in this regard speaks for itself. For years it earned excessive profits by abusing its monopoly power and overcharging for fixed-line phone services, while also gouging loyal customers on mobile and internet services. It was only the arrival of new technology and aggressive alternative providers in the mobile market that finally stripped Telstra of some of its power, and forced it to accept lower prices.

The dominant pragmatic wing of the Labor Party long ago embraced the view that government ownership of business enterprises was, by and large, neither necessary nor desirable. And previous governments were right to sell off businesses such as Qantas and Commonwealth Bank, which operate in relatively competitive markets.

But the monopoly NBN will be a very different animal and, like Telstra, difficult to tame if it is sold into private hands. It has taken 13 years to partially undo the Telstra debacle. Let's not create another.

Telstra sell-off was a mess. Let's hope we've learnt for the NBN

UK - Approval has been given for state aid to link Shetland to the mainland

[ispreview] The European Union (EU) has officially granted state aid clearance to the Shetland Islands Council (SIC) for homes and businesses on the islands to benefit from a new fibre optic broadband cable link with mainland Scotland (UK).

The Shetland Fibre Optic Network (SFON) project will, in total, cost roughly £1.1 million to complete but could significantly improve broadband ISP connections for island residents. Until now only the Faroe Islands have been able to benefit from the original 2007 laid cable after BT refused to extend it.

According to the Shetland Times, a fibre optic cable running between Lerwick and Hoswick is now expected to be completed before summer 2011; work to hook up the other towns will commence later in the year. It was revealed in September 2010 (here) that £367,500 of the total was to come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

EU Green Lights Shetland Islands UK Fibre Optic Broadband Project

Broadband - 72% of Irish homes have Internet access, but only 58% have broadband

[tech central] New figures from EU body Eurostat released today have claimed that 72% of Irish households have access to the Internet.

For broadband connections, however, Ireland is now at 58% of households, three points lower than the EU average.

Commenting on the figures, Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan said: "In examining Ireland's broadband story, we must look at the official figures... In the last three years, over €1.5 billion of public and private monies have been invested in our broadband networks. We have gone from 600,000 subscribers in 2007, to over 1.5 million.

The Government's €223 million National Broadband Scheme has made broadband available to over 99% of the Irish population. We are now at near to universal coverage. A new Rural Broadband Scheme will guarantee we will get to the final less than 1% by the end of 2012."

Read more:

Eurostat figures show 72% of households have Internet access

Australia - A new design of the NBN, required by the regulator, will improve access for operators

[business spectator] NBN Co, the company building the $36 billion national broadband network (NBN), has been forced to redesign the project after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rejected its plan for just 14 points of interconnect (POIs) - located in capital cities, The Australian Financial Review reports.

The broadband provider will now have to offer internet service providers (ISPs) about 120 places to connect to the network. Industry analysts, however, are unsure how the large telcos – including Telstra, Optus and AAPT – will react, given they lobbied for between 200 and 400 POIs, the report says.

Before news of the radical redesign emerged, Optus had "warned of compensation claims running into several hundred millions of dollars if NBN Co's plan was allowed to stand," the paper says.

Meanwhile, sources told The Australian Financial Review the redesign is likely to have an adverse effect on the project's commercial return, therefore making it more difficult for NBN Co to uphold the government's pledge to offer a uniform national price across regional, rural and urban Australia.

NBN Co is due to release its altered business model later this month, the report says.

Telcos to benefit from NBN redesign: report

Egypt - Govt to spend USD 4bn on expanding broadband services in 2011

[ame] The Egyptian telecom minister has announced plans to spend more than $4bn to enhance the country's broadband services in 2011, which will entail revitalising plans for WiMax service in the country, Daily News Egypt has reported. The ministry will announce strategic details in the first half of 2011, the minister said during a workshop with the telecom regulator and the World Trade Organisation.

Egypt to spend $4bn on broadband services in 2011

USA - Net neutrality rules fro the FCC are widely opposed and will be challenged in court and in congress

[boston herald] The so-called “net neutrality” Internet rules promulgated by a divided Federal Communications Commission last week are an undesirable, unworkable, almost unmitigated hash of do-gooder dreams that should not survive court challenges and the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.

A federal appeals court in April ruled that the commission had no authority to enforce its views on what constituted an infringement of neutrality. The incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), said he and his colleagues would “explore every option” to overturn the new rules.

The stated purpose of the rules is to prevent broadband operators from blocking legal transmissions for any reason. Which has happened only once, as far as is known. Several years ago Comcast said the peer-to-peer service BitTorrent, whose users swap movies and other large files, was a road hog and delayed its transmissions. The two companies made a deal, which should have ended the matter, but the FCC admonished Comcast. That led to the April ruling.

Surprisingly, the FCC noted network operators could charge more to heavy users. This bit of rationality is the only mitigation we see, and it has upset the something-for-nothing crowd.

The biggest spud in this hash is that most of the rules don’t apply to wireless networks. Your desktop PC can download movies all day long, but the provider of movies to your whiz-bang smartphone could impose its own limits. There is no good reason for the distinction.

Some left-wingers cannot abide the running of any industry - be it food carts, toys in restaurants or broadband networks - free of government controls. They may fail to impose them here - and that would be good news all around.

Making hash of Net rules

USA - FCC voted 3.2 in favour of net neutrality rules, though final rules will not be available for some days

[cnn] FCC Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve controversial "net neutrality" rules -- the exact content of which it has been rolling out slowly throughout the week.

The agency started by releasing two-and-a half pages of "snippets" from the final rules on Wednesday -- which basically just repeated what FCC officials had already revealed earlier about the rules.

Judging by the initial proposed draft, the completed final rules are likely to run at least 100 pages. And the devil is always in the details, especially for government regulations.

While we're waiting out the "several days" that FCC officials said it will take to "address any dissenting views from the commissioners in the order" before the final Open Internet Order is published for all to see, the FCC commissioners have released individual statements about the proceedings.

Reportedly, the new net neutrality rules will mostly not apply to mobile devices (such as cell phones or tablets) that connect to the internet via wireless carriers. Since most internet access is expected to shift to mobile devices over the net couple of years, this is a huge concern for all internet users.

So what did the FCC commissioners have to say about mobile and net neutrality? Here are a few highlights from their statements.

In his statement affirming the FCC decision, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski said: "The principle of Internet Openness applies to mobile broadband. There is one Internet, and it must remain an open platform, however consumers and innovators access it."

That's a little confusing, since (so far as the FCC has indicated) wireless carriers are exempted from some significant net neutrality requirements in the final order.

For instance, while "wired" (or "fixed) providers are prohibited from charging consumers or online content/service providers simply for allowing access or delivering traffic, wireless carriers appear to face no such constraint. That leaves the door open for wireless carriers to start doing things like charging extra for mobile access to specific services or sites (such as Facebook) -- which, according to, they're already mulling.

"Our order makes clear that we are not endorsing or approving practices that the order doesn't prohibit," Genachowski said, "particularly conduct that is barred for fixed broadband."

FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps went along with the majority to approve the order -- but he voiced some serious reservations, especially about mobile.

FCC Commissioners' views on mobile, net neutrality, transparency

Algeria - Orascom is seeking arbitration in its dispute with the government

[newsday] Orascom Telecom (OT), Telecel Zimbabwe’s majority shareholder, will seek international arbitration soon in a dispute with Algeria’s government over the Egyptian company’s unit Djezzy, OT’s chairman was quoted as saying on CNBC Arabia TV’s website.

A planned $6,6 billion sale of OT assets to Russia’s Vimpelcom has been complicated by the spat with Algiers over the future of Djezzy, OT’s biggest revenue generator.

OT reluctantly agreed to talks on the nationalisation of Djezzy after Algeria hit the unit with back-taxes, stopped it moving money abroad and blocked a sale to South Africa’s MTN.

“We will resort to international arbitration to resolve the problem of the Djezzy unit and will start the procedures soon,” CNBC Arabia quoted Naguib Sawiris on Tuesday as saying.

An OT official declined to comment on the CNBC report. Its chief executive Khaled Bichara said last month OT would only seek international arbitration as a last resort.

Algeria’s government has said it will pay a market price for Djezzy but has not said exactly when an offer would be made.

OT shares were unchanged in Cairo. The benchmark index was up 0,9%.

Orascom Telecom sees arbitration on Algeria unit: CNBC

Korea - Constitutional Court struck down a law banning netizens from spreading rumours and false information

[yonhapnews] The Constitutional Court said Tuesday that the telecommunications law that punishes netizens for spreading false information and rumors online is unconstitutional because it involves obscure expressions and excessive punishment.

A famous online pundit, known by his Internet alias "Minerva," had filed a petition with the top court after being indicted on charges of spreading false information in violation of the telecommunications law in early 2009.

He was later acquitted but his arrest sparked controversy over freedom of expression on the Web.

According to the law, those who spread false information on the Web and by cell phone to harm the public interest face up to five years in prison and 50 million won (US$43,500) in fines.

The court said that the law is unconstitutional, because it lacks clear definition of "false" and "public interest" and imposes excessively harsh punishment on the rule violators.

"The false information should be also protected by freedom of expression and can be limited only by the Constitution and comprehensible laws," said the court in a verdict. "The law uses ambiguous conditions to ban all types of communications including necessary ones."

The Internet blogger gained a reputation after predicting the collapse of U.S. lending giant Lehman Brothers in his stories posted on a portal bulletin board. His harsh criticism of the government's economic policies spread quickly through the Internet, raising curiosity about his identity.

The prosecution had argued his postings led to dollar hoarding, costing the government $2 billion in emergency funds to stabilize the currency market.

The court ruling immediately rekindled a heated debate over Internet censorship and freedom of expression. Liberal civic groups welcomed the ruling, but conservatives said that groundless rumors will run rampant online as there is no means to control them.

"The Constitutional Court emphasized that freedom of speech and expression is important in a democratic society," said Goh Gye-hyun, director general of the Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice, a Seoul-based liberal civic group.

Bong Tae-hong, president of Right Korea, a right-wing organization, said, "Wild rumors and false information will spread unchecked and pro-North Korean groups will make use of it with ill intentions."

"The ruling doesn't mean that the spread of false information is OK," said Jeon Hee-kyung from the Citizens United for Better Society. "The government should come up with measures that do not violate freedom of expression but protect others' rights and public order."

Constitutional Court declares telecom law unconstitutional