Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Zealand - Ultrafast broadband will miss 1.3% of the population 57,000 people, rural minimum is 5 Mbps

[stuff] 1.3 PER CENT TO MISS OUT

The Government has put a number on how many people will miss out from its UFB and rural broadband (RBI) initiatives.

About 1.3 per cent of New Zealanders – 57,000 people – can expect to get little direct benefit, other than perhaps better broadband at their local school.

Telecom and Vodafone have between them guaranteed to provide broadband speeds of 5 megabits per second to about 900,000 rural Kiwis under the $285 million RBI scheme. About another 200,000 can expect at least a 1Mbps service, but Communications Minister Steven Joyce said the most remote 1.3 per cent of New Zealand households would not be able to obtain peak speeds of 1Mbps using Telecom's fixed-line network, Vodafone's rural wireless service or mobile broadband.

Mr Joyce said satellite broadband remained an option for those households, but there would be no Government subsidy.

"We are observing an increasingly competitive market for satellite services providing speeds of up to 5Mbps, available without government assistance," he said. Those communities might also be able to develop "innovative solutions" by investing in their own broadband services such as wi-fi or "mesh networks", connecting those to the "open access" RBI network, he said.


Telecom has pulled down the shutters until at least August as it prepares the documentation for its proposed sharemarket split.

The company said in a statement that securities law would constrain it from communicating any information to investors, staff or the media that could reasonably be expected to encourage shareholders to vote for or against structural separation, until after it publishes a booklet on the demerger.

The booklet will not be published until after Telecom posts its annual accounts in mid-August, at the every earliest, a spokesman said.


IDC Research analyst Rosalie Nelson said planning for Telecom's new retail business would be in full swing and the company might be considering a name change.

"It would not surprise me to see a rebranding of the name because there is a legacy carried with the Telecom brand – both good and bad – and we are now talking about an entirely new business."

The retail business would need to significantly reduce its costs and would have an incentive to persuade customers to move from fixed to mobile broadband, she said.

Ultrafast broadband watch

Anonymity - Its death may come from a range of technologies adopted for personal use and from anti-terrorism policy measures

[guardian] Two apparently unconnected items of news appeared on the same day, 19 June – though one can be forgiven overlooking their appearance… As any news, they arrived floating in an "information tsunami" – just two tiny drops in a flood of news meant/hoped to do the job of enlightening and clarifying while serving that of obscuring and befuddling.

One item, authored by Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, informed of the spectacular rise in the number of drones reduced to the size of a dragonfly, or of a hummingbird comfortably perching on windowsills; both designed, in the juicy expression of Greg Parker, an aerospace engineer, "to hide in plain sight". The second, penned down by Brian Stelter, proclaimed the internet to be "the place where anonymity dies". The two messages spoke in unison, they both augured/portended the end of invisibility and autonomy, the two defining attributes of privacy – even if each of the two items was composed independently of the other and without awareness of the other's existence.

The unmanned drones, performing the spying/striking tasks for which the "Predators" have become notorious ("More than 1,900 insurgents in Pakistan's tribal areas have been killed by American drones since 2006") are about to be shrunk to the size of birds, but preferably insects (the flapping of insects' wings is ostensibly much easier to technologically imitate than the movements of birds' wings), and the exquisite aerodynamic skills of the hawk moth, an insect known for its hovering skills, have been, according to Major Michael L Anderson, a doctoral student in advanced navigation technology, selected as a not-yet-attained, but certain to be soon reached target of the present designing flurry – because of its potential to leave far behind everything "what our clumsy aircraft can do".

The new generation of drones will stay invisible while making everything else accessible to view; they will stay immune while rendering everything else vulnerable. In the words of Peter Baker, an ethics professor at the United States Naval Academy, those drones will usher wars in the "post-heroic age"; but they will also, according to other "military ethicists", push yet wider the already vast "disconnect between the American public and its war"; they will perform, in other words, another leap (second after the substitution of the conscript by a professional army) towards making the war itself all but invisible to the nation in whose name the war is waged (no native lives will be at risk) and so that much easier – indeed so much more tempting – to conduct, thanks to the almost complete absence of collateral damages and political costs.

The next generation drones will see all while staying comfortably invisible – literally as well as metaphorically. Against being spied on, there will be no shelter – and for no one. Even the technicians who send drones into action will renounce control over their movements and so become unable, however strongly pressed, to exempt any object from the chance of falling under surveillance: the "new and improved" drones will be programmed to fly on their own – following itineraries of their own choice in times of their own choice. Sky is the limit for the information they will supply once they are put in operation in planned numbers.

This is, as a matter of fact, the aspect of the new spying/surveilling technology armed with the capacities of acting-at-distance and autonomously, that worries most its designers and so also the two news-writers reporting their preoccupations: "a tsunami of data", already overflowing the staff of the air force headquarters and threatening to run out of their digesting/absorbing powers, and thus also out of their (or anybody's for that matter) control.

Since 9/11, the number of hours which air force employees need in order to recycle the intelligence supplied by the drones went up by 3,100% – and each day 1,500 more hours of videos and 1,500 more images are added to the volume of information clamouring to be processed. Once the limited "soda straw" view of drone sensors is replaced with a "gorgon stare" able to embrace a whole city in one go (also an imminent development), 2,000 analysts will be required to cope with the feeds of but one drone, instead of 19 doing such a job today. But that only means, let me comment, that fishing an "interesting", "relevant" object out of the bottomless container of "data" will take some hard work and cost rather a lot of money; not that any of the potentially interesting objects may insure oneself against falling into that container in the first place. No one would ever know when the hummingbird lands on his or her windowsill.

As for the "death of anonymity" courtesy of the internet, the story is slightly different: we submit our rights to privacy to slaughter on our own will. Or perhaps we just consent to the loss of privacy as a reasonable price for the wonders offered in exchange. Or the pressure to deliver our personal autonomy to the slaughter house is so overwhelming, so close to the condition of a flock of sheep, that only few exceptionally rebellious, bold, pugnacious and resolute wills would earnestly attempt to withstand it. One way or the other, we are however offered, at least nominally, a choice, as well as a semblance at least of a two-way contract, and at least a formal right to protest and sue in case of its breach: something that in the case of drones is never given.

All the same: once we are in, we stay hostages to fate. As Brian Stelter observes, "the collective intelligence of the internet's two billion users, and the digital fingerprints that so many users leave on websites, combine to make it more and more likely that every embarrassing video, every intimate photo, and every indelicate email is attributed to its source, whether that source wants it to be or not." It took Rich Lam, a freelance photographer taking pictures of street riots in Vancouver, just one day to trace and identify a couple caught (by accident) passionately kissing on one of his photos.

Everything private is now done, potentially, in public – and is potentially available to public consumption; and remains available for the duration, till the end of time, as the internet "can't be made to forget" anything once recorded on any of its innumerable servers. "This erosion of anonymity is a product of pervasive social media services, cheap cell phone cameras, free photo and video web-hosts, and perhaps most important of all, a change in people's views about what ought to be public and what ought to be private". And let me add: the choice between the public and the private is slipping out of people's hands, with the people's enthusiastic co-operation and deafening applause. A present-day Etienne de la Boétie would be probably tempted to speak not of voluntary, but a DIY servitude.
Is this the end of anonymity?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Broadband - Discussion of the possibilities of a broadband speed bubble, that there is no case for investing in higher speed networks

[] So, everyone’s agreed: broadband operators will eventually replace their decades-old copper networks with superfast fibre all the way to the home. That, at least was the consensus of some speakers on stage at last week’s fibre-to-the-x (FTTx) and Next-Generation Access (NGA) Summit in Berlin, Germany. But talk from operators and vendors on the show floor gave me yet more cause to question this conclusion.

The risk of being a next-generation nay-sayer

It has become a risk for anyone in the broadband industry – and increasingly, in the world of politics and public affairs – to question whether operators and nations need fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). To do so would be akin to making Bill Gates’ reported 1981 proclamation that “640K of [home computer] memory should be enough for anybody” – a statement which, incidentally, the Microsoft co-founder denies he ever made.

Certainly, the history of the Internet backs up the view that people will find uses for extra bandwidth in the same way that they found uses for extra home computer memory. Take online video, for example. As speeds have ticked up from 512Kbps to 1Mbps, then 2Mbs, 8Mbps and beyond, video has evolved from short, downloadable low-resolution clips to full-length high-definition movies that can be streamed within a few seconds.

Broadband even has its own law, similar to Moore’s law, which essentially states that computing hardware power will double every two years and is generally believed to have held true since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958. Nielsen’s law states that Internet connection speeds for high-end home users will increase by 50% every year, which various observers say has similarly held true since the early 1980s.

The problem for operators is that adding more fibre to their networks is profoundly more risky than increasing the power of computers.

Bandwidth is a commodity; FTTH definitely is not

It is true that bandwidth, like computing power, has become become more widely available and inexpensive over time. A study I led last year, for example, found that 100Mbps tariffs were available in several European and Asia Pacific countries for less than US$30 per month, equal to a cost per Mbps considerably lower than that offered by current-generation broadband services with much slower speeds.

But while the cost to consumers is likely to continue to fall in more countries around the world as next-generation services become cheaper and more widely available, the cost to operators of rolling out the networks to provide those extra Mbps will follow a quite different trend.

In most countries, the cost to the consumer has followed a smooth curve as operators’ marketing departments have set prices based on what people have been prepared to pay before and what they are likely to pay in future. As such, the rate of decline in cost per Mbps has exceeded expectations as operators have slashed their prices after realising that few people are prepared to pay a significant premium for faster speeds. In some markets, operators have even priced superfast services below those on their current-generation networks in order to encourage apathetic subscribers to migrate to their next-generation infrastructure.

The problem for operators is that increasing speeds to certain levels is much more costly than updating their marketing collateral. The upgrade from up to 8Mbps ADSL to up to 24Mbps ADSL2+ requires the replacement of equipment in local telephone exchanges and the home, for example. The upgrade to 100Mbps+ FTTH can be the mostly costly of all, requiring operators to also replace the copper leading to and within the home with fibre, a task which can cost thousands of dollars per household.

Why not fibre-to-somewhere-near-the-home?

Proponents argue that only FTTH is future-proof enough to provide the speeds operators need now and in future. But momentum is growing behind an array of technologies which promise to do the same by harnessing decades-old copper networks, as talk from the FTTx & NGA Summit demonstrated.

Until recently, it had been assumed that operators could only reasonably provide speeds of about 50Mbps using the “half-way house” approach of rolling fibre to street cabinets (FTTC) and using VDSL2 for the final copper connection to the home. Technologies such as vectoring and line-bonding, however, promise to boost commercial VDSL2 speeds close to 100Mbps at a fraction of the cost compared to FTTH.

Conversations with operators and vendors at the summit also confirmed my growing suspicions that certain technical and commercial obstacles to line-bonding and vectoring are even less insurmountable than previously thought. Line-bonding has already been deployed by AT&T in the US and Pakistan’s PCTL, vectoring has been trialled by Belgacom, Orange, Swisscom and Telekom Austria amongst others and many across the industry are confident that operators will deploy one or both before the end of this year.

Plus, vectoring and line-bonding might by no means be copper’s swan song. Stefaan VanhasteI of Alcatel Lucent provided some insights into what is being called “the final form of DSL”. Omega DSL promises to deliver speeds of up to 1Gbps – or 1,000Mbps – over 200 meters or less of copper, perfect for enabling operators to provide FTTH-like speeds without having to dig up subscribers’ gardens or enter their homes.

Research into Omega DSL is only at an early stage, though Vanhastel was confident that products would be available before 2020.

Remembering what’s Nielsen’s law is really about

FTTH purists will probably scoff at such a timetable, adding that any speed increases vectoring and line-bonding may provide in the meantime won’t be enough.

Nielsen’s law also appears to suggest that even if operators start using the latest VDSL technology to provide 100Mbps services next year, they would need to upgrade to FTTH by 2014, by which time top speeds will have passed the 200Mbps mark. This need would be especially pressing in markets where cable TV operators are strong, because the structure of their hybrid fibre/coaxial (HFC) networks makes upgrading to offer progressively faster speeds a much less costly option.

But such an analysis ignores some fundamental principles that Nielsen built into his law. First of all, the law applies to connection speeds only for high-end users, not all users. And as Nielsen notes, average connection speeds will diverge ever further from high-end one as the mass-market of customers get online, as they are more likely to be low-end users.

“Unfortunately, I can argue as much as I want: most users still save on bandwidth and prefer a $20/month ISP over a $30/month one with better service,” he states.

Nielsen wrote that in 1998, when few people had dialup connections let alone DSL or fibre ones, but the sentiment remains true to this day. In most markets, at least 80% of all broadband users are subscribed to low-end services with speeds well within the means of current-generation networks.

Surprisingly, the same is true of FTTH networks. The vast majority of FTTH customers are subscribed to services with speeds ADSL2+ could easily deliver. The top-tier 100Mbps+ services are akin to the most expensive bottle of wine on a menu; they’re aimed at making the restaurant look more sophisticated and the mid-priced and house options most people actually order appear more affordable.

The exceptions are countries such as Japan and South Korea where for reasons related to market structure and regulatory concessions, 100Mbps+ services are the only ones available over FTTH networks. Even then, take-up has been slower than operators have wanted.

Build-it-and-they-will-come… Many years later

Given that Nielsen published his law in 1998 he is understandably vague about the rate at which speeds for the vast majority of low-end users will increase, merely stating that they will lag two to three years behind those for high-end users.

But a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on applying Nielsen’s law to packages offered by UK cable operator Virgin Media at the end of last year suggests rival operators will be able to comfortably serve the 70-80% of broadband customers with “low-end” 50Mbps services and 10-20% with “mid-tier” 100Mbps ones by 2015.

This would make the decision by Virgin’s arch-rival BT to invest in widespread FTTC and VDSL and offer 40Mbps speeds at mid-market prices eminently sensible. This analysis was backed up by two very senior executives of two very different major operators, who told me at the summit that they believed that 100Mbps would be more than enough for the vast majority of their customers for the next 5-10 years at least.

The irony is that Nielsen alludes to one of the central causes for the slow take-up of superfast broadband in the blog post where he sets out his law: the lack of applications that require such speeds.

Nielsen is a web usability expert at heart, and makes his observation about Internet bandwidth in service to a wider point about web design. In short, he advises his readers to stick to minimalist web pages until about 2003, despite his prediction that high-end users will be using 1.5Mbps connections by then. To serve the mass-market, websites need to be designed to be downloaded quickly by the vast number of low-end users on much slower connections.

This same principle holds true for all manner of online content providers today. The BBC’s iPlayer service, for example, employs so-called adaptive bit-rate technology to enable the broadcaster to deliver reliable video streams over connections not much faster than those available in the early part of last decade. Online video provider Netflix, meanwhile, recently reduced the default bit-rates of its Canadian service to take into account relatively low download caps introduced by operators.

The lesson for operators is that content providers won’t help them drive take-up of superfast broadband; they’ll always aim to serve the lowest common denominator.

Another irony is that FTTH operators have arguably widened the lag between the availability of superfast services and the emergence of more bandwidth-hungry online services. By marketing speeds so far in excess of what’s required today, they might have inadvertently made customers less likely to upgrade, which will further delay when content providers will eventually produce services that use them.

Simply throwing bandwidth at the problem won’t work for another reason: the emergence of popular online content and applications is dependent on factors that have little to do with broadband speeds. Did you know, for example, that average Internet users in the US, Spain, the UK or Italy generate more traffic than those in Japan, despite the fact that some 20 million homes are subscribed to 100Mbps FTTH/B services there?

Farewell to arms: broadband in a post-speed world

The key question is when – or even if – operators will feel the need to make those multi-billion dollar investments in FTTH. To serve high-end users prepared to pay for superfast broadband now? Certainly, the shrinking premiums operators are able to charge this small sliver of customers suggests that the business case can’t be justified on increased revenues alone.

Perhaps then, when Nielsen’s law dictates that low- and mid-tier speeds will exceed xDSL’s capabilities? Well, maybe Nielsen’s law just won’t apply by then.
Top speeds in the advanced markets of Japan and South Korea have been defying Nielsen’s law for some time, having been stuck at 100Mbps for three or four years. KT offers 1Gbps WDM-PON in Greater Seoul as a showcase trial, but is already losing money on IPTV and so sees no point in upgrading on a wider scale and throwing good money after bad. Speeds offered by NTT East and NTT West have stalled for similar reasons, although IPTV is not as advanced in Japan.

And as Nielsen predicted, price has trumped speed in consumers’ minds time and time again. Demand for telecoms is also shifting away from standalone broadband to bundles that include telephony, TV and other services. Who’s to say that broadband speeds won’t become increasingly unimportant to consumers, and so fail to justify the multibillion dollar investments FTTH requires? Could operators simply hold their nerve and compete for the mass-market of less-demanding low-end users on well-priced bundles alone? Certainly, we’ve seen numerous ISPs use low-priced no-frills ADSL2+ services to neutralise the supposed threat posed by FTTH in many markets.

The real question of whether telecoms operators need to lay fibre all the way to the home will come when their cable TV rivals boost the speeds of their low-end packages beyond those that even the most advanced fibre/copper hybrid networks can support. Even so, the aforementioned advances in VDSL2 technologies and trends in demand for broadband suggest that the time to pose this question, let alone answer it, could be several years away.

Perhaps telecoms operators are committing to next-generation networks because secretly they know that providing connectivity, rather than content and services, is what they do best. After all, if operators don’t invest in infrastructure, then what is the point of them? If the investment cripples them financially then there is a fair chance that the regulator will step in to protect them.

I am well aware that it is a risk to even pose these questions, especially given my role as an analyst seeking to engage with the very companies promoting the opposite views. And personally speaking, I would very much like to live in a world where near-infinite bandwidth has led to the emergence of all manner of unimaginable new applications and services.

But given how demand for superfast broadband is likely to play out and the vast amounts of money operators – and increasingly, governments – are being urged to invest in it, I feel these questions need to be asked. As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Questioning the unquestionable: is fibre-to-the-home really the future of broadband?

Internet - OECD has stressed the benefits of "light touch" regulation and the free flow of information, combined with greater respect for human rights

[AFP] Key players in the Internet world stressed that the "light touch" approach to regulation, along with a free flow of information remained vital to life on the web, the OECD said on Wednesday after a two-day meeting.

But governments "should improve their efforts to protect personal data, the freedom of expression, and other fundamental rights online," the meeting of OECD governments, businesses bodies and technical experts agreed.

Saying the participants had created "a new framework," an OECD statement said the new principles "underline the benefits that today's light-touch, flexible regulation have brought in driving innovation and economic growth."

They had also stressed the need "to maintain the open, decentralised design of the Internet" which had been "key to the Internet's rapid growth and impact."

The statement noted: "The Internet has achieved global interconnection without the development of any international regulatory regime. The development of such a formal regulatory regime could risk undermining its growth."

The free flow of information should be promoted and protected, it said.
Countries had to develop access to high-speed broadband access to reap the full benefits of the Internet, notably in fields such as education, health, energy distribution and transportation, the statement said.

OECD forum stands by 'light touch' on Internet regulation

Optical broadband - EU projects worth EUR 22.3 million on photonics research under PPP provisions

[zdnet] The UK, Poland, Germany, Austria and the European Commission collectively donated a total of €22.3m (£20m) to the photonics projects, with the countries putting up two-thirds and the Commission one-third of the funding pot, the Commission announced on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy that research on technology relevant to delivering super-fast internet speeds to the homes and businesses of 500 million Europeans is taking off," Neelie Kroes, digital agenda commissioner, said in the announcement. "Such technology could have a crucial role to play in meeting Europe's broadband needs far into the future."

In February, Kroes invited the photonics industry to enter into a wide-ranging public-private partnership with the Commission to drive the technology forward in a variety of fields.

Each of the 13 projects involves components and IT systems based around photonics for fast broadband. They are all projects submitted to the Piano+ initiative, which was a competition for the funding of future EU broadband projects announced in March 2010.

Photonics for broadband gets £20m EU boost

UK - Virgin reprimanded by advertising regulator for attacks on its rivals and must change its campaign

[bbc] Virgin Media has been reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority for an online campaign accusing rival broadband services of "conning" customers.

The campaign, called "Stop the broadband con" was aimed at changing the way other broadband providers advertised their services.

BT and Sky complained and the ASA ruled in their favour.

It means the campaign cannot appear in its current form again.

The website launched by Virgin included a letter from Richard Branson, claiming rivals were "not keeping their promises", a speed test, and links to Ofcom's official broadband report. It also featured a video, parodying Sky's broadband advert.

It encouraged users to share the information with their friends and it was this viral element of the campaign that allowed the ASA to apply its advertising rules to it.

"We considered the ad went beyond highlighting the disparity Virgin believed existed between advertised broadband speeds compared to those that were delivered and implied that other ISPs dealt with consumers dishonestly in relation to broadband speeds," the ASA ruling said.

Virgin Media argued that its campaign was intended to highlight "widespread dissatisfaction among consumers about the advertising of broadband speeds."

It is an issue that has been highlighted by Ofcom. Research conducted in March found that just 14% of customers on 'up to' 20Mbps services received speeds of over 12Mbps, while 58% averaged speeds of 6Mbps or less.

In response to the ruling a Virgin Media spokesperson said: "Advertising 'up to' broadband speeds you can't deliver is a con. The ASA, Ofcom, numerous consumer groups and thousands of internet users have all reiterated our call for change and, instead of complaining about a legitimate effort to give consumers a voice in the debate, Sky and BT should step up to the challenge and start being honest about their broadband," a Virgin Media spokesperson said.

It has called on Ofcom to force providers to advertise typical speeds rather than 'up to' speeds.

BT welcomed the ASA's decision.

John Petter, managing director at BT Retail, said: "This is incredibly embarrassing for Virgin Media: its campaign for the industry to use 'average' as opposed to 'up to' speeds relied on misleading broadband users to make its point."

The ASA also told Virgin Media "to ensure their marketing material did not discredit or denigrate other marketers".

Virgin rapped on broadband claims

Monday, June 27, 2011

#computers - 15 year old shows Apple makes more money from the sale of one Mac than HP does from selling seven PCs

[Matt Richmond 15 yrs] Apple brought in $4.976 billion in revenue from the sale of 3.76 million Macs last quarter. Divide the $4.976 billion in revenue by 3.76 million Macs and you get an average selling price of $1,323.40.

A June 1st research note from Peter Misek of Jefferies & Company pegged Mac gross margins at 28%. Multiply $1,323.40 by .28 and Apple makes $370.55 for every Mac sold.

HP’s Personal Systems Group, the division at HP that sells PCs, brought in $9.415 billion in revenue and turned a profit of $533 million last quarter. Their operating margin, which doesn’t factor in overhead costs, was 5.66%. If we assume they spent 1% of their $9.415 billion in revenue — $94.15 million — on operations, then their profit margin was 6.66%. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and make it 8%.

The average selling price of a Mac increased 5.71% over the last two quarters. If we apply that growth rate to NPD’s data that says the ASP of a PC was $615 in November, then the ASP of a PC today is $650.12. Multiply that number by an 8% profit margin and HP makes $52.00 for every PC they sell.

Apple makes more money from the sale of one Mac than HP does from selling seven PCs.

A Consequence of Losing the PC Wars

Sunday, June 26, 2011

#enterprises - CIOs report directly to CFOs but they have low opinions of the CIOs, not a key player in strategy and not delivering

[network world] Increasingly, it's the chief financial officer (CFO) who has direct oversight of the IT department and IT-related spending, but it turns out the CFO has a low opinion of the CIO and the entire IT group.

That's according to a survey of 344 CFOs at North American companies involved in manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, energy, transportation and other fields. The survey, conducted by the professional organization Financial Executives International in tandem with Gartner, sought to find out what CFOs think about use of information technology in their companies and the people who provide it. They weren't that happy.

According to the 2011 Gartner/FEI study, only about a quarter of the CFOs had confidence that their own IT organization "has the organizational and technical flexibility to respond to changing business priorities," or "is able to deliver against the enterprise/business unit strategy."

"Only 25% see the CIO as a key player in determining the business strategy," said Gartner analyst John Van Decker.

In addition, less than a quarter of the CFOs felt the IT department "delivers the technology innovation needed by the business," or that it "has the right mix of skilled people to meet business needs." And in the final act of disdain, only 18% of the CFOs said they thought "our IT service levels meet or exceed business expectations."

Van Decker said the results of the survey show that "CIOs sometimes care too much about technologies" rather than the business environment itself that is top of mind to the CFO. The survey showed that CFOs, when they are considering IT decisions, are inclined to invest in technologies where competitive advantage can be demonstrated, analysis and decision-making is assisted, or efficiencies and cost reduction are achieved.

If the typical CFO, whose job often entails keeping a close watch on spending, approving investments and assuring compliance with regulations, is really so disenchanted with the IT department, that could spell bad news for corporate IT. That's because the Gartner/FEI survey shows the rising influence of the CFO over the IT department. The survey showed 42% of IT organizations now report directly to CFOs, "and that is expected to increase," Van Decker says.

In terms of who authorizes IT investments, 29% of the respondents said it's a steering committee of IT and business executives. But 26% said it's the CFO alone authorizing IT investment, up from 18% last year. A quarter says it's the CIO and CFO together. In 11% of organizations, it's still the CIO alone.

The study's findings point to the need for the CIO and others in the IT department to reach out to the CFO and be as clear as possible about why some kinds of IT investments are being advocated by the IT department, Van Decker says. He noted the survey shows only 35% of the CFOs viewed IT as being a strategic driver of business performance.

CFOs lack faith in CIOs and IT teams, survey shows

#Mobile - Apple users are hogging Wi-Fi hot spots in the USA usurping desktop devices

[mashable] Apple’s iPad accounts for an ever-expanding percentage of the browser market. It’s also becoming a huge Wi-Fi data hog, consuming 400% more Wi-Fi data on a monthly basis than the average iPhone, iPod or Android device, according to a new report.

Meraki, a cloud services provider, anonymously surveyed more than 100,000 devices accessing public, educational and general use Wi-Fi networks in the U.S. It analyzed bandwidth usage and operating system popularity between 2010 and 2011 to uncover the massive gap between the Wi-Fi data usage of iPads and other mobile devices.

Mobile devices on the whole, according to the study, have usurped desktop platforms as the most ubiquitous Wi-Fi devices. In 2010, iOS and Android devices accounted for a combined 33% of Wi-Fi devices. Now they represent 58%. By comparison, Windows and Mac OS X devices together declined from 63% to 36% during the same time span.

Meanwhile, the iPhone has become the single most popular Wi-Fi device, with an impressive 32% share of the market.

The next time the Wi-Fi at your favorite coffee shop slows to a halt, look around you. The slew of iPads, iPhones and Androids in the room may be the culprits.

iPads Consume 400% More Wi-Fi Data Than Other Mobile Devices

#Mobile - A strange difference between Apple users on Wi-Fi networks while Android users are on 3G

[gigaom] Nearly half of the page views from Apple iPhones come through a Wi-Fi network as does 91.9 percent of iPad web browsing. Android device owners lean more heavily on mobile broadband networks, which explains the trend of Android smartphones using more monthly bandwidth than their iOS counterparts. Last month, Nielsen research indicated that the average Android phone consumes 582 MB of data while the average iPhone eats up 492 MB.

The web browsing data comes by way of comScore, which today reported its findings that reinforce Nielsen’s information. Neither report suggests an explanation for the data use discrepancy between iOS and Android devices, but there are a number of clues that could be contributing factors:

Android updates arrive over the air. Although Android devices don’t see firmware updates as often as iOS phones or tablets, Android software generally can’t be updated via a USB cable and computer. Some consumers could be downloading these updates over a 3G or 4G wireless connection as opposed to Wi-Fi networks.
iOS restrictions. Certain file types in iOS can’t be downloaded over a mobile broadband network. Software applications or podcasts over 20 MB in size, for example, are only available over Wi-Fi, while Android has no such restriction. Video calling in FaceTime on iOS is also limited to Wi-Fi networks. In contrast, third-party video calling services on Android are able to be used on a 3G or 4G connection.
Widgets are hungry! Android smartphones support widgets, which are small applets that provide updated information at a glance. These widgets can reach out to the web for information on a near-constant basis, regardless of whether the user is on Wi-Fi or an operator network. With 400,000 Android smartphones activated daily, and presumably on the move in people’s pockets, mobile broadband data consumption for those widgets can add up quickly.
Different carriers, different plans. When the iPhone launched on AT&T, it enjoyed unlimited smartphone plans. That changed last year when AT&T opted for tiered plans. Sprint (s), Verizon, and T-Mobile still have unlimited data plans (although that’s going to change soon for Verizon) and these networks have more Android devices in use. Verizon only just launched the iPhone this year, while Sprint and T-Mobile have no iPhone of their own. With unlimited plans, the Android device owners on these three networks may be less concerned about Wi-Fi offload.
The tablet data from comScore is the first I’ve seen in terms of network use. With more than 9 out of 10 iPad browser page views done on Wi-Fi, the information tells me a few things. First, while 3G iPads are surely selling to customers, it could be argued that many are buying the 3G capability as a secondary use case: Data caps could be a factor here. This also suggests that iPad owners may be using the devices more at home or in businesses that offer Wi-Fi networks.

And lastly, although this may be stretch, the higher Wi-Fi use on tablets could back up my premise that Mi-Fis and smartphones with wireless hotspots are becoming more accepted by consumers. While there will always be a market for MiFi-like devices, I expect people won’t want multiple data plans and will instead simply add the hotspot feature to a smartphone for an additional $20 per month. In either case, these 3G / 4G connections would likely appear as Wi-Fi usage because the tablets that connect through them are actually using Wi-Fi to get the shared connection.

iPhones, iPads thrive on Wi-Fi, Androids on 3G and 4G

#Europe - Hungarian presidency claims to have achieved its goals in the half year pushing towards increased competitiveness

[financial] The Hungarian Presidency have attained its goals in telecommunications, and the close cooperation with other EU institutions have played a key role in our successes, emphasised Zsolt Nyitrai, Minister of State for Info-communications of the Ministry of National Development, when evaluating the Hungarian Presidency’s term, before the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

In the field of telecommunications, the Presidency’s primary slogan was strategy, referring to the implementation of the European Digital Agenda. “The Agenda is one of the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, a major contribution to the EU’s competitiveness”, Minister of State Zsolt Nyitrai told MEPs. He recalled that the Presidency has put the matter on the agenda during a business lunch on 27 May, and Ministers have stood by the need for speeding up the Digital Agenda’s implementation. The participants also discussed the development on the European single market of digital services and also the measures to achieve the EU’s goal, in order to provide all EU citizens with broadband internet access by 2013.

Spectrum policy and network security

Mr Nyitrai said one of the most important tasks for the near future will be to reach an agreement on the Radio Spectrum Policy Program, which provides a basis for the EU’s frequency strategy, as “the Hungarian Presidency have managed to bring the matter close to a consensus.” Mr Nyitrai advocated an early agreement. “Europe cannot fall behind in this field: we should reach an agreement on this programme as soon as possible,” he said. The Minister of State went to great lengths to emphasise the importance of spectrum policy for the EU’s competitiveness.

“In Europe, nearly all citizens have mobile phones and personal computers. Our lives are connected by networks, which manages sensitive data and information,” Mr Nyitrai pointed out, stating the importance of network security. The Minister of State gave examples of the need for cooperation, “In some cases, a loss of data was caused by an attack or accident; in other cases, access was restricted for political reasons.” Accordingly, it has been a priority goal for the Hungarian Presidency to eliminate the uncertainty around the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), which is supposed to promote security, Mr Nyitrai underlined. The Agency’s mandate has been successfully extended by 18 months, and the next important step will be its modernisation. To this end, the Hungarian Presidency have already started to work on this, the Minister of State said.

The Minister of State recalled that the Presidency have organised a Ministerial conference in Balatonfüred, in April, where participants discussed Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (CIIP).

Global navigation and cooperation with the EP

Mr Nyitrai also mentioned that the European satellite navigation system’s periodical revision was performed during the Hungarian Presidency’s term, and a draft decision was made on government services related to the Galileo global navigation satellite system. The Minister of State asked the European Parliament (EP) Committee to back the draft decision at the vote.

At the hearing in Brussels, the MEPs spoke highly of the Hungarian Presidency’s results and its close cooperation with the EP. President of the Committee Herbelt Reul, highlighted that it was good to work with the Hungarian Presidency, which reconciled dissenting views remarkably well.

#Uganda - Call rates are to fall as a result of reductions in interconnection rates

[monitor] Making calls from one network to another could become cheaper by September, if the Uganda Communications Commission influences telecom operators to revise their current rates.

According to Mr David Ogong, the director, competition and corporate affairs at UCC, the commission is consulting telecommunication operators about the possibility of reducing the current interconnection rates further.

Interconnection rates are charges that a telecom company pays to others when callers make cross-network calls.

The rate currently stands at Shs131 per minute down from Shs180 last year. Despite the reduction, the current rate more than doubles Kenya’s Shs60 per call, making it the highest in the region.

“The Commission is also in the process of reviewing interconnection rates and we expect off-net rates to come downward,” Mr Ogong said at a press conference in Kampala on Tuesday.

The revision of the interconnect rate is among the key issues in the 2011 Retail Tariff Guideline for Voice Telephony Services under discussion between UCC and telecommunication operators.

Uganda has six major voice telecommunication service providers including; MTN, Airtel, Warid, Uganda Telecom, Orange and Smile Communications.

Stiff resistance

Last year the Commission faced stiff resistance from major operators MTN and Airtel when it moved to introduce lower interconnection tariffs for the industry in favour of consumers.

MTN sued the Commission for ‘overstepping’ its mandate but later withdrew the case to allow UCC to set Shs131 as the ceiling for interconnection rates in Uganda.

However, Mr Ogong was optimistic that; the telecommunications companies would respect the move based on preliminary discussions that have already taken place.

Interconnection rates likely to be reviewed - UCC

#Advertising - global spending has been rising, but with major shifts to digital channels including mobile broadband

[warc] Global advertising spend will continue to rebound in the next five years, but agencies, brands and media owners must all respond to the major shift towards digital channels driving this trend.

Business services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has released its latest Entertainment & Media Outlook, which stated industry revenues jumped 4.6% in 2010, to $1.4tr.

Figures are anticipated to reach $1.9tr by 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7%, it added.

Latin America will enjoy the most rapid acceleration across this timeframe, as revenues increase from $66bn to $109bn (a 10.5% uptick per year). Brazil, boasting a CAGR of 11.4%, will be the region's fastest-growing nation.

Income levels in Asia Pacific should hit $541bn from a starting point of $395bn, not least thanks to China, where the segment is likely to grow by a CAGR of 11.6%.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa are pegged to deliver $614bn in 2015, measured against $477bn in 2010, totals standing at $607bn and $481bn for North America.

By medium, digital spending rose 12.9% worldwide in 2010, beating the 2% lift registered by all other sectors.

It could accrue an average 11.5% in incremental returns per year to 2015, as traditional alternatives see a more modest 3.3% gain.

As such, digital will generate 59% of entertainment and media growth in the next five years, during which time its share of revenues is due to climb from 26% to 33.9%.

Mobile broadband may encourage these processes, as the number of users more than doubles in Asia Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, triples in North America, and rises 400% in Latin America.

By category, PwC reported adspend - the most "cyclically sensitive" funding stream - logged a 5.8% leap in 2010, when it was worth $442bn, but failed to offset the 11% contraction recorded in 2009.

Looking ahead, ad expenditure is set to increase by an average 5.5% a year, claiming a net value of $578bn at the end of the assessment period.

The web will post the strongest growth of any medium, becoming the second-largest global outlet, behind TV, in 2012, after overtaking newspapers.

Digital took 15.9% of advertising outlay in 2010, and is predicted to be responsible for 22.5% in 2015.

One key idea identified by PwC was that offerings like smartphones, tablets and social media have yielded an "empowered consumer", who typically expects to view material without charge.

"This is a golden age for consumers, who have never had it so good when it comes to accessing premium content (often free) over multiple devices," Marcel Fenez, PwC's global leader for E&M practice, said.

"The bottom line is that in order to continue to create quality content, someone has to pay."

Given this, the challenge for media owners is to leverage factors including convenience, experience, quality, participation and privilege to monetise their content through digital channels.

Evolving conditions have also produced "involved advertisers", exploiting the available tools to engage with, and listen to, customers, enhance effectiveness, prove return on investment and change agency payment models.

Equally, the surging uptake witnessed by apps, in-house social networks and other such services are fuelling the genesis of a new breed of corporations, the Collaborative Digital Enterprise.

These firms utilise interactive systems to pursue open innovation, revolutionary delivery strategies and real-time responses in areas like pricing.

"Those who have digital collaboration infused into their company DNA will be the front runners of the E&M industry in 2015 and beyond," said Fenez.

Digital shift accelerates

#India - Bharti is restructuring businesses, merging all its telecoms activities to cut costs and ensure efficiency

[msn news] Bharti has embarked upon restructuring its business by merging three business verticals into one, that may lead to cutting of some jobs.
"The restructuring exercise will have minimal impact on the people," Bharti Airtel said in a statement commenting on the restructuring plan.

As on March 31, 2011, Bharti Airtel had a total of 16,830 employees.
The company is planning to merge its broadband telemedia business, satellite TV (DTH), mobile and fixed-line verticals of the company and the vast majority of its workforce, into a single entity,

Asked on reports that the exercise may lead to axing several jobs, the company said, "Bharti does not comment on speculation and as and when any change is planned the same will be done in the interest of all stakeholders and shared in an open and transparent manner."

The proposed merger is basically aimed at cost reduction and maintaining efficiency at the country''s biggest telecom operator at a time of falling profits.
"Such initiatives wherever and whenever appropriate will find favour at Bharti," the company said in a statement.

Bharti Airtel is a global telecommunications company with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa.

The company offers mobile voice & data services, fixed line, high speed broadband, IPTV, DTH, turnkey telecom solutions for enterprises and national & international long distance services to carriers. The company had 200 million customers across its operations.

Bharti's restructuring to have minimal impact on jobs

#Ghana - Lucent has suggested Ghana will be (one of) the first in Africa to launch LTE networks

[ghana web] Ghana is said to be on course to become the first country in Africa where the LTE technology for mobile telecommunications will be launched.

Alcatel Lucent, the Paris based telecoms solution provider has hinted that it is in talks with mobile operators in the country to introduce the technology. Speaking to in an exclusive interview at the sidelines of the recently held telecoms conference, the West & Central Africa Com in Senegal Dakar, the company’s Vice President for North, West & Central Africa, Frederic Sallet said, Alcatel Lucent is working on introducing the LTE technology in Ghana.

“We are currently working on LTE in Ghana. We are in a lot of discussions on that subject for the Ghanaian market. And giving the lead that we have on this market and the strong success that we have in the US and that we are starting to have with some operators in Europe, Middle East and Africa, I think Ghana could be a good place to start LTE,” he said.

He therefore indicated that it is likely Ghana will be the first country in Africa to launch the LTE technology.

The technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the latest standard in the mobile network technology tree that produced the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, according to Wikipeadea.

It is a project of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), operating under a name trademarked by one of the associations within the partnership, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

With LTE there is a new radio platform technology that will allow operators to achieve even higher peak throughputs than HSPA+ in higher spectrum bandwidth. Work on LTE began at 3GPP in 2004, with an official LTE work item started in 2006 and a completed 3GPP Release 8 specification in March 2009. Initial deployment of LTE is targeted for 2010 and 2011.

LTE is part of the GSM evolutionary path beyond 3G technology, following EDGE, UMTS, HSPA (HSDPA and HSUPA combined) and HSPA Evolution (HSPA+). Although HSPA and its evolution are strongly positioned to be the dominant mobile data technology for the next decade, the GSM family of standards must evolve toward the future. HSPA Evolution will provide the stepping-stone to LTE for many operators.

The overall objective for LTE is to provide an extremely high performance radio-access technology that offers full vehicular speed mobility and that can readily coexist with HSPA and earlier networks. Because of scalable bandwidth, operators will be able to easily migrate their networks and users from HSPA to LTE over time, according to the website

Alcatel Lucent, he said is very active in Africa’s telecoms sector. “We are involved in all the fibre optic deployments in Africa. Either on the East or the west,” he added.

On Alcatel Lucent’s business in Africa, Sallet said the company in all its forms has been present in Africa for decades now and has had businesses in all the major countries of the continent.

He said the company has been working with some of the major telecoms operators, particularly the fixed network operators until the advent of mobile telecoms. “When we go into the fixed networks, we have equipped most of the incumbent operators,” he said.

“When it comes to mobile network as well, we have been involved in working with the major network providers on the continent,” he added. Acccording to Sallet, Alcatel Lucent has been involved in deploying 3G networks in many countries in Africa, including transmission networks that will allow an increase in bandwidth and capacity on the continent. “We have done that massively with the deployment of submarine cables,” he said.

He indicated that the mobile telecoms market is now moving towards data which will be carried by the wireless network.

He revealed that Alcatel Lucent is working with operators to transform their legacy networks by moving from traditional architecture to an IP architecture which will enable networks which will be fully scalable to be able to absorb the tremendous amount of data traffic that the continent will witness in the coming months and years.

He also said Alcatel Lucent has signed an agreement with Tigo Ghana to launch mobile advertising, which is the first in Ghana.

He revealed also that the landing of Globacom’s Glo 1 submarine cable in Ghana is very significant in the sense it is bringing lots of capacity and reduction in interconnectivity costs.

Ghana to launch LTE technology for mobile

#Africa - Essar Group is withdrawing from Kenya and not entering other African mobile markets

[reuters] Indian conglomerate Essar Group is looking to sell its telecoms operations in Kenya and has decided not to go ahead with a proposed deal to acquire the services of Warid Telecom in Uganda and Congo, the Economic Times reported, citing two sources.

Essar could not immediately be reached for comment.

The group, controlled by Indian billionaire brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia, also run London-listed Essar Energy and has interests in steel, ports and logistics and telecommunications.

In March, Essar said it would exit its joint venture with Vodafone in India.

The UK-based telecom operator had then said it would pay a predetermined price of $5 billion to buy Essar out of Vodafone Essar to give it direct ownership of 75 percent of India's third-biggest operator.

India's Essar to exit telecom business in Africa-report

#Sierra Leone - Lebanese firm Management Development International is negotiating privatisation of Sierratel

[daily star] Beirut-based Management Development International Co., is currently in negotiation with Sierra Leone for the management of the West African nation’s state-owned telecommunications company, said Abu Bangura, head of the National Commission for Privatization.

The country’s telecom firm, Sierratel, offers cellphone, fixed-line and Internet services and is one of 24 state-owned enterprises that the commission wants to sell, Bangura said in a phone interview Tuesday with Bloomberg.

The talks are due to take place in Freetown this week, according to Madonna Thompson, the commission’s head of telecommunications and utilities.

Management Development International was established in 2001 and provides consultancy services across the Middle East and Africa.

Beirut company in talks over Sierra Leone telecoms

#Africa - Private equity fund is seeking to invest in telecommunications in Kenya

[business daily africa] Helios Investment Partners, the private equity fund that owns a quarter of Equity Bank’s shares, is seeking to deepen its presence in Kenya by raking up its investments in the telecommunications and outdoor advertising sectors.

Helios announced last week that it had raised Sh80 billion ($900 million) from investors, which analysts termed as one of the biggest amount of capital ever raised by an Africa-dedicated private equity fund.

The money for Helios II fund came from endowment funds, foundations, corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and development finance institutions in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. “We are looking to grow our footprint in Kenya through our investments in Continental Outdoor and Helios Towers Africa,” said the firm in an e-mail statement.

Helios also owns 8.5 per cent of Kenya’s Flamingo Holdings, for which it paid Sh1 billion ($12.3 million) in 2004.

A gradual decrease in political risk and a higher return relative to more mature markets in the West have made investors willing to put money in Africa.

In December 2007 Helios completed the Sh16 billion ($178.7 million) acquisition of a 24.99 per cent interest in Equity Bank.

The fund also acquired a stake in the fuel business through ShellHelios’ partnership with Vitol, a leading global trader of oil, to buy Shell’s retail operations in Africa, including in Kenya.

Continental Outdoor is South African-based outdoor advertising agency which Helios bought for Sh13.17 billion in 2009.
It operates in 14 African countries.

Helios Towers Africa builds and operates telecommunications towers across Africa.“We cannot give a specific breakdown, however we are looking to grow our footprint in Kenya,” added the statement. Dan Awendo, chief executive of venture capital Investeq Capital says, the global financial crisis has changed foreign investors’ perception of Africa. “After the global financial crisis everyone realised that there is really no safety net,” said Mr Awendo.

Helios said the money raised will go into media, logistics, utilities, finance and petroleum industries. Outdoor advertising was valued at Sh3.9 billion as per 2008 data.

Helios eyes investments in telecom sector

#Africa - #MTN is not only expanding in GSM but also in satellite services other

[vanguard] Anywhere MTN is mentioned in Africa, the common link is actually telecommunications. However, closer probe into its activities would reveal an African company using telecommunications to expand footprints into other sectors of the economy.

That was exactly Hi-Tech’s findings at the recently concluded SATCOM Conference and exhibitions held in Johannesburg, South Africa. An encounter with the company’s official, Mr Richard Kabeya, in South Africa, revealed that beyond the telecommunications business, MTN was also a major player in the satellite business.

In fact, Kabeya, Business Partner Manager of MTN Business arm, admitted that the company’s venture into the satellite business has given its telecommunications operation a great lift, explaining why the company participated actively in this year’s Satellite Communications Africa conference. Through MTN business arm, the telco is providing satellite services ranging from equipment to bandwidth and other services.

For Kabeya, however, beyond the fact that satellite business has aided MTN’s strong operations in the telecommunications sector, helped to rake in huge return on investment, MTN’s top priority was making tremendous input to boosting Africa’s satellite market share in the global chart. The vision for doing this according to him was to ensure that enough growth is driven down the emerging markets of Africa and beyond.

Interestingly, the company says it has two-phase strategy to achieving that, which includes expanding its cellular and fixed telecommunications services into developing markets and then driving future growth in these regions in tandem with their growing requirements for high-speed mobile data such as HSDPA. Ultimately, the aim is to establish a full MPLS networking capability in each country.

Another interesting aspect of African development, Kabeya revealed to Vanguard, was that MTN was committed to the transformation of the South African Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, BBBEE, policy.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, BBBEE, is a form of Economic Empowerment initiated in 2007 by the South African government in response to criticism against Narrow Based Empowerment instituted in the country in 2003/2004. While Narrow Based Black Economic Empowerment led to the enrichment of a few Black Africans, Coloureds or Indians, the goal of Broad-Based Empowerment is to distribute wealth across a broad spectrum of African society as possible.

In doing this MTN Group says its strategy is broad¬based and encompasses the key areas of equity ownership, management, employment equity, skills development, procurement, enterprise development and corporate social investment. This is possibly, recognising that transformation and Broad¬based Black Economic Empowerment are integral to sustainable business success.

Although the company said that its BBBEE procurement scorecard is directly aligned with both the ICT charter and the codes of good practice as set out by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in terms of the Broad based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

Meanwhile, Kabeya said that “the company is committed to maximising procurement from black-empowered suppliers and to encourage entrepreneurship within previously disadvantaged communities. To this end, MTN partners with local BBBEE companies, either through joint ventures or by contracting BBBEE businesses, thereby encouraging local industry support and promoting enterprise development.

How MTN powers growth through BBBEE

#africa #mobile - A claim by a Nigerian analyst that Africa is now a competitive global force with localized solutions

[my joy online] Compared to the relative growths experienced in many other regions, the African Telecommunications spectrum has witnessed an unprecedented rapid cumulative growth over the past decade.

From the hitherto extremely high waiting times, service inconsistencies, outdated PSTN networks and prevalent low accessibility rates that characterized the pre de-regulation and pre mobile diffusion era, the sector has been transformed into one of continued growth largely fueled by the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market.

Today, there are over 310 million mobile phone users in Africa with Nigeria alone accounting for nearly a third of this figure. A projection that puts the continent ahead of North Africa in terms of absolute numbers of mobile phone users. In addition, Africa has improved from a paltry 9% penetration rate in 2004 to a least projection of 32% penetration rate as at the end of first quarter of 2011.

Africa’s emergence as an important player in the global telecommunications market which had been perceived as a systemic techno-dumping ground during the peak of the so called Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) evolution of the early 2000’s is being recently re-defined within the context as a strategic [important] partner capable making or unmaking the transients of the global digital evolution.

In short, Africa has been transformed into a competitive global force where localized solutions are being developed and deployed to serve the interests of the users within the region.

The once eminent scare of the digital divide has been suppressed if not entirely supplanted with “digital addition” – where the region undertakes her Research and Development, and deploys specific solutions that add value to the general ICT body of knowledge.

However, and regardless of all the huge successes attained in operator(s) upgrades and network capabilities among other innovative solutions, telecommunication companies (Telcos) within the region have remained largely a stock of technologies rather than absolute solutions providers. There are no doubts countries such Kenya, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria are chasing the technological chasm where competitive market forces and sector dynamics are compelling operators to fund frequent million dollar upgrades for typically underused technologies.

In January 2011, Globacom Nigeria became the first to deploy (working) 4G LTE in Africa in a region that is projected to account for 1% of global LTE market share by 2015. Nonetheless, many competitors in Ghana, Kenya and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa have planned active road-maps to support 4G LTE.

In as much as the continent has pioneered various commendable solutions such as mobile banking, virtual SIM cards and a number of e-health novelties, the region at the same time has become susceptible to disruptive technologies that tend to target non-existent segments. Whereas it is typical to observe an upward rump function for service utilization against network capacities, in developed regions, we observe the African situation to be consistent with a normal distribution where the majority of services users only make of use matured technologies. Notwithstanding, and for benign competitive reasons Africa’s Telcos continue to invest in technologies targeted towards the upper tail of the distribution.

And in the process artificially creating accessibility gab(s) difficult to close – average service cost rise and usage rates drop.

Per the current trends, it is imperative as stakeholders’ we begin further analyses on the subtleties of how the market spectrum in Africa is evolving and to understand how per our own actions, we can foster a sustainable and equitable growth. Among the few of the emerging recent emphases and also supported by the International Telecommunications Union and Commonwealth Telecommunications Union is the focus on developing content, connectivity and accessibility for communities within rural Africa and the realization of full mobile number portability in throughout the region. Conventionally, the former is a major technical as well as economic constraint for Telcos. Compounding to this constraint is the gradual urbanization of Africa with fewer people residing in bucolic regions of Africa than ever before.

The latter, a combination of diplomacy and technical infrastructure carries a huge potential instituting a self-regulatory framework for the sector that carries a core potential to balance the fundamentals of service operations within the region. Among these effects, we should expect the rapid emergence of mobile virtual network operators.

The techno-centric Africa of 2011 bears no resemblance to the miseries of the 1990’s; the region accounts for almost all new technologies but access to the technologies remain highly skewed. The encouraging high penetration rates stated early on are calculated using the basic of technologies and solutions widely available to the masses. For instance whereas urban Ghana currently accounts for a penetration rate of over 75%, network utilization rates for ubiquitous data and internet services are 5-10% below typical data averages attainable.

In the search for new policy implementations, the region needs to resist the temptation comparing the gains attained with the usual non applicable factors of comparisons during the 1990s and 2000’s. Instead, a logical framework for quantifying QoS and network optimization matrices given development and maturity of mobile technologies should be employed.

In search of new policy for Africa’s Mobile Telecom Sector

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Zealand - Legislation passed for separation of NZ Telecom and ultra-fast broadband after months of acrimonious debate

[nz herald] The law paving the way for the break-up of Telecom and the ultra-fast broadband scheme passed its third reading in Parliament yesterday, 65 votes to 42.

After months of brouhaha, the Telecommunications (TSO, Broadband, and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will now become law on July 1.

It allows for the rollout of the Government's ultra-fast broadband network, a 2008 election promise that hopes to deliver internet speeds of 100 megabits per second to 75 per cent of New Zealand by the end of 2019.

The law also sets out the requirements for Telecom to split from its network arm-Chorus, in one of the biggest corporate shakeups in decades.

Telecom proposed the split as part of its bid for broadband contracts, which it was awarded on May 24.

Chorus will now receive $929 million of taxpayer funding to build and manage almost 70 per cent of the fibre internet network.

Communications Minister Steven Joyce released a jubilant statement yesterday evening, claiming the network would revolutionise business, health and education in New Zealand.

Vote clears way for ultra-fast broadband revolution

Wireless broadband - Half a billion subscriptions in 32 developed countries, up ten per cent in one year

[wireless federation] In a study involving 32 developed countries, the reported figures reveal that the wireless broadband subscriptions had topped the half billion mark at the closing of 2010. It also highlighted an increase of over 10 percent as on June 2010.

As far as fixed broadband subscriptions are concerned, the number touched 300 million for the first time. However, growth slumped to 6% year-on-year; the slowest growth rate recorded since the process of collecting broadband data started by the sources, a decade back. It is understood to be a reflection of greater broadband penetration in addition to market saturation in a number of countries.

With 38.1 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, Netherlands and Switzerland top the statistics. Next, Denmark (37.7) and Norway (34.6) follow. One prominent highlight concerning fiber subscriptions is that the growth continues, making up for 12.3% of all fixed broadband connections. Japan (58%), Korea (55%), Slovak Republic (29%) and Sweden (26%) lead the charts in fiber subscriptions. On the other hand, DSL still happens to be the most widely used technology (57.6%); cable (29.4%) follows next.

Going by the wireless broadband subscriptions, Korea leads the pack with 89.8 per 100 inhabitants as Finland (84.8), Sweden (82.9) and Norway (79.9) trail close by. The data sources average stands at 41.6 while the total is just under 512 million.

According to sources, inexpensive, flat-rate mobile data plans are primarily instrumental in fuelling growth of mobile broadband. It has also been noted that resilience and an underlying strength saw the communication sector through the financial crisis thereby reflecting its vital role in the global economic dynamics.

Other notable factors that contribute to the sector’s robust health point to long contract durations of mobile operators, packaged offers of television, mobile and fixed telephony gaining unprecedented popularity in addition to an emerging perception that communication services are non-discretionary spending items. Households doing their best to cut spending are apparently, economizing in other areas instead; at least as an initial step.

The thriving acceptance of bundled services has also been instrumental in this prevailing trend by way of strengthening loyalty and preventing a big shake up – a big help for the operators at the time of the downturn. Bundled services stand to benefit consumers by bringing about lower prices and other bonuses like convenient billing, integrated services or customer assistance.

According to sources, however, bundled offers are accompanied by complexity making them difficult to understand thereby posing additional challenges for consumers who look to make informed decisions in terms of comparing prices etc. To add insult to injury, bundling stand to make it difficult for users to change providers or reject a service.

The sources also highlight the increasing significance of IPv6 as the hoard of unassigned IPv4 addresses has almost depleted. The importance of a quicker adoption by industry has also been stressed; seen as the only lasting solution to continue the capability of the Internet and keep on connecting billions of people and devices.

Wireless broadband subscriptions cross the half billion mark

UK - Tesco Mobile has won the consumers award from Which for its customer satisfaction

[mobile today] Tesco Mobile has clinched the Which Award for Best Mobile Service Provider, beating off competition from Asda and 02.

Entrants were judged on value for money and customer service across PAYG mobile services, contract mobile services, which included Sim-only, and mobile broadband. The judging was also based on entrants’ performance in Which’s regular customer satisfaction surveys.

Pay monthly contract customers awarded Tesco Mobile a customer score of 74% in a recent customer satisfaction survey. The supermarket won high marks on cost which it attributed to its tariffs and 12 month contracts.

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which CEO, said: ‘To win a Which award, not only must a company offer outstanding products or services, it must also deliver exceptional value and a great customer experience. This is especially important at a time when consumers are really feeling the pinch.

‘Tesco isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of mobile phones but it is outdoing many of the established providers when it comes to customer satisfaction.’

Tesco Mobile clinches Which Award

Australia - Telstra and Optus have signed an AUD 11 Bn deal to access the Govt's NBN

[radio australia] Australia's plan to build a 35 billion dollar national broadband network has cleared one of its final hurdles.

The country's biggest telecommunications company, Telstra, has signed an 11 billion dollar deal to allow the N-B-N access to its network, customers and infrastructure.

The Singapore-owned Optus telco has signed a similar deal for 800 million dollars.

The government says the N-B-N will boost productivity and transform the economy, by helping to overcome Australia's historically slow internet speeds.

But the opposition says the deal is a waste of taxpayer money that will entrench the N-B-N as a giant state-owned monopoly.

Planned Australian broadband network clears key hurdle

Jersey - BBC report on 1 Gbps fixed and 40 Mbps wireless broadband access in the Channel Islands

[bbc] Where in Europe can you get broadband speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second at home, then step outside and surf the 4G mobile web at up to 40Mbps? The answer right now is Jersey.

Superfast broadband speeds connect Jersey to the future

Broadband - Fixed subscriber numbers grew fastest since 2009 in 2011q1, led by Asia

[] The number of fixed broadband subscribers worldwide increased by 2.9 per cent on a consecutive basis in the first quarter of this year to reach 15.2 million, giving the biggest quarterly increase in the last two years, according to new figures announced by the Broadband Forum.

In a report compiled for the Forum by Point Topic, Asia was found to still be the fastest-growing region for broadband subscribers, with a growth rate of 16.2 per cent in the 12 months to March of this year—almost double that of the Americas.

Asia’s fixed broadband subscribers now make up 42 per cent of the global total, up from 40 per cent last year, with Europe and the Americas coming behind with 30 and 25 per cent respectively. Emerging markets are also believed to be making strides, with the Middle East and Latin America advancing quickly.

The strong Asian broadband growth is believed to be due in part to the continuing success of broadband in China, with 42 per cent of total net additions in the first quarter of this year coming from China and its territories (the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau).

IPTV was also found to have shown “exceptional” growth rates in the 12 months to March, with the number of worldwide subscribers increasing by over 34 per cent in the period to reach 48.2 million. France is still placed at the head of the table of top ten countries in terms of IPTV subscribers, with China a close second and Taiwan also now on the leader board in ninth place.

Global broadband subs see fastest quarterly growth since 2009

USA - An FBI raid on one website took out servers for over one hundred other companies "collateral damage"

[LA Times] The FBI took several servers of DigitalOne, a Web hosting company based in Switzerland, knocking offline the websites of at least 120 companies, according to the chief executive of the Swiss company.

The raid occurred early Tuesday morning at a data center in Virginia where DigitalOne leases space for some of its servers, DigitalOne CEO Sergej Ostroumow said in an email.

The company's own website and those of 120 other companies were still down 35 hours after the raid, Ostroumow said.

"FBI was interested in one of our clients and in his servers, but they took besides target servers tens of not related servers of other customers," he said. "Most of our customers are sub-providers which host hundreds and thousands of smaller customers."

Among the affected companies was Curbed, a network of news sites that went offline all Tuesday as a result of the raid.

"Our tech team was kind of pulling their hair out trying to figure out what happened," said Lockhart Steele, the company's president. "Apparently we were taken out as collateral damage due to someone else in that rack who was doing something suspicious or problematic."

FBI raid of DigitalOne Web hosting firm knocks out sites of more than 100 companies

3G - Cleevely complains at lack of Femtocells - operators find them too disruptive

[techeye] Although our networks are straining under the increasing demand for mobile broadband, operators are digging their heels in when it comes to helping solve the problem.

According to Cambridge Wireless, households should each have their own means of accessing mobile broadband, which will not only stop the strain we are putting on networks but also increase competition.

It wants homes to be equipped with Femtocells. However, it pointed out operators are not so keen on this idea.

Femtocells are tiny chips that connect to a broadband connection. They work in the same way a wireless network does, through access points, and they are low powered and unlicensed. Cambridge Wireless' big idea is not popular with operators. Operators are not keen as ultimately it means they are losing money, as we won't be depending on them for use of their masts.

The claims come from David Cleevely, chairman of Cambridge Wireless as the company identified the need to take new approaches to cope with the increasingly straining demand for mobile broadband.

Operators drag heels on Femtocells: Too disruptive despite network strains

3G - Apparently there are more Femtocells (2.3 million) than base stations

[] There are now more 3G femtocells globally than 3G base stations, a report from Informa Telecoms and Media has revealed. The report, timed to coincide with the Femtocell World Summit being held in London, reveals that there are now more than 2.3 million 3G femtocells globally, compared to a total of 1.6 million macro 3G base stations.

Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum, said at a round-table ahead of the summit that the femtocell market has experienced significant recent growth of 60 per cent in the last quarter, taking the total number of commercial services operating globally up to 31. Forty-three operators have now publically committed to the technology, up from 34 at the end of the last quarter.

“Femtocells haven’t just passed a major milestone – it is now apparent that they are rapidly becoming less of a differentiator for service providers and more like an essential offering, said Dimitris Mavrakis, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, in a statement. “Consumers are increasingly going to expect something that for a long time seemed impossible – near ubiquitous coverage for voice and high speed data. Femtocells make this a very real possibility.”

Saunders said that femtocells offer, “better and more consistent mobile data, particularly in the places that [people] care about – in their homes and their offices. They have changed the shape of mobile networks, they are no longer only delivered from large towers… and that change of shape is there for good”.

Another recent Informa report revealed that more than 60 per cent of operators believe that femto based small cells will be more important than macrocells for creating an effective LTE strategy.

3G femtocells now outnumber 3G basestations says report

Australia - Optus and Telstra have signed deals on use of the massive National Broadband Network

[] Australia’s National Broadband Network received a significant boost with the news that the operators Telsta and SingTel have agreed major deals to transfer parts of their networks to the NBN. As part of the deal, the state owned NBN will pay Telsta $11bn for its copper network, while the SingTel owned Optus network will receive $800m to move customers from its fibre optic network, freeing up its infrastructre for the NBN.

The move still has to gain approval from Telstra’s shareholders and the vote will take place on 18 October. Clearance from the Australian regulatory body the ACMA is also required.

Julia Gillard, the Austrialian Prime Minister said the deal would deliver to householders “more options, more choice and cheaper prices”. Broadband minister Stephen Conroy said it would “change the way the nation communicates and does business”.

“It’s clear that Telstra has done its own cost benefit analysis for its participation in the deal versus the alternatives and has determined this is the best approach in the current environment”, said Nigel Pugh, consulting director of analyst firm Ovum. “If the remaining hurdles are passed (ACCC acceptance of Telstra’s structural separation undertaking and migration plan and Telstra’s shareholder vote) then Telstra will have a clear strategic direction for operation of its retail and wholesale functions in an NBN world. This will also be a positive for NBN Co as the key hurdles to its nationwide rollout will have been overcome”.

Telstra and SingTel signs key NBN deals worth $11.8bn

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tablets - The enterprise market is different, with no discounts from Apple and problems with integrating its devices into central IT systems

[zdnet] The tablet parade is kicking into high gear as HP’s TouchPad becomes available for sale July 1. HP joins RIM, Motorola, Samsung and a bevy of others in a long line of companies trying to compete with Apple’s iPad. What’s the master plan for these rivals: Juice enterprise sales.

It’s quite possible that tablet makers could fare well by becoming business players as Apple runs away with the consumer market. The consumer market is ruled by price and performance (and more the former). Given that most Apple rivals are pricing their tablets exactly the same as the iPad, it’s going to be tough to win over customers.

In other words, rivals aren’t telling us why their tablets are necessarily better than the iPad, which enjoys good word of mouth marketing.

The enterprise is a bit of a different story. In fact, the enterprise tablet market has its own quirks that can open doors—and maybe market share—for challengers. Simply put, the enterprise isn’t going to sweat pricing differences as much. Why? There’s volume discounting and bundles. For instance, HP could sell a slew of TouchPads in an enterprise PC deal. RIM can toss in PlayBooks with a smartphone or BlackBerry Enterprise Server upgrade. Motorola and Samsung could get their tablets to companies via carriers. Dell can move its Streak tablets via healthcare services deals with its Perot Systems unit.

Apple can—and does—play the corporate game to a degree, but isn’t exactly known for its volume discounts. Apple also doesn’t have an enterprise bundle to sell. Apple has a small enterprise swat team that targets verticals like legal and convinces them to go with the iPhone-iPad juggernaut.

But when push comes to shove, tablet challengers like HP are better equipped to sell you a tablet on the cheap and make up the different on services, maintenance or some other revenue stream.

Integration also matters for enterprises, which is why Microsoft can become a tablet player despite sitting out the first and second waves in the industry. If Microsoft can integrate with Office, SharePoint, SystemCenter and legacy apps better than any other tablet maker it has a good enterprise chance ahead.

If you assess the moving parts, Apple’s enterprise tablet effort revolves around consumerization. Workers are bringing the iPad to the office and the C-suite has bought in. Apple on its earnings conference calls will highlight a bevy of companies piloting or deploying the iPad.

But consumerization only goes so far. The challengers’ best shot will be the enterprise. In corporations, the tablet game is more about RIM vs. HP, Samsung vs. Motorola and Dell working the verticals.

Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

Internet - smartphone and tablet shipments exceed those of desktop and notebook computers for the first time

[] Although the Internet entered the mainstream a mere 15 years ago, life without it today is nearly incomprehensible. And our use of the web has rapidly changed as well. In simple terms, it has evolved from online directories (Yahoo!) to search engines (Google) and now to social media (Facebook). Built on the desktop and notebook PC platform, the web’s popularity is significant.

Today, however, a new platform shift is taking place. In 2011, for the first time, smartphone and tablet shipments exceed those of desktop and notebook shipments. This move means a new generation of consumers expects their smartphones and tablets to come with instant broadband connectively so they, too, can connect to the Internet.

In this report, Flurry compares how daily interactive consumption has changed over the last 12 months between the web (both desktop and mobile web) and mobile native apps. For Internet consumption, we built a model using publicly available data from comScore and Alexa. For mobile application usage, we used Flurry Analytics data, now exceeding 500 million aggregated, anonymous use sessions per day across more than 85,000 applications. We estimate this accounts for approximately one third of all mobile application activity, which we scaled-up accordingly for this analysis.

Our analysis shows that, for the first time ever, daily time spent in mobile apps surpasses desktop and mobile web consumption. This stat is even more remarkable if you consider that it took less than three years for native mobile apps to achieve this level of usage, driven primarily by the popularity of iOS and Android platforms. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Mobile Apps Put the Web in Their Rear-view Mirror

Australia - Telstra has moved to per minute charges for pre-paid voice, but boosted download caps to 3GB

[IT News] Telstra has significantly boosted the data quotas available to pre-paid users on its 1c text messaging plans, with new limits of between 500 MB and 3 GB.

The new Text & Data plans would provide those with $30 recharges a 500 MB data quota, upgraded from the 20 MB previously offered.

Other changes included 1.5 GB quotas for $40 recharges - up from 40 MB - while both the $50 and $60 recharge packs would receive 3 GB each, up from 40 MB and 100 MB, respectively.

The telco also removed the previous condition of 100 1c text messages to other Telstra mobiles on the pre-paid plans.

The change would affect existing and new users immediately, but existing users would only receive the data bump the next time they recharged.

The new $50 and $60 recharge packs would provide unlimited text messages to all Australian carriers.

SMS message costs increased from 25c each to 29c each once bonus messages were used up.

The recharge packs expired after 30 days.

The new plans has also marked the introduction of minute block charging for pre-paid users, as first flagged in January.

The telco said it would begin charging 78 cents for each minute of calls, rather than 40 cents per 30-second block as previously done.

Telstra boosts pre-paid data packs

Europe - Horizon 2020 new name for FP7 and existing name for de-polluting the Mediterranean

[europe] The EU has adopted "Horizon 2020" as the new brand for Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, formerly known as FP7

Euro-Mediterranean governments aim to tackle the top sources of Mediterranean pollution by the year 2020 through the Horizon 2020 initiative that is built around 4 elements:

  • Projects to reduce the most significant pollution sources focusing on industrial emissions, municipal waste and urban waste water, responsible for up to 80% of pollution in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Capacity-building measures to help neighbouring countries create national environmental administrations that are able to develop and police environmental laws.
  • Using the Commission's Research budget to develop and share knowledge of environmental issues relevant to the Mediterranean.
  • Developing indicators to monitor the success of Horizon 2020.

Oh and there is also an Irish job creation scheme called Horizon 2020. Which is interesting since the R&D Commissioner is Irish.

Poland - European Commission fined TPSA for abuse of a dominant position

[ec] The European Commission has imposed a fine of €127,554,194 on telecoms operator Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. (TP) for abusing its dominant position in the Polish market in breach of EU antitrust rules (Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). As a dominant company TP is under an obligation to allow remunerated access to its network and wholesale broadband services in order to allow the effective entry of alternative operators on downstream broadband markets. But it consistently refused to do so or made it difficult for more than four years.

Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia said: "the Commission cannot allow the development of the Internet and of the digital economy to be put at risk by anticompetitive practices. This case shows our determination to ensure that dominant telecom operators do not systematically hinder competitors who can make a real difference in the market to the benefit of consumers and businesses".

In order to provide broadband Internet access to end-users, new market entrants (alternative operators) can either build an alternative access network, which is usually not economically viable, or use the network of the incumbent operator, in the present case Telekomunikacja Polska (TP). To use the incumbent's network, operators need to acquire wholesale broadband access products, namely wholesale broadband access and local loop unbundling. In Poland, these are exclusively provided by TP, on which alternative operators are dependent to compete on the retail market.

Extensive evidence gathered by the Commission shows that Telekomunikacja Polska deliberately sought to limit competition on the broadband markets in Poland by placing obstacles in the way of alternative operators.

From August 2005 until at least October 2009 TP engaged in practices which prevented or at least delayed the entry of competitors onto Polish broadband markets. Alternative operators encountered numerous difficulties to obtain access to TP's broadband wholesale products. For instance, TP proposed unreasonable conditions, delayed the negotiation processes, rejected orders in an unjustifiable manner and refused to provide reliable and accurate information to alternative operators.

Together, the above practices prevented alternative operators from competing effectively in the market and constituted an abuse of TP's dominant position on the Polish broadband market.

The Commission's antitrust decision requires TP to put an end to such conduct, in so far as it has not already done so, and not to engage in the same or equivalent practices in the future.

Telekomunikacja Polska’s total turnover in 2010 was € 3.9 billion (PLN 15.7 billion). The fine takes account of the duration and gravity of the infringement and has been calculated on the basis of the average value of TP's broadband sales between 2005 and 2009 in Poland.

Antitrust: Commission fines Telekomunikacja Polska S.A € 127 million for abuse of dominant position

Social Networking - European Commission found only two sites default to privacy

[ec] Only two social networking sites (Bebo and MySpace) tested on behalf of the European Commission have default settings to make minors' profiles accessible only to their approved list of contacts and only 4 sites ensure minors can be contacted by default by friends only (Bebo, MySpace, Netlog and SchuelerVZ). However, a majority of 14 social networking sites tested do give minors age-appropriate safety information, respond to requests for help and prevent minors' profiles from being searched via external search engines. The number of minors using social networking sites in the EU is growing - currently 77% of 13-16 year olds and 38% of 9-12 year olds who use the Internet.

The results feature in a report just published by the Commission on implementation of the "Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU", a self-regulatory agreement brokered by the Commission in 2009 to keep children safe online (see IP/09/232). As part of the objective set by the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200) to enhance trust in the Internet, the Commission has launched a review of the current self-regulatory agreements for the protection of minors online.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda said: “I am disappointed that most social networking sites are failing to ensure that minors' profiles are accessible only to their approved contacts by default. I will be urging them to make a clear commitment to remedy this in a revised version of the self-regulatory framework we are currently discussing. This is not only to protect minors from unwanted contacts but also to protect their online reputation. Youngsters do not fully understand the consequences of disclosing too much of their personal lives online. Education and parental guidance are necessary, but we need to back these up with protection until youngsters can make decisions based on full awareness of the consequences."

The possibility of tagging people in pictures, offered by most social networking services, makes it very easy to search for a person's photos online. Teenagers may face other risks online such as grooming and cyber-bullying. Children and teenagers need appropriate safety tools to manage their online identity in a responsible way.

The tests, carried out between December 2010 and January 2011, looked at 14 websites: Arto, Bebo, Facebook,, Hyves, Myspace,, Netlog,,, SchülerVZ, IRC Galleria, Tuenti and Another 9 sites will be tested later this year.

Digital Agenda: only two social networking sites protect privacy of minors' profiles by default

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mobile - Mashable notes the growth in mobile shoppers, but related to specific devices

[mashable] Investment and innovation in the mobile commerce space may be superseding awareness and demand, according to a study provided to Mashable by Group SJR and Liz Claiborne Inc.

The survey was conducted among 801 18- to 64-year-olds who consider themselves mobile shoppers. (Mobile shoppers being loosely defined as anyone who uses a phone, including a maps application, to aid with shopping.)

Of those surveyed, 660 were smartphone owners; the remaining 141 were feature phone owners; 230 participants also owned a tablet.

Among the findings:

Mobile purchases are on the rise: 47% of smartphone owners and 56% of tablet owners plan to purchase more products on their respective devices in the future. Roughly half of smartphone and tablet users believe there are benefits to shopping on a mobile device, a number that would likely be higher if users found mobile apps and websites easier to use.

Device dictates behavior: One-third of smartphone owners use their devices to make mobile purchases, while less than 10% of feature phone owners make purchases with theirs.

Virtual wallets are catching on: A full 20% of smartphone owners have used their devices as a virtual wallet (we suspect many of these have done so with the Starbucks app) and 28% expect to do so more in the future. A quarter of tablet owners — consistently the most willing to experiment with new technologies — have used their tablets as a virtual wallet in stores; 39% plan to do so more in the future.

Mobile coupons and barcodes are catching on more quickly: Although virtual wallets usage is increasing, more smartphone and tablet owners expect to increase their use of mobile devices to look up more information about a product (between 55% and 57%) or use a coupon (between 53% and 54%). Nearly half of smartphone and tablet owners also said they planned to scan barcodes more often to get additional information about a product, suggesting that barcode scanning might indeed be poised to hit the mainstream in the next few years.

Data security and user experience are the two biggest barriers: Worries about the security of their personal and financial details might be preventing many from embracing m-commerce fully. More than 60% of both of smartphone and tablet owners said they believe it is not safe to share those details on their mobile devices, underlining a need for education about security issues. Furthermore, 54% of smartphone users and 61% of tablet users said they find mobile applications and websites ineffective and difficult to use, further discouraging purchasing on those devices.

Big Trends in Mobile Commerce