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North America: B&O and Samsung October 31, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Mobile, Technology.
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Bang & Olufsen America, with help from Samsung Electronics Mobile Business, has developed a new mobile phone. Their partnership is bringing one a mobile phone to the North American market next month.

As a Dane I pride myself of the B&O brand and during the years I have owned a number of B&O devices.  However, their latest phone creation strikes me as being odd. Dubbed the “Serene,” is the result of a 2-year collaboration between the companies to develop what they consider an elegant and straightforward product for customers for whom “less can be more.” I don’t know about that. After a quick flick through the Serene website it didn’t appeal to me at all. If a simple phone is all you want I would rather go with a black Motorola RAZR V3 which doesn’t come with a US$1000+ price tag. But  then again I don’t fall within the target group represented by 25-40 year-old women, who do not lack money and need to prove their status in society.

Germany: VDSL – nothing new October 31, 2006

Posted by Jasper in broadband, Regulation.
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According to the Associated Press the European Union reiterated Monday that it would take Germany to court if its parliament passes a law that allows Deutsche Telekom AG to shut out rivals from its high-speed broadband network.

It has been a while since I have seen any action on the German access holiday issue, so I was starting to wonder what might have happened. As it turns out – nothing.

EU spokesman Martin Selmayr warned that legal action would be ”unavoidable” if Berlin ignored the European Commission’s view that the law unfairly discriminates against other investors and would ultimately hurt funding for the telecoms sector. ”The Commission does not take the view that competition is the enemy of investment,” Selmayr said. ”We have indicated a number of times that we will exercise our duty … to challenge any law that is incompatible with the (EU) treaty.”

Selmayr was responding to media reports that quoted German official Bernd Pfaffenbach as saying the government had no plans to change the law.

Australia: Developments in FTTx October 26, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Uncategorized.
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Although Telstra has declined to upgrade its access network to fibre, there have recently been some developments in FTTx in different regions.

In Tasmania, a FTTH broadband trial involving more than 1000 residential and business users will begin within the next few weeks. Dubbed TasCOLT (Tasmanian Collaborative Optical Leading Test-bed), the two-year project is designed to test the commercial viability of high-speed broadband services. Trial participants will be offered a range of packages that include high-speed internet access, a VoIP phone service, video conferencing and movies on demand. Exact details and pricing of the packages are yet to be revealed, however, it is likely connection speeds of up to 100Mbps will be offered.

Initially announced almost two years ago, the TasCOLT project struck a range of delays due to the complexity of the technology involved and a requirement to train local contractors in its implementation. The formulation of an environmental impact study and the process of securing planning approvals from local councils also took longer than expected.

The project is supported by a consortia including Hitachi, Intel, Cisco and Corning Cable. The FTTH network will use Ethernet Passive Optical Networking (ePON) technology and be fed by a head-end operated by Tasmanian electricity company Aurora. Trial services will be offered in two suburbs in Hobart as well as the city of Devonport on the State’s north coast. The bulk of the optical equipment for the test bed is being provided by Hitachi with specialist assistance from Melbourne-based optical technology specialist CEOS. Both companies are also responsible for a similar test project in Ballarat, Victoria.

Earlier this week, the Queensland Government announced that it is looking into investing in the next generation of broadband (FTTH) and spending about half a billion Australian dollars in doing it. The government will be seeking expressions of interest from the private sector next month to gauge commercial interest in funding the project. It is envisaged the private sector would lay fibre-optic cables using government-owned assets such as pipes, electricity poles and road and rail easements, and profit from the service. Queensland Premier Mr. Beattie said: 

If we are going to compete in a global world this is what ‘Smart State’ is all about … if we don’t then we get left behind.

Country Energy and Soul have recently completed their Fibre Towns project in regional New South Wales. It has linked over 70 health and education facilities to high speed data exchange and internet access. The project received funding from the NSW and Federal governments. The installation of fibre optic cable is on existing infrastructure – in this case, Country Energy’s power poles. According to Energy Minister, Joe Tripodi:

Health and education facilities are the first to be connected, but we foresee the technology being available to other businesses and the wider community very shortly.

Chairman of Soul, Rob Millner, said the installation of broadband cables on power poles is an innovative development in the telecommunications industry and testament to public and private sector partnerships working together to get Australia connected.

Sources: Country Energy, Australien IT, m-net

Japan: Broadband statistics October 24, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Uncategorized.
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The recent OECD broadband statistics showed that Japan leads the OECD in fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) with 6.3 million fibre subscribers in June 2006.

Japanese broadband statistics may be found on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications website. Download an excel spreadsheet here. Amoung other things it contains quarterly data on the number of subscribers to broadband communications subdivided into: Internet services through CATV, DSL services and FTTH services. In addition, there is a “subscribers to internet services through mobile phone” category. [pointer from Dirk]

Skype revenue and users October 19, 2006

Posted by Jasper in General, VoIP.
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Jim Courtney from Skype Journal reports on revenue statistics for Skype in his post Skype Starts to Build US Traction. This is the first time that I have seen official revenue figures for Skype, so I thought I would reproduce his table:

As US-controlled public company the Securities and Exchange Commission requires the breakout of International from domestic sales. So the numbers may be sourced from the 3rd quarter report from eBay. The figures reveal:

  • Skype has grown to around a US$200 million annual business;
  • Skype’s overall revenue growth is slowing;
  • Increase in users is still strong averaging more than 50% per year; and
  • Growth in US users is currently stronger than (other) international users.

Free Wi-Fi October 16, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Uncategorized.
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Many Airport authorities are adding Free Wi-Fi high speed internet access as an amenity for travelers. Some offer access in the entire airport while others may limit access to specified terminal or waiting areas. In addition, many airline club lounges may have their own free access available. See http://www.wififreespot.com/airport.html.  [via Gizmodo]

Boeing October 15, 2006

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Freakeconomics had a post on Friday called: Apparently, There’s No Future in This Thing They Call the Internet. In the post the Stephen Dubner refers to a letter he recieved announcing that Boing would no longer offer internet access on flights.

…after a detailed analysis of the Connexion by Boeing business, the company has decided to exit the high-speed broadband communications connectivity market.

I sympathize with Stephen when he writes that he is saddened by this move.  Although the options for internet access are generally increasing and improving and we as people are becoming increasingly “wired”, Boeing is moving in the other direction. It simply defies logic. Surely they will come to their senses again – and soon.

Boeings official press release is here.

OECD Broadband statistics 2006 October 13, 2006

Posted by Jasper in broadband.
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Today the OECD published their broadband stats to June 2006. Access them here. Some key findings are:

  • Denmark leads the OECD with a broadband penetration rate of 29.3 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
  • Australia and New Zealand continue to perform poorly, only ranked 17 and 22 respectively in broadband penetration.
  • There has been strong per-capita subscriber growth in western Europe.
  • Fibre to the home is becoming increasingly important for broadband access, particularly in countries with high broadband penetration. In Denmark, Danish power companies are rolling out fibre to consumers as they work to bury overhead power lines. Municipal broadband projects are also expanding in many northern European countries and throughout the OECD.
  • Japan leads the OECD in fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) with 6.3 million fibre subscribers in June 2006. Fibre subscribers alone in Japan outnumber total broadband subscribers in 22 of the 30 OECD countries.
  • The United States has the largest total number of broadband subscribers in the OECD at 57 million.

Denmark: Shipping Telecom October 12, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Uncategorized.
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A new book “Søderberg – Mand af Mærsk” is soon to hit the street in Denmark.  According to Computerworld, the book contains details of how the Danish shipping giant A.P. Møller – Mærsk on several occasions tried to enter the Danish telecom marked.  For example, by attempting to buy Danish incumbent TDC or a GSM-license. 

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Danish telco market in all these years. So, I hope the book sheds a little light on why A.P. Møller-Mærsk failed in their endeavors when they have been so successful at nearly everything else they do.

Malaysia: highest 3G call October 10, 2006

Posted by Jasper in General, Mobile.
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As a four time climber of Mount Kinabalu, located in Kinabalu National Park on the Malaysian part of Borneo, I was delighted to read that video calls can be made on the peak thanks to the services provided by Celcom’s 3G coverage. According to Celcom Malaysia this is the highest 3G coverage in the world to date. Mount Kinabalu’s height has been given as 4,095 m or 13,450 ft above sea level.

According to the climbers making the first call, the video transmission quality was fairly good although it could have been better if the weather was good. See The Star for more details.

Australia: T3 Prospectus October 9, 2006

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The T3 prospectus was lodged with the ASX just after midday today. It is available here. It is hugh document. I have only downloaded selected parts of it and only briefly had a look at Suplemental Information, where Telstra paints a grim picture of the regulatory risk facing the company.

Australia: NEXT G October 6, 2006

Posted by Jasper in broadband, Mobile.
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Today, Telstra formally announced the launch of its nationwide AU$ 1 billion 3G network called NEXT G. Something I was made acutely aware of this morning by loud live music ricocheting off buildings disturbing my otherwise quite office surroundings. The Telstra launch party had installed itself by the Brisbane River no more than 30 meters from my office building. I am surprised that this is allowed in the CBD on an otherwise normal Friday. Nevertheless, there are number of interesting aspects to the launch.

Telstra is rolling out their 3G network using 2100Mhz & 850Mhz in combination. As far as I am aware Telstra are the only carrier in the world to do this. As of yet it is unclear what this will mean in terms of speed. Telstra claims that in March next year it will be able to offer peak speeds of up to 14.4Mbit/s and in 2009 up to 40Mbit/s. Bold promises, but will they deliver and what happens in the 850MHz range? The unique approach will also be a challenge for Telstra in terms of handset availability. Not surprisingly, Telstra’s handset range will initially be limited to three models.

To use the service for broadband data access, Telstra is currently offering a “NEXT G turbo card”, with initial plans offering 400MB for AU$79.95/month and AU$109.95/month for 1GB – not cheap by any means.

Still, good news that Telstra’s mobile network has been upgraded and that its upgrade has a 98% demographic coverage (see coverage map below). But I am still waiting for someone to step up to the plate and build a true high speed fibre based network. Now that would be an announcement and something that Australians desperately need.

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Voice SMS October 6, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Mobile.
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Here is a service that has bypassed my radar: Voice SMS (VSMS). It provides the user the option to to send audio SMS messages or to reply to text (and voice) SMS messages with a verbal response. Apparently it is popular service in Asia. Early experience in several Asian countries suggest very rapid adoption — 30% to 50% penetration in less than 12 months for a service which is priced below voice phone calls, but 50% above SMS messages (sourced here).

According to Ericsson’s website:

Digi – Malaysia’s third-largest operator with more than 4 million subscribers – launched BubbleTALK [the VSMS service] in February [2005]. In August [2005], usage had surged to 200,000 messages a day. During this time, customers were offered 10 free messages a day in a two-month promotion.

It addresses literacy issues as well as those created by non-roman based languages. Also it provides a convenient alternative for those that have not mastered the key pad on most mobiles. Finally, there’s a lot more information and emotional content in a voice message than a text message.

Access network terminology October 5, 2006

Posted by Jasper in broadband, Technology.
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The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Councils of Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America have announced completion of a new resource to provide worldwide standardization of terminology used in the FTTH industry. The mission of the FTTH Councils includes the communication to stakeholders in their respective regions of the extent of usage of FTTH throughout the world and forecasting the growth of FTTH. According the the Councils this task has been made difficult by the proliferation of terms and acronyms that lack precise definitions. Accordingly they have published a Definition of Terms.

The document provides definitions for commonly utilized industry terms describing access network terminology. It can be downloaded here.

Good to see this type of initiative. Different interpretations of terms can create endless misunderstandings and promote fruitless discussion.

Nordic countries: Report on mobile market October 3, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Mobile.
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Last week a report on the Nordic mobile market was made available on the IT- og Telestyrelsen website. It is a collaboration between the Nordic telecom regulators: NPT (Norway), FICORA (Finland), PTS (Sweden), ITST (Denmark) and PTA (Iceland).

It provides a reasonable starting point for anyone wishing an overview of the Nordic mobile market. Some of the conclusions include:

  • The growth in the number of mobile subscriptions relative to the population (mobile penetration) has been similar in all Nordic countries. Today, mobile penetration is above 100 % in all five countries;
  • Demark has the lowest mobile prices in the Nordic countries;
  • Denmark has the highest number of text messages per customer per year;
  • Finland has witnessed a markedly higher number of portings than the other Nordic countries;
  • Finland has the highest number of traffic minutes per customer per year;
  • Sweden currently has the most operators (MNO, MVNO and SP);
  • Based on a concentration index at a wholesale level, Denmark has the most competitive market; and
  • Denmark currently has the highest mobile termination prices.

The report is availbale here.