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Looking to the future May 3, 2007

Posted by Jasper in broadband, NGN, Technology.
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CA-net news has some interesting references to the future of the internet and broadband technologies.

FTTH Council Video: A FTTH Council provides a very high level perspective of the Internet and its current challenges and provides evidence of the tsunami of data that will fill networks with the distribution of video. Their point is of course that the surge in data requires update of the last mile (amoung other things).

Jon Crowcroft Interview, Article on the challenges of P2P running on today’s networks, Article on why IPTV is doomed to fail: Jon Crowcroft claims that heat loading at data centers will make distribution of video through traditional client server models impossible, and that P2P will be the only practical way of distributing such content. This is why many argue that the traditional telco NGN architecture with IPTV is doomed to failure.

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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.

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.

Broadband-in-Gas September 18, 2006

Posted by Jasper in broadband, Technology.
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Who would have thought of technology that allows the delivery of broadband through gas pipes. California-based Nethercomm is developing the technology. Delivery of services through the gas pipes is made possible using Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless radio technology. They call it Broadband-in-Gas (BiG).

According to Nethercomm the UWB signal:

…traverses through the underground pathway formed by the natural gas pipeline, turning corners and negotiating obstacles aided by the unique nature of ultra wide transmissions. When “Broadband-in-Gas” (BiG) is fully developed, it will provide twice the connectivity of fiber-optics (40 to 100 Mbps for Broadband-in-Gas versus 20 Mbps for fiber) at essentially the same installed cost per customer as DSL (about a tenth of the installed cost per customer for fiber to the home).

Source: here.  Additional documents are found on the Nethercomm website, including: Nethercomm’s BiG Network and Expanding the value of Fiber-in-Gas through Strategic Partnerships with BiG. Although it will likely be a some years yet before BiG takes flight, if a comparison with power-line technologies is any thing to go by, it is certainly something to watch out for.

US/EU report on optical networking September 11, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Technology.
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A Final Report of the US/EU Workshop on Optical Networking, held June 27-28, 2005, at the European Commission Premises in Brussels has been released. The final workshop report is at:
http://networks.cs.ucdavis.edu/~mukherje/US-EU-wksp-June05-Final-Report.pdf

As an economist and not an engineer I do not pretend to understand all that is written in the report. But it did provide me with some welcome views on emerging trends in fibre optical networking and how these network might evolve over time. In terms of the fibre in the access network on solution quoted in the paper, to minimise some the cost challenges of FTTH, is to deploy “fiber as far as possible” to the user and then have wireless “take over”. The “wireless portion” could also employ multi-hop routing principles leading to better robustness properties against optical fibre failures.

Maybe this is an option for the G9 in Australia (see previous post) who have proposed to build an alternative FTTN network.  This way they could completely by-pass the Telstra access network.

World: Mobile forecasts September 7, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Mobile, Technology.
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According to estimates from Wireless Intelligence the total number of mobile subscribers in the world will reach 2.5 billion, having passed through the 2 billion mark just 12 months ago. The 3 billion mark will be reached around the of 2007. See figure below [from GeekZone], which suggests a straight line forecast (although the rate would appear to diminish only so slightly).
worldcell.jpg
Most of the growth is coming from mobile markets with lower levels of market penetration than the more mature markets in Europe and parts of Asia. The top ten countries for volume growth over the last year were China, India, Russia, USA, Pakistan, Ukraine, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh. Between them, they account for over half of the growth in the world cellular market over the last 12 months. A quarter of the growth is coming from China and India.

According to ABI Research, 3G subscriptions (including CDMA2000) have growth substantially in recent years and are forecast to hit 285 million by the end of 2006.

No doubt 3G (W-CDMA and CDMA2000) will growth rapidly in the coming years and gradually capture much greater proportion of the world market share. I predict we might reach the 1 billion mark before 2010. At that time it will be interesting to see how 3G+ and/or 4G technologies have evolved and how they effect 3G penetration.

Taiwan: Wireless City September 6, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Technology.
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Taipei said on Tuesday it has become a wireless city that offers citizens handy access to the Internet anywhere in the city. For a monthly fee of 400 New Taiwan dollars (US$12, €9), residents can access the Internet in the Taiwanese capital using their cell phones or laptop computers with build-in wireless cards.

Over the past two years, authorities have laid about 4,000 access points throughout the city, allowing Wi-Fi access at the city’s 67 MRT stations, nine municipal hospitals, 53 municipal libraries, 12 administrative offices, 10 cultural centers, 28 major throughways, 70 Starbucks coffee shops and over 600 7-Eleven stores.

Will be interesting to see how this Taipei City Government commissioned service develops in junction with the increasing peneration of 3G devises and personal handyphone system (as far as I am aware the Personal Handyphone is a portable wireless telephone that functions as a cordless phone in the home and as a mobile phone elsewhere).

See article in China Post and International Herald Tribune for more information.

Some stats: Taiwan has a population of 23 million and a mobile penetration of close to 100%. The number of Taiwan’s 3G subscribers reached 2.19 million at the end of June. The number of personal handyphones increased by 44.1% from one year earlier, to 1.23 million at end-June.

South Korea: 4G prospects September 1, 2006

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{From Associated Press]: Samsung Electronics Co. showed off the promise of future mobile technology Thursday. It is using so-called fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless technology.  The current prototype technology allows data transfers of 100 megabits per second and works while moving at up to 120 kph. But the promise is still far off: Right now, Samsung’s data receiver is the size of a compact refrigerator. It won’t be until 2008 that the device can be shrunk down to fit in a mobile phone handset and even then, frequencies need to be allocated and standards set, meaning the devices aren’t expected to be commercially availbale until after 2010.

Australia: Core network upgrade September 1, 2006

Posted by Jasper in broadband, Regulation, Technology.
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Just as I had finished writing the previous post on investment in Australia I came across a Telstra and Alcatel announcement setting out Telstra’s fixed network transformation in 2006/07, with an expected value of AUD 460 million (EUR270m). The programme is part of Alcatel and Telstra’s strategic supplier relationship announced in November 2005. In 2006/07, Alcatel will establish an IP network footprint in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. The technologies deployed will include IP-DSLAM, Ethernet aggregation and optical networking solutions.

Of course the press release also makes very clear that this upgrade is unrelated to Telstra’s previous FTTN proposal. It is interesting, however, that access to both Telstra’s core and access network in principle is regulated in the same way, but Telstra are happy to invest in the core technologies, but reluctant to invest in access.

See the press release here