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Broadband News from Around the World: Sicilian Fiber, English Internet Brands and Cape Town Controversy

in Africa/Broadband's Impact/Europe/Fiber/International by

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2013 – A recent wrap-up of global broadband news included the following items:

Islands of Sicily

The telecommunications company BT has announced plans to fund a 3.7 million Euro plan to “bring high-speed fibre broadband to the isles of Sicily,” according to digitalspy.com. The initiative will facilitate unused fibre-optic cables that have sat dormant off the island for several years. Residents of the isles currently rely on radio links to connect online. BT is hailing this initiative as “most ambitious project ever undertaken in the UK to bring super-fast broadband to a remote community”. This plan should begin to see inroads by 2014, and BT is hailing the development as environmentally friendly, as broadband access will come via existing fiber-optic wires rather than through the production and installation of new cables.

Cambridge and Petborough, England

By the end of 2015, Cambridge and Peterborough, England will have some of the leading broadband on the British Isles, according to businessweekly.co.uk. That’s because the Cambridge County Council signed a contract with BT to bring “more than 24,000 households and businesses registering for the Connecting Cambridgeshire campaign – making it the most effective in the country – and the fantastic support of over 100 broadband champions.” Through the use of these “champions,” consumers are interacting with brands in a unique way. The article notes that businesses around Cambridge will see vast improvement to their infrastructures a. The U.K., which does a large amount of retail business online, will see an estimated 500 million euros back into the local economy by 2015.

Cape Town, South Africa

The Cape Town Chamber of Commerce recently criticized the government’s Department of Communications for “failing to meet targets and properly govern information and communication technology.” The local businesses are concerned about the slow pace of broadband roll-out, and the charges have led some to call for the Minister of Communications’ resignation. Department of Communications spokesperson Syabulela Qoza rejected the claims, stating that no businesses have reported any criticism to the agency. According to a local Cape Town website, “rural areas especially were being left behind, as private business could not afford to invest in their own infrastructure in sparsely populated areas.”

Americans Tap Into Mobile Networks to Share World Cup Experience

in Broadband Updates/Broadband's Impact/International/Mobile Broadband/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2010 – Americans were among the largest group of people visiting South Africa during the World Cup soccer match played in June, according to mobile phone data from Aicent.

More than 60 percent of Aicent’s data traffic came from customers of GSM (global system for mobile) operators in the United States, said Aicent, a provider of data network, messaging and roaming services for mobile operators.

On days when the U.S. team played, the GSM operators experienced their largest spieks in traffic, with traffic leaving South Africa far and away exceeding traffic coming to South Africa by a ratio exceeding 4:1.

Soccer fans in South Africa relied on their mobile phones to share pictures, videos, live game updates and other messages with friends back home. According to Mayan Mathen, CTO of Dimension Data, during the World Cup, South Africa became one of the highest “tweet” sources in the world, referring to the Twitter social network. World Cup fans in South Africa averaged 750 tweets per second, with some 3,500 going out every second during World Cup matches.

The day with the highest volume of data traffic was Wednesday, June 23, the day that Nigeria and South Korea played to a tie, Argentina defeated Greece, England defeated Slovenia, and the United States defeated Algeria. The day with the next highest volume was Tuesday, June 15, when three matches between Italy and Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia, and Cote d’Ivoire and Portugal all ended in ties.

Value Added Services to Raise $140 Billion in Revenues

in Asia/Europe/Mobile Broadband/South America by

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2010 – Informa Telecoms & Media predicts that data plans and app stores are going to drive revenues up $140 billion over the next 4 years in emerging markets.

Value-added-service – or anything above simply voice service – revenues were $200 billion in 2009 and, according to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media, will rise to $340 billion in 2014.

The study examined emerging markets in countries like China, India, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Argentina and Russia among others, and though they are “emerging” markets, they are expected to account for 36 percent of the global mobile data revenues in 2014.

The service providers have seen uptake in services like mobile payments, peer-to-peer funds transfer and agricultural information services. Even mobile social networking in places like China with their mobile instant message service called Fetion.

Services like these are extremely useful in the daily lives of customers, and the markets have adapted to these needs.

China Mobile and Nokia launched a joint mobile app store earlier this year, and reports say over 4 million mobile apps had been downloaded by March. While app stores are not yet as popular as they are in developed markets like the United States, they are becoming a contributing factor to value-added-service.

Report Advocates Tax Relief in Telecommunications Sector

in Asia/Broadband Updates/International/North America/South America by

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2010 – According to a report released by the Global System for Mobile communications Association (GSMA), the key to spurring broadband adoption on in previously under-covered areas is targeted tax relief. According to the group’s summary of the study, “The study indicates how a reduction in special taxes applied to the telecommunications sectors in countries with different taxation approaches like Brazil, Mexico, Bangladesh and South Africa will translate into higher Mobile Broadband service adoption and more wealth creation reflected in additional GDP growth.”

The study’s methodology analyzed the relationship between mobile broadband adoption and tax rates in the four countries outlined above. Despite disparities in other areas, the study notes that every dollar reduced in taxes across Brazil, Mexico, Bangladesh and South Africa will generate additional GDP ranging between US$1.4 to US$12.6 through enhanced broadband uptake.

According to the group’s spokesperson, Tom Phillips, “The findings from today’s report clearly show how distortive taxation approaches in some countries can increase the Total Cost of Mobile Ownership (TCMO), negatively impacting development of Mobile Broadband. This report highlights the inconsistencies between regulations aimed at developing ICT sectors and policies that single out the services they deliver as ‘cash cows’ upon which taxes are levied.”

Broadband May Meet Its Match During World Cup

in Broadband Updates/Broadband's Impact/International/Mobile Broadband/Wireless by

LONDON, June 7, 2010 – Several factors are conspiring to make the 2010 football World Cup a testing time for Europe’s fixed and mobile broadband networks.

The soccer tournament kicks off June 11 in South Africa. Europe has six of the world’s top eight footballing nations competing, and fanatical populations are desperate to keep up from office computers, mobile devices, home televisions or at a public venue for large screen viewing.

Europe also has finally and rapidly embraced high-definition technology as TV set prices have collapsed and the World Cup itself has driven broadcasters to ensure all the matches will show in HD.

Subscribers can now view programming content over the internet and mobile networks in much higher definition than before, and that could generate enough traffic to bring down a network if fans in populous nations such as the United Kingdom and Germany watch matches in large numbers that way. A single user could easily consume 400 megabytes of data viewing a match via mobile phone, which leaves wireless operators unsure of how much additional traffic they will actually get thanks to the World Cup.

There is the potential for significant revenue from data downloads, but there’s also the danger that heavily trafficked networks could collapse or deliver poor performance with the risk of triggering consumer defections.

Some operators, such as Vodafone in the United Kingdom, have responded with contingency plans to offer transportable cell towers ready to be deployed at short notice in areas where unusual demand is expected or imminent, but their backhaul networks could remain exposed.

There would be little problem if the majority of fans watched at home on their TVs; the major operators all have established networks for delivering the content, with plenty of capacity for their HD programming.

For IPTV operators delivering programming over IP-based networks, HD has caused headaches because content is then delivered on a one-to-one basis right down to the end consumer, rather than being broadcast or multicast to avoid simultaneous transmission of the same content to multiple users. However many European IPTV operators, such as BT Vision in the United Kingdom, have deployed hybrid services where the live HD programming is transmitted via a broadcast medium, usually digital terrestrial or more occasionally satellite.

A few IPTV operators in urban areas that have fiber running all the way or close to the home can deliver HD directly over their IP networks, without having to operate a hybrid service.

Either way, the World Cup is not likely to pose particular problems, although those operators that have failed to bring on HD so far could be exposed to churn. The situation is most interesting in France, the world’s leading IPTV country, which has over 8 million IPTV subscribers, compared with 400,000 in the United Kingdom where the population is slightly larger. France also has three of the world’s four largest IPTV operators, Free, Orange France Telecom and Neuf Cegetel. All three have been relatively quiet in the build up to the World Cup, allowing the satellite and cable TV providers to make the running with their greater broadcast capacity.

Meanwhile, the World Cup has raised concerns that the biggest problems may come within private business broadband networks caused by people watching matches at work. A survey by ISP Eclipse Internet has warned that 54 percent of Britons could watch games online while at work, with a particular risk posed by the group game against Slovenia on June 2. That game begins at the earlier slot of 3 p.m. local time. There was potential for widespread chaos among corporate networks, warned Eclipse, whose survey of 2,000 workers found that 58 percent had given no thought to the possible consequences of on their employers of watching the World Cup at work. The ISP advised organizations to implement guidelines about office computer usage during the World Cup, backed up if necessary by technical restrictions on access to the Internet. Eclipse also hinted that the surge in broadband traffic during such high profile matches could cause more widespread disruption of the Internet in European countries.

Such issues may well not be resolved even for future major global events, for increased capacity could be offset by ever higher definition video services, with 3D waiting in the wings. In a sign of things to come, the private French broadcaster TF1 announced it will transmit five World Cup football games in 3D including the opening game on June 11 between South Africa and Mexico, as well as the semi-finals and the final on July 11. That will soak up twice as much network capacity as the highest quality HD broadcasts.

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