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Broadband's Impact

2013 Telecom Predictions from Analysys Mason: LTE Limited, Social Media Shakeup of Instant Messaging, Slower Smartphone Growth

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LONDON, December 19, 2012 – In 2013, roll-out of LTE services will have limited immediate economic impact, social media giants look set to stir up IP-based messaging services and smartphone penetration growth rates will slow considerably, according to Analysys Mason’s top telecoms predictions for the next 12 months.

The technology, media and telecommunications consulting and research company also predicts that Apple will continue to lose market share in the tablet space and the VoLTE investment case will come into the spotlight for operators.

1. LTE arrives, but with limited immediate impact: in 2013 LTE will become a commercial reality in many more countries, but will have limited economic impact in the next 12 months. Some European countries and emerging markets in Latin America are set to launch the network, as well as countries in South-East Asia via the Asia–Pacific band plan. Some developed markets such as South Korea will also start to deploy LTE-A and take advantage of features such as carrier aggregation to craft larger channels for higher-speed services.

However, the immediate economic impact of LTE will be limited in countries where it has been priced as a premium product and the economy remains sluggish (e.g. Italy and Spain). The industry will also realise that consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for LTE mobile broadband, and that this service will not compete with next-generation fixed access on anything other than a complementary basis. The effect will be to push down the price of 3G/HSPA mobile broadband services.

2. The ‘big switch-off’ will accelerate: 2013 will see growing operator focus on ‘the big switch-off’ – legacy mobile infrastructure for mobile network operators, copper networks and PSTN for fixed operators. Approaches to this will be varied. One operator in South Korea, for example, has already switched off its 2G network.

3. Social media giants to further shake up IP-based messaging: in 2012, operators responded to SMS cannibalisation by launching RCS-e, which was followed by a number of ‘telco-OTT’ services. In the next 12 months, competition will heat up further as social media giants such as Facebook move in. Analysys Mason forecasts that European operator revenue from messaging will decline by 34% in the next four years, from EUR28 billion in 2011 to EUR18.6 billion in 2017.

4. VoLTE investment case to come into the spotlight: the first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services came to market in 2012. Though widespread commercial deployments are still some way off, operators will need to make some tough decisions about the future of their voice services. Potential cost savings are currently driving the IMS investment case, but revenue implications are uncertain, and a clear vision for how voice services should evolve in an LTE world has yet to be articulated. HTML5/WebRTC will further stimulate the debate about whether ‘voice is just an application’.

5. Smartphone penetration growth rate to slow markedly: the smartphone market will continue to grow but the rate at which it grows will be markedly slower than in previous years. The number of annual global smartphone shipments will grow from 691 million in 2012 to 869 million in 2013. However, the rate of growth in the rate of new smartphone connections will significantly decline: from 39% in 2011 to 29% in 2012. In 2013, this growth rate will decline further to 20%.

Analysys Mason predicts continued, incremental development of the smartphone OS market share situation. Both Android and iOS are predicted to marginally grow their share of smartphone sales in the next 12 months globally (from 56.4% to 58.1% and 21.5% to 22% respectively). However, Symbian’s market share for sales will fall from 5.9% to 2.7%, reaching zero in 2016.

6. Apple to fall below 50% market share for tablet sales: as the tablet market continues to grow, Apple’s dominance of it will continue to decline, faster than many expect. Apple will fall below 50% market share for tablets by the end of 2013, with the iPad mini expected to have only a limited impact on sales numbers due to its high price point (USD329 versus less than USD200 for a Kindle Fire HD). Both Apple and Samsung lost market share in 2011-12 to the benefit of other vendors such as HTC, Motorola, RIM and Sony.

Content ecosystems for tablets will be a key differentiator in 2013 and as important a feature for tablets as the quality and size of the screen or processing power. Vendors who focus on expanding their content line-up and international footprint will be most likely to capture non-Apple tablet users.

7. Multi-device subscription pricing to emerge: selling prices for smartphones and tablets have been falling in the past five years; the average price of a smartphone has declined by EUR300 since 2007. This trend has supported increasing data penetration and the emergence of the multi-device user segment, which will result in many more operators launching multi-device subscription plans to capture additional revenue. This is particularly true for LTE subscriptions where per-gigabyte pricing covers a wide range of USD14–85 per gigabyte.

8. Traditional TV under more pressure: OTT/Connected TV and non-linear TV will continue to force broadcasters/pay-TV and telecoms operators to re-think their strategies. The take-up of paid-for OTT video services to the TV in the USA and Canada will more than double to 53.1 million households between 2012 and 2017, representing 37.4% of households.

The take-up of paid-for OTT video services in Europe will reach an estimated 2.3 million households in 2012, representing a mere 0.7% of households. We expect this to increase to 32.2 million, or 10% of households, in 2017. Compared with the USA and Canada, growth in Europe will continue to be constrained by a lower propensity to pay for video services, because of the widespread availability of high-quality free content from public broadcasters.

9. Wi-Fi to the rescue: small-cell/service-provider Wi-Fi solutions will address mobile operators’ needs for dense urban wireless coverage and capacity, but limited backhaul availability, standards maturity and solution costs will blunt major deployments until late 2013 or early 2014. LTE 2600 will emerge as a key option for small-cell spectrum gaining network and device support to address capacity needs of developed-market operators, complemented by growing 5GHz Wi-Fi providing improved Wi-Fi performance.

Service-provider Wi-Fi solutions based on HotSpot 2.0 and devices supporting Passpoint 2.0 will come to market in late 2013, helping to bridge the chasm between cellular networks and the emerging ‘carrier grade’ Wi-Fi service. Operators will also start to look at providing various grades of service: cellular, SP Wi-Fi and ‘Best Effort’ Wi-Fi to help differentiate their service and brand as well as support monetisation of the wireless experience.

10. Operators in emerging markets come of age: process transformation, opex and network cost optimisation will become major issues in emerging markets as operators within these regions are coming of age and an apparently endless growth in mobile penetration rates is finally slowing down.

The penetration rates of active SIMs in some African and Middle Eastern countries, for example, already exceed 100% of the population (eg. South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates).

Editor’s note: for media inquiries regarding this press release, contact Kate Brown or Alistair Young at press@analysysmason.com or telephone +44 (0)845 600 5244. Please mention that you saw the release on BroadbandBreakfast.com.

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Digital Inclusion

Lack of Public Broadband Pricing Information a Cause of Digital Divide, Say Advocates

Panelists argued that lack of equitable digital access is deadly and driven by lack of competition.

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September 24, 2021- Affordability, language and lack of competition are among the factors that continue to perpetuate the digital divide and related inequities, according to panelists at a Thursday event on race and broadband.

One of the panelists faulted the lack of public broadband pricing information as a root cause.

In poorer communities there’s “fewer ISPs. There’s less competition. There’s less investment in fiber,” said Herman Galperin, associate professor at the University of Southern California. “It is about income. It is about race, but what really matters is the combination of poverty and communities of color. That’s where we find the largest deficits of broadband infrastructure.”

While acknowledging that “there is an ongoing effort at the [Federal Communications Commission] to significantly improve the type of data and the granularity of the data that the ISPs will be required to report,” Galperin said that the lack of a push to make ISP pricing public will doom that effort to fail.

He also questioned why ISPs do not or are not required to report their maps of service coverage revealing areas of no or low service. “Affordability is perhaps the biggest factor in preventing low-income folks from connecting,” Galperin said.

“It’s plain bang for their buck,” said Traci Morris, executive director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University, referring to broadband providers reluctance to serve rural and remote areas. “It costs more money to go to [tribal lands].”

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has only made that digital divide clearer and more deadly. “There was no access to information for telehealth,” said Morris. “No access to information on how the virus spread.”

Galperin also raised the impact of digital gaps in access upon homeless and low-income populations. As people come in and out of homelessness, they have trouble connecting to the internet at crucial times, because – for example – a library might be closed.

Low-income populations also have “systemic” digital access issues struggling at times with paying their bills having to shut their internet off for months at a time.

Another issue facing the digital divide is linguistic. Rebecca Kauma, economic and digital inclusion program manager for the city of Long Beach, California, said that residents often speak a language other than English. But ISPs may not offer interpretation services for them to be able to communicate in their language.

Funding, though not a quick fix-all, often brings about positive change in the right hands. Long Beach received more than $1 million from the U.S. CARES Act, passed in the wake of the early pandemic last year. “One of the programs that we designed was to administer free hotspots and computing devices to those that qualify,” she said.

Some “band-aid solutions” to “systemic problems” exist but aren’t receiving the attention or initiative they deserve, said Galperin. “What advocacy organizations are doing but we need a lot more effort is helping people sign up for existing low-cost offers.” The problem, he says, is that “ISPs are not particularly eager to promote” low-cost offers.

The event “Race and Digital Inequity: The Impact on Poor Communities of Color,” was hosted by the Michelson 20MM Foundation and its partners the California Community Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Southern California Grantmakers.

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Broadband's Impact

USC, CETF Collaborate on Research for Broadband Affordability

Advisory panel includes leaders in broadband and a chief economist at the FCC.

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Hernan Galperin of USC's Annenberg School

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2021 – Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School and the California Emerging Technology Fund is partnering to recommend strategies for bringing affordable broadband to all Americans.

In a press release on Tuesday, the university’s school of communications and journalism and the CETF will be guided by an expert advisory panel, “whose members include highly respected leaders in government, academia, foundations and non-profit and consumer-focused organizations.”

Members of the advisory panel include a chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission, digital inclusion experts, broadband advisors to governors, professors and deans, and other public interest organizations.

“With the federal government and states committing billions to broadband in the near term, there is a unique window of opportunity to connect millions of low-income Americans to the infrastructure they need to thrive in the 21st century,” Hernan Galperin, a professor at the school, said in the release.

“However, we need to make sure public funds are used effectively, and that subsidies are distributed in an equitable and sustainable manner,” he added. “This research program will contribute to achieve these goals by providing evidence-based recommendations about the most cost-effective ways to make these historic investments in broadband work for all.”

The CETF and USC have collaborated before on surveys about broadband adoption. In a series of said surveys recently, the organizations found disparities along income levels, as lower-income families reported lower levels of technology adoption, despite improvement over the course of the pandemic.

The surveys also showed that access to connected devices was growing, but racial minorities are still disproportionately impacted by the digital divide.

The collaboration comes before the House is expected to vote on a massive infrastructure package that includes $65 billion for broadband. Observers and experts have noted the package’s vision for flexibility, but some are concerned about the details of how that money will be spent going forward.

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Broadband's Impact

Technology Policy Institute Introduces Data Index to Help Identify Connectivity-Deprived Areas

The Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple datasets to try to get a better understanding of well- and under-connected areas in the U.S.

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Scott Wallsten is president and senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute

WASHINGTON, September 16, 2021 – The Technology Policy Institute introduced Thursday a broadband data index that it said could help policymakers study areas across the country with inadequate connectivity.

The TPI said the Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple broadband datasets to compare overall connectivity “objectively and consistently across any geographic areas.” It said it will be adding it soon into its TPI Broadband Map.

The BCI uses a “machine learning principal components analysis” to take into account the share of households that can access fixed speeds the federal standard of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload and 100/25 – which is calculated based on the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data with the American Community Survey – while also using download speed data from Ookla, Microsoft data for share of households with 25/3, and the share of households with a broadband subscription, which comes from the American Community Survey.

The BCI has a range of zero to 10, where zero is the worst connected and 10 is the best. It found that Falls Church, Virginia was the county with the highest score with the following characteristic: 99 percent of households have access to at least 100/25, 100 percent of households connect to Microsoft services at 25/3, the average fixed download speed is 243 Mbps in Ookla in the second quarter of this year, and 94 percent of households have a fixed internet connection.

Meanwhile, the worst-connected county is Echols County in Georgia. None of the population has access to a fixed connection of 25/3, which doesn’t include satellite connectivity, three percent connect to Microsoft’s servers at 25/3, the average download speed is 7 Mbps, and only 47 percent of households have an internet connection. It notes that service providers won $3.6 million out of the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to provide service in this county.

“Policymakers could use this index to identify areas that require a closer look. Perhaps any county below, say, the fifth percentile, for example, would be places to spend effort trying to understand,” the TPI said.

“We don’t claim that this index is the perfect indicator of connectivity, or even the best one we can create,” TPI added. “In some cases, it might magnify errors, particularly if multiple datasets include errors in the same area.

“We’re still fine-tuning it to reduce error to the extent possible and ensure the index truly captures useful information. Still, this preliminary exercise shows that it is possible to obtain new information on connectivity with existing datasets rather than relying only on future, extremely expensive data.”

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