Friday, March 26, 2010

Mobile data traffic overtakes voice for first time

Ericsson reports that traffic generated from 400m mobile data/broadband subscribers is now more than from the 4.6Billion voice users with the traffic crossover at about 140,000 Terrabytes a month.

In terms of the financial implications, Informa Telecoms & Media predicted in January that mobile data revenues will surge to $330 billion by 2013, up from an estimated $208 billion in 2008. more

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

UK Government to push ahead for Superfast Broadband but for when?

Further pronouncements on the eventual roll out of 'Super-Fast' 40-100Mb broadband to every home in the land were made by both major this week.  As the UK heads relentlessly towards a General Election in the Spring, both government and opposition have alighted on this 'utility' as a vote winner / chance to bash the other.

But note the confusion over dates 2012 / 2017 / 2020!!  In July 2009 BT said it was impossible to get more than 80% of the country on broadband, then in  January this year the Digital Britain report said we were all going to get Fast broadband @ 2Mb in 2012, (I can't even get 500kb to my house) Now we're all going to have Super Fast by 2017 (well 90% by 2017 and 100% by 2020)

Well that's pretty good - except that the BT Infinity Service that this relies on is targeting 40% coverage (ie Cities and Metropolitan area) by 2012, and BT's record on delivering things like the 21CN all IP network is pretty poor, so if left to BT it will all be to slow, to late! 

In an attempt to speed up the process and with an eye to improved competition the Conservatives are suggesting that BT opens up not just it's exchanges but all of it's trunking and conduits to the likes of Virgin Media, even suggestions now that the  NTL Fibre at the top of the village could be broken out and strung from the old GPO telephone pole outside the house.

However the question of funding will almost certainly kill it the 50p tax on landlines is already getting push back and will certainly be an election issue, and the Conservative suggestion of top slicing the BBCs budget by £120m is frankly widdling into the wind, we're talking billions to deliver on any of these promises and no company can afford to raise the amount of long-term debt that would be required. 

On the upside opening up the BT trunks would make it easier to run business servics around th Cities which would certainly help and would reduce the number of new digs and roadworks in places like London.

I think the solution is a mixture of public and private investment, with which ever party wins taking the same approach as the Dutch "we will invest in this network  and you the service providers can lease the resulting infrastructure from us"  If you would like to invest alongside us and own a percentage of the income you're welcome to pitch in"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fragmented services business makes UK operators takeover targets

As their economy stumbles in and out of recession and the pound weakens against almost everything but the Green-back, the UK telecoms market must look like a great place to pick up bargains if you're a service provider looking to break into the European market. 
See this article in Global Telecoms Business that we contributed to recently; complete with diagram showing the fragmented nature of UK IP access market.

If I were TATA, SingTel or China Telecom I would start by acquiring key assets in the UK.  Especially where there was access to international submarine cabling.


For those of you not familiar with the history of UK telecoms: Deregulation in the late 1980's, followed by early adoption of Internet, as an alternative to Frame-Relay or ATM networks, led to tens of billions of $'s being invested in Fiber Networks up and down the country around most major cities by extremely well funded startups.   There was also massive investment by the likes of Global Crossing, Verizon, Cable & Wireless and AT&T in sub-marine cabling linking the UK to the US, Europe, the Middle East and Africa

After the euphoria of the 90's tech bubble 'run-riot' abated most of these companies went bust and there assets were acquired for very little from the liquidators, and they've since been run as profitable low overhead.

This has however left the market extremely fragmented with a large amount of highly valuable infrastructure split amongst a myriad of small (in xSP terms).  We recently saw a Service Provider in London with a metropolitan fibre network that would probably cost £100m to replace sold for about £7m crazy, but that's UK accounting :0)

But surely this stuff is available in mainland Europe!  Well to a lesser extent yes but the UKs regulatory environment is more friendly, I cannot imagine the French or German Governments allowing key national infrastructure to be sold off to foreign companies - whereas the UK seems to positively revel in overseas ownership of utilities.  See T-Orange merger

Global Telecoms Business is a good source of markets information - we'd recommend taking a look at their site.

Monday, March 08, 2010

High Speed Broadband - UK Failure to Launch

I was thinking again about the Google'isation of the world, which mostly involves Google giving people stuff that they want for free - and renting their eyeballs out to all comers.  I came back to Google City, or what was once called Topeka, Kansas.   Google are planning to roll out a a Gigabit Fiber Network for 50,000 homes somewhere in the US - see previous post.

Compare this with the Netherlands and the UK;

In 2003 the City of Amsterdam funded a pilot fibre network to cover 40,000 homes in May 2009 The Amsterdam Fiber Network was expanded to 150,000 homes & businesses in the City.  The Dutch Minister responsible for information stating that "...high speed (Gigabit) Internet was a necessity and should be open for all".  City of Amsterdam paid for the infrastructure and now makes a profit leasing it to the private sector.

In the UK a vague target of 2mb for all by 2012 set out in the Digital Britain Report is made laughable by no ideas for funding other than a £6 ($10) a year tax on phone lines which they would probably give to BT and will most likely drop as the UK elections loom over a stricken and debt-riven nation. 

Hold this in your mind: the UK Gov' considers 10Mbps Broadband to be "Superfast' This short example shows just how far away Digital Britain really is, and how that impacts on the economy.

We have small sub-office just North of Cambridge we decided to run a Business Broadband line in and use it for long term storage and Disaster Recovery.  Despite being just 3 miles from a fiber enabled exchange the best speeds achievable were 468Kbps - which BT informed us was above 440Kbps and wa therefore an acceptable speed for a Business Broadband service - On which planet is that speed acceptable??

Come Google and rain down your love on Cambridge - I am sure we can name a College after you!!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Google, Kansas - Google finally on own maps!!

Topeka, the tiny State Capital of Kansas has renamed itself Google - yep, it's true for a limited time the City of Google will be on the map - I wonder if Redmond, VA might do Microsoft the same honour.

Whilst it may seem frivolous there is a a sound economic reason for doing so, and one that should have every Telco in the developed world sitting up and paying very serious attention.  Google is building it's own Gigabit metropolitan fibre networks and Topeka wants it to do that roll out there, and why not?  With the initial roll out of 50,000 likely to be a success Google says its target id to roll out to half a million homes across the US. 

This is one of the first serious telecoms infrastructure roll outs of the 21st century and it's not being funded by a Telco...  Or is it?!