Thursday, August 20, 2009

U.S. FCC Broadband Definition and Blog

The U.S. FCC is requesting comments on how to define what broadband is. It breaks the definition down into three categories:
  • Form, Characteristics, and Performance Indicators
  • Thresholds – typically minimums
  • Updates that address the fact that a static definition will fail to address changing needs and habits

This part of the FCC's efforts to create a national broadband plan by February 17, 2010.

The FCC has started a blog called BlogBand discussing its broadband activities.

It appears that the FCC is putting needed attention on broadband in the U.S. It is about time. Broadband in the U.S. is behind leading European and Asian countries by every measure.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ofcom UK Communications Report

Ofcom issued a 334 page Communications Report that discusses TV, Radio, Telecommunications, and convergence. It has a lot of interesting information. Several points that stuck out were:
  • For the first time since Oftel started to collect market data in 1992/93, operator-reported
    revenues from telecoms services did not increase in 2008. Total revenues were
    unchanged at £39.5bn, with increasing retail revenues being offset by falling wholesale
  • Telecoms services accounted for 3.2% of total household expenditure in 2008, down
    from 3.4% in 2007. Telecoms spend fell by 5.2% in real terms over the year, the largest
    annual decline since spend on telecoms services began to fall in 2006.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of UK households had a fixed-line broadband connection in Q1
    2009, up from 58% a year previously.
  • BT’s share of retail fixed voice calls to UK geographic numbers fell to under 50% for the
    first time in 2008. Increasing use of wholesale line rental (WLR) and local loop
    unbundling (LLU) services contributed to the erosion of BT’s retail share

We should all thank Ofcom for continuing to publish these comprehensive reports that shed light on important trends.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

U.S. Telecom Antitrust Investigation

The Wall Street Journal has published an article stating that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun reviewing if large U.S. telcos such as ATT and Verizon are abusing their market power. This review is not targeted at a specific company today. The review is expected to cover all areas from land-line voice and broadband service to wireless.

The article points to exclusive contracts with handset vendors such as ATT's iPhone contract with Apple as an example. It also points to traffic management such as ATT's suppression of peer to peer traffic on its mobile data network as another example.

It sounds like this review is much more wide ranging than these two examples. The DOJ forced the breakup of ATT in 1984. This has largely been undone through the mergers and acquisitions that Verizon and the current ATT have made. Maybe it is time to take them apart again. The level of competition in the U.S. is certainly much less than in France, and we Americans pay for it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Survey Shows Preference for FTTH

The U.S. FTTH Council has published a survey of U.S. broadband users that shows that there is a strong preference for FTTH over cable modem broadband services. DSL had the least favorable rating for broadband services. FTTH had an even stronger preference for HD TV over FTTH compared to satellite and cable services.

The survey is well worth reading. The results are no surprised but do underscore the technical superiority of FTTH technologies.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Femto Applications

Light reading published an article describing work that is going on to develop applications that run on femto cells. There is discussion that we will see femto application stores in the future.

Many of the applications are based on presence. One example is an application that will tell your room mate to feed the fish when the femto recognizes that the room mate has returned home from work. Other applications involve home control including remotely controlling the TV or home entertainment system, the home heating and cooling system, or other home appliances.

This is interesting; however, the home controller idea has not taken hold as yet. Maybe the femto is the missing element that will make it work.

Femto Cells Coming in the UK and the U.S.

Vodafone will introduce a 3G femto service in the UK on July 1, 2009 using an Alcatel-Lucent gateway. The femto service will be available under several plans that include no charge to a cost of $250 for the gateway and $8 per month.

ATT is expanding its current 3G femto technical trial with 200 users to a marketing trial where it will be sold at ATT stores in several cities. It plans a full rollout by the end of 2009.

The telcos have significant challenges in pricing and marketing femto cells. They will have to convince a broad market what femtos do and what their benefits are.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Verizon Increases Fiber Upstream Speeds

Light Reading has published an article describing how Verizon is increasing the upstream speeds of its FiOS FTTH service.

Tier Old New Old New
Upstream Upstream Downstream Downstream
Entry-level 2 Mbit/s 5 Mbit/s 10 Mbit/s 15 Mbit/s
"Flagship" mid-level 5 Mbit/s 15 Mbit/s 20 Mbit/s 25 Mbit/s
Entry-Level (NY area) 2 Mbit/s 15 Mbit/s 10 Mbit/s 25 Mbit/s
"Flagship" mid-level (NY area) 5 Mbit/s 20 Mbit/s 20 Mbit/s 35 Mbit/s

Verizon is taking advantage of the the technical advantages of fiber vs. cable modems to respond to an aggressive Cablevision in the New York area in particular.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Singapore Going to Fiber

Lightreading has published an article describing Singapore's plans to move to fiber access. This is being developed by two separate entities, known as the NetCo and the OpCo: OpenNet (the NetCo), a consortium comprising Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel), Axia NetMedia Corp., Singapore Press Holdings, and Singapore Power Telecoms, which will provide the passive infrastructure; and Nucleus Connect (the OpCo), a wholly owned subsidiary of StarHub Pte. Ltd., which will provide wholesale connectivity to multiple retail service providers.

The companies are working on parallel rollouts that are required to deliver 100 percent coverage by January 1, 2013, and are actually ahead of schedule, with 95 percent coverage promised for June 2012 instead of the 80 percent required in their license conditions.

This is the kind of commitment that will get real results. The U.S. and the UK should take not.

UK Digital Britain Report

The UK government has published its Digital Britain report along with an Impact Statement. These are extensive reports. The Executive Summary by itself makes 83 separate points. There are a couple of significant things that I saw:
  • It wants to increase the households that can access broadband at 2 Mbps from under 90 percent to 100 percent. It expects that wireless will be important in accomplishing this. It expects to make 200 million pounds available to support this goal. It also encourages the allocation of new spectrum for this purpose.
  • It encourages the deployment next generation fixed broadband, which it defines at 50 Mbps by example.
This is not an ambitious set of goals. A number of other European countries have much more aggressive programs, including France, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries. It does not come close to matching what is going on in Asia, especially Japan, Korea, and China.

Following this plan will keep the UK at the back of the pack. At least it will be in good company along with those of us in the U.S.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cisco IPTV Traffic Forecast

Cisco has released its latest IPTV traffic forecast that covers 2008 to 2013. It finds that video traffic will be of increasing importance and will account for 80 percent of consumer Internet traffic by 2013. It states that Internet traffic and consumer IP traffic will account for more than 70 percent of total traffic by 2013. This means that more than half the traffic on the network will be video traffic at that time.

This reports shows IP traffic growing at a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent per year over this period. This is a bit below the 50 percent per year that I have been assuming. My assumptions are that video on demand to the TV will grow faster than Cisco's forecast. I have seen very high rates of video on demand utilization where network PVR services are available.

It is clear that IP traffic will continue to grow at a high rate and that video will come to dominate these networks. This will require the architecture of these networks to change to optimize the transport of video traffic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Broadband Providers "Not So Fair Use" Violates Net Neutrality

A couple of articles have been published recently describing how broadband providers are managing their traffic to their advantage and to the detriment of specific services. The BBC has published an article describing how BT throttles the bandwidth on its broadband service and degrades the quality of the BBC iPlayer at certain times of the day. The second is a Light Reading article describing the results of femto cell testing by Epitiro that shows that traffic management by broadand providers will negatively affect the performance of femto cells during peak traffic periods.

The BBC has identified a clause in BT's fair use policy that permits it to reduce the bandwidth on its broadband service to below 1 Mbps, which degrades the quality of the BBC iPlayer over the top IPTV service. The article cites an example of a user who has been affected by this policy.

The traffic analysis performed by Epitiro shows that some broadband providers are throttling IPSEC traffic so that it provides worse performance that best efforts Internet traffic at the same time.

These are the kind of situations that those promoting the Net Neutrality agenda are concerned about. In both cases the broadband providers are throttling the traffic of competitors. The BBC iPlayer competes with BT's BT Vision IPTV service. Femto cells will compete with the broadband provider's VoIP and POTS services. The broadband providers are building the case for Net Neutrality when they do this and will produce a regulatory reaction that they will not like at all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spain to Approach 50% FTTH by 2023

Spain's telecom regulator, Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (CMT), has published a study that states that 43 to 46 percent of Spain's households would have access to FTTH services by 2023. Competitive telcos would be able to use Telefonica's fiber ducts and trenches.

CMT also estimates that Spain will have about 3 million IPTV subscribers by 2023, with Telefónica atb70 percent of that market, or 2.1 million subscribers. At those levels, IPTV would represent about 36 percent of Spain's digital pay TV market.

This is an aggressive prediction but one that points to where major telcos globally need to be at that time. There does not seem to be any plan for financing this project, which would probably cost about $10 billion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

LTE Issues

Light Reading published an article based on discussions from the LTE World Summit. Carriers there identified a number of issues that need to be resolved before they deploy LTE, including:
  • Support for voice and SMS services including circuit switching as well as packet switching.
  • Building enough back haul capacity into the network to realize LTE's performance promises.
  • Intellectual property rights.
  • Spectrum
Much of this discussion revolved around lessons learned from 3G. It does point out the real problems carriers will have rationalizing both their 3G and 4G strategies. I think that they will either stay with 3G or replace their 3G networks with 4G networks. I think that trying to provide both will be a real mess.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Green Telecom

Light Reading has published a long article discussing the issues around green telecom. It describes why this is an important issue and different ways to approach it. Another interesting approach to this is contained in The Climate Group's Smart 2o20 report that takes a quantitative approach to this subject.

This is an important subject that is being addressed by the entire ICT industry including service providers and manufacturers. It will be important to push this agenda future.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wireleine Woes

The New York Times published and article discussing if the U.S. wireline telcos will need a bailout to rescue its copper based access business. It pointed out that AT&T lost 12 percent of its access lines in 2008 and Verizon lost 10 percent. The article paints a pictures that the wireline business in the U.S. is headed toward bankruptcy.

I have been tracking U.S. switched access lines at my website from 1991 through 2007. The FCC has stopped tracking switched access lines, so that one of its most interesting pieces of data will no longer be updated.

It is clear that copper is being replaced by the cable companies coax, by wireless technologies, and by the telco's own fiber services. The more aggressively that they deploy fiber, the better off they will be in the long run.

Friday, April 24, 2009

GVT Brazil to Offer 100 Mbps Broadband Service

GVT, the Brazilian CLEC, will launch 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps broadband services in cities where it currently operates. This follows on to its successful 10 Mbps offering, which now accounts for 29 percent of its sales and is available to 9 percent of its ADSL foot print.

GVT is taking a disruptive approach to the Brazilian market by offering significantly higher speeds and the same price or less than the incumbent carriers. It is another example that shows the preference for higher speeds.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BT Says No Need for Fiber to the Home

The Register published and article reporting a panel presentation where BT said that there is no need for fiber to the home. That its plans for a 40 Mbps VDSL deployment provides enough bandwidth and that the economic case for fiber to the home is weak.

This approach is understandable but it will put BT at a significant disadvantage to its cable competitors as they deploy DOCSIS 3.0 technologies. BT's real challenge is to figure out how to make the business case for fiber to the home work out before it is so far behind the technology curve that it will lose significant market share. Customer retention is a powerful economic argument.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Verizon to Deploy 4G by 2014

Light Reading has published a Verizon interview that states that the timetable of Verizon's planned LTE deployment of a couple of test markets in 2009 and "30 or so" markets in 2010. He then suggests that the build out could be completed relatively quickly after that.

This is an aggressive deployment schedule and I expect that it will be 2012 or 2013 before Verizon's 4G build out is complete.

Telenor and Tele2 to Build 4G Network in Sweden

Telenor Sweden and Tele2 Sweden plan to build a joint 4G network in Sweden. The agreement includes the formation of a joint venture for network construction and sharing of spectrum. The roll-out will start in 2009 with the intent of launching LTE based services in the end of 2010.

In 2013, the operators expect 99 percent of the Swedish population to have access to mobile broadband at speeds of up to 80 Mbit/s in rural areas and up to 150 Mbit/s in urban areas. The roll-out includes an extension of the GSM network by 30-50 percent, resulting in better indoor and outdoor coverage on mobile voice communication.

This is another example of resource sharing between operators for building 4G networks. I think this will become a common approach for 4G and is likely to become important for FTTH networks.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

FCC to Create U.S. to Create National Broadband Plan

The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also known as the stimulus act, charged the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with making grants and loans to expand broadband deployment and for other important broadband projects. Congress provided $7.2 billion for this effort but is not insufficient to support nationwide broadband deployment. Consequently, the Recovery Act charges the FCC to create a national broadband plan by February 17, 2010, that will seek to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability and establishes clear benchmarks for meeting that goal.

This kind of comprehensive plan is over due. Europe and countries such as Japan, Korea, and Australia are well ahead of the U.S. in this effort.

The problem is that such a comprehensive view is very a very complex project. It will be difficult to bring focus to such a large effort that will make it effective. It could easily end up so general that it does not provide a useful perspective.

I think that the FCC should focus on creating an open environment that creates a competitive service environment based on fiber to the home and 4G wireless. The current approach that relies on competition between the telco and cable giants impedes competition. ADSL, VDSL, 2G, and 3G wireless are all technologies that are either now obsolete or rapidly approaching their obsolescence. Drawing such clear lines will help the FCC make this effort meaningful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

4.4M FTTH Subscribers in North America

The Fiber to the Home Council has issued a report on North American fiber deployments that states that there are 4.422 million FTTH subscribers and 15.17 homes passed. Of these, 2.65 subscribe to video services. 3.3 million are subscribers to Verizon's FiOS service and another 1.13 million are subscribers to one of the 681 other U.S. telcos that offer fiber services.

This shows the extent to which Verizon is driving FTTH in North America. AT&T and Qwest have not made any significant deployments yet.

Femto Cell Standards Complete

The 3GPP has published standards for femto cells listed in a release from the Femto Forum. The Broadband Forum also contributed to these standards. The new standards cover four main areas: network architecture; radio & interference aspects; femtocell management/provisioning and security.

These standards are based on the 3GPP UMTS protocols and extend them to support the needs of high-volume femtocell deployments. The new standard has also adopted the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 management protocol which has been extended to incorporate a new data model for femtocells developed collaboratively by Femto Forum and Broadband Forum members and published by the Broadband Forum as Technical Report 196 (TR-196).

Femto cells will be a key network element and will generate fundamental changes in how services are delivered and sold. This is an important start.

Australia will Establis New Company to Build Fiber Network

The Australian government has unveiled a plan establish a new company to build and operate a national broadband network that will provide 100 Mbps fiber connections to homes, schools, and businesses in towns of a population of about 1,000 or more, which will provide coverage to 90 percent of the people in Australia. Wireless and satellite technologies capable of providing 12 Mbps will be used in more remote locations. This network will include fiber links between cities, major regional centers, and rural towns.

The services of this network will be provided on wholesale-only, open access network. The initial estimate is that this network will cost $30 billion to build. The government plans an immediate investment of more than $3 billion. The Australian government will seek private investment in the company to draw on private sector capacity and expertise. However, ownership restrictions will be established to protect the Government's objective of a wholesale open-access network.

This is a strong commitment to an advanced broadband network. It provides a unique approach to provide an open fiber network. It illustrates the importance of government policy in building fiber networks.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nokia Ubimeda Competition

Nokia has announced a contest described its website to encourage makers of digital media to generate ideas and develop new and innovative ubimedia products & services. The entries are expected to take a stand on the following questions, for example:

  • How does ubiquitous computing affect media environments?
  • What are intelligent media environments like?
  • What will the location- and context-aware media services of the future be like?

The total award sum is 7,000 euros which may be awarded to one entry, divided between several entries, or not awarded at all.

These contests are an interesting way to stimulate innovation by encouraging broad participation and providing some amount of reward for winning.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sprint to Introduce 4G

Sprint announced plans for 4G services based on the network that its Clearwire subsidiary is building, which currently provides peak downlink speeds of up to 12 Mbps in Baltimore today and average downlink speeds of 2-4 Mbps.

Sprint plans to deploy Sprint 4G service in many markets in 2009, including:

  • Atlanta Honolulu
  • Charlotte Las Vegas
  • Chicago Philadelphia
  • Dallas Portland
  • Fort Worth Seattle

Sprint also expects to launch service in multiple markets in 2010 including Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Sprint has several new 4G devices planned for 2009 and 2010, including a single-mode 4G data card, embedded laptops, a small-office-home-office broadband modem, and a tri-mode phone that supports WiMAX (4G), EV-DO (3G), and WiFi.

The Clearwire WiMAX deployment is giving Sprint a head start with 4G services in the U.S. It looks like Sprint may have a two year advantage over Verizon, given the delays in the availability of 700 MHz spectrum and the availability of LTE technology. Sprint will have to make the most of this lead in order to prosper over the long term. It is not clear at all that it has the financial capability to succeed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Telefonica and Vodafone to Share Facilities

Telefonica and Vodafone have formed a program to share mobile network assets across European operations. They are also exploring opportunities to cooperate in related areas such as the provision of transmission services.

This program is expected to generate cost savings of hundreds of millions of euros for both companies over the next 10 years. It is also expected to reduce the environmental impact of both companies due to the consolidation of existing sites and the joint build out of new sites. Both companies will continue to manage their own traffic independently.

The details of the agreement include:

  • Germany: Both companies to share existing 2G and 3G sites. Shared masts can also be used for microwave back haul.
  • Ireland: Both companies to open all network sites for sharing by the other party. New builds will also be conducted jointly where roll-out plans are aligned.
  • Spain: Both companies to extend existing site share agreement from 2007, which includes the shared usage of power, cabinets and mast. To date 2,200 sites are shared under this agreement. During 2009 and 2010 additional sites will be included.
  • UK: Both companies to focus on joint build of new sites and consolidation of existing 2G and 3G sites.
Facility sharing will be an important approach to minimizing costs and the environmental impact of wireless networks during the next decade. It will be a key strategy for deploying 4G networks, in particular.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

FTTH in Europe

Light Reading has published an article describe the state of FTTH in the Netherlands and in Slovakia. The Netherlands has 163,000 active fiber connections, about 2.4 percent penetration. There are several important carriers operating in Slovakia, including France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom that are deploying fiber.

The situation in Netherlands shows how government policy can stimulate the deployment of fiber. Slovakia shows how competition can do the same.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

UK Ofcom Publishes Fiber Strategy

Ofcom, the UK telecom regulator, has published a report Delivering Super-Fast Broadband in the UK that outlines its policies for fiber deployment. Ofcom stated that it will:

  • allow wholesale pricing flexibility to enable returns appropriate to the considerable risks of building new networks, but constrained by the market in the interests of customers
  • ensure that any regulatory pricing allows investors the opportunity to earn a rate of return that genuinely reflects the cost of deployment and the associated level of risk
  • minimise unnecessary inefficiencies in network design and build as a result of regulatory policies, while continuing to protect the consumer interest
  • support the use of new, more flexible wholesale services by BT to offer super-fast services to other service providers and consumers at competitive prices
  • safeguard the opportunity for further competition based on physical infrastructure, by facilitating fair opportunities for companies to synchronise their investments with BT’s deployments, should reasonable demand arise, and encouraging network design that takes future potential competition into account.

Ofcom will work with BT to resolve its concerns about generating a return from its intended investment in fiber to the home. It will be interesting to see how it maintains a balance through this process.

Monday, February 16, 2009

T-Mobile Says Mass Market Femtos Will Wait Until 2010

Light Reading published and article on a presentation by T-Mobile at the Mobile World Conference about its plans for femto cells. T-Mobile said that it will start with a controlled femto cell introduction in the middle of 2009. T-Mobile said that it will wait for Release 8, expected in 2010, before it makes a mass market introduction of femto cells.

T-Mobile tested femtocells from three different suppliers with 100 employees in Germany, about 90 employees in Poland, and about 60 employees in the UK. The trial in the UK is still on-going and will probably involve up to 100 participants.

Some of the problems discovered included limited mobile data rates due to the limitations of lower speed DSL broadband connections; issues with femtocell location detection; reduced battery standby time in terminals; and interference between the macro cell and femtocell.

Femto cells will be a significant development and have far reaching implications for mobile and broadband services.

Friday, February 13, 2009

U.S. Federal Trade Commission Discusses Interactive Advertising

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a new report titled "Self-Regulatory Principles For Online Behavioral Advertising" that describes its ongoing examination of online behavioral advertising and sets forth revisions to proposed principles to govern self-regulatory efforts in this area. The key issue concerns how online advertisers can best protect consumers’ privacy while collecting information about their online activities.

One of the FTC commissioners stated that the industry needs to do a better job of meaningful, rigorous self-regulation, or it will certainly invite legislation by Congress and a more regulatory approach by the FTC. This could be the last clear chance to show that self-regulation can – and will – effectively protect consumers’ privacy in a dynamic online marketplace.

This is a global problem that will be addressed in many countries. Regulation will be required. The recent financial crisis shows that the self discipline of many business wanes in the face of large potential gains.

Cox Cable's Traffic Management Strategy

Light Reading published an article describing Cox Cable's strategies for traffic management. Cox's pilot approach divides traffic into "time-sensitive" (e.g., Web pages, voice calls, streaming videos, games), and "non-time-sensitive" (e.g., file uploads, peer-to-peer, and Usenet) categories. The system will delay the upstream, non-time-sensitive traffic when network congestion is detected. All traffic returns to normal when the congestion abates.

This is the right approach - classifying traffic by its response time requirements and delaying lower priority traffic during periods of congestion. This is a much more reasonable approach than the monthly usage caps that other operators are implementing.

Greece to Start $2B FTTH Rollout

Light Reading has published an article that discusses plans by the government of Greece to spend $2 billion to roll FTTH out in the country. The government intends to pass 2 million homes during the next seven years in Athens, Thessaloniki, and 50 other cities and towns across Greece, including some on the surrounding Mediterranean islands.

Greece is hoping that broadband services of at least 100 Mbps will attract at least 650,000 subscribers. The government stipulates an open network architecture that will be run by a separate entity from the companies that will sell the services and applications, such as Internet access, VoIP, and IPTV, that will run over the network.

This is an example of how government support is accelerating the availability of FTTH services. It also shows an useful approach to creating a competitive environment over this fiber infrastructure.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

FTTH Council Publishes European FTTH Penetration

The FTTH Council has published a chart that shows the penetration of fiber by country. It shows that only Asian countries - Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan have more than 10 percent penetration. The European countries Sweden, Norway, and Slovenia have between 5 and 10 percent penetration.

This chart shows what a long way we have to go.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cisco Releases Lastest Traffic Study

Cisco released its latest Visual Networking Index study that updates its global data traffic forecast. Key findings include:
  • Global mobile traffic will increase 66-fold between 2008 and 2013 based on a 4G mobile Internet.
  • Nearly 64 percent of the world's mobile traffic will be video by 2013.
  • 4G mobile broadband devices will constitute more than 80 percent of global mobile traffic by 2013.
  • Latin America will have the strongest mobile growth at 166 percent CAGR, followed by the Asia-Pacific region at 146 percent.
  • Asia-Pacific will account for one-third of all mobile data traffic by 2013.

The forecast that video will account for nearly two-thirds of mobile traffic by 2013 is interesting. My report Investing in Mobile TV took a close look at the business case for mobile TV and found that it will be difficult for carriers to make money on such a service. It generates too much traffic to produce much profit. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Monday, February 9, 2009

How Valuable is Broadband?

The Washington Post published an article discussing the value of supporting broadband in the stimulus legislation that is now before Congress in the U.S. The article discusses the fact that it is likely to be difficult to be difficult to get today's residual dial up users to convert to a broadband service. It also includes statements by people who are dubious about the indirect benefits of creating a "connected society".

The articles ends on a positive note with a statement from Cisco that infrastructure is no longer just about roads and bridges anymore.

Clearly I am a broadband booster. I am not sure of its current status, but the original proposal was to provide funding to rural areas that are under served. From what I have seen, rural telcos that have aggressively deployed broadband have achieved high penetrations. I think that people in these communities appreciate the ability of a high speed Internet connection to bring the wide world to them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Amsterdam to Expand FTTH Deployment

Light Reading has published an article that describes its plans to expand its FTTH deployment from 43,000 homes to 100,000 homes. The city sees FTTH as a key service that needs to be provided like power and water. It believes that this network will be important to the development of the city. After this next deployment is complete, the city will consider expanding the network to the remaining 250,000 homes in Amsterdam.

This shows the important role that local governments can take in the deployment of fiber to homes. Amsterdam is insisting on an open network that will give its citizens a choice of service providers. This will provide a better range of services at lower prices than depending on a single service provider.

Korea Plans 1Gbps FTTH Network

An article in the JoongAng Daily states that the Korean government has a $25 billion plan to deploy wireline and wireless broadband services over the next five years. The government will contribute about $1 billion and the rest will come from industry. This project will deploy fiber wireline services of 1 Gbps to each home and wireless services of 10 Mbps.

This project defines the state of the art. I expect that 1 Gbps fiber services will be come the the standard level of service by 2020. Again, Korea is well ahead of the curve.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nokia Siemens Introduces Multi Radio BTS

Nokia Siemens has introduced a based station that will support GSM, WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE. It includes integrated Ethernet switching and transport. It expects to ship this system starting in 2011. This base station significantly reduces power requirements at 790 watts.

This is the kind of system that will facilitate the operation of multiple networks (2G, 3G, and 4G) as well as the evolution to 4G for all services. I expect to see other major vendors to introduce similar systems.

U.S. Delay in Analog Sunset

The U.S. will delay the completion of the conversion to digital broadcasting from February 17, 2009 to June 12, 2009. This will allow stations to continue their analog broadcasts until that date. There are more than 1,000 stations that have permission from the FCC to shut off their analog broadcasts on February 17. Nearly all stations will have to do it by June 12.

This shows what a mess the cessation of analog TV broadcasting can be. Frankly, I don't think it will be much better on June 12. This move is going to cause problems for a lot of people who have not prepared for themselves. I doubt three more months will change much.

This will delay the availability of 700 MHz spectrum for mobile applications. I expect that Verizon will use this as an opportunity to move its LTE trial to 2010 and commercial deployment to 2011.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Comcast Responds about VoIP Service

Comcast stated to the FCC that its own cable telephony VoIP service provides better service because it is carried separately from its Internet cable modem service. It believes that this answers the concerns raised in the FCC's letter on the subject.

This raises interesting issues about carriers using walled gardens to provide VoIP and IPTV services. These walled gardens clearly give the carriers a competitive advantage. I suspect that these walls will be broken down by changes in regulation over time as happened with long distance services in the past.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ofcom Digital Britain Report

Ofcom the UK regulator has issued its Digital Britain report that discusses the importance of digital communications for a modern society. I makes the following points:

The first, crucial conclusion of the analysis we have done shows that, as
a country, we must ensure that our wired and wireless communications
and broadcasting networks can meet the demands of a modern knowledge-based
economy. Much work has already been undertaken, but over the next five
years we will need to upgrade these networks in order to maintain our
position and meet our ambitions.

This makes the need for an active and strategic approach from government indispensable if we are to close the gap. We need to plan now, identify the market failures that are standing in the way of a full roll out of digital infrastructure in the UK, and act swiftly in Government to help the market in the timely delivery of the
high-capability infrastructure we will need. This industrial activism from government will be critical to ensuring that the UK gets the most out of the digital economy.

This is an interesting analysis that applies globally. We all need to take its conclusions to heart.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nokia Siemens Releases 2009 Connectivity Scorecard

Nokia Siemens Networks has released the 2009 version of its Connectivity Scorecard that was accompanied by a presentation. The study gives a score from 1 to 10 for 50 countries based on business and consumer connectivity. It gives a separate comparison for what it calls innovation driven economies and the resource and efficiency driven economies.
  • The U.S. is the leader of the innovation driven economies with a score of 7.71 and Poland was in last place with a score of 2.49. The median score was 5.37.
  • Malaysia is the leader of of the resource and efficiency driven economies with a score of 7.07 and Nigeria was in the last place with a score of 1.30. The median score was 3.60.

The conclusion of the study was that the innovation driven economies need to adopt a 21st century infrastructure and that the resource and efficiency driven economies need to take their infrastructure to the next level.

It is well worth taking a look at this presentation. It gives a fair assessment of where the industry stands on a global basis. The good new is that there is plenty for all of us to do, no matter where we are.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cisco Introduces Green Switches

Cisco introduced the Cisco EnergyWise technology for its Catalyst switches that measures, reports and reduces the energy consumption of IP devices such as phones, laptops and access points. It also announced industry partnerships along with a middleware acquisition that will enable the management of power consumption for entire building systems such as lights, elevators, and air conditioning and heating.

EnergyWise will roll out in three phases:
  • In the first phase (February 2009), Network Control, EnergyWise will be supported on Catalyst switches and manage the energy consumption of IP devices such as phones, video surveillance cameras and wireless access points.
  • In the next phase (Summer 2009), IT Control, there will be expanded industry support of EnergyWise on devices such as personal computers (PCs), laptops and printers.
  • In the final phase (Early 2010), Building Control, EnergyWise will be extended to the management of building system assets such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), elevators, lights, employee badge access systems, fire alarm systems and security systems.

This is an interesting approach that leverages installed switches and Cisco's industry position to address energy management in businesses. I will not be surprised if Microsoft comes up with a similar offering on its servers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Inauguration Strains the Internet

The inauguration of President Barak Obama on January 20 put a significant strain on the Internet. There were reports of difficulties connecting to the broadcast.

Arbor Networks published and article that shows the traffic peak that occurred. Backbone traffic jumped by as much as 40 percent over a normal Tuesday.

This peak occurred with most people using lower speed streams intended for PCs. Think of what would have happened if this content were be delivered to HDTVs at 1080p resolution!

Beefing up the Internet to handle this kind of demand but of HD streams is the challenge that the major ISPs have to face to make Internet TV more than a side show. This experience showed that the Content Delivery Networks were effective in managing backbone traffic, where they were used. This leaves the metro networks. My report Telecom 2020: Transformation Strategies suggests that video needs to be kept at the optical layer in the metro networks to handle this kind of onslaught. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is Comcast Cable Telephone Service VoIP?

The U.S. FCC has sent a letter to Comcast requesting clarification of its cable telephony service. It points out that Vonage or other Internet VoIP services can suffer degraded performance due to its recently implemented traffic management scheme. It also says that Comcast stated that its own cable telephony service is offered separately and will not be affected in the same way.

The letter ends by asking Comcast why its cable telephony service should be treated as an Internet VoIP service and exempted from the fees associated with circuit switched voice services.

It looks like Comcast is being hoist on its own petard. I don't think carriers should have it both ways. They need to treat Internet VoIP services equally to their own VoIP services.

Latvia to Offer 500 Mbps Broadband

Light Reading published an article that describes Lattlecom's plans to offer 500 Mbps broadband service by the end of 2009 that will grow to 10 Gbps over time. Lattlecom is the national carrier in Latvia and is a subsidiary of TeliaSonera. Lattlecom will use an FTTB approach and will bring fiber services to apartment buildings.

I think you have to be careful in evaluating this. It is not clear how much bandwidth will be provided from the apartment building to the network to support the service. While it is possible for a shared facility to provide high apparent speeds to individual users for most Internet applications, TV content will be much more difficult to support because it is deterministic in nature.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Verizon FiOS to Poach ATT Customers

Verizon is planning to expand its FiOS deployment in the Dallas, Texas area to cover homes now served by ATT. It will extend its fiber network a few miles to accomplish this.

I would like to think that this is a major push by Verizon into ATT's territory, but it is just a border skirmish. Verizon is taking advantage of communities that are close to its current network.

Verizon can do this in other former GTE territories such as Los Angeles and Los Gatos (a small community in the heart of Silicon Valley). Verizon would find strong demand for FiOS in both of these communities.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Free Adds 17 More VoIP Destinations

Free in France has added 17 more countries that its customers can call using its broadband VoIP service. It now provides free calling to 87 countries globally. These countries include major the Asian countries India and Indonesia as well as Colombia and Costa Rica in Latin America, Bahrain in the Middle East, and Georgia, Macedonia, and Albania in Europe.

Free arguably provides the most attractive broadband bundle globally with 24 Mbps Internet, IPTV, and free VoIP calling to 87 countries at less than 30 euros per month. (If anybody needs a telecom analyst in Paris, je peux parler Francais. (:-)

Seriously, I would like to better understand how Free does this. I assume that it is based on interconnect agreements that are not encumbered with usage charges. If this catches on with other carriers, it will cause a complete collapse of the long distance calling business model.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cisco Introduces Connected Consumer Electronics Devices

Cisco introduced a line of audio and video connected media systems for consumers. At the same time Cisco introduced Eos software platform that lets content provider create web sites that can provide content to these systems. Cisco also announced a licensing program that allows other consumer device manufacturers to offer devices that can operate in this environment.

This announcement appears to be a major step forward in making the Internet the central source for entertainment media. Internet content will become very important during the next decade. The Internet will give the cable TV, the satellite TV, and the Telco IPTV providers a real run for their money.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

FTTH Broadband Stimulus Proposals

The U.S. Fiber to the Home Council has published an economic analysis of its proposals for including broadband deployment as part of the stimulus package that the U.S. government is currently considering. These proposals include tax incentives to support fiber to the home in urban and suburban areas and DSL in rural areas.

Including FTTH as part of the stimulus package could bring the U.S. into the 21st century with respect to broadband. The problem will be competing with other kinds of projects, such such as roads and bridges. The second problem will be to keep the focus on FTTH and not have the funding and incentives diverted to VDSL and other short term technologies.

Femto Cell Survey Article

Light Reading has published a nice survey article about the state of femto cell technology. Femto cells are likely to very important but are just getting off the ground now.