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.