While the aviation sector is “Trying to make sense of the new TSA electronics ban” – the submarine cable industry is sending an SOS. The Trump administration may ban the usage of any ship that deploys or maintains the submarine cables, unless it is built in a U.S. shipyard. It also mandates that minimum 75% of the crew are to be the U.
We thought that long distance carriers would be the primary beneficiaries of Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS). That was way back in 2010 and six years is long enough to radically transform telecoms in this century. Now the Internet companies and content providers are outperforming the baffled carriers in every front. That is what I presented in the 2nd Working Group Meeting of AP-IS at Guangzhou early this week. Image source.
“Either we disrupt or we get disrupted,” warned Cisco’s outgoing CEO John Chambers in his last speech to the industry last year. He also said that 40% of companies will be dead in 10 years. “If I’m not making you sweat, I should be,” Chambers quipped. He was referring to the rising tide of innovation that breaches the dyke of comfort zone where conventional verticals reside. Less than a year after Chambers’ keynote, GSMA has reported how the mobile industry has failed to secure a sizable share from $3.
Sliding revenues from conventional wholesale services mean carriers are being challenged to find new drivers for growth. It has been the hot topic in this year’s Pacific Telecommunication Council’s Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. I presented the Asia Pacific Information Superhighway as new avenue to revenue. Here is my presentation.
The Myanmar government is rushing to inject competition to the nascent mobile industry by inviting bids for the fourth license yesterday (July 27, 2015), said Reuters. Local firms, with registered capital of minimum US$2.37 million, may form foreign partnership and submit their proposal by August 24 (that’s less than a month). Under the state-owned monopoly, Myanmar’s mobile penetration was just 2.5% in 2011.
There were only seven million mobile phone users in 1989. Today the global mobile subscription has reached 7.1 billion, said the newly released data of TeleGeography. And the Asia-Pacific region is the major contributor with 60% annual growth during 1Q of 2014 and 1Q of 2015. The report also claims that the number of active mobile lines will cross the world’s population later this year.
We have been, officially, persuading the deployment of terrestrial optical fiber along the Asian Highway since 2011. Our point is very simple: Asian countries, unlike the ones in Europe, are interlinked exclusively through submarine cables. Deployment and maintenance of undersea networks keep Asia’s bandwidth manifolds pricier than Europe’s. As a result, the consumers of developing Asia cannot afford broadband. TeleGeography’s global bandwidth prices at major market places have been central to our argument for a pan-Asian cross-border fiber network.
Six years ago eyebrows were raised when Google announced the rollout of a transpacific undersea cable named “Unity”. Bharti Airtel, Global Transit, KDDI Corp., Pacnet and SingTel were members of Unity consortium. It was activated on April 1, 2010. Google wanted to bypass the cumbersome transcontinental supply chain of broadband, as Capacity Magazine highlights: Google’s mould-breaking intervention was motivated by what, as a customer, it saw as the unnecessary complexity and inflexibility of the traditional consortium model.
TeleGeography’s 2014 Middle East telecoms map is now available. It depicts 48 active and three planned submarine cable systems. Five terrestrial cables are also shown in this map. The landing stations and respective owners are also provided. The infographics embedded in the map present major intraregional and interregional voice and Internet routes.
Despite having 70% global market share, the so called 2G mobile phone that runs on GSM technology has posted negative growth for the first time in 2013. And it will account for only 48% of the mobile subscription worldwide in 2018, predicts TeleGeography. Migration from 2G to 3G and LTE is already well underway in much of the world, but the pace of the transition varies widely by region. The move from 2G technologies is most advanced in North America, where 3G and LTE accounted for more than 80 percent of wireless subscribers at year-end 2013, and are projected to reach 93 percent of subscriptions by 2018. In western Europe, just over 50 percent of mobile subscribers used 3G or LTE in 2013, a ratio that is projected to grow to 86 percent by 2018.
TeleGeography’s 2014 Submarine Cable Map shows 285 cable systems that are currently active or will be activated by 2015. It also shows the location of 44 cable laying vessels as of December 6, 2013. An inset map presents geographically accurate submarine cable paths and cable maintenance zones. This year’s map incorporates coverage of the companies that lay and maintain submarine cables: The Protectors of the Internet. Information graphics provide detailed information on the following: Cable landing stations in key regions; Cable faults and repairs, including the number of breaks and mean time to commence repair by country; Cable system components and cross-section; Cable route seabed profiles.
The Skype-to-Skype international traffic has grown by 36% in 2013 to 214 billion minutes, according to new data from TeleGeography. International telephone traffic from fixed and mobile phones continues to grow as well, increasing an estimated 7% in 2013, to 547 billion minutes. While the volume of international telephone traffic remains far larger than international Skype traffic, Skype’s minutes are growing much more rapidly. Skype added approximately 54 billion minutes of international traffic in 2013, 50 percent more than the combined international volume growth of every telco in the world. Given these immense traffic volumes, it’s difficult not to conclude that at least some of Skype’s growth is coming at the expense of traditional carriers.
Myanmar has never been so shaky about getting disconnected before. It has happened after SEA-ME-WE3, Myanmar’s only submarine cable, was snapped at 13 kilometers south of the Irrawaddy Delta’s shore last week. “Works are being carried out to repair the fault as quick as possible in coordination with [a] Singapore-based underwater repair and maintenance team. It is expected to take about one month,” warned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), reports Irrawaddy. Douglas Maduray of Renesys Corp.
Telegeography is a credible supplier of proprietary and expensive data on international bandwidth trends. What their latest report says is quite interesting: International bandwidth demand growth has been robust on all five of the world’s major submarine cable routes, but has been particularly rapid on key routes to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. While bandwidth demand on the trans-Atlantic route—which has long been the world’s highest-capacity route—increased at a healthy rate of 36 percent annually between 2007 and 2012, demand for bandwidth from the U.S. to Latin America grew 70 percent per year over the same period, and demand for capacity on the Europe-Asia route via Egypt grew a staggering 87 percent per year.
“Only five years after its launch, Skype has emerged as the largest provider of cross-border voice communications in the world,” said TeleGeography in 2009. Today Skype is barely a 10-year old. Yet, its year-on-year increase of 51 billion minutes in 2012 is more than twice the collective increase achieved by all international carriers worldwide. International telephone traffic grew 5% in 2012, to 490 billion minutes and cross-border Skype-to-Skype voice and video traffic grew 44 per cent to reach 167 billion minutes. International migration, the rapid uptake of mobile phones in developing countries, and steady reductions in international call prices—especially in the form of flat-rate (and even free) calling plans—have contributed to traffic increases.
Our argument has been that the principal cause is the lack of terrestrial cables. While prices have declined globally, significant geographic disparities persist. For example, despite falling 22% compounded annually between Q2 2007 and Q2 2012, the median price of a GigE port in Hong Kong has remained 2.7 to 5.1 times the price of a GigE port in London over the past five years.