In most of the countries we work in, most people connect to the Internet over mobile devices and/or mobile networks. But as WiFi hotspots of various kinds become more common, it appears that WiFi is becoming the dominant mode. The Global State of Mobile Networks study, based on 12.3 billion measurements taken by 822,556 OpenSignal users in an 84 day period, found that smartphone users spent more than 50 per cent of their time connected to Wi-Fi, with Netherlands the most mobile Wi-Fi hungry country, where it accounted for 70 per cent of all smartphone connections. “You could argue that in many places Wi-Fi has become a far more important mobile data technology than 3G or 4G,” noted the report.
They are aiming to go to 95% from the present 60%. This poses an interesting question about what to base coverage claims/targets on: geography or population? The commitments made by Telenor and Ooredoo were in terms of geography. But as shown by MPT, population is what makes intuitive commercial sense. Myanmar’s MPT aims to cover 95% of the population with its 3G network by the end of March.
It appears that high data use by Myanmar consumers is the surprise of 2015. But Telenor expects it to go down as they start connecting rural consumers. Will they be wrong again? Telenor’s network today covers all states and regions but Chin State, for 60 per cent of population. The customer base is expected show a slower growth rate.
I titled a piece I wrote on Myanmar a while back as “10 to 80 in five years.” Now after just one year of operations, Telenor Myanmar, not the largest operator in Myanmar, has over 20 SIMs per 100 people, all by itself. That would place the overall SIMs/100 number above 50. After just one year. So it may be time we shift our attention to more interesting and challenging things, like getting more people access to Internet.
Fifteen years ago, 2G was still the new, new thing. I recall asking the engineers at the TRC to present a comparative assessment of 2G and CDMA. Who would have thought it would outlast 3G? All thanks to M2M. Tommi Uitto, SVP, global mobile broadband sales at Nokia, noted that operators are – even now – calling for an evolution of the legacy GSM standard to support its continued use in M2M.
I was at a CommunicAsia session on 5G thinking about the meaning of generations of mobile technologies. I had just read this piece, and was thinking how interesting it is that Telenor is planning to shut down 3G before 2G. Confirms the centrality of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in everyone’s thinking about the future of wireless. Telenor Norway’s CTO, Magnus Zetterberg, said the company plans to completely shut down its 3G network in 2020, five years before it closes 2G in 2025. Speaking at the company’s analyst and investor day, Zetterberg talked up the company’s evolution of 4G, established in Norway in 2012, which now accounts for 60 per cent of all mobile data traffic in the country.
When I was last in Myanmar, 3G was said to be available, people had smartphones, but congestion made connecting a challenge. It appears the operators are responding. According to Takashi Nagashima, CEO of MPT-KDDI-Sumitomo joint operations, the network improvement plan kicked off on November 6. The capacity of congested 3G sites in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw was expanded. Capacity of those sites is now about 50 per cent higher than before November 6.
Interesting that Ooredoo SIMs cannot be used on feature phones, while Telenor is trying to cover that segment as well. “Cheap SIM cards of two foreign telecom companies will attract people. Ooredoo’s SIM cards cannot be used on Java system handsets as their system is 3G Advanced. But the 3G system will be suitable for almost all Android phones. So far, it has yet to impact the mobile handsets market,” said an official from the Mobile Image handset shop.
One of the most interesting things that happened within government in Sri Lanka with regard to electricity policy was that they started asking a different question. Instead of asking only the question”how much does the proposed electricity generating option cost” they started asking the question “what are the costs to the economy of load shedding.” The end result of this shift in thinking is that Sri Lanka in the only South Asian country (other than Bhutan and possibly the Maldives) that can assure its citizens and industries more or less 24/7 power. Power in Sri Lanka is a lot more expensive than in the region, but our companies and people do not have to invest in generators, inverters and various other back up mechanisms. It seems that the government of Pakistan should also start asking a different question with regard to 3G and 4G frequencies: “what are the costs to Pakistan of not having wireless data networks,” not “what is the one-time revenue boost the government will get from an auction.
Many new issues worth further exploration emerged at the Expert Forum we concluded in New Delhi yesterday. One thing that was stated by officials was that the private sector was not stepping up to purchase the capacity offered by the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN). Unlike in other countries, the access offer is not complete (supposedly, some tariffs have been published; with some serious discounts on offer). Imagine offering a service without full information on what to do if the NOFN fails. So, what comes first: NOFN access rules or the private operators lining up to buy capacity?
Bangladesh took a giant leap in terms of redefining broadband from 128 Kbps to 1 Mbps at the end of last year. Such politically motivated administrative intervention has, however, failed to improve its abysmal broadband profile in the region. The Broadband Commission, in conjunction with ITU and UNESCO, has published the “State of Broadband 2013: Universalizing Broadband” report on September 21, 2013. Various indicators of broadband covering 194 countries until the end of 2012 have been captured in this publication. It shows that Bangladesh ranks 161 with 6.
Adrenaline didn’t flow in Bangladesh 3G auction today. It could be anything but auction when four bidders show up for four licenses. Bangladesh government has priced US$20 million per Megahertz for 40 MHz of spectrum in 2100 MHz band. It is in addition to 10 MHz spectrum being assigned to state-owned Teletalk. Theoretically, Grameenphone (Telenor), Banglalink (Vimpelcom), Robi (Axiata) and Airtel (Bharti Airtel) could have had at least 10 MHz each.
The perception is that 3G networks are not being rolled out rapidly in India. But it could be that the Indian consumer is ahead of the operators and regulators, as we saw in Thailand where smartphone sales picked up well before 3G frequencies were assigned. Global smartphone shipments jumped 47 per cent to 229.6 million in Q2 2013 from 156.5 million units in Q2 2012, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, with Samsung accounting for much of the growth.
Travel broadens the mind. Maybe. I doubt that sometimes. Makes me reflect, at least. Since being asked to think about Sri Lanka-China relations recently, I’ve been paying attention to the ascendant Chinese model.
Julie Welch of Qualcomm is speaking on LTE at the GSMA Public Policy Forum in Shanghai. She sees LTE as a complement to HSPA, not one replacing the other. She states that LTE is showing the fastest growth rate they have seen. Qualcomm is working very closely with equipment manufacturers on devices. Only Band 28 core requirements have been finalized by 3GPP in June 2012.
According a newspaper report, the design of the recent 3G auction is being investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission and the four members of the NBTC who approved the design may face suspension until the investigation is completed. Four members of the committee organising the third-generation (3G) auction last October may face an investigation after a panel found irregularities in the auction’s design. The subcommittee of the National… Full report.