Broadband Archives — Page 7 of 26


The South Asian Telecom Regulators’ Council (SATRC) is holding a policy workshop in Nagarkot, a scenic location about 90 minutes from Kathmandu. Sustainable broadband is one of their key focus areas. I was asked to do the lead presentation. My presentation was organized around the metaphor of chains. A chain is as strong as the weakest link.
We’ve been placing our bets on wireless as the platform for connecting our people to the Internet. People like Eli Noam have criticized this as a neglect of Fiber. But consumers are communicating their preferences. The number of wireless-broadband subscriptions rose by 14% last year among the members of the OECD, a mut ainly rich-country club. At the end of 2012 these countries had an estimated 781m subscriptions, of which 85% were standard mobile broadband; satellite and fixed terrestrial wireless systems accounted for less than 1%.

Mobile first, or else

Posted on July 28, 2013  /  0 Comments

I was thinking back to when our alternative narrative on mobile becoming the central platform started. I think it was when Divakar Goswami and I were invited chair some sessions at ITU Telecom World in Hong Kong in December 2006. I listened to the various talks on fiber to the cabinet and home and felt like I was on listening to Martians. Our demand-side work was telling a completely different story. Our alternative narrative went into the 2008-10 research proposal that was written shortly after that.
If most people will access the Internet over mobile platforms, those in our countries must actually start using mobile broadband. Turkey seems to have some lessons. Turkey has been one of the main mobile broadband growth engines in the region and all three operators in the country benefitted from significant data revenue growth in the year to Q1 2013. Turkcell has been particularly active in marketing data services, with its own-branded range of low-priced smartphones (the “T” series) contributing to a smartphone penetration of 22% at the end of Q1 – some 6.9 million devices.
Last week, Informa conducted its first Asian Telecom Regulatory Affairs conference in Singapore. As part of the event, I was asked to offer a half-day workshop on broadband. Since the issues are dramatically different in emerging and developed markets, my content focused on the former, drawing from LIRNEasia research over the years. The audience was small, but high quality. There are a couple of things I will change in the slideset as a result of the conversations in Singapore.
I would have tweeted this, but this is China. I am at the Public Policy Forum of the GSMA Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai. Listening to Mike Wright of Telstra on the 700 MHz Band. He just said that they are done with 3G. Investments cancelled.
For most of its existence the South Asian Telecom Regulators’ Council (SATRC) has been a talk shop, not particularly noted as being on the leading edge of anything. Therefore I was very pleased to see that it is being cited as the pioneer in implementing the APT’s 700 MHz band plan that will provide enough low-frequency spectrum for quick rollout of wireless broadband, an absolute necessity for a region that has very little wires connecting homes (and still not able to justify the costs of FTTH given what people are willing to pay for broadband). The only down note is about Sri Lanka (which prides itself as the first to introduce new technology in the region) keeping out of the South Asian consensus along with Iran. This is perhaps because the government handed out the 700 band frequencies to a large number of private TV broadcasters for nothing (for Treasury) over the past few years and is thus constrained. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report (November 2012), LTE networks are expected to cover 60% of the population in Asia Pacific by 2017, up from an estimated 1.

Fraudband in Germany too?

Posted on April 13, 2013  /  0 Comments

Germans have a reputation for technical prowess. You’d expect the operators there to be technically superior in delivering what they promised when they sold broadband service. But it appears that they have not been so, according to a New York Times report. A government study released Thursday supports what many German consumers have long suspected: Internet broadband service is much slower than advertised. The study by the German telecommunications regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, measured the Internet connection speeds of 250,000 consumers from June through December last year, making it one of the largest reviews of broadband service anywhere.
On 27th of February, I will be moderating a panel discussion following key notes by Chairman BTRC Sunil Kanti Bose and Minister of ICT Indonesia Titaful Sembiring. Should prove intersting. Asia Pacific Regional Summit 2013 Leveraging the New Mobile Horizon – Connecting Asia through Mobile 09:00 – 12:30, Wednesday 27 February 2013, Auditorium 1, Hall 8.0, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona 09:00 – 09:05 WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION Irene Ng, Head of Asia, GSMA SESSION 1: DEVELOPING ASIA PACIFIC 09:05 – 09:45 KEYNOTES Preparing for a new age of connectivity in Bangladesh Sunil Kanti Bose, Chairman, BTRC Driving innovation in ICT throughout Indonesia to support the country’s economic growth H.E.
GSMA Mobile World Congress has become the preeminent international event in telecom. A Government Mobile Forum is held as part of it. I have been asked to moderate two sessions, the first being described below. It will be held on the morning of 26th February in Barcelona. I look forward to it.
One of the great ironies of the present discourse on Internet/broadband is the appointment of Carlos Slim Helu, the world’s richest man and possibly the single most significant barrier to greater Internet access in Latin America, to serve as the Co-Chair of the ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission. It is widely recognized that Telmex exerts significant market power to keep prices up, users out, and its profits high. I co-authored a few pieces on Mexico’s early reforms in the 1990s so I have some knowledge of the subject. Now the government has set its sights on telecoms. According to Aurelio Nuño, the president’s chief of staff, within two months the PRI will present a bill to attack the “great problem of concentration” in telephony, internet and television.
For too long the government of Bangladesh has hesitated to accept the fact that the only realistic way a majority of its people can be connected to the Internet is over wireless media and has tended to treat the mobile industry as a cash cow to be taxed in order to fund Digital Bangladesh and other general expenses. Therefore, it is heartening to hear the new BTRC Chair recognizing the reality in a report carried in the Daily Star. One hopes that he is not talking about FTTH (except to apartment blocks and such) when he refers to optical fiber in the same sentence. One seriously hopes that he is talking about optical fiber in the backhaul network. Ensuring open access to the existing optical fiber network within Bangladesh operated by BTCL should be a priority for the BTRC if it wishes to improve Internet access.
It’s like a country with excellent seaports but bandits rule the roads and highways. Welcome to Nigeria, which has awarded four 3G licenses in 2007. It also boasts of four submarine cables with an installed capacity of over 19.2 terabytes international bandwidth. The country was never short of hype.
Bangladesh has raised its broadband bar from 128 Kbps to 1 Mbps, said a press report. Time will answer if it’s a political statement or an official roadmap. But the government’s prejudice on technology is alarming. The whole country should be connected through optical fibre cable. We want to provide broadband to all corners of the country, and it is very much possible.
In light of growing talk of a new divide that is emerging, this time a broadband divide, two indicators are beginning to assume greater importance: Internet users/100 and broadband subscriptions/100. Not all Internet users have Facebook accounts, but all Facebook users are, by definition, Internet users. Some people may have multiple Facebook accounts, but not as many as those who have multiple SIMs. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the number of a country’s Internet Users exceeds the number of Facebook accounts from that country. In October 2012, there were 1,448,160 Facebook accounts from Sri Lanka.
I like to point out in all the talks that I give on broadband that it’s the slowest link that defines the experience, as in the strength of the weakest link is the strength of the chain. Here is an excellent illustration that uses an example that is close to home (or in the home of most people reading this blog): A number of Internet service providers, including Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., have recently upped the maximum speeds of broadband they offer residential customers to as much as 305 megabits per second. And Google Inc.