Paul Budde

Paul Budde

Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication
Joined on February 4, 2009
Total Post Views: 3,086,672


Paul Budde is the managing director of Paul Budde Communication (trading as BuddeComm), a global independent telecommunications research and consultancy company, which includes 45 national and international researchers in 15 countries.

His website ( has 2,000 research reports covering 170 countries, 400 companies and 200 technologies and applications. The company operates what is believed to be the largest telecommunications research service on the Internet and has over 3,000 customers in 80 different countries.

Paul is frequently interviewed on radio and television current affairs and news programs, as well as by the leading national and international financial and business press. He is quoted in company prospectuses and his knowledge of the industry is a valuable resource at the governmental level. He provides strategic advice on telecoms and digital economy policies to governments on three continents.

For more information on Strategic Workshops and Roundtables please click here.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Paul Budde on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

Australian Government Issues New Guidelines to Address 5G Security Concerns in Smart Cities

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has issued a new set of guidelines warning about the security risks posed by the use of 5G technology in so-called Smart Cities. The ASD's concerns align with those of the Five Eyes security alliance, which has warned that the interconnected nature of a fully connected city makes it vulnerable to cyberattacks. more

Humans’ Best Defense Against Cybersecurity

At regular intervals, I have discussed the cybersecurity situation in Australia. In those assessments, I wrote about my frustration that the previous government policies more or less resembled a fire brigade approach. Trying to address individual incidents with regulations and legislation rather than coming up with a holistic strategy. more

Starlink Now Covers All of Australia

My colleague, Robert Smallwood in Geraldton, WA at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (WA Government), has been testing Starlink now since March 2022 and he reports on his experience and in general, provides updates about Starlink and its mother company, SpaceX. He allowed me to use his report to write this article. more

The Hack Will Be a Costly Affair for Optus

More and more information is becoming available about the breach of Optus (Australia's second-largest telco). It looks like the hacker is more of an amateur than a professional criminal or a "state actor." This makes the hack even more worrisome. It looks as though Optus didn't have its security house in order. This makes the issue all the more painful for the company. It will dent its reputation, and customers could become somewhat wary about dealing with the company. more

Cyberhygiene Requires Critical Thinking

At his farewell speech in August outgoing, Telstra CEO Andy Penn mentioned that the cyber threat has never been as serious as the present. He mentioned the deteriorating geopolitical situation and the big shift in how criminals operate in the cyber domain. One thing is for sure is that in order to enjoy all the positives resulting from the digital economy, we need to be far more vigilant about the barrage of information that we are receiving and/or have access to. more

LunaNet – Developing the Internet for the Moon

The NASA-sponsored Artemis program is the first step in the next era of human exploration. Together with a large number of international government and academic partners as well as businesses -- and based on international standards -- NASA will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon. more

Telecoms Development Booming in the French Pacific Territories

After the nuclear submarine debacle with France, political ties have been restored, and both France and Australia have agreed on further cooperation in the South Pacific, where France has several overseas territories. Also, here telecoms is a key issue. Such cooperation has become more urgent with the increased political interest of China in the region. more

Telstra’s OneWeb Deal Caught Up in the Russian War

Telstra might regret having signed a commercial deal with London-based OneWeb as this company has now become a pawn in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Telstra agreed to host two OneWeb gateway Earth stations in Australia, one in the west and one in the north, which would also cover the APAC region, with a third Earth station currently under discussion for the east coast. more

The Battles in the Online Video Game Streaming Market Are Heating Up

In a previous article, I reported on the problems that Facebook (Meta) is facing – currently betting the house on its Meta service, based on a software platform that will create a virtual reality (VR) networked environment. I mentioned that I was critical about this business model and that I don’t see, at least for the foreseeable future, a platform (based on VR) that would turn the internet or mobile networks into VR environments. I also mention that I do see interesting markets for VR in certain sectors. more

Is Technology the Problem?

We do live in turbulent times. There is such a lot happening, with many people feeling overwhelmed and lost. One of the reasons given why we do have these problems is technology. I would argue against that. In all reality, technology is a tool that we can use, and yes, we all know that we can use it for the wrong reasons (cars kill people, atom bombs, killer robots, chemical and biological warfare and so on). However, we have learned to live with it, and in general, the outcome from science, innovation and technology has been positive. more

The Year 2038 Computer Problem – a Repeat of Y2K?

The Year 2038 Problem relates to representing time in many digital systems as the number of seconds passed since 00:00:00 UTC on 1 January 1970 and storing it as a signed 32-bit integer. Such implementations cannot encode times after 03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038. At that time, systems might crash and be unable to restart when the time is changed to that date. It is like the Y2K problem caused by the widespread use of two decimal digits to store the year. While that problem was overhyped... more

Australian Farms Get Connected to the Starlink Satellites

Last year, I reported on the possibility that LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite-based systems might be a gamechanger for the delivery of high-speed data services, including internet access, to people in regional and remote Australia. What has become clear with the rollout of the NBN is that the quality of data connections in metropolitan cities in many cases has improved, but that the rest of Australia doesn't have a similar experience. more

China Using Cybertechnologies to Expand Their Political Cloud

A few months ago, I mentioned that China’s social code would also be expanded to companies who want to deal with China. I have come across information that shows that China is indeed serious about this. China’s cyberspace regulator has proposed requiring companies pursuing share listings in Hong Kong to apply for cybersecurity inspections if they handle data that concerns national security. Large internet platforms planning to set up headquarters, operating or research centers abroad will have to submit a report to regulators. more

Interplanetary Internet

We had a very interesting presentation and discussion regarding the topic of interplanetary internet with my international colleagues, of which Vint Cerf – one of the “fathers of the internet” – is also a member. As a partner of the Interplanetary Networking Special Interest Group (IPNSIG), he took us on a journey that he has been involved with over the last 20 years regarding communication networks in space. A true mind-broadening experience. more

High-Speed Fiber Overtakes DSL as OECD Countries Add 21 Million Fixed Broadband Connections in the Pandemic Year

High-speed fiber Internet subscriptions surpassed copper-wire DSL connections across OECD countries for the first time in 2020 as the need to move work and home life activities online during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a record 21.15 million new fixed broadband connections (including fiber, DSL, cable, and others) in the year to end-December 2020. more

Massive Changes to the Chinese Tech Industry

It was on the cards. For weeks, Jack Ma, the digital tycoon of China, founder of Ant and of e-commerce giant Alibaba (the Chinese Amazon), disappeared off the radar after he was summoned by the Chinese Government and most likely lectured on the fact that his company was out of step with official Chinese policy. Consequently, the Government levied a multi-billion dollar antitrust fine against Alibaba, deleted its popular web browser from app stores and took several other actions against the company. more

The $100 Billion National Broadband Plan for America

The new Biden Administration in the USA laid out a $100 billion proposal for broadband investment as part of its $2 trillion+ infrastructure plan. Under the proposal, the plan is to provide national broadband coverage. The Administration will use better competition measures, such as price transparency, the use of public utility infrastructure, and subsidies for low-income households to achieve its goals. more

Cybersecurity, an Essential Weapon in the Cyberwarfare to Protect Our Democracy

We see the problems that we are facing within an increasingly digital society and economy. We cannot go backward; the only way forward is to ensure that this new digital environment is made as safe as possible from a personal, social, political and economic perspective. We are currently struggling on these fronts. Unfortunately, we have now clearly entered a situation of cyber warfare. States now use digital technologies to impose and undermine ideologies. more

The $100 Billion National Broadband Plan for America

The new Administration in the USA laid out a $100 billion proposal for broadband investment as part of its $2 trillion infrastructure plan. Under the proposal, the plan is to provide national broadband coverage. The Administration will use better competition measures, such as price transparency, the use of public utility infrastructure, and subsidies for low-income households to achieve its goals. more

Are the LEOs Going to Disrupt the Telco Market?

We are getting closer to using alternative broadband solutions offered by international companies. Local telecommunication entities will, in this respect, be relegated to resellers. The reality of accessing low Earth-orbiting satellite (LEO) services is now clearly on the horizon. Most of the telcos and governments are not prepared for the potential shock this might cause to the structure of local telecommunications markets. more

Facebook Stays, Everybody’s Happy, but Nothing Has Changed

After some turmoil, Facebook won the war with the Australian Government as the necessary changes were made to the legislation that avoided them needing to change their business model. Those subtleties are lost in the general press. What counts for the popular media is that they were able to spin some great stories around the fact that Australia stood up to the giants. That brought international attention, which boosted the ego of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. more

Macquarie Group Is Set to Shake Up the Digital Infrastructure Market

A few months ago, I reported on the broader market of which telecommunications infrastructure is a part. I mentioned data centers, cloud computing and data analytics (big data). All together, we can perhaps best call this digital infrastructure. While the importance of this merged set of infrastructures will benefit all economies and societies, I recently focused on regional developments as basically every region and every mid-size town will need to have a digital hub for local computing workloads and storage. more

Facebook Is Right to Call the Australian Government Bluff

As mentioned in previous analyses, the way that the Government has approached its battle with the digital giants has been flawed from the beginning. True, its tough stand had made Google pay media companies well above what these companies would have been able to negotiate individually with Google, but the fundamentals of why these battles are taking place are still unchanged. more

Google Set to Survive in Oz, but Far Bigger Threats Are on the Way

The signs are that the Australian Government and Google are close to a compromise. The Government's main demands stay in place, but some of the details will be changed. This allows the Government to claim victory, while the damage to Google will be limited... Publishers will, in one way, or another be paid for news, either through a payment based on the value of the news and the value of the Google search facility. more

Technology: Doomsday or Godsend – the Choice Is Ours

Following the American insurrection and the role the media played -- social media, particularly the "doomsday scenario," started to appear again in relation to technological developments. Only a few years ago, a group of hi-tech companies, including Tesla, warned against the negative aspects of artificial intelligence (AI). Other technologies that could seriously affect human developments include gene editing, nanotechnology and synthetic biology. more

What Will 2021 Have Install for the ICT Industry?

While 2021 will remain a year with lots of uncertainties, at the same time, we can say that the pandemic has not affected the information and communications technology (ICT) industry in any significant way. Yes, there has been a slowdown, for example, in the sale of smartphones. Shortages in both materials and expertise are slowing fiber deployment, and the recovery over 2021 will be slow and uncertain because of the many lockdowns and travel restrictions. more

Can We Control the Digital Platforms?

The digital market has matured over the last 20 years, and it is no longer an excuse for governments to do nothing with the aim to let new markets and innovations emerge without immediate regulatory oversight. It has become clear this period is now well and truly over. The European Commission has already launched several lawsuits against the digital giants. Regulation, in general, is known as "ex-post" (after the deed has been done). This is set to change, as I will explain later. more

What Will 6G Look Like in a Geopolitical Divided World

A recent session of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the Australian Smart Communities Association (ASCA) masterclass on 5G, featured Dr. Ian Oppenheimer, the NSW Government's Chief Data Scientist and one of the country's most respected experts in radio technology. Ian is also the Chair of the scientific advisory board of the 6G Flagship organization, a global research organization based in Finland. This organization has just published a range of fascinating research papers on 6G. more

Disinformation and Our Technology Industries

It was interesting to see that, albeit belatedly, the American media started to stop giving Trump opportunities to spew out his lies across the country and beyond. It obviously had now reached a point where the media realized that if they continued to provide Trump with their avenues, this would make them accomplices in inciting violence. Is this going to be a turning point? more

ICT in Agriculture: A Travel to Australia’s Outback Queensland

In October 2020, I went on a two-week tour into Queensland's Outback, traveling through various landscapes from pastoral and agricultural lands to savanna and the desert. Leaving Brisbane, past Toowoomba, you enter the Darling Downs. This is one of the richest agricultural areas in Australia. British Botanist Alan Cunningham first explored it in 1827. However, only after the penal colony of Moreton Bay (now Brisbane) was closed, free settlers were allowed in the area. more

Smart Cities Want to Co-Design Change With Telcos

With 5G earmarked as a game-changer for cities, wireless technologies are already widely deployed by leading smart cities, including those here in Australia. However, cities do not want to be locked into proprietary technology solutions, rather seeing themselves as a platform on which many organisations can build infrastructure, applications, and services to benefit all citizens and all local businesses. more

Is Laser Going to Be the Next Telecoms Frontier?

When I became involved in the telecoms industry back in the late 1970s, we were just seeing fiber optic cables being commercially developed by Corning. Over the following decades, I have been asked many, many times -- do we need fiber cables or wireless technologies, and what is next? During all that time, my answer has been that there was no other communication technology available in any commercial sense that would make either fiber optical or mobile technologies obsolete. more

The Importance of the Emerging Data Trusts

I recently followed a webinar session organized by the University of Queensland on the factory of the future. Smart or not, the future will still need factories to make the stuff we humans use every day. One of the discussed questions included: "how will existing production models cope with the staggering and ongoing rate of digital disruption and advanced capabilities?" more

Internet of Things Requires a Rethink of Business Models

There certainly is a lot of interest in machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT). But what we are seeing is only what is happening on the surface. Most of the M2M activities are taking place unnoticed. For example, most newly produced electronic devices are now all M2M enabled. Over 100 million smart meters have already been deployed by the electricity industry, with literally hundreds of millions of them in the pipeline. Healthcare is another key industry. more

Hassle Over LEOs

Every second, 4.5 billion people using computers and other electronic devices send 100,000 gigabytes of information to each other. Around 60% of the world's population has an Internet connection. North America and Europe have penetrations of 95% and 87%. But Asia and Africa do not yet get beyond 54% and 40%. On those continents, there are many remote areas where there is no Internet yet. At least no affordable Internet. more

Cracks Appearing in Trump’s Huawei Boycott

It must have been a galling experience for President Trump when his good mate British Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to step in line with Trump's demand that the UK should also boycott the Chinese firm Huawei by not allowing them to be involved in the rollout of 5G in Britain. However, the involvement of Huawei will be limited. It further proves that boycotting Huawei is a political and not a technical issue. more

The Role of FttH in the Development of 5G

As the rollout of fiber to the home project (FttH) remains a slow process, it is no wonder that more and more people are looking towards mobile as a potential alternative. Obviously, mobile communication has improved over recent years in providing excellent access to broadband. It has also become more affordable. At the same time, there is the hype surrounding 5G, and the public relations and media machines of the vendors involved makes you believe that this will become a real competitor to the slow-moving FttH developments. more

The Power of Data in Smart City Developments

A few weeks, I attended a one-day conference at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at the occasion of the launch of their new $7.5 million Centre for Data Science. This laboratory is also the lead node of a new Australian Data Science Network, bringing together data science organizations from across the country. The new center aims to support data-led decisions across key areas like health, environment, business, government and society -- in short, data for the good. more

Monetising Solutions for the Telcos

Developments in the telecommunications industry and the broader digital economy have opened up many new markets over the last few decades. Telecoms has changed from a more or less standalone, horizontally-organized industry to one that has become a key facilitator in a range of vertical markets. The keyword that is used to indicate that change is "smart." We are talking about smart transport, smart energy, smart cities and so on. more

Are the Telcos Crying Wolf?

We recently have heard much complaining from the telecommunications companies concerning the margin squeeze they experience from NBN Co. While they certainly do have a point, it is also essential to look at the other side of the coin. Why have the telcos allowed this situation to happen in the first place? We have seen an explosion in the telecommunications industry over the last decades. This led to the arrival of internet companies which are currently amongst the largest corporations in the world. more

The West Is Shooting Itself in Its IT Foot

In our globalized economy, it is vital that we do establish levels of fair trade, and the USA is right in addressing that issue. However, making technology a key element of the trade war will backfire. Let's take (again) the Huawei issue as an example. The company has admitted that the US boycott is hitting them severely with an estimated loss of $30 billion in revenues. One of the other elements of the trade boycott is that Google is no longer allowed to provide... more

5G and the Health Scare

Having been involved in the telecommunications industry for a long time, I followed many of the discussions involving health concerns when the 3G and 4G mobile technologies were introduced. This time, with 5G, the situation is no different. Again, there are many communities worried about the potential negative health effects of the radiation that emanates from mobile communications. more

Have We Reached ‘Peak Telecom’ and What Does This Mean for 5G

"Peak telecom" is described as the maximum point of expansion reached by the traditional telecommunications industry before the internet commoditized the industry to a utility pipe. I had to think of this when I read the recent outcomes of the famous Ericsson Consumer Lab survey. The company used the result of the survey to counteract market criticism regarding the viability of the telco business models in the deployment of 5G. more

Trade War Is Turning Into a Technology War

President Trump knows that in the current trade war, the Huawei issue is perhaps one of the most important issues for the Chinese government. It directly undermines the Chinese prestige and the ban create global anxiety. This is resulting in discussions in many countries, assessing their relationship with China. It highlights the domination of the Chinese in telecoms manufacturing, but at the same time, it opens up other discussions in relation to Chinese dominance and influence. more

What Is the Business Case for 5G?

There is much hype around 5G, but none of it is new. We saw the same propaganda -- fueled by the manufacturers -- in the run-up to the launch of the 3G and 4G versions of the mobile technology. Driverless cars and a range of other IoT applications can indeed potentially open new revenue streams. The reality, however, is that these markets might not eventuate until somewhere between 2025 and 2030. more

How to Best Manage the Social Media

The internet started to take on momentum in the 1990s. At that time many analysts, myself included, marveled at the opportunity of creating a platform that would boost grassroot democracy. There was no need for a middleman and there were few barriers to ordinary people becoming involved. This included organizing groups, discussions and events, sharing knowledge, insights and information, publishing opinions -- just some of the potential attached to the internet. more

Is Digital Democracy an Option – and What Is Involved in It?

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the internet Berners-Lee, the father of the internet, reiterated his suggestion for a radical change, which would improve the functionality of the internet for the benefit of society. He suggests a sort of refoundation of the web, creating a fresh set of rules, both legal and technical, to unite the world behind a process that can avoid some of the missteps of the past 30 years. While this most certainly would be an excellent development, I am rather pessimistic about a rapid implementation of such a radical change more

The Huawei Issue in the Broader Context of Global Politics

It is very sad to see that Huawei has become a victim of US-China trade war politics and it will be very interesting to see how their court case against the US Government will pan out, the company claims that the ban of its products is "unconstitutional." There is no indication that Huawei has been involved in any spying activity; nor does it appear to have any intention of doing so. more

Putting Cyber Threats Into Perspective

As society uses more digital technologies we are increasingly also faced with its problems. Most of us will have some horror stories to tell about using computers, smartphones, and the internet. But this hasn't stopped us from using the technology more and more. I believe that most people would say that their lives would be worse without technology -- in developed countries but equally in the developing world. more

Could Cybersecurity Become a New Driver for Business Transformation?

My involvement in the ICT industry over the last 40 years has always been to look at the strategic advantages that new technologies have to offer. I entered the industry through a proto-internet development called videotext. I looked at this technology, at what organisations could do with it, and assisted, for example, in the 1980s when the Commonwealth Bank introduced the world's first national online banking service called Telebank. more

Cybersecurity Is Failing Big-Time and This Is Hard to Fix

It has become clear that having a big cybersecurity war room is not enough to deliver true end-to-end security throughout the complex networks, systems and structures on which our modern society is based. Furthermore, looking at the forever changing draconian government interventions in this space, it is also obvious that they are often stabbing in the dark. more

Big Data for the Common Good of Local Communities

There is no doubt that big data is going to be one of the most important tools that will assist human society in the future. Our increasingly complex society has been able to move forward, and it will continue to do so, based on rational, scientific facts and figures within the context of the needs of humanity. As an example, neuroscience is giving us more insight into ourselves, and we are learning that many of the elements that we have always thought of as being uniquely human are based on neurological/biological processes that can be put into algorithms. more

Will 5G Trigger Smart City PPP Collaboration?

As discussed in previous analyses, the arrival of 5G will trigger a totally new development in telecommunications. Not just in relation to better broadband services on mobile phones - it will also generate opportunities for a range of IoT (internet of things) developments that among other projects are grouped together under smart cities (feel free to read 'digital' or 'connected cities'). more

Transition of the Telecoms Industry Is Overdue

It is interesting to observe the changes in the telecommunications environment over the last few decades. Before videotex (the predecessor of the internet) arrived in the late 1970s early 1980s, 90% of telecommunications revolved around telephone calls. And at that time telephony was still a luxury for many, as making calls were expensive. I remember that in 1972 a telephone call between London and Amsterdam cost one pound per minute. Local telephone calls were timed... more

Next on the US Telecoms Agenda: Downgrading Broadband

The American industry lobby (AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast) successfully pushed the regulator to get rid of net neutrality, but they are not stopping there. They can sense the opportunity under the Trump Administration to roll further back any regulations that stand in the way of maximising their profits. As all three largely enjoy geographic monopolies in their regions of operation, there is little competition driving innovation forward, so their aim is to milk the networks that they currently have in place for as long as possible. more

What is the Future for Mobile Network Operators?

The telecommunication industry is continuing to resist structural changes, but the reality is that if they don't transform, technology will do it for them. We have seen the fixed telecom operators slowly being pushed back into the infrastructure utility market. Mobile networks are moving in that same direction - that is, the largest part of their network will be a utility, with currently two, three or four mobile infrastructure providers per country... the industry is facing serious problems. more

Net Neutrality Not a Serious Issue Outside America

Most countries, don't have to fear internet quality problems in the same way as would be possible in the USA. The US competition watchdog has little power to hold telcos accountable to the nature of their broadband services. Back in 1996 broadband was classified as a content service and not a telecom service. So, for example, if a telco wants to provide preferred access to Google, it can sell them a superior broadband services which could create a two speed internet service... more

Telcos Players in the U.S. Set to Become Even Lazier

With all of the current turbulence in the American society, it is no wonder that its telecommunications market is also under severe pressure. In his election campaign, Trump promised his American supporters to make changes to what he called the Washington swamp, but it has become clear that the opposite is happening. While in previous Administrations lobbyists were at least somewhat separated from the politicians, now many of these lobbyists are actually part of the Trump Administration. more

Telecoms Competition on a Downhill Slide in America

That is what happens when you base your telecommunications policies on the wrong foundations. The problems with the telecommunications industry in America go back to 1996 when the FCC decided that broadband in America should be classified as internet (being content) and that therefore it would not fall under the normal telecommunication regulations. Suddenly what are known as telecommunications common carriers in other parts of the world became ISPs in the USA. How odd is that? more

The Role of FttH in the Development of 5G

As the roll out of FttH remains a slow process, it is no wonder that more and more people are looking towards mobile as a potential alternative. Obviously, mobile communication has improved over recent years in providing excellent access to broadband; and it has also become more affordable. At the same time, there is the fabulous hype about 5G, and the PR and media machines of the vendors involved make you believe that this will become a real competitor to the slow moving FttH developments. more

Inter-Process Communication - Building Block for the New Internet

The blog on the need for a new internet received quite a bit of (international) attention, and with the assistance of colleague John Day, we would like to elaborate a bit further on this. I mentioned RINA as a good example that can be used to have a look at how such a new internet should look like. Interestingly the basics are not all that new. Already in the 1970s, but certainly two decades later, there were plenty of telecoms and computer engineers who started to understand that the future telecommunications work would have more to do with computing than with telecoms. more

We Urgently Need a New Internet

Let's be honest about it. Nobody -- including those very clever people that were present at its birth -- had the slightest idea what impact the internet would have in only a few decades after its invention. The internet has now penetrated every single element of our society and of our economy, and if we look at how complex, varied and historically different our societies are, it is no wonder that we are running into serious problems with the current version of our internet. more

Google and the Future of FttH

Many commentators rushed into print when they heard that Craig Barratt, senior vice-president of Google's parent company Alphabet and CEO of Access (the unit of which Google Fiber is part), stated that he would quit the job and that Google would slow down or stop its fibre deployment. So, yes, obviously something is happening at Google; but at the same time, the company has a commitment to complete the fiber deployment projects it has already started and also to build the many new networks that have been announced over the last six months. more

China’s QUESS and Quantum Communications

In mid-August China launched "QUESS" (Quantum Experiments at Space Scale), a new type of satellite that it hopes will be capable of "quantum communications" which is supposed to be hack-proof, through the use of "quantum entanglement". This allows the operator to ensure that no one else is listening to your communications by reliably distributing keys that are then used for encryption in order to be absolutely sure that there is no one in the middle intercepting that information. more

I Didn’t Put My Name on the Census

On many occasions I have written about the dangers of electronic communications in relation to data retention laws, government e-spying and other activities undermining our democracy and our liberty. To date governments still have to come up with evidence that all of this spying on their citizens has prevented any terrorist attacks. Terrorism has been given as the key reason for the government's spying. more

Verizon-Yahoo! Incumbents Never Seem to Learn

It is amazing that after the dozens of examples of failed business decisions made by telcos in relation to the digital economy, Verizon has clearly not learned any lessons and is willing to waste $4.8 billion in its purchase of Yahoo. This investment will be totally useless and will not provide any new revenue for the telco. They seemed to be attracted by the people-tracking facility (surveillance marketing) that companies such as Yahoo use, and they aim this for their own purposes to attract new advertising revenues. more

The Next Development in Wireless Broadband

In the USA the FCC has started the discussion on the next level of telecoms in the wireless market, aimed at making spectrum in bands above 24GHz available for flexible-use of wireless services, including next-generation, or 5G networks and technologies. New technologies such as massive-MIMO are going to make it possible to deliver 'fibre-like' speeds over short distance wireless networks operating in the 24+GHz bands. This will make the technology especially useful for high-speed broadband services in densely populated areas. more

Fibre Optic Technologies for the Next 50 Years

It might be hard to imagine but we were already talking about fibre to the home networks back in the 1970s and 1980s. This was in the early days of interactive TV and pay TV and fibre optics were already at that time seen as the next level of telecoms infrastructure needed for such services. The first residential fibre pilot networks were built in Berlin and Nagasaki. One of the most ambitious projects was in Columbus Ohio, but in the end they decided to continue with their HFC network. more

Populism and Hi-Tech

At a recent panel discussion in Berkeley, USA, the topic - The Moral Economy of Tech - was explored. The panel discussed the way hi-tech people in general view themselves and their work, and even though I am not an engineer or a developer of software and algorithms I could very much relate to that. I often mention the fact that I am proud to be a member of this industry, as it in general provides positive developments to society and the economy. more

Analysis of the Global Telecoms Industry In 2016

The telecoms industry represents one of the most dynamic sectors in the world. Only 25 years ago 90% of all activities took place via telephone calls over fixed telephone lines. Now, within the broader ICT industry, telecoms is underpinning all of the new developments in relation to the digital, sharing and interconnected economies. It facilitates new social and economic developments in all sectors such as e-health, e-education, e-business, smart grids, smart cities, e-government, and so on. more

Net Neutrality - A Good Step Forward But There Is More to Come

The recent decision taken in the USA makes total sense. It has been ridiculous that the incumbent telecoms operators there could present themselves as ISPs and claim that broadband was a content service rather than telecoms infrastructure - by doing this successfully for 20 years, they have not been subject to a range of telecoms regulations. This in turn has stifled competition, innovation, good quality customer services and the development of fibre optic networks in the USA. more

Is 5G Over-Hyped?

It probably is because we are so good at doing that in our industry. We start with over-promising and under-delivering and then in following years we fix it. So why would 5G be different? Our admirable technology companies are telling us that 5G will be 100x faster than 4G and that it will have 50x lower latency. But my more independent technology colleagues tell me 'it all depends'. more

Are Blockchains the Solution to Financing Smart Cities?

One of the most difficult elements in the development of smart cities is how to finance them. Local government doesn't have the money for it and while state and federal governments might have more money to spend there is no way that their current tax funds could pay for even a fraction of the investments that are needed. Indeed the reality is that in order to create a smart city... massive up-front investments are needed. more

A Look at Why We Need Fibre-to-the-Farm

One of the discussions I am currently having with my international colleagues is about the global trend towards urbanisation and the resulting shift of political, economic and financial powers from centralised states and federal structures to mega-city or mega-urban region centres. Some of my American colleagues expressed the fear that this would further marginalise rural communication. more

VR Demand Set to Grow, But Little Prospect for Telcos

Over the last 20 years or so we have regularly revisited the developments in virtual reality (VR). I remember experiencing VR for the first time in the late 1980s, so this technology has been in the making for a very long time. And we are still uncertain about its growth over the next decade. There is no doubt that VR is going through a period of revival. more

Waiting 30 Years for Smart Homes and Still Counting

Back in 1980 when I still lived in the Netherlands I worked with the Dutch futurist Griet Titulaer (an astronomer by trade) in building 'The Home of the Future'. I would say that at that stage it was more built around innovative interior design with automation features. Home entertainment also played a key role in it. At that stage these concepts had nowhere near the amount of technology that we are seeing in the homes of the future that we envisage today, but in essence lots of the elements we are still talking about were present then as well. more

Electricity Utilities and IoT

More and more connected devices will require more and better electricity solutions. In many developing economies more people have ready access to a smartphone and the internet than they have access to electricity. For that reason we have seen mobile telecoms operators starting to include power solutions (mainly through distributed energy systems, using solar panels) in order to sell more phones and telecom services. This shows how important access to electricity is. more

Government-Industry Collaboration Is Better than Developing a Surveillance State

President Obama, in March 2016, again stressed the need for better collaboration between the tech industry and the government. He referred to his own White House initiative - this has resulted in the newly-formed US Digital Service, which is trying to recruit the tech industry to work with and for government. One of the key reasons it is so difficult to establish trustworthy, good working relationships is the extreme lack of tech understanding among most politicians and government bureaucrats. more

Spin Doctoring from FBI in the Apple Case

It is rather amazing to follow the reporting on the FBI vs Apple case in relation to the FBI's order to Apple to provide them with software that would allow them to crack the security code on all Apple phones. In some of those reports spin doctoring from the FBI -- especially through the public media -- led you to believe that Apple is not willing to assist the FBI in the San Bernardino murder case. This is, however, blatantly false. more

The World is in Need of Transformative Solutions

The world has changed significantly since 2000, when the countries of the world adopted the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While strong economic growth in the developing world has helped lift millions out of poverty, global population growth, modern lifestyles and consumption are now stretching the limits of the planet's resources. During this time, technological advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) have radically transformed the way people communicate and lead their lives; now ICT can play a vital, transformative role in helping to put the world on a more sustainable path. more

The Networked Society and Personal Freedom

Given the current debate around mass surveillance which is undertaken by both governments and (social) media companies, the recurring question is what is happening to our hard-fought personal freedom? In the case of government-based mass surveillance there isn't an opt-out option, and in reality opt-out is also not a valid solution to services provided by Google, Apple, Facebook and the millions of apps that we all use to some extent or another. more

USA Fibre Investments Encouraging Further Operator Expansion

According to data from the FttH Council, the number of homes passed with fibre in the US increased 13% in 2015, year-on-year, to 26 million. Combined with Canada and Mexico, the number of passed homes has reached 34 million. The take-up rate is excellent by international standards, at more than 50%. Commonly operators look to about 20% to 30% take-up before work can begin on new fibre infrastructure to communities. more

Telecoms Infrastructure As a Service

More than a decade ago we predicted that the telecoms industry would be transformed, driven by its own innovations and technological developments. As a result we indicated that in many situations the telecommunications infrastructure would be offered as a service by hardware providers. We also predicted that this would open the way for a better sharing of the infrastructure. more

Mobile Broadband Penetration in Asia

The advent of mobile broadband triggered a huge change in broadband access across Asia. Following more than a decade of strong growth in almost all mobile markets in the region, an amazing transition to new generation mobile networks and services took place. By end 2014 there were a total of 1.2 billion mobile subscribers and with annual growth running at over 40% coming into 2015 the numbers were expected to hit 1.7 billion by end-2015. more

Why We Need Gigabit Networks

There is currently a great deal of debate regarding the need for gigabit networks. There are still a lot of voices, often led by conservative political and media people, who argue that hardly anyone needs such networks. Unfortunately for them, however, their arguments are totally flawed. And who are they, anyway, to set the tone for such new infrastructure. Isn't necessity the mother of invention? more

Revisiting Internet Governance

You might recall that I played an advisory role to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in 2012 in Dubai. In the run-up to that event -- as well as during and after it -- I gave my opinion on the role of internet governance, plus an analysis of what was happening. At that time I held a more conciliatory position on the issue, but you may have noticed that, in the wake of the Snowden revelations and the illegal NSA activities, as well as many other similar activities from ASIO in Australia and no doubt the Russian, Israeli and Chinese authorities, my position has shifted significantly. more

ICT Sectors Are Merging Into a New Wholesale Platform for the Networked Economy

There certainly is a lot of interest in the IoT (personal devices) and M2M (industrial applications) market. But what we are seeing is only what is happening on the surface. Most of the IoT and M2M activities are taking place unseen. For example, all new electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, game consoles) are now IoT devices. Wearable technology has also become a thriving part of the IoT industry, with an ever-broadening range of possible uses and devices, including smart watches, glasses, clothing items, skin patches, and even implants for health monitoring. more

How to Move Cybersecurity Forward in a More Positive Way

In 2013 I wrote a blog Telecoms as a spying tool, in which I mentioned that those who use the internet to spy indiscriminately will have to face the reality that such activities will only start a cat-and-mouse game -- the technology will always be able to stay one step ahead of those who are using the internet for criminal purposes. Since that time some very significant developments have taken place that have confirmed our prediction. more

Digital Economy + Sharing Economy = Networked Economy

A great deal of discussion is taking place about topics such as the digital economy, sharing economy and networked economy. Obviously these are concepts rather than being well-defined, but they are being used by the various players in the market to argue for or against certain developments. For example, in some of the broadband debates around the world, the digital economy is the key reason why national broadband infrastructure gets developed. more

Computer Transactions, Not People, Are Driving the Need for All-Fibre Networks

Ever since we first became involved in developing policies and strategies for countries relating to what are now known as national broadband networks, we have argued that those taking part in the strategic decision-making processes of designing these networks should look, not at what broadband can do now, but at what high-speed broadband can do to assist countries to create the best opportunities for future developments. more

Rapidly Changing Triple and Quadruple Play Business Models

It is interesting to follow what is happening with triple and quadruple play broadband prices in competitive markets. Through triple and quadruple play, customers are increasingly getting more services for the same money. As most fixed telecoms markets are still largely monopolistic in nature, basic access charges remain high; but good prices are even available in markets with healthy wholesale competition, if one shops around. more

Is LTE Going to Impact Free WiFi?

Developments in LTE are also going to have a significant impact on the unlicensed spectrum, which is currently used by billions of people through their WiFi modems and WiFi services in cities, cafes, airports and other venues. Known as LTE Unlicensed (LTE-U) or Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA), this technology can also ride on top of WiFi networks (without utilising the mobile service), providing high-speed broadband access to users. more

Comparing the Spectrum Policies of America and China

With the explosion in mobile broadband, every mobile operator is scrambling to secure the spectrum capacity needed to stay ahead in the market. There is no doubt that spectrum management is one of the most critical elements of telecommunications policy. It is seen as the pathway to 21C infrastructure... It is interesting to see how the different countries handle their spectrum management policies. more

Will Telcos Be Able to Harness the New Business Opportunities of 5G?

The industry would like to project 5G as a divergence from previous mobile technology evolution lines (1G-2G-3G-4G). They claim that this is a whole new ballgame, with completely new opportunities. But the big question will be whether this time round the telcos will be able to harness this new technology to create new business opportunities for themselves. 5G is only one element of a larger ecosystem that includes broadband access, IoT, M2M, cloud computing, data centres and data analytics... more

Ferocious FttH Competition in China

Most of the discussions, analyses and comments regarding the strategic issues in telecommunication are still focussed on the mature markets in Europe and North America, where there are well-established policies and regulations with institutions that have been in existence for many decades. Occasionally one hears claims that we are reverting back to old telecoms policies and regulations, as, for example, was the case with the FCC proposal for its Title II legislation. more

Did Google’s Infrastructure Coup Work?

There is no doubt that the Google fibre rollout in Kansas City has been a success. Take-up rates are as high as 75%. However, when it was first announced in 2010, we stated that the real reason behind Google's entry into this market was to prove that FttH can be cost-effective and can generate a profitable return -- in the hope that the sluggish telcos would become more active in the rollout of FttH networks. Yet, Google is proving that this indeed can be done, the telcos remain sluggish in deploying FttH. more

Driving Force Behind Mobile Connect Initiative

Increased pressure is being exerted in different parts of the industry to create a more secure and a more private environment for a range of mobile activities. Whether it is women in developing economies who need to be certain that their communication is kept private, especially in relation to their husband and male relatives, or the 100 million users, mainly in developing economies, which rely heavily on mobile payments; there are now 16 countries that have more citizens with mobile bank accounts than the traditional ones. more

Low Cost Economy Depends on Ubiquitous Affordable High Speed Broadband

Around the world there are ongoing developments to reform and transform industries and whole sectors with the assistance of new information & communications technologies (ICTs). There is a clear understanding that reforms are essential in order to provide the level of services and the quality be it in business or elsewhere. Lifestyle issues are under threat in relation to the quality and the affordability of healthcare, social services, education, energy and the environment... more

Consumers Are the Serfs of the Feudal Internet Companies

In one of the email conversations with my expert colleagues from around the globe, an interesting article was discussed written by Bruce Scheier in Wired: When it comes to security, we're back to feudalism. An interesting aspect of the discussion was the conclusion that Google's and Facebook's consumers are not their customers. The distinction is important, because consumers are the product being sold to their actual customers who are their advertisers. more

M-Government Requires Mobile ID

More and more governments are now looking at electronic ways to deliver services to their citizens. With the enormous growth in mobile penetration this infrastructure is now becoming a viable alternative in the delivery of services. But personal authentication is required to make this happen. This is recognised throughout the industry for a range of services and the GSMA has launched a project 'Mobile Contact' aimed at developing a standardised mobile ID. more

FCC Open Internet Rules

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Tom Wheele, the FCC Chairman, gave a range of spirited responses to a grilling from the Director of the GSMA, Anne Bouverot. She was following the line of the telcos and questioned if the FCC intervention would stifle growth and investments in the market; however she had problems reconciling her position with the fact that, despite these regulatory changes, the American industry was still prepared to invest a whopping $45 billion in new spectrum. more

Moving from 4G to 5G

A great deal of hype is out there, as vendors talk up the next development in mobile technology, known as 5G. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made a good comparison. He said that one person looking at the paintings by the Master in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona sees a different picture to the person next to them. That's what 5G is all about at the moment -- a great picture with lots of different interpretations. more

Mobile World Congress and the Big Business Model Clash in Barcelona

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona attracted some of the most important people in the broader telecommunications industry. While they were not necessarily all together at the same time it was good to analyse their presentations and the comments they made within the broader context of the market, to get a clearer picture of where the industry is heading -- or, perhaps more importantly -- where those players are trying to push the industry from their own positions. more

Report from the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona

One of the biggest telecom events in the world, now in its tenth year, the GSMA Global World Congress, is attracting 90,000 visitors this year. Why are so many people flocking to this event? Obviously telecoms and mobile in particular, has become one of the biggest industries in the world. Hundreds of billions of dollars are invested every year and the market simply keeps growing. However, that alone is not enough to explain this large number of visitors. more

The Next Stage of the Broadbanding of the World

The UN Broadband Commission -- which I assisted in establishing and to which I am special advisor -- is now in its fifth year. Set up by the two UN agencies, UNESCO and ITU, it received the support of 50 leading international people such as government ministers, heads of a range of UN and associated organisations, and CEOs of leading private industry companies. Overall it is a public-private partnership. It is chaired by the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and Carlos Slim from Mexico. more

Title II Will Have Little Effect on Telecom Developments in The USA

We now know what direction the FCC will take in reorganising the American telecoms market. For many years I have mentioned the rather bizarre situation in that country wherein broadband is not seen as a telecoms service but rather as an internet service, which is itself classified as providing content. Thanks to extensive lobbying from among the telcos (who also refer to themselves as ISPs) in the early days of the internet, back in the 1990s, the FCC accepted their unbelievable proposals. As a result, over the last 20 years or so the USA's telecom market has changed from being one of the most competitive among developed economies to what it is now: a market with hardly any fixed telecoms competition at all. more

The Google Factor in the Obama Broadband Speech

Every time Google becomes involved in telecommunications it gets international media coverage; and every single time the same question is raised -- why does Google become involved in telecoms infrastructure, plus the underlying issue of it becoming a telecoms operator. This time the question is -- why does Google want to become involved in mobile telecoms and how is it going to compete with the other operators? more

Most of the Time Common Sense Eventually Prevails

I have learned that lesson many times over. In many of the issues that we are facing, as a society or in our industry, I am reasonably confident that common sense will eventually prevail. Sometimes the road twists and turns, but in the end water flows around rocks. In our industry I can refer to developments we have been advocating for (structural separation, utilities-based telecoms infrastructure, broadband for social and economic benefits, ICT-based industry and sector transformation, FttH, internet as a tool for more direct democracies, etc). more

Banks Under e-Pressure

Back in the early 1980s we witnessed the launch of the first e-payments systems by French banks in Biarritz. A similar project was launched in Japan and a year or so later Berlin also launched their pilot service. In Biarritz the whole town received smartcards and all the shops were given devices to handle e-cash. Over the next 30 years very little happened -- nowhere did banks build on this initiative to take a leadership role in e-payments. more

Content - The Next Regulatory War Zone

At the 2014 TelSoc Charles Todd Oration the former Chair of the ACCC, Graeme Samuel, warned against the looming content monopoly... "There is a constant risk that the exclusive tie-up of rights to content for new and emerging markets will allow the right holders to shut out competition across a wide range of services delivered over new networks." He didn't think that the current telcos have the right expertise to enter the content market... more

Scaremongering from Spy Agents

In an article for the Financial Times, Mr Hannigan -- the chief of the British spy agency GCHQ said: "I understand why they [US technology companies] have an uneasy relationship with governments. They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics." "But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism."... more

Can Mobile Operators Afford a Mobile-Only Strategy?

With 4G rollouts in many developed mobile markets reaching completion, it might be time to check the balance of the state of the mobile industry. Looking at campaigns around the world it is clear that what you see are 'me too' strategies. The advertising campaigns and the marketing hyperbole around them might suggest that a particular operator has now done something unique or very special, but if one looks beyond the advertising blurb it is clear that the campaign is nothing new and/or that what is on offer can be very easily matched by their competitors in the market. more

Data Mining - The Next Driver of Mobile Revenue

I have often argued that in both the fixed and the mobile telecoms markets the actual telecoms element is a utility -- a utility that allows for an enormous range of new services, new business models and new applications. For this reason the argument for more than a decade (since 2002 to be precise) has been that structural separation of the vertically-integrated telecom model is needed in order to unleash the huge potential of telecoms. If that doesn't happen technologies will be applied that allow the users to bypass the barriers set up by the telcos to protect their utility.  more

Mobile Consolidation Is Unavoidable

Despite its absolute success in providing competition to the telecoms market, infrastructure-based competition in the mobile market is now also reaching its final stages. We have been predicting this for some time; we did so in order to highlight the need to change to different business models in the industry -- models with more emphasis on infrastructure-sharing and competition based on new innovative services rather than on utility offerings... more

UN Broadband Commission 2.0

Back in late 2009 I had the honour of explaining my views on how broadband can deliver social and economic benefits to countries and their people to Dr Hamadoun Touré the Secretary-General (SG) of the ITU, the UN body looking after global telecoms. He showed a particular interest in the initiative Australia had taken in developing the NBN. This discussion with the SG led to the establishment in 2010 of the UN Broadband Commission, co-sponsored by UNESCO and the ITU. Dr Touré invited 50 Commissioners from around the world to participate in this initiative, half of them from private industry. more

Not World War III - This Time the ICT Revolution

In the past it has been wars and revolutions that created major changes in society. It was only after these events that old ideas, structures and doctrines gave way. And in many countries wars and revolutions are still functioning as a tool for change -- the Arab Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Empire are good examples of this. But wars and revolutions are disruptive in an economic sense, cost the lives of many people, and necessitate costly rebuilds after the even more

State of Broadband Report 2014

Last Sunday I attended the 10th meeting of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development in New York, where we launched this new report -- State of Broadband Report 2014. Here are some of the highlights of the report. Over 50% of the global population will have Internet access within three years' time, with mobile broadband over smartphones and tablets now the fastest growing technology in human history, according to the 2014 edition of the State of Broadband report. more

Triple Challenge of Network Transformation

Following my comments about the iPhone VoLTE announcement I had an interesting conversation with Andy Huckridge from Gigamon, a company that provides intelligent traffic visibility networking solutions for enterprises, datacentres and service providers around the globe. An interesting concept that we discussed was the 'triple challenge of network transformation'. The three elements of this challenge are... more

iPhone 6 VoLTE Will Disrupt the Mobile Industry

As far back as 2011 we predicted that Apple would eventually enter the voice market. We indicated at that time that it was just a matter of time -- in the end it took another three years... While it didn't happen at Christmas that year the company is now ready and will use the VoLTE service to enter this market, which will make it possible to replace Telstra with any other mobile operator around the world... he telcos are not ready for this. While they should be seen as the leaders in the voice call market they are too preoccupied with protecting their traditional business and it is companies like Apple and Samsung who are now leading the charge. more

M2M Hype and Reality

There are many predictions that the next big wave in telecoms is M2M and that this will be the next growth market for the telecoms industry. There is no doubt that M2M is a revolutionary development, but we need to separate the hype from the reality. In order to do this it is best to divide the major developments into two main areas, although there is no doubt that others will emerge over time. One area is the sensors that are being installed in networks such as electricity, the environment, roads and other infrastructure. more

Where Should the Telcos Jump Next?

With declining revenues now across all of the major revenue segments -- something in the order of $25 billion worldwide -- it is 2 minutes to 12 and the industry needs to act. Unlike previous situations, this time there is no large money-spinner around the corner for the telcos, such as we saw in previous situations when broadband and mobile came to the rescue. more

Telecoms - Where Will the Money Come From?

With the arrival of mobile saturation stagnation is occurring in telecoms revenue growth in most developed telecoms markets. Voice traffic is increasingly moving onto IP-based systems, which are either free or at very low cost to its users. This is taking place on both the fixed and mobile networks. While in the case of corporate and government organisations nearly all fixed voice traffic has moved to IP-based systems, in the SME and consumer market this has not been the case. more

Wireless Broadband vs Fixed Broadband - The Story Continues

This never-ending story is used by opportunistic telcos and their lobbyists to confuse the issue in order to gain regulatory or political advantage. The debate is now raging again in the USA. In an attempt to talk down their monopolistic position in the market the three telcos - and this time in particular, Comcast - are claiming that real competition does in fact exist in the American broadband market, citing competition from the mobile 4G LTE services as an example. more

Net Neutrality Undermining Spreads to Developing Countries

After the USA set the bad example of allowing telcos to start charging different rates for content delivery services, other incumbent telcos elsewhere are only too happy to jump on the bandwagon and use the American example as a reason and an excuse to end net neutrality (NN) in their countries also. As did their American counterparts they too see this as another way to grab some extra monopolistic income. more

The Next New Media: Typewriters and Handwritten Letters

Who would have thought that typewriters and handwritten letters would ever be back in fashion? But back in 2013 it was reported that Russia was buying large quantities of typewriters. When this was further investigated the country denied that this was for security reasons. Since the Snowden revelations there has been a further rush on typewriters, both by government officials and by a range of, mainly corporate, businesses. more

Let American Telcos and Cablecos Merge - But Declare Infrastructure a Utility

While there is much discussion in the United States about the mergers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and of AT&T and DirectTV, issues such as this are generally discussed from a very narrow perspective and, we maintain, from the wrong underlying telecoms regime operating in that country - one that has stifled competition in the telecoms for nearly two decades. The same wrong parameters apply to the endless debates on net neutrality an issue that is, by the way, largely of significance to the US market alone. more

The Demand and Supply Imbalance in Telecoms

You can't open a newspaper today, listen to the radio, or watch TV without hearing about the enormous explosion in the use of telecommunications technology - be it fixed or mobile broadband, the internet, social media, smartphones, tablets, wearables, IoT, cloud computing, the list is endless... Yet, at the same time, many telcos and ISPs are struggling to maintain their profitability. This defies economic logic. more

Market-Led Demand for FttH Is Picking Up

With more than 100 countries now involved in the rollout of FttH there is increased evidence that commercial demand exists for this infrastructure. In developed economies FttH demand will, over the next 5 years, grow to between 30%-50% of the population. Competition aimed at the top end of this market will trigger a broader rollout. A Bernstein study of Google's rollout of FttH in Kansas City concluded that the penetration measured by them was much higher than they had expected. more

Positive Outlook for Investments in Backbones

When talking about the problems of attracting infrastructure funds to the telecoms industry, I would make one exception; that is backbone infrastructure... We increasingly describes mobile networks as fibre networks with a wireless access component. This clearly indicates the need for fixed backbone network capacity, eventually all the way to the street. more

The Two Sides of Net Neutrality

Over the last decade or so the telecoms industry has been at loggerheads with the content providers and distributors (OTT companies) regarding the use of the infrastructure by the OTT players. On one side we have the people arguing for net neutrality (leave the OTT players alone), and on the other we have the telcos wanting to charge certain players for using their network. The whole issue came to a head, when in mid April the FCC decided to allow telecom operators (or ISPs as they are called in the USA) to charge content providers for higher quality services. more

Peering and Interconnection Key to a Competitive American Telecoms Market

Peering has come back in the news with the FCC mentioning it in its set of reviews of the telecommunications market in the USA, following its Network Neutrality decision. The peering and interconnect issues are going to the heart of the telecoms matter in relation to competition, innovation and the Open Network. You don't need Network Neutrality rules, if you have a well functioning, transparent, interoperable and competitive infrastructure environment. more

Telecoms Still Not Seen As Good Infrastructure Investment

It is interesting that when governments and financial investors, such as superannuation funds, talk about infrastructure investments and infrastructure investment funds they rarely include telecommunications in their deliberations... Most politicians and infrastructure investors have problems seeing telecoms infrastructure in that context. From a visionary and strategic aspect one could argue that, at a political level at least, telecoms should be seen as, and included in any policies on, national infrastructure. more

Internet Governance Back in the Limelight

In my special role as adviser to the UN Broadband Commission I reported extensively in 2013 on the WCIT-12 conference in Dubai. Unfortunately the world disagreed on a way forward in relation to internet governance. However, despite all the grandstanding of the USA and its western allies, simply ignoring it and saying "there is no room for governments to be involved in internet governance" - will not make the issue go away. more

The Rise and Rise of Broadband in China

While there are plenty of articles continuously updating us on the incredible social and economic developments that are taking place in China it is still sometimes good to stand still and have a look at some of these developments. It was 15 years ago that the Chinese Government - in its 5-year plan - stated that it wanted to connect all of its half million villages to the telecommunications network. At that point the plan simply called for narrowband telephone connections. more

Aligning Broadband and Healthcare

For many years I have been saying that in order to generate business cases that will support the developments of national broadband networks it is necessary to take into account the social and economic benefits of such investments. The reality is that these benefits do not show up on the balance sheets of the traditional telecoms infrastructure companies and this is a key reason they are reluctant to make such investments. more

The Seriously Flawed American Telecoms Market

The recent decision regarding the end of Network Neutrality (NN) in the USA is based on a totally flawed telecoms policy. Once the foundation of a telecoms 'house' is fundamentally wrong, whatever is built on top of that will basically collapse at a certain point. The market fundamentals in the USA are so wrong that any initiative to improve broadband access, fibre roll-outs, infrastructure competition or telecoms and transactor innovation, will either fail or have a minimal impact. more

Google’s Acquisition of Nest and Smart Homes

Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs will allow the company to further infiltrate people's lives, not just via their smartphones but now also via a range of home appliances. It is a logical development for the digital media giant and based on their record of innovation we can expect a range of interesting products and services, also known as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and the Internet of Things (IoT), to enter this market. more

Broadband and Household Income

Both broadband access and broadband speed positively affect household incomes, according to an analysis by Ericsson in conjunction with Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. This study is a continuation of earlier work by these partners on the impact of broadband. The earlier research concerned broadband's effects on the gross domestic product of entire countries; this study, "Socioeconomic Effects of Broadband Speed: a Microeconomic Investigation," examines the effects on individual households. more

Developed Economies Not Ready for an ICT-Driven Recovery

Some interesting but disturbing messages are emanating from Europe and America. With countries slowly coming out of the economic crisis and employment picking up again, it has become clear that the new jobs becoming available are driven by companies operating in the digital economy; very few of the 'old jobs' will become available. Many people in western countries are unprepared for this change and many new skills that are required are simply not available in sufficient numbers to counter the downfall in employment that has occurred over the last five years. more

Internet Is Transforming Governments and Politics

All round the world we are seeing massive social changes in the way people interact with their leaders and with their political elite. In many cases governments and politicians seem to be behaving as though they are immune to the changes that are following on from these new grassroots-based democratic processes. They often do mention reforms and recommend reforms, but there is an equal need for them to transform their own sector and their own way of conducting politics and government. This applies to both the political leaders in developed and the developing economies. more

Global Technical Internet Related Issues That Need Fixing

Given its engineering background, many positive contributions can be made by the engineering community in the broader ICT world to assist in addressing some of the broader internet issues, often addressed within the more limited telecoms environment.. Of course some of this is already happening; however much more work would be needed to strengthen the technical foundations of the internet. Just as an example, the type of issues that could be addressed by a broader ICT engineering foundation could include... more

The Rapidly Changing Governance Environment of International Telecoms

Late last year I participated in the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-2012) in Dubai, organised by the UN agency the ITU. I reported extensively on that event, which was aimed at updating the International Telecommunications Regulations... From the outset there were several reasons WCIT might fail, not the least of which was the fact that the various technological, political and regulatory issues facing the new much broader telecoms environment were not sufficiently separated and so could not be addressed in a rational and systematic manner. more

Telecoms as a Spying Tool

With more and more stories coming in from all over the world about the prolific use of telecommunications to spy on what people are doing, the ball has been thrown back into the industry's court, to do something about it. In principle, ever since telecoms came into existence in the 1850s spying was high on the agenda of the people who started to use the new technology. In 1865 countries formed the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This later became the first institution under the UN and all countries in the world are a member. more

VDSL Cabinet Consideration for FttN Roll Outs

Australia will be an interesting test market for VDSL. With a new government and the broadband infrastructure company NBN Co basically in agreement, it is most likely that VDSL will be used to bring for example fast broadband to multi-dwelling units (MDUs). It was mainly for political reasons that the previous government stopped NBN Co deploying the VDSL technology in MDUs for this purpose. Whether or not any more VDSL will be deployed beyond that will largely depend on the NBN Co review of its current plan.  more

Mobiles Moving Into Fixed Networks

There are often confused reports in the media about mobile and fixed broadband, with arguments that one could replace the other. Yet the reality is that they coexist and complement each other - perhaps even more so since one cannot manage without the other. Increasingly, devices such as smartphones, tablets and smart TVs are at the end of fixed lines, with a wireless (WiFi) connection between the fixed line and the device. more

Telecoms a Double-Edged Sword for the Industry

The telecommunications business is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it is an enormous growth industry because of its function as a key facilitator in the transformation of societies and economies towards a future that is driven more and more by ICT developments. Over the last decade companies such as Google, Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Facebook have made it to the list of the most successful businesses... On the other hand many of the traditional telco businesses operating in this market are recording declining results. more

Travelogue Broadband Experiences

Throughout this year I have once again travelled extensively through USA, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Naturally, being in this industry I watch closely the various developments in broadband, mobile and WiFi. When you are travelling obtaining access is never far from one's mind. This also provides good opportunities to compare what is available, where, what the quality is, and so on. Looking back over many years there is no doubt that, no matter where you travel, there has been incredible progress. more

How Safe is FttH?

My blog 'What PRISM, credit card hacking and Chromecast have to do with FttH' led to some very interesting discussions all around the world. One of issues that was discussed was that the sheer capacity of FttH will also allow hackers, criminals and others to use that massive capacity for the wrong reasons. Its volume will make it increasingly difficult to police. more

Chromecast Set to Revolutionise the TV

The principle behind Chromecast is probably the magic formula that is needed to finally revolutionise television watching. Google's latest product was launched yesterday... TV revolution didn't come from the traditional broadcasters or their suppliers. Everything developed by them has been aimed more at protecting their traditional business than at looking for completely new opportunities - truly new TV innovations will most certainly come from the direction that the broader market has taken since the arrival of the smartphones and the tablets. more

How to Manage and Secure Big Data

Several developments are coming together in cloud computing that are creating shockwaves throughout society and in the economy. Over the last five years we have seen the debate about cloud computing hotting up. There was the hype around the new development at the same time as warnings regarding security and privacy, and for a while the market seemed subdued about the new development. However the economic reality of cloud computing meant that enterprises and government bureaucracies had little choice but to move ahead with cloud computing... more

The Bandwidth Bank

This is a topic that we have discussed on several occasions over the last decade, but it now seems as though things are slowly moving forward. A new company, Intabank, has set up a service whereby its enterprise customers can pool bandwidth that the intermediate company can then use to sell to other customers; enabling organisations to monetise their network connectivity assets. more

Urgent Need to Revisit Internet Governance (WCIT-12)

Developments over the past few months - and especially the revelations about the spying work of the NSA on friendly governments and their people and businesses - show how important it is to try and establish some high-level strategies relating to managing the governance of the internet. While companies like Google have been lobbying hard against WCIT-12 - basically because they are opposed to any government interference in the internet - the reality is that, clearly without their knowledge, their own American government through the NSA is already directly interfering in their network. more

FCC Change of Chairman: Opportunities to Advance Telecoms in America

It is always the case that change brings with it new opportunities, and the change in the FCC chair will be no exception to this rule. But we have learned since President Obama came to power that we should not have too high an expectation of such a change. In my discussions with the US Administration, the White House and the FCC I have never come across any major disagreement about my views on the future of telecommunications. more

The Issue of Market-Initiated Competition in Telecoms

Many political discussions are taking place all over the world about how to best stimulate national or provincial telecommunications infrastructure investments against the background of current market dynamics. In this context the question often revolves around whether there is a market failure and, if so, does the government have a role to play here to address the matter, or can it be left for the market to sort out. more

The Pros and Cons of Vectoring

Vectoring is an extension of DSL technology that employs the coordination of line signals to reduce crosstalk levels to improve performance. It is based on the concept of noise cancellation: the technology analyses noise conditions on copper lines and creates a cancelling anti-noise signal. While data rates of up to 100Mb/s are achievable, as with all DSL-based services this is distance related: the maximum available bit rate is possible at a range of about 300-400 meters. more

America Closing Down Its Copper Network - So What’s Next?

We have reported in the past on the rapid decline of the copper telecoms network in the USA. A decade ago BuddeComm predicted that it would be impossible to move two customer access networks in parallel towards the new fibre future, the one operated by the telcos and the other operated by the cable companies. At that stage we indicated that a possible outcome could be that the telcos would upgrade their networks to FttH and that the cable companies would become the key tenants on that network. more

Tom Wheeler - New FCC Chairman

After a political and administrative process of more than a month Tom Wheeler has finally been nominated by President Obama as the new chairman of the FCC with the full support of Congress. Unlike other regulators around the world the FCC is directly accountable to the American Congress, making it a far more political body than most other regulators. I have known Tom since 1983. He is an enormously energetic person and has been involved in the ICT industry for most of his working life, holding very senior positions within the American industry. more

Why Most Discussions for Fibre Optic Infrastructure Take Place from the Wrong Perspective

Fibre-based infrastructure requires vision and recognition of the fact that many of today's social, economic and sustainability problems can only be solved with the assistance of information and communications technology (ICT). In many situations the capacity, robustness, security and quality necessary for this calls for fibre optic infrastructures. This need will increase dramatically over the next 5 to 10 years as industries and whole sectors (healthcare, energy, media, retail) carry out the process of transforming themselves in order to much better address the challenges ahead. more

Will LTE Steal the Broadband Revolution?

There is no doubt that LTE is going to take a prime position in broadband developments. With competitively priced services, innovative smartphones and an increasing range of very innovative apps this market is set to continue to boom. So how will all this impact the overall broadband market? ...this is not an 'us or them' issue between fixed and mobile broadband. As a matter of fact, the companies that are rolling out LTE are increasingly dependent on deep fibre rollouts as they need to handle massive amounts of data, to which the mobile infrastructure technology is not well-suited. more

Questions About the Robustness of Mobile Networks

With mobile phones having become a utility, people are beginning to rely completely on mobile services for a large range of communications. All mobile users, however, are aware of some level of unreliability in these phone systems. Blackspots remain all around the country, not just outside the cities, and in busy areas the quality of the service goes down rather quickly. Drop-outs are another fairly common occurrence of mobile services. more

Observations in and Around the UN Broadband Commission

The 7th meeting of the UN Broadband Commission in Mexico City was again a good combination of announcements about new plans, results of previously undertaken activities, and views on the future of broadband. Very noticeable was the enthusiasm and acknowledgement of the impact of ICT, and of broadband in particular. In September 2012 the Commission launched its working group on gender equality. Research undertaken by the various members of the workgroup provided somewhat similar results. more

Fiber to the Home: ‘Awesome’ - But What Is Its Purpose?

Two approaches can be taken towards the development of Fiber to the Home (FttH). One is all about its commercial potential - the sale of the most awesome commercial applications in relation to video entertainment, gaming and TV. The other is a perhaps more sophisticated approach - from the perspective of social and economic development. Of course the two are not mutually exclusive. more

Technology Fights Against Extreme Poverty

One of the good things about participating in the meetings of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development is seeing the amazing impact our industry has on the daily lives of literally billions of people. While everybody - including us - is talking about healthcare, education and the great applications that are becoming available in these sectors, the real revolution is taking place at a much lower level. more

The End of HFC and FttN Networks is Approaching

In the global telecoms industry, it looks as though 2013 will be remembered as the year when construction of new greenfield HFC networks came to a halt. Of course, there will still be upgrades to existing networks but the cost of fibre deployment -- linked to its much lower operational cost -- is now convincing cablecos and telcos alike to build new fibre networks wherever possible. This is not necessarily directly driven by customer demand, but by network costs and network efficiencies. more

Broadband - The American Way

There have been some interesting discussions recently regarding the status of broadband in the USA. On the one hand there are those who maintain that most people have access to high-speed networks, in particular HFC services based on the DOCSIS 3.0 standard. Theoretically, the standard can deliver speeds of 100Mb/s, or higher, but in practice most customers subscribe to, or have access to, far lower speeds. more

WCIT-12 Disappoints, More Work to Be Done

In the end it was a disappointment that the treaty on International Telecommunications regulations (ITRs) that had been under negotiation for two weeks at WCIT-12 was not acceptable to 55 countries, and that, as a consequence, these countries did not sign the final version of the international treaty (89 did sign). After two weeks of sometimes fractious negotiation - 1,275 proposals were discussed in all - the contentious issues were significantly watered down. However the dissenting countries felt that the key issue - anything in relation to the internet - should not be included at all and, quite correctly, did not compromise on that. more

WCIT - So Far So Good - Recap of Week One

So far the world has survived WCIT-12 and the internet has not been taken over by anybody. So, in the end, what was all the fuss about? Those who have followed my reporting on these issues from the very beginning more than a year ago - long before the media frenzy on this topic started - will have seen that we never took the sensational approach. We fully understood the issues that were emerging, but at the same time we could also place them in the right context, to explore how they should be addressed. more

WCIT’s Security Issues

Another contentious issue at the WCIT in Dubai is 'security'. There has been a dramatic increase in nervousness regarding a whole range of security issues, especially in relation to the internet. They include: SPAM, denial-of-service-attacks, identity theft, cybercrime, cyberwarfare, and privacy issues on social media. From the list above it is clear that some of these issues are related to content, while some can be classified as national security and others as criminal offences. In other words, there is no clear-cut issue on what constitutes security. more

How Can WCIT Assist in Connecting the Rest of the World?

A key element of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) is to connect the people around the world who are not yet connected. These are people in developing economies, but also people in rural areas within developed economies, as well as the 650 million people with disabilities. The question is whether the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) that are being discussed at WCIT can assist in this. If we go back to 1988, when the current ITRs were first established, the focus was on access and interoperability. more

Industry Structure at the Core of WCIT Problems

At the WCIT in Dubai it is interesting to follow the debates surrounding the many issues being addressed at this world congress. There are the issues of internet governance in the broadest sense of the word - these have received widespread attention. But if we look at the core issues that an organisation such as the ITU can address then the scope widens - to topics such as the rules for the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), and particularly those in relation to the rules for rates and charges. more

WCIT Off to a Flying Start

This is the report on Day One of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), directly from Dubai. The conference started off in a positive way that did not reflect the sometimes bitter debate that has taken place in the press in recent months - although, of course, there was a great deal of discussion about the comments made in the press over that period. All comments were welcomed, as an indication of the importance of the internet and telecommunications; nevertheless the Secretary-General, Hamadoun Touré, was clearly critical of some of the deliberate misinformation that has been spread before the conference. more

Report on the Eve of WCIT

Hello, from Dubai where the WCIT (World Conference on International Telecommunications) - under the auspices of the United Nations agency, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) - is set to get underway... There is a great deal of jockeying for position taking place, and it is interesting to walk through the corridors and listen to what is going on. more

The Real Work Starts After WCIT12

The really important part of the World Conference on IT (WCIT) is not the internet battles that have caught the interest of the press - it is what will happen after the conference has ended. Membership of WCIT is on a per-country basis... Each country is free to make up its own delegation and these delegations can therefore represent a large variety of social, economic, business, legal, technical and other interests - as large and as wide as each country decides its delegation will be. more

Who Is Going to Dominate the Internet?

While the internet has brought about the transformation of whole industry sectors and generated thousands of business models, as well as changing social behaviour, it is at the same time creating its own giants and dominant players. Does this mean that while certain vested interests are demolished, and others transform themselves into smaller sectors and organisations, new conglomerates will surface? Only time will tell more

Telcos Cannot Wind Back the Clock

The proposals by the European and Arab telcos that are being considered at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) conference in Dubai later this year are most certainly facing defeat. This is not because the USA believes that the international telecommunications regulations (ITR) cannot be discussed by the ITU. America has a rather strange set of national regulations in which they have combined internet infrastructure and content -- and as such they claim that this no longer has anything to do with telecommunications. more

Is the WCIT Indeed Wicked?

The traditional network operators see OTT services as a threat, and the companies offering them are perceived to be getting a free lunch over their networks - they are calling for international regulation. In particular, the European telcos (united in ETNO) have been claiming that this undermines their investment in infrastructure and they want to use the WCIT conference in Dubai later this year to lobby for regulatory changes that would see certain levies being levied - something that is strenuously opposed by, among others, the USA and the APAC countries. more

Rebalancing Telco Infrastructure Investments

One of the reasons telecommunications has been so successful for more than 160 years is that it adopted a strategy that resulted in a seamless network all around the world. You can pick up a phone anywhere in the world and, with little or no instruction, make a call to anybody else in the world without worrying what phones and technology they are using on the other end of the line... But during that process the nature of the network operators changed. more

National Broadband, Leadership or Procrastination

There is no doubt that any national infrastructure plan of the magnitude of national broadband networks as they are currently rolled out in 9 countries and which policies have been put in place in another 110 countries will have questions attached to it. Furthermore, this infrastructure is being developed for the digital economy, which, in itself, is a fast-moving world. Five years ago there were no smartphones, tablets, mobile apps or smart TVs. more

Mobile Infrastructure Running Out of Steam

The enormous growth in mobile usage, doubling each year, is set to continue for several years in a row. According to Ericsson, by 2020 mobile operators will need to provide one thousand times the capacity that was required in 2010. Our assessment at BuddeComm is that the mobile industry has already fallen behind in delivering the capacity needed today, let alone coping with the enormous growth ahead; and that this situation will deteriorate before it improves. more

The Role of Mobile Broadband in the Overall Telecoms Market

The fixed broadband network is the infrastructure needed to meet the needs, both economic and societal, of developed markets. While some people in some developed markets have abandoned their fixed telephone connection in favour of all-mobile solutions, the majority (90% plus) still have both a fixed and a mobile connection... And so wireless broadband and FttH will develop, in a complementary and harmonious way. There are several reasons for this. more

Shifting Clouds

There have been some interesting developments in cloud computing over the last year. For over five years our position has been that we acknowledge the enormous economic advantages that cloud computing has to offer, but at the same time recognise that the risk of losing control over data and IT systems is, at this stage, too great for most companies and governments to start utilising the cloud advantages in a serious way. more

Are We Giving Up On Broadband Equality?

One of the worldwide challenges in relation to the development of national broadband networks is equality. Broadband is critical for the digital infrastructure and it is essential that everybody enjoys the same level of quality and affordability. This is a major challenge and as a rough measuring stick approximately one-third of the people in developed economies would miss out if there were not a requirement for equality. We see some of the problems related to this issue arising in other countries. more

Internet Challenges Need Win-Win Solutions

The current internet versus telcos debate that is going to be played out at the WCIT conference in Dubai later this year is still following the old confrontational pattern. The telco industry, for all the right reasons, started off as a monopolistic one. With the limited technology and knowledge of that time this system has been able to deliver telephone networks to all the countries in the world, and the industry can be proud of that achievement... However technology and knowledge have progressed... more

OpenFlow - The Programmable Network Revolution

Over the past few months I have made regular references to OpenFlow. This is an exciting new development that fits in very well with several of the next generation technology developments that we have discussed in some detail over the past few years -- new developments such smart cities and smart societies, the internet of things. Such networks need to operate more on a horizontal level, rather than the usual vertical connection between a computing device and the users. more

Disruptive Google Fiber Is Shaking up the Telco World

The Google Fiber project is receiving international attention. This in itself is a good thing, since it brings the benefits of high-speed FttH infrastructure to the attention of large numbers of people in business and government who will not have to deal with such developments on a regular basis... At the same time we have to look at Google Fiber from the point of view of operating in the American regulatory environment. Yes, we can all learn from its disruptive model, and particularly when the results of the more innovative elements of the services begin to kick in; but for other reasons there is no way that this model can be replicated elsewhere. more

Some of the World’s Largest Investors Are Investing in FttH

While some governments are still struggling with the concept of FttH - some of the world's largest investors such as the Dutch superannuation funds (ABP, PGGM and Pensioenfonds Vervoer (PfV)), have been investing in FttH in the Netherlands since 2010. This is happening in a country with a broadband cable network that covers 95% of the country and nationwide access to ADSL2+ networks. more

Broadband Demand-Side Management

Countries, cities and commercial organisations around the globe are facing problems associated with the rollout of fibre-to-the-home networks... We have been warning about these issues for well over a decade. The problem arises because the telecoms industry has been based on the principle 'build and they will come'. more

Medical Body Area Networks

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington has advanced its wireless health care agenda by adopting rules that will enable Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs), low-power wideband networks consisting of multiple body-worn sensors that transmit a variety of patient data to a control device. MBANs provide a cost effective way to monitor every patient in a healthcare institution, so clinicians can provide real-time and accurate data which allows them to intervene if necessary. more

Is the Future of the Internet at Risk?

The debate about the control of the internet is intensifying, with interesting discussions expected later on this year in Dubai at the WCIT conference organised by the ITU. Over the last 25 years the industry has moved from being mainly telephony-based to being mainly IP-based, and many say that what is now at stake is the future of the internet as we know it at this point in time... The reality now is that the political stakes of the internet have risen significantly. more

Case Studies from the UN Broadband Commission

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development, in partnership with ITU, has released its first country case studies looking in-depth at the state of broadband development in four economies and examining links between broadband and the UN Millennium Development Goals. The case studies look at the effect of broadband connectivity on economic growth and access to basic services like education and health. They offer regulatory guidance and best practices, showcasing success stories and lessons learned. more

Communications and the London Olympics

Communications will be one of the most critical areas during the London Olympic Games. The industry is working to establish shared access networks -- would it not be nice if they did this everywhere, all the time? They are also working very closely with British Olympic Association, London Transport, the broadcasters and content providers. Mobile coverage will be the biggest shared infrastructure in the world. more

Carlos Slim Puts Bomb Under European Telecoms Market

The Mexican telecoms and broadcasting magnate Carlos Slim -- the wealthiest man in the world and owner of the business conglomerate Grupo Carso -- has put a 28% bid for the Netherlands' incumbent telco KPN on the table. This is a very interesting and significant move. As is often the case, new winners tend to arrive when previous winners become losers, especially when they are becoming weaker and thus easier to attack. more

Are Banks Finally Taking E-Payments Seriously?

For the first time ever bankers have launched an EFTPOS advertising campaign. Could this be an indication that they are becoming worried about the competition they are getting from internet companies such as PayPal, Amazon, Google and Apple (iTunes)? The digital economy is growing much faster than the bricks-and-mortar economy and, while EFTPOS is not going away anytime soon, an increasingly large amount of money is now bypassing their systems. more

Open Systems Lead to ‘Economies of Scope’

The 'economies of scope' is an appealing concept implying that if we share knowledge in an open way we can create new, healthy economies that do not just depend on 'scale'. As we have seen, over the last decade in particular, some of the companies that are trying to achieve exponential growth can endanger the economy and society in general - the global financial crisis surrounding the large financial institutions, the scandals around News Corp, the political lobbying (bullying) by the super rich and the destruction of the environment by some developers. more

Intune Collapses the OSI Model

While a great deal of attention has recently been paid to the enormous amount of change that is taking place at the edge of the network with smartphones, tablets, apps, Web2.0 etc, massive changes are also underway on the network side. The current network has been designed over a period of thirty years and it is due for a serious overhaul to keep abreast of changes in the industry in general. more

Spectrum Key to Broadband Utility

The explosion in mobile communications in the developing world has created social and economic changes that have exceeded all expectations and predictions -- even those made as recently as five years ago. There are still countries lagging behind, but now is the time to move on to the next stage -- and that means broadband. Already the developed world is showing an enormous appetite for mobile broadband, so the demand is most certainly there. The rapid development of low cost Smartphone, projected to approach $50 soon... more

The Internet Monopoly

People are increasingly becoming aware of the emerging 'internet monopoly'. Companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and many the other (local) social network and media sites are becoming so large and powerful that they can dictate the use of their services in such a way that people lose control over their own information and their participation in these networks. ... These digital media developments certainly did happen, but they are not founded on the 'permission-based' principles that we advocated during all those years. more

Only Structural Change Can Save the Mobile Industry

I regularly bring this issue forward, similar to the discussion in relation to the structural separation of the fixed networks, which I began just over a decade ago. What we are seeing in the mobile industry is an infrastructure and a spectrum crunch. The amount of spectrum needed to satisfy people's demand from mobile phones, tablets and soon a range of other smart devices is limitless. Mobile carriers are scrambling for spectrum... more

The Issue Is the Digital Economy, Not Broadband

After some five years of public debate on the national broadband network it is heartening to see that more and more people are getting the message that the network means more than just fast internet access. Increasingly key decision-makers in business and government are reaching an understanding of the transformation that is underway in the economy. more

US Telecoms Market Further Deteriorating

Some worrying signs are emerging in the USA. During the last decade I have questioned the economic viability of two parallel telecoms infrastructures. When these two network rollouts commenced no issue existed in relation to conflicting interests -- one delivered telephone services, the other broadcasting services. But this all began to change when it became possible to use the HFC network more

Mobile Broadband Boom: The Killer App for FttH

It still amazes us that respected industry commentators join liberal politicians in questioning the need for FttH in the wake of the enormous success of mobile broadband. They refer to this phenomenon as proof that people are bypassing their fixed broadband and are now using the smartphones and tablets to obtain most of their broadband access. However, after several years of mobile boom the majority of households are still using the fixed-line networks for calls... more

Broadband in Emerging Markets

Today, over half the world's population now has access to a mobile phone, with 5.37 billion mobile subscriptions and over two billion internet users worldwide by the end of 2010. However, these are more than just bald statistics -- today, modern ICTs are genuinely changing people's lives for the better. more

Spotlight on TD-LTE Technology and Spectrum

As handheld devices grow ever more sophisticated and demand for content-rich services such as mobile video increases, mobile data traffic is likely to continue growing at an explosive rate. This represents good news for the industry, but next-generation wireless technologies will need to be ready to meet the challenge and able to cope with these increased demands on bandwidth. A recent TD-LTE spectrum workshop looked at the potential of TD-LTE technology to take us on to the next stage of wireless communication. more

The Impressive Growth in Global Internet Stats (2011)

The ITU launched its latest statistics report, the World in 2011: ICT Facts and figures, which revealed impressive growth in a number of areas such as global internet use, particularly in developing countries. The report included further key details such as: "One third of the world's population are forecast to be online by the end of 2011..." more

The Governance of the Internet

Among the hottest topics at the Broadband Leadership Summit, which was held during the ITU Telecom World 2011 in Geneva, were the issues in relation to the security of the various aspects of the digital economy. The key issue in relation to the governance of the internet relates to the many political, social and cultural differences between countries. This is one of the most contentious issues. more

The Internet of Things and User-Generated Internet Energy

One of the key factors in the transformation of the telecommunications industry was the fact that, thanks to the internet, end-users were suddenly able to become active participants in generating content for both private and public use. Companies such as Google, Amazon, eBay, Skype and Apple, followed by a number of national and international social media companies, all became involved in these new developments, and they became the great game-changers of the industry. Telecoms companies were caught off guard... more

No Broadband - Lower Real Estate Sales

A survey conducted by US company Comcast Business Class found 90% of building owners and property managers felt that broadband is the most important selling point in the commercial real estate market behind price, parking and location. more

Analysis of Wireless Broadband Plan in 2nd Stimulus Package

While it was good to see that the Administration included telecoms in its new stimulus package - which was launched in September 2011 - the concerns expressed when the project was announced last year still persist. Wireless is not a solution to the significant broadband problems the USA is facing. ... The new plan seems to be driven more by the failed attempts in previous initiatives to roll out more broadband infrastructure. more

Mobile: The Major Battleground

Interesting developments in the USA, Australia and New Zealand are giving some insight into the future direction of the mobile industry. In May BuddeComm reported proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile as a major threat to competition in the USA. This was viewed as a very obvious issue, and that under normal circumstances such a deal would be rejected by the FCC. But circumstances are no longer normal... more

Google Is NOT Moving Into the Mobile Phone Business

It might appear paradoxical for Google to buy a company for $12 billion and to then not move into that business, but I believe this is the strategy supporting that company's purchase of Motorola Mobility. As many have already pointed out, the value of Motorola resides in its patents. For more than a decade this company has been a fading star... more

The Need for Major Structural Changes

In keeping with the discussion that I have been involved in over the last decade, 'structural changes' should be today's key phrase - not just for the telecoms sector but for every sector in our economies. It has been clear for a long time that structural change is well overdue. It doesn't really matter which sector you pick, you will see that some of these reform debates go back at least a decade - and often longer -- in healthcare, education, environment, energy, finance and banking and media. more

Is FttH Future-Proof Infrastructure?

Telecoms engineers from all of the major telecoms services and equipment companies around the world agree that FttH is the only future-proof telecommunications technology. So who should we trust - the technology experts or politicians with different agendas? If there had been a division of opinion among these experts it would have been necessary to investigate it; but if they are all in agreement it is safe to follow their advice. more

FttH Is Not About High-Speed Internet Access - It Is About the Internet of Things

The future of our communications infrastructure will to a very large extent be based on the Internet of Things (IoT). What this means is that hundreds of millions of devices will be connected to the national broadband networks (NBN), gathering massive amounts of information and providing feedback in real time. In any single country, the electricity grid alone will have tens of millions of sensors and devices connected to deliver the energy efficiencies that we all so desperately need. more

Cloud Brokerage and Other Business Opportunities

The market for cloud computing is getting more interesting every day. There is still a long way to go, as the success of cloud computing depends not only on high-speed networks, but also on capacity, robustness, affordability, low latency, ubiquity, security, privacy and reliability. Of course, the ideal infrastructure would be nationwide FttH networks, but obviously we can't wait for that... more

Desperate Attempts to Drag the USA Into the Digital Economy

In the USA an interesting initiative has been taken by a number of leaders in the telco industry who are frustrated with the inability of the country to start building the high-speed broadband infrastructure that is needed for the development of its digital economy. While the Obama Administration has the right vision to make this happen - and the American National Broadband Plan is a good example of this - the dysfunctional political state of the country makes it impossible to establish the industry transformation needed to make this happen. more

America Planning for the Closure of Its Copper Network

In an interesting move the FCC's Technical Advisory Council has outlined the need for setting a 'sunset' date for the closure of the circuit switched network. This is a first step that eventually could lead to the replacement of the PSTN in the USA, rather than letting the network slowly fade into oblivion the FCC proposes the bring the issue in the open so that it can be properly evaluated and discussed. more

World First: Merger of a Telco and a Power Company

I have long been advocating that new business models, based on a trans-sector approach (breaking down silos), need to be developed in a rapidly changing green and digital economy. I very much welcome the vision of two American companies, who have not just talked about it but have actually done it. As far as I know, Hancock Telecom and Central Indiana Power in the USA are the first telco and power company to merge in order to reap the benefits of converging and transforming industries. more

M-Commerce Market in China and Globally

M-commerce (mobile e-commerce) incorporates a range of mobile-driven applications, including payments for parking and theatre tickets (m-payments) to mobile banking (m-banking). M-commerce is a broad field incorporating a large variety of services and business models. In 2011, according to Gartner Group, over 15 billion apps are expected to be downloaded worldwide via app stores. They also estimated app store revenues alone reached over $5 billion in 2010 (incorporating revenue generated from both apps purchases and advertising). more

Mobile Consolidation - A Threat to Competition

The global financial crisis and the very rapid growth in mobile broadband, thanks to smartphones, have combined to create havoc in the mobile market. On the one hand, we see that customers, especially those in countries seriously affected by the GFC, such as Southern Europe and Ireland, have reduced their mobile use, with the result that there has been a significant drop in Average Revenue per User (ARPU). On the other hand, phenomenal growth has taken place in mobile broadband, but without a significant increase in ARPU... more

Hong Kong is the Fastest Internet Region in the World

In Akamai Technologies' "State of the Internet" report for Q4 2010 Hong Kong (as a region/country) was identified as the market with the fastest average peak internet connection speed in the world. Hong Kong fixed line users can access the internet with an average peak speed of 37.9Mb/s, ahead of South Korea at 32.3Mb/s, Romania at 31.7Mb/s and Japan at 30.5Mb/s. more

Report on Smart Grid Cyber Security

A recent report from Pike Research, "Smart Grid Cyber Security" has found if smart grids can realize their full potential, consumers, utilities, nations, and even the earth itself will benefit. As with nearly any new technology, the industry focus has been on getting smart grids up and running, often with little consideration for cyber security issues. more

Interest Grows for Video-On-Demand Opportunities

With the DVD rental market continuing to dwindle, we are again seeing interest emerge for online video-on-demand, with both the large Hollywood Studies and online content distributors making recent strategic moves in this direction. ... A sign of the times came with the 2010 bankruptcy of Blockbuster, once one of the largest move rental companies. more

Unlimited Bandwidth is Disrupting Infrastructure Models

Over the last ten years we have heard a lot about edge-based services. These were needed to enable the operation of applications at the edge of the network, as the lack of available bandwidth capacity made it difficult to do so over the core network. However, with the prospect of limitless bandwidth the design of the network is changing again. more

VoIP Services Market Nears $50 Billion Mark

Market research firm Infonetics Research this week released VoIP and UC Services and Subscribers, a market share and forecast report that includes two Business VoIP Service Provider Scorecards that will be published later this year, and an IP Centrex Provider Tracker highlighting deployments by provider, region, service, and platform. more

North American Broadband Trends

The broadband sector, like the wireless sector, is one of the strongest growth areas of telecommunications. Unlike most OECD countries, where DSL tends to dominate, the majority of subscribers in the US fixed broadband market are cable subscribers. During 2010 the gap continued to widen as the cable companies accounted for 70% of new broadband subscribers compared to the telcos' 30%. Although new broadband networks such as FttH and WiMAX are being widely deployed, broadband competition in each region is still generally limited to one DSL and one cable operator. more

Cloud Services Drive Data Center Markets

Research from Infonetics shows that last year was a strong year for data centre network equipment sales, due to a rebound from bare-bones 2009 spending levels and, more importantly, fundamental trends favouring investments in the data centre, such as the explosion of content and traffic, use of virtualization, and increasingly, cloud-based services and architectures. more

We Need Smarter Governments to Manage a Changing Global Environment

The natural disasters, climate change and widespread social and economic crises that are taking place in the world today show that the human race needs to become smarter. The urban revolution that succeeded the Neolithic agricultural revolution has allowed us to build new city-based civilisations that are conducive to innovation and information-gathering in all aspects of life and beyond. While amazing civilisations have come and gone over the last 10,000 years it is only since the 20th century that we have seen a real explosion in the urbanisation process, leading to a doubling of the global population. more

Quake Damage in Japan

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan rocked the northeastern portion of the coast. The quake was the strongest to hit Japan in at least a century, sending a tsunami that flooded northern towns and also reached portions of the United States, including Hawaii. The quake was followed by a 7.1-magnitude aftershock. Impact on Internet connectivity... Japan’s Internet performance seemed to have emerged largely unscathed, but concerns continue for the telecommunications infrastructure as the country struggles to meet power demands in a state-of-emergency. more

Ottawa Committed to Overturn CRTC Decision on Usage-Based Internet Billing

Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement has announced that the Harper government will overturn the CRTC's decision that effectively ends "unlimited use" Internet plans if the regulator doesn't rescind the decision itself. more

Why Wireless Broadband Is No Alternative to FttH

The mainly politically-driven debate - FttH versus wireless broadband - is spreading uninformed messages and half-truths in the market. And confusing messages from mobile operators are also blurring the picture. All well-informed people confirm that this is a nonsensical debate -- both infrastructures will coexist with, and supplement, each other. more

Obama’s Broadband Plan Will Fail

We stand by our analysis from March 2010, in which we indicated that a national wireless broadband plan remains a second-class option as the infrastructure for the emerging digital economy in America. In his State of the Union address President Obama set the goal of enabling businesses to provide high-speed wireless services to at least 98% of all Americans within five years. To pay for this the government hopes to raise nearly $28 billion from spectrum auctions. more

Unlicensed Wireless Broadcasting Spectrum in the USA

New developments that have been announced by the FCC in the United States have rekindled the decade-old debate on the use of the so-called 'white spaces' in broadcast spectrum that are to be used for telecoms purposes. In September 2010, the FCC adopted a Second Memorandum Opinion and Order that updated the rules for unlicensed wireless devices that can operate in broadcast television spectrum at locations where that spectrum is unused by licensed services. This unused TV spectrum is commonly referred to as television 'white spaces'. The rules allow for the use of unlicensed TV devices in the unused spectrum to provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses. more

AT Kearney Takes Side With Incumbent Telcos to Defend the Old World

In my job as part of a consultancy company, I know there are two types of reports our clients are interested in - those that are written for the customer to be used internally and those that are to be used externally. Quite often, instead of well thought out and researched pieces, these last-mentioned reports are created simply to underscore the opinion of the party paying for them. So when I received research by AT Kearney on A Viable Future Model for the Internet, I immediately checked who had paid for that report. more

Where High Speed Internet Meets Smart Grid

Advanced internet technologies, energy management and the smart grid are coming together in a mid-sized city in South Tennessee. Tennessee based utility EPB has completed one of the fastest internet pipelines in the world and has activated the first automated switches on its electricity network. The combination constitutes the backbone for a DOE-funded smart grid network that is expected to save the utility and businesses tens of millions of dollars annually. more

Lessons from Egypt: We Need to Protect Our Connected Minds

We need to protect the power that allows us to connect our collective intelligence, as described a few weeks ago in my blog on connected minds. I argued that in order to address some of our global challenges we have to start looking at a radically new way to address them. The events in Egypt brought home the fact that if it comes to the crunch any government can disconnect us simply by bringing the Internet and other communications systems down at will... more

Can the US Deliver on the President’s ‘Sputnik’ Vision?

In general I think this was another good political speech from the President. However, as we have seen in the past, skilled rhetoric doesn't necessarily give rise to action. If Congress reflects the mood of the American people then the nation is not yet ready to change - or, as the President said, to embark on a new 'Sputnik' vision. The fact that the word 'Internet' was used several times (in absolutely the right context - and often teamed with 'innovation') clearly shows that the President understands the importance of the digital infrastructure. This has not changed since his original campaign in 2008. more

Clouds for Education

Bill St Arnoud blogs that he is a big advocate of using commercial cloud services rather than rolling out a do-it-yourself cloud for a number of reasons... The cloud market is intensively competitive and innovative, where scale can make a huge difference in terms of reliability and accessibility. It is much easier to develop a set of common contractual service and interface requirements with commercial suppliers in regards to privacy, reliability etc. more

America’s Telecoms Market in Dire Straits

In late 2008 it was my good fortune to be asked to write a number of reports on broadband and trans-sector development for the Obama Transition Team. President Obama had just won office and this team was crucial in setting the policies for the future. I gathered together a team of international experts to assist in writing these reports. I was able to do this because the revolutionary plans of the Australian government in relation to the NBN very much appealed to the Obama Team. more

Open Internet and Democratic Principles Under Attack

It is somewhat ironic that, several years ago now, Rupert Murdoch (while hinting at China) said something along the lines of the new media constituting a threat to totalitarian regimes, and that these regimes would have to open up and democratise. At that time the entire the western world, led by America (perhaps quietly), applauded his statement. ... However, now that those western leaders are being confronted with exactly the same issues, and are seeing for themselves the enormous democratic benefits of the Internet, they are behaving in a most authoritarian way. more

WiFi in All U.S. Federal Buildings

Legislation has been introduced in the US that will require all public federal buildings to install WiFi base stations in order to free up cell phone networks. The Federal Wi-Net Act would mandate the installation of small WiFi base stations in all publicly accessible federal buildings in order to increase wireless coverage and free up mobile networks. The bill would require all new buildings under construction to comply and all older buildings to be retrofitted by 2014. It also orders $15 million from the Federal Buildings Fund be allocated to fund the installations. more

UK Ponders Net Neutrality, Overstating Broadband Competition

The recent declaration from the UK’s minister for communications that the Internet should be tiered, thereby allowing ISPs to charge for prioritised traffic (either rated by speed delivered or by content provider) is a knee-jerk response to network strain masking as a necessary network management tool, and is a potential threat to the concept of net neutrality. ...developments in the mobile data sector make it clear that capacity constraints are appearing on mobile networks as well, long before the anticipated launch of LTE-based services in the UK in 2013. more

China and Taiwan to Lead the Development of 4G

China missed out on playing a leadership role in the development of 3G and as we predicted at that time, China would most certainly start looking at 4G for a major involvement in developing the technologies for it. more

GFC Slows Down Cloud Computing Developments

The ongoing Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has also had a significant impact on some of the developments in our industry -- for example, cloud computing. It looks as though the GFC is the key reason that developments in cloud computing have not happened more quickly. Industry evidence suggests that shifting to the cloud saves 20%-50% off current IT deployments, and, according to its advocates, it can be many times more than that. more

The Submarine Cable Conundrum

The boom and bust cycle of submarine cable deployment can be traced back to the 19th century. However it doesn't look as though we have learned a lot in those 150 years. One of the problems is that it generally takes two years to plan these international projects and two years to deploy the system. And even before the process commences there are often an initial two years when the potential builders are contemplating their plans. This means that new cables need to be planned at times when there is little demand for new capacity. more

Apple TV Demolishing Telco and Broadcasting Business Models

The future of broadcasting has been under discussion for close to two decades and, while changes are certainly happening, they are rather slow and therefore new opportunities or threats (depending on where you sit) continue to arise. On the one hand we are now starting to see the more widespread availability of digital TV and this has revealed a clear point of difference between the strategic directions being taken by the telecoms and the broadcasting industries. more

The IPTV Growth in South Korea

At the beginning of 2008, the South Korean government passed a law that allowed telecoms operators to broadcast programmes in real-time over their broadband networks. The KCC awarded IPTV licences to KT Corp, Hanaro Telecom and LG Dacom. KT was banking on real-time Internet TV services because growth in the traditional broadband and telephone markets had slowed. The company planned to invest more than KRW1.7 trillion (US$1.5 billion) in IPTV services by 2012 as part of efforts to cultivate new sources of revenue. more

iPhone 4 Highlights Mobile Problems

Making a telephone call in London has become more difficult for early adopters of the new iPhone 4. First of all the reception is rather poor. And it is not just that it is not showing the bars correctly; many users in congested mobile areas such as London receive the message 'server not available'. (As a matter of fact, this doesn't apply only to the iPhone -- it is also experienced with other smart phones.) more

International Academy for Trans-Sector Use of Broadband

While jogging along LacLeman in Geneva I caught up with Dr. Kim Seang-Tae, the President of the National Information Society Agency of South Korea. He is also one of the Commissioners of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development. Dr. Seang-Tae is the chief architect of the FttH miracle that is transforming South Korea. His broadband journey began in 1994, when he developed the country's first broadband plan. more

China’s FttX Boom

China's broadband subscriber base continues to rise. Massive FttX deployments are underway, spurred on by competition between the three full-service operators all aiming to increase 'stickiness' for subscribers. While fixed line subscribers are expected to decline into 2011, broadband subscribers are still rising, driven by cheaper rates and the higher bandwidth on offer compared to mobile Internet. more

Finland’s Broadband USO an Inspiration for Europe

Europe's governments are increasingly acting on the popular belief that the Internet should be a basic right, and that citizens not disposed to using IP-based services should nevertheless have access to its infrastructure. As such, governments either have already introduced legislation to this effect or are in the process of doing so. First off the block was Switzerland: from January 2008 Swisscom's 10-year renewed USO (universal service obligation) has included the provision of broadband at a regulated price. more

Who Controls Spectrum in the USA?

In the wake of the unprecedented boom in mobile broadband, pressure is building around the world for governments and regulators to act quickly and decisively to the frantic demand for more spectrum. The telcos are leading the charge, but the broadcasters are lobbying for their case equally vigorously. The broadcasters do not necessarily need all the spectrum they currently have, but they view mobile broadband and telcos as competitors to their monopoly on video entertainment, so they will do everything to keep them out of that market for as long as possible. more

Mobile Prices Unlikely to Be Affected by AT&T Decision

Contrary to what some financial analysts would have us believe, it is highly unlikely that the price increases for mobile broadband services which were recently announced by AT&T will be replicated by other mobile operators around the world. The mobile market in the US is one of the least regulated and therefore one the most monopolised markets in the western world. more

Developing Countries Moving Towards Broadband

There has been considerable discussion over the last few years about the spectacular growth in mobile communications. Within a rather short period of time around five billion people have been connected, and growth continues unabated... The 2G and 3G networks and other telecommunications infrastructure such as satellites, fixed wireless technologies and fixed networks, linked to smart phones and other smart devices, can be used to provide basic internet services. However, it is important to acknowledge the affordability of these services. more

The Exponential S-Curve Hastens Decline of Asset Values

At the moment we are facing the end stage of a relatively large range of traditional products and services. The reason for this is that for a long time traditional industries have been able to delay the arrival of the decline phase of many of their products, basically because of the monopolistic, or at least dominant, structures of many of the industry sectors -- and in particular telecoms, media, energy and banking. more

Open Broadband Infrastructure… And Why There’s No Business Case for FttH to Sell TV

Those advocates of a free market approach to fiber to the home (FttH), rather than a utilities-based one, often point to entertainment as the way to make that happen. And they then immediately point to the USA, where FttH rollouts have indeed been driven by competition between the cable TV companies... The telcos who were initially less enthusiastic about broadband (because it required them to abandon their lucrative ISDN services and replace them with the simpler and cheaper DSL technology) suddenly found themselves bested in the broadband market by the cable TV companies - a trend we also saw in some of the European markets - for instance, the Netherlands... more

Progress in US Telecoms Transformation

The impact of the changes set in motion by President Obama back in late 2008 in relation to the direction the telecommunications are slowly becoming apparent and are taking many Americans by surprise, even many of the experts and analysts in this industry. This has created a lot of noise and confusion, as people are trying to understand what is happening and how it will affect them. more

Spectrum Hot Real Estate

The fact that businesses around the world are knocking on the doors of their governments asking for spectrum is a clear indication that this telco real estate market is hotting up. The reason for this is not too hard to guess -- the enormous growth in the demand for mobile broadband. There is a large amount of pent-up demand as the mobile operators didn't want to open up this market while they were in the middle of adding new customers to their mobile voice services. more

Combining the ONT and Smart Meters

In my recent blog on utilities and the NBN I mentioned that the ultimate prize would be a combination of the ONT (Optical network terminal: the network interface device used in fibre-to-the-home applications, which operates as a demarcation point between the local loop of the carrier and the wiring in the user premises) and intelligent gateway the electricity company need for their smart meters and home energy networks. Perhaps I should expand on this a little... more

Using Electricity Infrastructure to Roll Out Broadband

The FCC proposal in its recently launched National Broadband Plan to share infrastructure is a very smart initiative indeed. Sharing infrastructure makes a lot of sense. Without it the business model for universal high-speed broadband will not stack up -- the costs of infrastructure is one of the most critical elements in any national broadband plan. Australia is following an identical course with the rollout of their National Broadband Network. In all six current rollout sites utilities are either already involved or are negotiating to become involved. more

Mobile Operators and the Broadband Boom

With $72 billion invested in mobile broadband it would be hard to argue that this market is suffering from a lack of investment. More than half of this is taking place in Asia. Over the last two years close to 300 mobile operators in 120 countries have launched mobile broadband networks (using the 3G HSPA technology) and some 70 of these are already planning the next upgrade of their networks using the LTE technology -- the first $5 billion of investment money has been committed to that technology. more

The Free Internet in Jeopardy

The venerated BBC World Service recently commissioned a polled involving more than 27,000 people across 26 countries. The findings are unremarkable: some 87% of Internet users believe that Internet access should be a basic right, and more than 70% of non-users believe that they should have access to it. more

American National Broadband Plan Good First Step

The National Broadband Plan that the FCC will present on 17 March will set the USA on a completely different telecoms path. This plan will hopefully show Congress that it is worthwhile making the legislative changes that will deliver the social and economic benefits of a national broadband infrastructure. more

OTT Threat to Telco’s Middleware Opportunities

I recently participated in two Comverse events, and once again the message was driven home to me about the enormous opportunities that lie ahead of the industry in the field of new telecoms applications. The middleware and cloud applications that are now appearing at the edge of the network will of course, be further developed once high-speed broadband becomes available, but already they are having an enormous impact on the telecoms market. The new user experiences that can be obtainable through these applications will enrich fast broadband networks beyond recognition. What we now have is, on the one hand, the Over-The-Top (OTT) applications that have conquered the world... more

Will Microsoft Be Able to Make the Jump?

In marketing terminology this is called 'jumping the S-curve'. Microsoft, however, has left its jump rather late. One could argue that we are well and truly at the top of the S at the moment, so it will be interesting to see if Microsoft can still take the leap towards the enormous growth that is currently taking place in the group of digital media companies such as Google and Apple. more

Google Puts Its Weight Behind FttH

The blogs are flying all around the world -- some seem to get it right but most do not. My analysis of Google's announcement to become involved in building FttH networks is actually the same as the one as I made when that company announced its plans to build wireless city networks, and when it announced its intention to invest in submarine cable networks. more

VIPR: New Developments in the VoIP Market

This is a new development in the VoIP market. This is how one of my colleagues, Cullen Jennings explained it to me. Today we have two widely deployed global identifiers for reaching people. One is delegated address out of DNS and the other is phone numbers. So I consider an address like email: [email protected] or xmpp:[email protected] to roughly be out of the DNS namespace and phone number to be out of the E.164 name space. Phone numbers have lots of parts that are not cool, but they also have some cool parts... more

Sharing: The First Step to Structural Change in Mobile

The arrival of the iPhone, Android and iPad will raise the stakes higher in the mobile broadband market. The fact that iPhone alone has over 140,000 Apps over sort of open networks, not portals, shows the demand for mobile applications. This will put an enormous strain on the infrastructure of the mobile operators and will require them to build fibre networks to all mobile stations, as well as invest in more spectrum and new technologies such as LTE. At the same time the mobile subscriber markets are becoming saturated and competition is driving margins down. more

Telecoms Leadership and the State of the Union

Before, during and after his inaugural speech (January 2009) President Obama spoke of the national benefits of broadband, and the changes which have been set in motion in the US telecoms market that were unheard of even a year ago. During the previous administration the incumbent telcos and cable companies had been given more freedom. As a consequence, innovation and competition dwindled and the US was no longer a leader in telecoms... However, since that time, the White House has lost some of its initial leadership. more

Haiti’s Telecommunications Sector in the Aftermath

The scale of the devastation inflicted by Haiti's earthquake a little over two weeks ago, meant that no industry has been left untouched by its effect. The telecommunications sector is no exception. Ever since the earthquake struck on Tuesday 12th January, fixed line and wireless communications have been virtually unavailable. more

Are Google, Microsoft and Apple the Next Utilities in Telecoms?

Over the last few years the increasing amount of discussion about telecoms reveals that the real competition for telecoms companies is not from other telcos, but companies such as Google and others. While I agree with this, obviously it is important to analyse it further. more

Does the US Get the Bold Broadband Vision Congress Has Asked For?

The US Congress asked the FCC for a bold plan to achieve the bold vision expressed by the Congress... We discussed this issue in our Big Think group and here are some comments. more

eHealth: Start With the Professionals

With the prospect of broadband networks becoming more and more of a reality, it appears that concepts such as eHealth are not too far away. Digital healthcare describes the whole system of GPs, hospitals and regional healthcare centres, while eHealth describes the many health applications which will become available for people to use at home. more

International Fibre Bandwidth Hubbing, a Lucrative Business

The small West African country of Benin has been working quietly over the past few years to become a regional hub for international fibre bandwidth. The national telco, Benin Telecoms (BT) has been building terrestrial fibre routes to landlocked neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Niger, allowing them to connect to its landing station for the SAT-3/WASC cable, the only one serving the region. more

China Mobile Growing Faster Than GDP

In the past five years, as one of the country's 'pillar industry', China's telecom service industry has grown at a faster rate than the country's GDP. Revenue from basic telecom service contributes approximately 2.1% of the country's GDP, while value added telecom services contribute a further 3.2% to total GDP. more

France the Latest Showcase for National Fibre Public Funding

The French are good at 'doing' infrastructure. The country takes pride in a civil service which has been progressively centralised since the efforts of Cardinal Richelieu in the mid-17th century. The well-funded health system is among the best in Europe. The generously subsidised rail service, the SNCF, also rates highly. These and other components of the modern French State cost money, and the government has rarely proven shy in supporting big ideas, particularly if they are so readily equated with public welfare and benefit. more

KPN’s Focus on FttC Misses the Broader Picture

The Netherlands remains one of the few countries in Europe to have significant FttH networks. Until 2009, the main characteristic of Dutch fibre rollouts was the dominant role played by housing corporations and municipal governments. This focus changed following KPN's acquisition of a 41% stake in the fibre provider Reggefiber and the subsequent ramping-up of their efforts and investment through their joint venture Glashart. more


The further we move into discussions about the implementation of national broadband networks the more issues crop up that need to be discussed in this context. One topic that is currently getting a great deal of attention is the need (or not) for an RF video layer to be deployed over the fibre network. Both business and technical elements are involved in this, but let's start with some of the business elements... more

Unlimited VoIP Offers Starting to Appear in Africa

VoIP has been banned across most of Africa for a long time, feared by the state-owned telcos as a way for alternative service providers to bypass them with international calls, eroding a very lucrative part of their business. At profit margins of several thousand percent in some cases, it is not surprising that unlicensed operators have sprung up all over the continent, risking huge fines, confiscation of their equipment and even jail terms. more

EU Telecom Overhaul One Step Closer

Europe's electronic communications sector is currently governed by directives adopted in 2002. These stipulated that the directives and regulatory framework should be reviewed, a processed initialised in November 2007. Both the European Council and the European Parliament need to adopt the proposed changes, and none of the initial consultations conducted by the EC indicated that a major overhaul was on the cards, or even required. Yet this is what has transpired. more

How to Get Your FttH Connection Inside Your House

The Optical Network Terminal (ONT) is the piece of equipment at the end of the Fiber to the Home (FttH) network; the connection to the premises. From here the various services can be delivered to the end-users. In Australia the FttH infrastructure company NBN Co is in favour of having the ONT on the outside of the premises, as that would be the cheapest option and would also allow for easier maintenance. Only in multi-dwelling buildings the ONT will most probably be installed within each unit. more

Mobile Market Will Also Be Transformed

The success of smart phone, in particular the iPhone, is both a blessing and a curse for the mobile operators. On the one hand it has broken into the monopolistic business models used by most operators and has most certainly loosened part of their stranglehold; on the other, these phones have increased usage on their networks. But these cracks are going to continue and will eventually lead to similar structural changes in the mobile industry to the ones we are currently experiencing in the fixed market. more

Finland Legislates Universal Broadband

Finland's national broadband strategy (NBS) was set up in 2004 by the Ministry of Transport and Communications with the practical goal of increasing the number of broadband connections. The strategy, part guided by the EU's i2010 'Broadband for all by 2010' plan which focuses on rolling out broadband through a range of measures while promoting competition in and between networks, included an implementation program of 50 separate measures. Broadband access in sparsely populated and rural areas was to be supported by structural funds from the EU and central government. more

Content is Everything: How to Regulate the USA

As countries begin to fully understand the implications of universal broadband, a mind-shift is taking place in the minds of the people involved in the decision-making processes, and the split between infrastructure and content is becoming more apparent. Futile regulations from the past are making this crystal clear. more

From Subscribers to Connections

The global telecoms industry numbers remain impressive: By 2020 there will be 6 billion mobile subscribers -- of which, according to Nokia, 95% will have access to wireless broadband by 2015, and by 2020, there will also be 3 billion fixed broadband subscribers. However the relevance of these numbers will decline. By 2020 there will be 50 billion fixed and mobile connections. more

Meeting with ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré

During the ITU Conference I had the honour of a private meeting with Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU since 2006... Dr Touré has a fascinating background. Born in Mali and educated in Russia, he has brought with him a distinctly fresh approach to the ITU. He has been Africa's Regional General Manager for ICO Global Communications and worked at various levels at the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT). more

ITU Becomes Trans-Sectoral

Very little was said about telecommunications during the official speeches and forums at ITU Telecom World 2009. The industry is even talking about changing its focus from telecommunications to ICT [United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force], Discussions are now focusing on how ICT can be used to underpin the various socio-economic developments that are taking place. more

Why Does the Telco Industry Need to Change?

Over the last years the telecommunications market has been regulated on the basis of operating telephony services. Internet access has been added to this in recent years but it is still essentially linked to telephone line regulations. While major societal changes have been happening, since the 1980s at least, very few policy changes were made around the telecoms industry to enable it to play a key role in these changes. Key telecoms reforms in the mid- and late 1990s still refused to take a more multi-media -- or perhaps what we now call a trans-sector -- approach towards the industry. more

Analysing the USA: An Outsider’s Perspective

Over the last year I have become deeply involved in the debate in the USA regarding the future of their telecoms sector, which is proceeding very much along the lines of the trans-sector approach towards infrastructure (using it for other sectors such as healthcare, education, energy), open networks and a separation between infrastructure and applications. While many of the issues are universal it was also interesting to observe the specific elements that make the USA so unique. more

National Broadband - Key to the Success of E-Health

Government are recognising that healthcare is one of the last paper-based sectors of the economy. It has been estimated that, quite apart from the costs involved, this leads to then of thousands of deaths each year. There is no doubt that a fully integrated computerised e-health system will bring with it its own challenges, and will undoubtedly on occasions also deliver its share of problems. But, as has been the case with all other sectors of society and the economy, integrated computerisation in this sector will improve the situation. more

National Telcos Can and Will Change Their Behaviour, Case in Point: Telstra

When discussions with overseas colleagues made it clear to me how fast things are changing here in Australia compared with the rest of the world, I was prompted to write this update about the developments in Australia, particularly in relation to its incumbent telco, Telstra. Most people overseas have not yet fully caught up with the fact that the destructive regime of Telstra's former CEO is well and truly over -- in the past there has been plenty of international reporting of the shocking behaviour of Telstra under Sol Trujillo (former US West) and his persistent attacks on the government included suing Ministers and abusing the Regulator. more

Analysis of the US Broadband Stimulus Package

In January 2009 the US Congress began considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill 2009 aimed at kick-starting an economy in deep recession. The package, passed into law on 17 February, comprised $787 billion of mainly tax cuts, unemployment benefits and spending in education, health care, infrastructure and energy. Included in the fiscal stimulus package was a relatively modest $7.2 billion for broadband and wireless in unserved and underserved areas... more

Trans-Sector Thinking Spreading to the Highest Levels in Government

Australia, New Zealand and the USA have taken international leadership in relation to their approaches to the infrastructure investment their countries are committed to in relation to the multi-billion dollar investment in national broadband and smart grid infrastructure. This is based on open networks, which will allow multiple access to infrastructure that can be used for e-health, smart grids, tele-education, as well as, of course, to telecoms, Internet and entertainment services. more

National Broadband Infrastructure: Global Regulatory Re-Think Required

Around the world governments, regulators and the industry are struggling with the old regulatory legacy systems. These have become a major stumbling block in the transition to a new environment. Increasingly countries are beginning to understand the social and economic benefits a national broadband infrastructure can offer, but it is impossible to bring that about while the systems are based on the present regulatory regimes. To take these broader benefits into account we will need to develop government policies to facilitate the digital economy... more

The FttH Versus Cable Debate Misses the Point

I recently followed an interesting international discussion on FttH vs. cable. With the fiber to the home (FttH) debate hotting up, driven by the possibility of using FttH as the new infrastructure for the digital economy, the cable companies are putting up a stiff fight, both in Europe (Netherlands) and the USA, claiming FttH is not necessary, and that DOCSIS 3.0 can do the job just as well. In these debates the longer-term national interest is often disregarded. The debate is confined to the technology -- what it can and cannot do -- and it also concentrates on a rather short-term timeframe, say of the next five years. more

Back to the Future for Broadband in America

With countries like Australia and New Zealand implementing infrastructure that can deliver 100Mb/s for their next generation broadband -- and with most Europeans not too far behind this -- it is quite shocking to see that the $7.2 billion economic stimulus package in the USA (under the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)) requires nothing more than 768 kilobits per second (kb/s) downstream and 200 kb/s upstream. more

Mobile’s Need for Fibre

It was interesting to see that in New Zealand Vodafone had second thoughts and decided to come up with its own proposal of forming a consortium of network operators, rather than simply supporting the government's announcement of its FttH plans. Our analysis of this change of mind is that mobile operators increasingly need fibre networks to sustain the enormous growth in mobile broadband. Most mobile stations around the world are not connected to a fibre network. more

Next Generation Telecoms: FttH and Trans-Sector Strategies

The deployment of Fiber to the Home (FttH) around the world is beginning to lead to exciting developments for the next generation of telecommunications. In particular, infrastructure based on FttH is providing the foundation for smart communities and cities where a number of technologies and services are combined to create an enhanced value proposition for residents. Smart homes connected to these networks can utilise services such as tele-health, e-education and e-government as well as access digital media and high speed Internet. more

Australia’s Open National Broadband Network Sets the Benchmark for the USA

As someone closely involved with the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) and many other fibre plans around the globe, I would like to provide an inside picture of the revolutionary developments that are taking place in the Australian broadband market. Australia's national broadband network will be an FttH-based open wholesale network -- a network that will connect (not pass) 90% of all Australians to fibre, with the remaining 10% of the population being linked to that network through technologies that are capable of delivering equivalent services. more

Stimulus Driving Optical Developments

FttH networks had begun to arrive well before the financial crisis hit, but surprisingly it is the crisis itself that is now driving fibre beyond its first stage. This first stage was basically a continuation of the 100-year-old vertically-integrated telephone business model. This saw more of the same delivered at higher speeds and higher costs, and there was only a limited market that was willing to pay a premium for such a FttH service... more

World-Leading Municipality Initiative Thwarted by Incumbent

The ongoing witch-hunt from the incumbent telcos in the USA against municipalities that are trying to build their own broadband networks is continuing unabated. This is nothing new... With the economic crisis there has been a new focus on regulatory rules and the importance of the common good, next to the free market. However that message has not yet got through to the incumbent players in the USA. more

Europe’s Mobile Operators Running Dumb Pipes for Revenue

In most of Europe, mobile network operators (MNOs) have largely completed their 3G network roll outs. During the last year or two their focus has been on upgrading these networks with new technologies, including femtocell and, importantly, HSPA. Following trials expected to be held during 2010, LTE will soon be sufficiently advanced for commercial launches. This will provide significant opportunities for Europe's market for convergent services, adding a new platform for delivering a range of media... more

Cloud Computing: The New Service

The penny dropped when I started looking at cloud computing as a service rather than a new technology. In that respect it is more like Google search and a DotCom development than a set of software and hardware tools. That was what I needed to get a better strategic grip on this new concept. As with all services, business strategies are key here, rather than technologies. As soon as it is seen as a technology customer issues often come in second, which then leads to a technology looking for a market... more


Mobile WiMAX, with the release of 2×2 MIMO chips in 2008, gives WiMAX a lead of two or so years on its major competitor -- the 3GPP's LTE. However, 3G cellphones using 3GPP UMTS technologies, extended to higher speeds with HSPA, is widely used in handsets in many countries. In North America, 3GPP2 CDMA2000 and EV-DO are widely used, but these are likely to be replaced over time by LTE and to some extent WiMAX. more

More Cracks Appearing in Mobile Market

When I wrote the BuddeComm analysis on the introduction of Apple's iPhone I commented that the most significant element of this event was that it would begin to create cracks in the flawed business models of the mobile operators, who are desperately hanging on to their closed networks very much like the fixed operators were fighting tooth and nail against opening up their networks. We have seen that the fixed operators have largely lost this battle and we predict that the future of the mobile networks will be no different... more

How to Move Telecoms Forward in the USA

In the last few weeks courts in the USA have carried on business as usual. They continue to provide the two major telcos in the USA, Verizon and AT&T, with extraordinary protection -- basically retaining the outdated regulatory system in the USA that identifies the duopoly between the telcos and the cablecos as the best way forward for the development of telecoms competition in this country. This is rather different from the position taken by the new Obama Administration, which has indicated that it will break with past regulations... more

FttH Boom in North Asia

In the mid-year 2008 rankings by the Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) Council, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan occupy the top four positions in terms of household penetration percentage. Asia Pacific now accounts for more than 27 million of the world’s 32 million FttH connections. more

Government Policies Beyond Broadband

The telecom infrastructure decisions we are now facing have very little to do with developments or the need for services in 2009 or 2010. They are more related to where the digital economy is taking us in the future. This is well beyond the time needed to kick-start sluggish economies. more

To What Extent Will the US Broadband Stimulus Package Provide a… Stimulus?

The story of America's lacklustre broadband performance is relatively well known. Part of that story relates to its low broadband penetration levels when compared with other developed economies... Another aspect of the story relates to broadband speeds... in terms of broadband technology levels, the USA still trails behind leading countries such as Japan and Korea, and some European countries such as France and Italy, by a full generation. more

Open Networks Delivering the Goods for All

The City of Amsterdam announcement to now move to the next stage of their FttH (fibre to the home) project -- with another roll out covering 100,000 connections -- is a clear indication that the concept of open access FttH networks is a valid one. This will have large scale implications for countries around the world who are looking at using open network based telecoms infrastructure projects to stimulate their economies. more

Telco Stimulus Package: Australian Case Study

Most developed nations are now revisiting their telecoms policies with a view to using telecoms infrastructure as a tool to revive the economy. And when exploring this it quickly becomes clear that open networks are necessary if we are to achieve the economic benefits that the digital economy has to offer. The multiplier effect of open infrastructure is obvious. It stimulates developments in healthcare, education, energy, media and Internet -- this in stark contrast to the closed (vertically-integrated) networks that are currently operated by most incumbent telcos around the world. more