Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Daily amenities such as eating out, purchases of personal-care products and apparel buying tended to suffer, according to analysts at McKinsey & Co.
But categories such as groceries and reading materials, which substituted for more expensive options, actually benefitted from higher spending, as did insurance and health care. Spending on education showed the biggest increase.
What one probably cannot glean from this particular set of data is that "communications" and "multi-channel video entertainment" spending does not change much.
During recessions, tech spending has historically fallen more than gross domestic product has, say McKinsey researchers. "Our research covering economic downturns in 50 countries over the past 13 years indicates that information technology spending typically fell five to seven times farther than GDP, with the most severe declines in hardware (which fell eight to nine times GDP and less severe ones in software and services, falling three to to five times GDP, McKinsey says.
The decline was much larger during the 2001 downturn because spending on computing and telecommunications equipment as a percentage of GDP (IT intensity) had previously soared to historic levels. A boom in tech start-ups, along with Y2K fears, promoted a spending surge on communications equipment, servers, and a range of other products.
When the economic slowdown arrived, start-ups foundered, many companies had too much tech and telecom capacity, and spending cuts across the economy were severe, McKinsey notes. Chastened by that experience, many companies have since
pressured their CIOs to manage IT more effectively.
As the economy enters the current slowdown, the growth of IT intensity is closer to its historic trend, even slightly below the 10-year average. Still, "it does seem likely that the sector’s experience could be more in line with historic trends than it was in 2001."
Telephone company "access lines" and "basic cable subscriptions," once useful metric s, no longer adequately capture business performance. So we have the substitute "revenue generating unit."
Something along the same lines now will happen in the broadband access area, where counting "lines" once made sense, but increasingly will not capture business performance.
For starters, "average" speeds and "prices" will not be so useful as higher speeds become commonplace, rendering "average" price less meaningful than perhaps "average price per Mbps of service." Also, as wireless broadband becomes more prevalent, we routinely will begin to exceed 100-percent broadband penetration per household, in at least most households.
In 2003, each 100 kbps of capacity cost about $11.50. By 2006, 100 kbps of capacity cost less than $6. Over that same period, capacity rose from 1.5 Mbps in the downstream to more than 4 Mbps.
Friday, December 19, 2008
The objective of the launch, which utilizes MetaSwitch and Zhone Technologies equipment, is to provide customers with high-performing network services, Birch says.
Atlanta-based Birch serves clients in 31 states throughout the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest.
Adaptix says its patents on multi-carrier communications with group-based subcarrier-cluster allocation, adaptive subcarrier-cluster configuration and selected loading, medium access control for orthogonal frequency division multiple access, multi-carrier communications with adaptive cluster configuration and switching and adaptive subcarrier cluster configuration and selective loading are being infringed.
As is the case with such high-profile cases, it is doubtful the issue will result in a shutdown of the Clearwire network, though that cannot be discounted as a possibility if the parties cannot agree on a settlement.
Three cable systems carrying more than 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America have been damaged, according to the U.K.'s Interoute. The cables run from Alexandria in northern Egypt to Sicily in southern Italy. In January, an anchor severed the cables outside Alexandria after bad weather conditions forced ships to moor off the coast.
``The information we have is a bit sketchy, but chances are that it will have been an anchor again,'' Jonathan Wright, Interoute's director of wholesale products, said in a telephone interview. ``Close to 90 percent of all the data traffic between Europe and the Middle East is carried on these three cable systems,'' Wright said.
A January 2008 cable cut off Egypt brought down 70 percent of the Internet network in India and the Middle East.
Vodafone Group Plc's Egyptian unit is among service providers affected by the cable failure.
France Telecom's Orange mobile-phone unit said the cable failure ``greatly disturbed'' the traffic between Europe and parts of Asia. At one point as much as 55 percent of voice traffic in Saudi Arabia, 52 percent in Egypt and 82 percent in India was out of service, according to Orange.
Internet traffic from Mumbai to London now has been re-routed via Hong Kong which may lead to congestion and increased latency on this route,'' Reliance executives said.
The fault is affecting the SMW4 cable near the Alexandria cable station, the FLAG FEA cable and the SMW3 cable system.
Reliance Globalcom doesn't know exactly what happened, but there will be suspicions of an anchor snagging the cables.
The SMW4 cable, also known as SEA-ME-WE 4or South East Asia- Middle East-Western Europe 4 cable network, connects 12 countries: Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
The enhanced service is an example of an important trend: retailers of communication services to small and mid-sized businesses ultimately will be in the managed services businesses in a broader way than simply supplying voice and broadband access.
The math is simple enough: about 25 percent of SMB spend is for communications; about 75 percent for applications and hardware to support applications. To get more of the wallet, retailers of SMB services have to address applications, not just voice and broadband access.
Cbeyond's Enhanced Web Hosting package offers small businesses the essential tools to launch and manage their online Web presence. With this package, Cbeyond can host a company's website, configure their domain or transfer an existing domain to the company's Cbeyond account. Further, the design-it-yourself Web application available with this package enables small businesses to build and customize their own website by choosing from more than 200 pre-configured, easily customizable templates. The package also supports flash and video files to create a rich user experience.
That doesn't mean most international calls will originate on mobiles, though. One of the dominant patterns will be landline origination, mobile termination.
The reason users and service providers will care about such trends is that retail prices and intercarrier compensation rates are based at least in part on what sort of network terminates a call. So changes in termination patterns directly will affect revenues that accrue to various providers of terminating service.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The proposal emphasizes tax incentives and direct grant. Specifically, the groups suggest allowing wireless broadband deployments to expense 75 percent of investments. Alternatively, the groups suggest a 15 percent investment tax credit for networks capable of 1.5 Mbps downstream/384 kbps upstream.
They suggest and 100 percent expensing or a 20 percent investment tax credit for new infrastructure capable of 3 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream. the groups also recommend a 40 percent investment credit for a network providing 5 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream.
For fixed broadband infrastructure, the groups suggest 50 percent expensing or a 10 percent investment tax credit for networks capable of 3 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream, 75 percent expensing or a 15 percent tax credit for 25 Mbps downstream/5 Mbps upstream, or 100 percent expensing or a 20 percent tax credit for 50 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream infrastructure.
They further propose a 40 percent investment tax credit for a network providing 100 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream.
For satellite broadband infrastructure, which plays a special role in national broadband deployment, tax benefits associated with particular service capabilities remain to be determined, the groups now say.
The groups argue for investment in four segments: fixed broadband, wireless broadband, satellite broadband and broadband core and backbone transport.
The proposal also suggests “direct grants” for rural broadband deployments. TIA suggests a $25 billion grant program for deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas.
What is different is the bigger role for video on demand, especially of the "free" or "subscription" variety.
One suspects, though data is not yet available, that roughly the same sort of trend will be seen in the mobile and broadband access areas as well. People aren't going to disconnect. But they might shift buying a bit, delaying upgrades or purchases of advanced features and services.
For that reason, SheSpeaks argues that social media marketing—not just ads on social networks—could be especially effective among women for spreading word-of-mouth information.
About 46 percent of all women surveyed by SheSpeaks now use social networks. And since most observers note that Internet use and social networking are more common among younger users than older users, it probably is noteworthy tht more than 40 percent of women in their 40s have a social networking profile, and women with children seem to be active social networkers.
More than 70 percent of women with children ages 13 to 17 had talked about products on social networks, compared with 62 percent of all responding women.
“40-somethings are active users and members of online social networks,” says Aliza Freud, CEO of SheSpeaks, in a statement. “These women have started to use the Web and social networks in ways that mirror the rest of their lives—from finding out about a product to shopping or monitoring their children’s activities.”
Female Internet users ages 45 to 54 are a larger audience than male Internet users of the same age, according to comScore Media Metrix. There are also far more female Internet users ages 45 to 54 than there are ages 55 to 64.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Younger adults are considerably more likely than older adults to play games, and the likelihood that an adult is a video gamer decreases significantly with age.
Fully 81 percent of respondents18-29 years old play games, while only 23 percent of respondents 65 years old and older report playing games, according to to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project poll.
Overall, men (55 percent) are slightly more likely than women (50 percent), and urbanites (56 percent) are a bit more likely than rural-dwellers (47 percent) to play any kind of digital game. There is no significant difference in game playing across income groups or between suburbanites and adults from other locales.
A person’s education level is another predictor of video game play. Some 57 percent of respondents with at least some college education play games, significantly more than high school graduates (51 percent) and those who have less than a high school education (40 percent).
Current students who are 18 or older are also avid players. Notably, 76 percent of students (82 percent of full-time and 69 percent of part-time students) report playing games, compared with 49 percent of non-students.
At that level, AT&T will have surpassed 10 percent penetration within one year when we begin marketing operations. That itself is a milestone on the way to stable long-term penetration for wired network providers, which has in some other cases reached 30 percent or higher levels in a few markets where there is robust multi-channel video competition. Verizon has attained that level in some of its FiOS video markets, for example.
Most telcos probably think they will get to 20 percent in several years. Verizon already has hit about 24 percent penetration where it offers FiOS video. On average FiOS TV achieves 17 percent penetration in just 12 months and over 26 percent penetration within two years, Verizon reported in the third quarter of 2008.
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Economists now say we have been in recession since December 2007. The only good news there is that one year of the recession already has passed.
So whether you think this is a garden-variety recession or a longer one, the average recession lasts 18 months. By the end of the year we'll have been in recession a full 13 months. And layoffs always are a lagging indicator.
So as you note news reports about job losses, keep one thing in mind: when we reach the peak of the job losses, the recession will have hit bottom and the recovery will have begun.
Peak job losses in the 2001 recession were 325,000, which were reported in October, the last month of that recession. Peak losses during the 1990-91 recessions—306,000—were reported in February 1991, again one month before the recession ended.
During the 1981-82 recession, peak job losses were 343,000, a figured reported four months before the end of the recession. A bottom in the labor market often indicates the near bottom of a recession, since employment is a lagging indicator.
There are implications for service providers. Though not every company is as cash rich as Cisco or Apple, opportunities to take market share or reshape a market always present themselves in a recession.
And there is clear evidence that in some customer segments, such as small business, hiring actually increased every month of 2008, says SurePayroll, a company that makes its living processing employee payroll checks (through the end of November, the last month where data is available).
Hiring tends to drive increased buying of communications products, so whatever weakness you think you will see in the enterprise segment, small business trends could well be quite different.
So what might surprise you is that SurePayroll, a company that makes its living processing employee payroll checks, hiring in the small business segment climbed steadily through 2008.
What that means for providers of communications services to small businesses is that underlying demand in the small business segment grew all year in 2008.
After the carnage of October 2008, one might have expected, and news reports suggest, a wave of layoffs starting in November 2008. But SurePayroll says U.S. small businesses increased their staff levels by 0.26 percent in November. “It was the second lowest percentage increase this year, but it extended the run of monthly hiring increases to an impressive twenty-four months,” the company says.
The SurePayroll Hiring Index, which tracks the size of small businesses, ended the month of November at 11,249, which is 30 points higher than where the index stood in October.
For the first 11 months of 2008, when the economy was definitively in recession, small business hiring went up 3.3 percent nationwide.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
"Our vendors will be able to deliver network infrastructure equipment to us that will enable us to operate both mobile WiMAX and LTE technologies if we decide that it makes sense to do so several years from now when LTE becomes commercially available," says Wolff.
"If LTE truly becomes established as a global standard as WiMAX has, Clearwire will be well positioned to take advantage of that opportunity," says Wolff.
Though sometimes obscured by the hype, WiMAX is broadband radio access. It is not a business model. Clearwire's willingness to use both protocols is simply further proof. If there is a new business model to be built, it will come from packaging, pricing and other elements that would create something like an open broadband wireless Internet experience, akin to what users can do today with 3G dongles for their PCs, but also including new "end user" segments, devices or applications.
Still, it is far from clear that even if Clearwire succeeds at doing those things, it will be alone. Verizon Communications has been quite vocal about opportunities for machine-to-machine applications, which would indeed open up new "end user" segments. And as we have seen time and time again, it isn't all that hard for one provider to mimic another provider's packaging, pricing or device features, if it is necessary.
Clearwire probably has something between a one-year advantage to two years worth of advantage on the "raw bandwidth" dimension. That won't provide much of a differentiator for long. To be sure, Clearwire has plans that would move it further away from the current mobile narrowband or broadband packaging model.
What remains untested is the size of the problem and the amount of "pain" users now face in the mostly-closed mobile broadband model. Technologists might experience "closed" environments as a pain point. Most users do not. More flexible, casual pricing arguably addresses a bigger pain point: the desire to occasionally use features.
In 2009, Vidtel will add the capability to call other video users around the world regardless of the service or type of device they use.
That means interoperability with Skype, iChat, Google and video-enabled mobile phones (3G and 4G mobile phones), Wharton says, arguing Vidtel will create the first interconnected video calling network, offering a standard by which all video callers can call each other, regardless of service they are using.
Vidtel uses the Grandstream GXV-3000 video phone, sold separately at a cost of $199.95 plus tax. Two service plans are offered. The "Standard" plan costs $14.95 per month or $99.95 a year. The standard plan offers unlimited video calling within the Vidtel network (Vidtel-to-Vidtel customer) using a regular 10-digit phone number.
Users also can make domestic and international phone calls in addition to video phone calls. Calls within the US, Canada and Puerto Rico are 3.9 cents per minute. Enhanced 911, a dedicated telephone number, call waiting, voicemail, caller ID and call forwarding, plus enhanced features you can’t get anywhere else like video mail.
The "Premium" plan costs $29.95 per month or $249.95 a year. The premium plan includes unlimited video calling plus unlimited telephone calls within the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. Like the Standard plan, the Premium plan includes enhanced 911, dedicated telephone number, call waiting, voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding, and video mail) and simultaneous ring.
Vidtel charges a one-time account activation fee of $19.95 and shipping and handling fee of $19.95. Vidtel monthly service packages are also charged the required federal and state taxes and 911 fees.
The video mail feature allows users to send and receive video messages from friends and family. Video messages can be retrieved on the phone or in email. Video messages can be forwarded to any email address, anywhere in the world.
At present, the service requires getting a new phone number. In 2009 uesrs will be able to transfer an existing number to Vidtel.
Billing is by credit card and users obviously require a broadband Internet connection.
Wharton says target customers include family and friends who live far away. Wharton also thinks some small or medium-sized businesses might use it as an affordable conference calling system.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In fact, they report spending more time texting than on any activity other than face-to-face contact with their friends. Almost one quarter of these young mobile users access the Internet on their phones, as well.
Indeed, a recent study by Connected Nation found that nearly one-half (44 percent) of those with no home broadband connection say "I don’t need broadband." That suggests availability is not the actual problem.
Likewise, the top barrier to computer ownership is also a perceived lack of need. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of those who do not own a computer say "I don’t need a computer," Connected Nation finds.
That isn't to say cost is not an issue at all. Nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of those who do not own a computer cite the up-front cost as a barrier. Similarly, nearly one-fourth of those without a home broadband connection say broadband is too expensive.
Four out of ten parents with children who are without a home computer see no need for having a computer in the home. And nearly one-third (30 percent) of parents with children who do not have a home broadband connection see no need for a broadband connection.
More than one-half (56 percent) of people with disabilities who do not own a computer see no need for having a computer in the home. Four out of ten people with disabilities who do not have a home broadband connection see no need for a broadband connection.
Predominantly, even in contexts with reliable supply of broadband, it is consumer demand for broadband that is the tallest barrier to adoption and represents America’s competitive vulnerability, Connected Nation argues.
For example, among residents with children at home but without a computer at home, 41 percent did not see a need for a computer at home and 30 percent did not see a need for a broadband connection.
So which segments are most commonly receptive to broadband and use of computers? Households with children who need Internet access for homework are a high-adopter segment. About 84 percent of households with children own a computer, compared to 74 percent computer ownership among all residents.
And 62 percent of households with children choose to subscribe to broadband services at the home, contrasting with the overall broadband adoption rate of 50 percent. Parents, therefore, generally recognize the importance of what broadband has to offer their children. However, even among these parents with children at home, 13 percent still do not own a computer and 38 percent do not have a broadband home.
According to consumers, the primary barrier to computer ownership and home broadband adoption is not expense or lack of available broadband service, but rather, a perceived lack of need. When asked why they don’t subscribe to broadband or why they don’t own a computer, consumers responded most often with, "I don’t need it."
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
The issue is not "if" LTE becomes a dominant technology, but probably only "when." That suggests LTE is in Clearwire's future, one way or the other. That isn't to say Clearwire would abandon WiMAX completely, or that other providers would. Such a move by Clearwire might well relegate WiMAX to "niche" status in the U.S. market, though.
The bankruptcy filing by an incumbent local exchange carrier is extremely rare.
Hawaiian Telcom has about $1 billion in debt and missed $26 million in interest payments last month. It had been trying to work out a debt-restructuring plan with its creditors but apparently was unable to do so.
Of its current $1 billion in debt, about $574.6 million is in bank loans and $500 million is in bonds.
It isn't clear yet whether there will be other similar problems popping up. It might happen that a major proposed private equity buyout fails to occur, though.
Bell Canada Enterprises and the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, which is leading a BCE buyout plan along with three U.S.-based private equity firms, are haggling over the deal's $1.2 billion break-up fee, according to a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail.
The acquisition, valued at around $35 billion recently, had been expected to close by Dec. 11, but might now be in question after independent valuation firm KPMG advised that market conditions and other factors would make it unable to render a solvency opinion on the deal.
Some 44 percent of those with home Internet access say their connection failed to work properly for them at some time in the previous 12 months. About 39 percent of those with desktop or laptop computers have had their machines not work properly at some time in the previous 12 months as well, says John Horrigan, Pew Center associate director.
About 29 percent of cell phone users and 26 percent of smart phone usres say their device failed to work properly at some time in the previous year.
Some 15 percent of those experiencing problems with PCs, mobiles, Internet access or smart phones said they were unable to fix the problem. About 38 percent of users with failed technology contacted user support for help while 28 percent say they were able to fix the problems themselves. Some 15 percent fixed the problem with help from friends or family. About two percent found help online.
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