Thursday, March 31, 2016

FCC Revises "Lifleline" Program to Stimulate High Speed Access

The Federal Communications Commission has refocused its “Lifeline” program to emphasize support for high speed Internet access.

For the first time, the Lifeline program will support stand-alone broadband service as well as bundled voice and data service packages.

The revised program provides support for stand-alone mobile or fixed broadband Internet access service, as well as bundles including fixed or mobile voice and broadband.

Citizens and residents in rural areas already have been opting for mobile Internet access at significant rates.
The top five mobile-only household states are Arkansas (35.2 percent), Mississippi (35.1 percent), Texas (32.5 percent), North Dakota (32.3 percent) and Idaho (31.7 percent of households are wireless broadband only).
All of states are largely rural.
The bottom five mobile-only household states are New Hampshire (16.0 percent), South Dakota (15.6 percent), Connecticut (13.6 percent), New Jersey (12.8 percent) and Rhode Island (12.0 percent), states that are mostly urban.
The results suggest that rural households appear to value wireless access more highly than urban areas. Across the United States, about 25 percent of households use only mobile  broadband.
Top 5 Wireless Broadband States

The new rules set a minimum of 10 Mbps downloads/1 Mbps uploads. Minimum monthly fixed broadband usage starts at 150 GB.

The new rules phase in minimum standards for mobile broadband service, starting at 500 MB per month of 3G data by Dec. 1, 2016, 1 GB by Dec. 1, 2017, and increasing to 2 GB per month by the end of 2018  

Mobile voice monthly standards are set at 500 min/mo., beginning on Dec. 1, 2016; 750 min/mo. on Dec. 1, 2017; and 1,000 min/mo., starting on Dec. 1, 2018.  

Vizio Eliminates Tuners in Some of its TVs: What That Tells You

Sometimes, apparently little changes reflect on the ground reality. Consider the design of television displays.

In times past, TV manufacturers were loathe to eliminate TV tuners from their TV sets, as that would imply the screens were “dumb monitors.” That argument should sound familiar to telecom industry executives.

There are some obvious arguments in favor of “dumb monitors,” however. Any consumer buying entertainment video service from a cable TV company, telco, satellite provider or Internet service provider is forced to use a decoder supplied by the service provider, making the TV’s own tuner superfluous.

And since, in many markets, more than 90 percent of TV consumers actually buy a service from a linear video provider, the TV tuner provides no value. It simply is not used.


Even if the fundamental difference between a computer monitor and a TV is the presence of the tuner and some differences in ports and audio output,  TV manufacturers in the past have resisted selling the equivalent of monitors.

Vizio, though, is breaking with past convention, building and selling tunerless TVs for some of its sets, especially the 4K big screen models. Consumers who buy linear TV service will lose zero functionality.

In fact, the only consumers not well served by such a device are those who watch over the air TV broadcasts, and do not buy linear video service.

For Vizio, eliminating tuners allows the company to shave cost from their TVs, while allowing perhaps 90 percent of buyers to use the displays with no loss of functionality.

Vizio is the first TV set manufacturer to finally acknowledge that built-in tuners are superfluous for most potential buyers.

Vizio is the first manufacturer to act in accordance with reality for possibly 90 percent of TV viewers, who no longer need a tuner to watch linear television.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vodafone India Buys Fixed Assets for Mobile Offload

A deal rumored to be in the works has been completed.: Vodafone India has purchased the fixed network assets of YOU Broadband, which operates cable TV networks across 12 cities in India.


Unlike some other moves happening in the India telecommunications market, which features consolidation and mergers among mobile operators, the Vodafone purchase of YOU Broadband gives the mobile operator fixed assets.


Vodafone’s acquisition of fixed network access assets in India follows similar efforts in other Vodafone markets, part of a strategy to bolster mobile network performance by enabling offload of mobile data demand to owned fixed networks.


Most descriptions of YOU Broadband emphasize its ownership of 1900 miles of backhaul fiber and 3700 miles of access facilities, serving consumers, smaller businesses and enterprises with triple play services and Internet access up to 100 Mbps.


Most descriptions of the company suggest it is a “small Internet service provider,” which partially explains why Vodafone emphasizes the network mileage, not customer revenue or customer accounts in its justifications for the buy.


Oddly enough, the strategic rationale for fixed network assets increasingly is that it provides offload for mobile device traffic. That has become a more-important consideration as 4G and coming 5G networks are required to support an order of magnitude or more data consumption per user and account.


source: Broadband in India

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Google Fiber Adds Voice Services

Google Fiber customers now have the ability to buy phone service for an incremental $10 a month. In the past, Google has maintained that voice service was a rather low priority for its Google Fiber service, with video entertainment a more-logical and important companion service.


The latest turn of events might suggest a couple of new lines of thinking. Perhaps Google now has found that gross revenue for its Google Fiber networks, even using the neighborhood approach, is simply not high enough with just two services to sell.  


Perhaps the move suggests voice now is believed to be an important service element, either to attract new customers or retain them. Possibly there are other additional values that help justify adding the new service element.


Most likely all the above are correct: the consumer access business is competitive enough that revenue from the three foundation services is required, and competition is stout enough that a triple play offer is needed to remain competitive, even when Google Fiber has an advantage with its Internet access offer.


As was the case for Google Fiber’s resetting of consumer expectations about the “right price” and “basic features” of an industry-standard Internet access service, the $10 a month price might also help reinforce expectations about what a fixed network voice service should cost.

The service also seems to build on Google Voice capabilities, to allow use of the service on PCs, tablets, smartphones as well as "phones."


One observation might also be that the U.S. consumer access business is robustly competitive. If Google Fiber believes it really has to be a triple play provider to make the consumer access business model work better, that suggests the hassle and low potential revenue of supplying voice services is necessary, despite its modest revenue contributions and not-insignificant costs.



source: Silicon Alley Insider

India Internet Access Markets are Unstable

As on 31st January, 2016, the top five fixed network Internet access providers were BSNL (9.90 million), Bharti Airtel (1.68 million), MTNL (1.12 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (0.89 million) and YOU Broadband (0.51 million).  

The top five mobile Internet access providers were Bharti Airtel (31.02 million), Vodafone (26.23 million), Idea Cellular (22.04 million), Reliance Communications Group (15.37 million) and BSNL (10.26 million).

The market for high speed access is fragmented, almost always a sign of an unstable market likely to consolidate, eventually. A theoretical stable market structure would have the leader with market share (installed base, actually) twice that of the number-two player, which, in turn, would have installed base double that of the number three provider.

Classically, a stable market would have the leading provider having up to half the installed base of customers in the market, with three top providers having 85 percent or more of the installed base.

The Internet access market, the mobile services market and the fixed network Internet access markets in India are, by such measures, unstable.




Data-Only PLans from T-Mobile US?

In a clear sign of the times, T-Mobile US reportedly is launching data-only plans, confirming both the way many people use smartphones (lots of applications other than voice), the importance of text messaging as a mobile communications channel and the ability some users might have to rely solely on over the top VoIP for voice services.


T-Mobile US will launch “Simple Choice Data-Only” rate plans on March 30, 2016, according to TmoNews.



source: Nielsen

Plans are said to offer:
  • 2GB for $20 per month
  • 6GB for $35
  • 10GB for $50
  • 14GB for $65
  • 18GB for $80
  • 22GB for $95

We often note that mobile data drives revenue and revenue growth for many mobile service providers. We less frequently note that most people now “talk less” than they used to, and “text more,” but all those trends are factors making the new rumored plan viable and interesting for some users.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mobile IS Interner Access for Half of Asia Customers

Some 90 percent of mobile subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region access the Internet using their mobile devices every day, according to a September 2015 survey of users by the Internet Society (ISOC).

For 47 percent of respondents, the mobile device is the primary means of online access. Some 52 percent of mobile device users in Southeast Asia and India primarily access the internet using a mobile device.

Some 90 percent of respondents using their mobile device to send and receive emails, while  87 percent use a smartphone both for social media and to search for information.

Leading Mobile Internet Activities Among Mobile Device Users in Asia-Pacific, Sep 2015 (% of respondents)It will come as no surprise that a majority of respondents noted that faster connection speeds (77 percent) and lower data costs (68 percent) would encourage them to use their mobile data connection more often.

As typically is the case, developments vary from country to country.  In South Korea, Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong,more than 100 percent of respondents use mobile data access, while in Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Timor Leste, mobile Internet adoption is less than 10 percent.

Asia-Pacific ‘s average cellular speed, at 10.9 Mbps, ranging from 13 Mbps or more for countries like Singapore and Japan, to an average of 3 Mbps for Bangladesh and Laos.

The average smartphone connection in Asia- Pacific now uses around 1Gb of data per month.

While an average mobile user in Singapore or Japan would consume 1.5 to 2Gb of mobile data per month, customers in China and the Philippines use about 200Mb to 300Mb.

Affordability is a big issue. Broadband access in developing economies can cost up to 18 percnt of monthly average gross national income.

While the survey points to ways to increase the coverage and affordability of mobile broadband, the preference by many for connectivity over Wi-Fi networks also presents an opportunity to develop other wireless platforms and technologies that could allow future users in Asia-Pacific to access the Internet more cheaply, reliably and securely, the ISOC argues.






Friday, March 25, 2016

Should New Internet Access Platforms be "Standards Based?" And, if So, Which Standards?

Do Internet platforms based on use of balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles or satellites need to be “standards based?”


Since standards tend to create bigger markets, and lower network element costs, sure.


But suppliers of such platforms might well argue they are standards based, just not in the way some might interpret that statement.


Cable TV networks are standards based, for example. They simply are not the standards used by global “telecom” network suppliers.


The call for “standards” by Ericsson’s CEOt is not unexpected, coming from a major global telecom manufacturer.


Standards and innovation sometimes appear, especially in the case of market-driven technologies, as potentially opposed forces.


Innovations begin as niche developments not within the framework of existing things. Such innovations are “different” and often pose the threat of disruption to the existing order of things.


And, to be sure, it is in the interest of the largest global suppliers that global standards exist, since that creates and drives the largest potential markets and lower product cost, as well.


But standards amenable to “telecom” suppliers might also be unnecessary, either near term or possibly even longer term, in the sense Ericsson could be suggesting.


The cable TV industry relies on different standards, and yet is a very-effective platform alternative to standards-based “telecom” networks.


In the same way, satellite standards, or even standards developed to support new platforms, can succeed--and arguably should be allowed to experiment--without unnecessary concern for a full embrace of “telecom” standards.


The new platforms should embrace standards in ways that enhance their value and cost parameters. They arguably already do so.

End users might ultimately benefit more if the new platforms do not worry so much about “telecom” standards compliance.

Netflix Will Offer Choice by Throttling Video

A Netflix decision to offer a voluntary, user-initiated “throttling” of Netflix video streams illustrates the value--perhaps even the wisdom--of allowing consumers to make their own choices.

Conversely, the Netflix decision also highlights what some would say is a defect of network neutrality rules, namely the outlawing of quality of service measures that actually benefit consumers.

Netflix now says it will “soon introduce a data saver feature designed for mobile apps,” according to Anne Marie Squeo, a member of the Netflix communications team.

The data saver feature will allow them to either stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan, Squeo says.

Choice, in other words, is what Netflix now plans to offer. But choice also includes a default “throttled” bitrate.

“Our default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks has been capped globally at 600 kilobits per second,” says Squeo. “It’s about striking a balance that ensures a good streaming experience while avoiding unplanned fines from mobile providers.”

Some would say “choice” is the heart of the matter. Consumers have the ability to lower resolution, to save on potential usage charges, or increase resolution, even if that means higher data consumption.

“This hasn’t been an issue for our members,” she notes.

To be sure, when a single company such as Netflix decides to set a lower default rate for streaming, while allowing users to set higher resolution, that raises no antitrust issues, as might be the case if access providers were able to favor their owned video streams over those of all providers.

Choice is a good thing. But some say the freedom Netflix has is more than ironic, given the prohibitions on ISP access policies. If choice is a prerogative that should belong to the end user and consumer, some might argue it should not matter “who” offers the choice (so long as the policies are not antitrust violations).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In Internet of Things Business, Dumb Pipe Will be a Small Revenue Driver

There is a very good reason why access providers are so intrigued by Internet of Things applications and services. Of the access connections expected to be in use by 2020, perhaps 60 percent will support Internet of Things devices and apps, according to Cisco.

That noted, relatively little total ecosystem revenue will be directly earned by supplying Internet access. Devices, installation of devices, applications and systems integration likely will represent most of the revenue.

Perhaps that is one more example of why “dumb pipe” revenue issues are so important to access providers. Even if “access” is the unique role of an access provider, access revenue is but a small part of total ecosystem revenue.

That provides incentives for access providers to find and create additional roles elsewhere in the ecosystem, as access providers once bundled “access” with the “voice” application.



It has been clear for some time that as app development has moved to open and third party sources, economic value and firm revenues in the “Internet” ecosystem have shifted to those third parties, and away from traditional access providers.

In the European Community, for example, access providers in 2013 earned between 30 percent and 46 percent of ecosystem revenues. App provider revenues ranged from about 20 percent of ecosystem revenues up to about 51 percent of revenues, according to BCG.

In 2015, the equity value of the leading app providers grew much faster than the equity value of leading telcos, for example. In 2015, Amazon’s equity value was higher by 118 percent. Google’s equity value grew “just” 44 percent. Facebook’s equity value was higher by 32 percent over the last year.

By way of contrast, Verizon was lower by one percent, AT&T up just two percent, Sprint down 13 percent, and just T-Mobile US up by 45 percent. CenturyLink dropped by 36 percent; Frontier Communications dipped 30 percent.


In a 2012 survey, many U.S. mobile industry executives believed that app providers will “dominate” the industry “within five years,” a survey by Deloitte found at the time. And for all the talk about avoiding “dumb pipe” status, 89 percent of surveyed mobile industry executives believe carriers will be limited to that role.



Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents say app providers, rather than access providers or handset makers, will dominate mobile in five years.


Moreover, 89 percent believes the role of carriers will be limited to delivering data access anywhere, anytime.

Fully 70 percent agreed that firms such as Google and Apple would dominate the business.

Some 31 percent of the service provider executives thought “commoditization of carriers” would increase, while 90 percent agree that “walled gardens” would not work in the future.

What Drives App Revenue?

Over the last half decade, mobile app revenue sources have changed. In 2011, most revenue was earned by the sale of apps in mobile app stores. By 2015, in-app purchases had  become more important. By 2017, according to Gartner, in-app purchases will be the largest revenue contributor.

Games have become the single-biggest revenue source, as well, representing perhaps 72 percent of app revenue in 2013, according to Digi-Capital.

0.19 percent of all freemium game players contribute 48 percent of revenue, according to Swrve.

Of paying customers, 64 percent make one purchase, while only 6.5 percent of players make five or more purchases.

The average monthly spend per payer was $24.33 (up from $22 in 2014).

The typical paying player makes 1.8 purchases, averaging $13.82 per purchase.



About 2.5 percent of all purchases are now over $50 in value, and these purchases contribute over 17 percent of all mobile game revenue.

\Swrve also found that a full 64 percent of players who spend money in games only do so once in the month (up from 49 percent in the original study last year). But it’s not all bad news for publishers. Total volume of spending per month increased by nearly $3 per player to $24.66.

In September 2014, Swrve found that freemium game users spent an “average” (mean) of  $24.93. The mean number of in-game purchases per month was three, with an average value of $8.34.




"Dumb Pipe" Will Anchor Access Provider Value, and Execs Know That

It has been clear for some time that as app development has moved to open and third party sources, economic value and firm revenues in the “Internet” ecosystem have shifted to those third parties, and away from traditional access providers.

In the European Community, for example, access providers in 2013 earned between 30 percent and 46 percent of ecosystem revenues. App provider revenues ranged from about 20 percent of ecosystem revenues up to about 51 percent of revenues, according to BCG.

In 2015, the equity value of the leading app providers grew much faster than the equity value of leading telcos, for example. In 2015, Amazon’s equity value was higher by 118 percent. Google’s equity value grew “just” 44 percent. Facebook’s equity value was higher by 32 percent over the last year.

By way of contrast, Verizon was lower by one percent, AT&T up just two percent, Sprint down 13 percent, and just T-Mobile US up by 45 percent. CenturyLink dropped by 36 percent; Frontier Communications dipped 30 percent.


In a 2012 survey, many U.S. mobile industry executives believed that app providers will “dominate” the industry “within five years,” a survey by Deloitte found at the time. And for all the talk about avoiding “dumb pipe” status, 89 percent of surveyed mobile industry executives believe carriers will be limited to that role.



Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents say app providers, rather than access providers or handset makers, will dominate mobile in five years.


Moreover, 89 percent believes the role of carriers will be limited to delivering data access anywhere, anytime.

Fully 70 percent agreed that firms such as Google and Apple would dominate the business.

Some 31 percent of the service provider executives thought “commoditization of carriers” would increase, while 90 percent agree that “walled gardens” would not work in the future.

Internet Access Speeds Grow At Least 23% Year Over Year

Average internet access speeds are growing virtually everywhere in the world, though the estimates of “average” vary significantly. The...