Europe cannot afford to be reactive and hesitant on this issue, if we want to take the global lead. Our policies must be forward-looking, instead of conserving old structures. Moreover, Europe needs a real push for the deployment of ultrafast broadband - which can deliver speeds of at least 1 gigabyte and beyond. The European Union's current digital agenda targets that stipulate that all European households should have access to 30 Mbps, with 50 per cent of the households having access to at least 100 Mbps, is already outdated. Other global actors, including Japan and South-Korea, are already moving ahead with much higher speeds. If we do not want to continue to lag behind, we must set targets in gigabytes instead of megabytes. Some 50 per cent of EU households should have access to 100 Mbps by 2015 and not by 2020. That should be our target. In the same vein, we need to sharpen the high-speed target for 2020.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Super Wi-Fi (a term coined by the FCC and strongly frowned upon by the official Wi-Fi Alliance because it isn’t Wi-Fi), or IEEE 802.22 as it’s technically known, uses the TV channel frequencies that were originally used by analog TV, but which were freed up by the digital switchover in 2009. These channels — 6MHz blocks in the VHF and UHF ranges (54-698MHz) — are capable of carrying up to 20Mbps over a distance of 18 miles (30km). Multiple channels can be banded together to create faster links.
The reason 802.22 white space connectivity is so desirable is because low-frequency signals (such as 54MHz VHF) can travel very long distances, bend around mountains, and pass through obstacles. These low-frequency signals are the reason that single, huge TV transmitters can broadcast a signal to millions of homes — and why higher-frequency services, such as cellular radio, require broadcast towers every few miles.
Moving forward, the AIR.U (it’s the world’s most banal acronym, by the way: Advanced Internet Regions) consortium plans to start rolling out some pilot Super Wi-Fi networks in 2013, as and when white space networking equipment becomes widely available. Once the wireless links have been made to universities and colleges, a wired network or normal WiFi can be used to provide internet access to the rest of the community.
New Zealand - Adoption of broadband relates to costs (connecting and use) and availability of video-on-demand
Ross Patterson, Telecommunications Commissioner, said:
The intention of the study has always been to identify factors which might slow down the uptake of high speed broadband by consumers and businesses so relevant parties can make informed decisions. Following feedback from interested parties, we are still seeing two main areas identified as being important to consumers – costs relating to connecting and using high speed broadband, and the availability of video-on-demand servicesThe full report is available from the Commerce Commission.
The key points that have emerged in the course of this study are:
- The costs related to connecting to the network, and using high speed broadband services, have been identified by many parties during our study as a critical factor. As these costs (non standard connections, re-wiring, upgrading equipment and subscribing to the services) appear to be significant, they are likely to reduce the initial uptake of high speed broadband services for both consumers and SMEs.
- Video content is likely to be the primary driver of consumers’ uptake of high speed broadband services over the next few years. The rate of uptake is likely to be higher if there is a diverse range of video on demand options available to consumers. Currently, there are limited online video on demand services in New Zealand compared with many other comparable countries.
- Potential issues relating to data caps, backhaul capacity and IP interconnection are likely to be resolved by market forces.
- Rural users have the same appetite for fast broadband as urban users, but have a more fundamental need, which is to be connected to basic broadband. Theyare concerned that they could be left behind as New Zealand moves forward with high speed broadband services. This issue has been recognised in the RBI initiative and in the five point government action plan for faster broadband.
- In this report the Commission identifies issues related to the uptake of high speed broadband services. Where these issues are currently being considered or planned to be considered by other parties as part of their future work programmes, the Commission has stated so in this report.
- In submissions received on the draft report, some parties commented that the Commission was not explicit about what actions should be taken by which external parties, or that the Commission did not make specific recommendations. Policy decisions and regulatory recommendations fall outside the Commission’s jurisdiction under section 9A of the Telecommunications Act. The purpose of the report is to raise public awareness of the issues, to enable the relevant parties to make informed decisions.
- The Commission notes that submissions made by some parties commented on the need for this report to be updated in the future, and for the need to be more specific about the Commission’s monitoring processes.
- The Commission is currently reviewing its monitoring strategy and will take into account all the submissions received during the study in redesigning its future monitoring programme. The revised programme will include the monitoring of the rate of uptake of UFB services, changes in data caps, and the range and price of services offered over UFB. The Commission will consult on the scope and regularity of the monitoring reports.
Founder, Oliver Helm, said:
We had become so frustrated with the big companies' unfulfilled promises and our unworkable internet speeds. We decided to take the bull by the horns and create the solution ourselves. Crippling speeds make it very difficult for businesses to grow, particularly now that everything is going online, and it makes them look to move to places where they don't have that issue.It installed a wireless network with it claims has increased some connections from 0.2Mbps to 300Mbps, though it offers speeds of 5, 10 and 20 Mbps.
Oxfordshire County Council was also spending £3.86 million on improving broadband services in the county.
Jim Hume, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for South Scotland:
I’ve long campaigned for fast and reliable broadband in the region and I welcome the news from BT that Stranraer has been earmarked in this latest round for high speed fibre broadband.Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said:
There are obvious benefits of having a better broadband connection and this is excellent news for householders and businesses alike.
The internet plays a vital role in the local economy and in a digital age where most business is conducted online, it’s crucial that our rural areas can compete in the marketplace.
: Stranraer is really suffering because of the economic downturn and this news gives our local firms a boost. These improved links will really help local businesses, and will attract investment and new jobs. Residents will also benefit from being able to do more, better and faster, online.
However, even after this announcement far too many people in our area remain on painfully slow internet spends. We need to roll out superfast broadband to smaller towns and villages too because everyone in our region needs to be benefit.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
BT Openreach - Testing a service to extend FTTC to the home, but at costs of over £1,000 (wholesale)
The problem isn't the technology but the cost of the deployment, which involves laying a fibre optic cable from the local cabinet to the home or business premises. This is a variable cost, but could well be over £1,000.Mike Galvin of BT Openreach was quoted as saying:
FTTP on Demand has great potential and so we are proceeding with these pilots. Whilst we believe FTTC will be our mass market consumer product for some time yet, FTTP may be of interest to small and medium sized businesses and so we want to make it accessible throughout our fibre footprint. This development can potentially help SMEs to compete both at home and abroad as well as maintain and create jobs across the UK.Computing identifies the eight exchanges as including: parts of High Wycombe, Bristol South and St Agnes in Cornwall, the Waverley exchange in Edinburgh (from September 2012), then parts of Watford, Cardiff, Basingstoke and Manchester Central (from March 2013).
UK - Virgin Media criticised for adverts claiming to double speeds, but sometimes just cutting the price
The ASA said the ads implied that Virgin Media was doubling broadband speeds across the board, when it was in fact only doubling speeds for some, with 100Mbit/sec customers seeing a price cut instead of a speed upgrade.The ASA said:
We considered consumers would interpret ad (b) to mean that all consumers who have or could get the Virgin service would have their broadband speed doubled. Because we understood that not all non-Virgin customers and Virgin 100 Mb and non-cable broadband customers would have their broadband speed doubled, we concluded that ad (b) was misleading and that the exclusions contradicted the main claim. On these points, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 and 3.8 (Substantiation), 3.9 (Qualification) and 3.22 (Prices).
It quotes Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, as saying:
Local firms and households who make the switch to fibre broadband will be able to do so much more with their connection, whether they're using it for business, entertainment, education, social networking or shopping - or all of these at once. They're joining more than 10 million premises now passed by our fibre network and becoming part of one of the fastest roll-outs of the technology anywhere in the world.ZDnet reports the UK announcement covering 98 exchanges, some of which are in Scotland, with a full list.
The Stornoway Gazette quotes Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan:
HIE, who are in conversation with BT at present are drawing up plans which will include in some areas major works such as new sub-sea cables, and which will, I hope, now ensure next generation broadband comes to the islands over the next few years.See also the press release from HIE. Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said:
“I will be keeping in touch with the project to establish further details about works to be carried out locally, as the contract for the Highlands and Islands will be awarded as soon as August. Work will start shortly thereafter to address the ‘backhaul’ issue – in other words the huge amount of work that needs to be done between the Western Isles and the central belt before we have any chance of improved broadband speeds here.
This funding puts the Highlands and Islands on track to deliver the largest and most challenging rural broadband project in the UK. By bringing together the expertise and investment of both the private and public sector we want to roll out a service which will change the face of the region. Businesses and communities will see benefits where they matter most including in education, in supporting healthcare services and by opening up new markets. Our ultimate aim is for all parts of the Highlands and Islands to benefit and this news brings us a step closer to our goal.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Ireland is now however leading the EU in the field of eGovernment.
The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner, D.-Vir, with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors including Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and the ailing Mark Kirk, R-Ill, sets up a competitive bidding process for broadband loans and grants, and eliminates the rolling application process that was previously in place.The National Cable and Telecommunications Association welcomed this:
The amendment requires a minimum level of grants for areas that are currently not reached by any broadband service, sets minimum broadband speeds for funded projects, encourages new entrants to the rural broadband sector and requires RUS loan recipients and grantees to map the reach of their broadband projects. Additionally, the amendment directs the Department of Agriculture to devote 1% of RUS appropriated funds to oversight and administration.
Given the scarcity of federal dollars, it is critical that government use its resources efficiently by limiting subsidized overbuilds and focusing its efforts on extending access to the roughly 18 million Americans currently without broadband
These are Stuart Gibson from Edinburgh and Peter Peacock from Inverness.
"We need to embrace new ways of delivering services. We need to be digital by default. Digital by default will become a reality, not just a buzz phrase.Services that could be delivered online "should be delivered only online".
See the Civil Service Reform Plan.
Asia is leader with 262 million and is growing faster than other regions. China alone represented 164 million lines. China, India and Brazil achieved double digit growth.
According to the literature survey and the collected estimates, the areas in which the right policies could unlock the greatest ICT-led growth are product and labour market regulations and the European Single Market. These areas should be reformed to make European markets more flexible and competitive. This would promote wider adoption of modern data-driven organisational and management practices thereby helping to close the productivity gap between the United States and the European Union.
Gains could also be made in the areas of privacy, data security, intellectual property and liability pertaining to the digital economy, especially cloud computing, and next generation network infrastructure investment.
Standardisation and spectrum allocation issues are found to be important, though to a lesser degree. Strong complementarities between the analysed technologies suggest, however, that policymakers need to deal with all of the identified obstacles in order to fully realise the potential of ICT to spur long-term growth beyond the partial gains that we report.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
I have a short paper setting out some of the issues.
Monday, June 18, 2012
- Broadband is nearly ubiquitous in Europe. 95% of Europeans have access to a fixed broadband connection.
- Consumers and businesses are moving fast to mobile. Mobile Internet take-up grew by 62% to 217 million mobile broadband subscriptions.
- 15 million Europeans connected for the first time in 2011, with now 68% of
- Europeans online regularly and 170 million on social networks. For the first time a majority of economically disadvantaged Europeans have used the internet, but one in four Europeans have still never used the internet.
- Greece, Portugal and Ireland have turned to eGovernment to help maintain quality public services. Alongside the Czech Republic, the greatest increases in eGovernment provision and use have been in cash-strapped economies, underlining the valuable role of eGovernment in successful structural reform.
Up to 80% of the costs of rolling out high speed broadband networks are related to civil engineering, such as the digging up of roads to lay down fibre. The Commission believes this high percentage calls for harmonised measures to reduce these costs and is envisaging an EU initiative in the beginning of 2013.See the Digital Agenda Scoreboard.
A review of the leased lines market led to proposals for changes:
The review proposes to maintain and extend some existing regulation on BT, the major provider of wholesale services in this market. But Ofcom also proposes lighter regulation in the London area, where BT faces greater competition from other providers.See the Business Connectivity Market Review and consultation.
Outside of London, Ofcom is proposing to regulate very high-bandwidth, wholesale leased line services above 1Gbit/s. BT is proposed to have ‘significant market power’ in this relatively new market, in all parts of the UK except London and Hull.
Infonetics reports the number of global mobile broadband subscribers increased by almost 50 per cent between 2010 and 2011, to 846 million. It estimates that the figure will reach 2.6 billion — an increase of more than 300 percent — by 2016. BRIC countries will continue to do the driving.
Infonetics analyst Stéphane Téral said:
We anticipate Asia Pacific to account for over half of the world’s mobile broadband subscribers by 2016, while Latin America will see the fastest growth.
Everything Everywhere - Speculation that it might be acquired by venture capitalists or a high street retailer
The bid is reportedly being masterminded by former EE CEO Tom Alexander, who is said to have held discussions with KKR and another private equity group Apax, according to the Financial Times. The operator, formed by the merger of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK, dismissed the reports in a statement.
The idea that EE might be an acquisition target for a high street retail specialist reflects the operator’s evolved position. It no longer manages its own 3G network, having devolved responsibility for this to the MBNL shared venture with 3UK, which has seen T-Mobile, 3UK and Orange pooling together infrastructure equipment and tower sites.
The project, which was selected as a national strategy by the State Council on May 9, means that China has got a development plan for its broadband network at the national level. The ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission and nine other ministries have been discussing specific aspects of the "Broadband China" project since February, according to Zhang Feng, head of the telecommunication development department of the MIIT.Last week, Shang Bing, vice-minister of the MIIT, said:
China is embracing a new round of investment (in its telecom sector)," Chinese telecom operators are expected to invest 370 billion yuan ($58 billion) in broadband construction this year, an increase of 10 percent year-on-year.
Some 94 Scottish exchange areas covering around 836,000 premises have been included in the fibre upgrade plan to date.
UK - Only 1 in a thousand lines can deliver 100 Mbps and only 2 in a thousand households has signed up that speed
It quotes the European Commission:
In terms of the broadband speed targets set by the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE), the UK has one of the smallest shares of lines within the EU at and above 100Mbps. The penetration of these lines in January 2012 was only 0.02 percent and below the EU average of 0.4 percent.
Even at lower speeds, the UK is lagging. Uptake of connections in the 30-100Mbps range was 1.7 percent, compared with 2.4 percent for the EU as a whole. In addition, only 5.5 percent of fixed connections are able to deliver those rates, the Commission said.
Whitby - Robin Hood's Bay Broadband Cooperative has been funded by DEFRA for rural broadband development
At a time when broadband is becoming a considerable economic enabler - new jobs available from Apple and Amazon for home-shoring workers require 5Mbps and 4Mbps minimum speeds respectively - broadband subscriptions grew only 0.1pc to 1.66m subscriptions at the end of March.Less than 20pc of broadband subscribers - mostly cable users in urban areas - are getting speeds higher than 10Mbps. See the full report.
Building a nationwide broadband network will strengthen our economy and put more Americans back to work. "By connecting every corner of our country to the digital age, we can help our businesses become more competitive, our students become more informed and our citizens become more engaged."The Executive Order (EO) will require the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs as well as the US Postal Service to offer carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment.
The new US Ignite Partnership is to create a national network of communities and campuses with ultra-fast, programmable broadband services, operating at speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second. This network will become a test-bed for designing and deploying next-generation applications to support national priorities areas such as education, healthcare, energy, and advanced manufacturing. US Ignite is intended to challenge students, startups, and industry leaders to create a new generation of applications and services that meet the needs of local communities while creating a broad range of job and investment opportunities.
Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said:
Investments in ultra-fast broadband networks contribute to promoting growth in line with the EU's Digital Agenda. If such networks are built with the help of taxpayers' money, it is important to ensure thriving competition on the subsidised networks, so that local businesses and citizens can benefit from continuously improving broadband services at competitive prices.
Scotland - On e-commerce while the UK is globally number one for e-commerce, Scotland is well behind
Despite a decade of explosive growth, and the presence of exemplary Scottish-based firms such as Schuh, Toolstop, Black Circles and Skyscanner, so far no Scottish minister or development agency leader has publicly addressed the specialised demands of e-commerce or the lack of training in the technical, design, marketing, supply-chain management and order-fulfilment skills needed to succeed in a global marketplace.See the full text of the report.
The report was also critical of the Scottish public sector's lack of knowledge and engagement with e-commerce to date and urged a "refreshed" approach by the public sector including "awareness raising activity", publication of statistics, encouragement of further networking and improved training of economic support staff and businesses.
Friday, June 15, 2012
UK - Optimistic estimate of £1.8Bn for costs of interception for the next decade to be met by government
The Home Office has published the Communications Data Bill.
The Guardian notes:
Ministers have already agreed to pay all the costs of the scheme, which will require phone and internet companies to collect and store for 12 months the records of internet and mobile phone use in Britain for access by police and intelligence services.The House of Lords is separately considering the admissibility of evidence from interception (see progress).
The communications data that police and intelligence services may seek about an individual under the communications bill includes email addresses and phone numbers of people who have been in contact; when this happened; where; and the details giving the police records of suspects' associates and activities. It will remain the case that they will not be allowed to access the content of emails, texts, mobile calls and other confidential web use without a warrant signed by the home secretary.
[Home Secretary, Theresa] May defended the 550,000 individual requests for data each year made by security officials as a vital tool to catch serious criminals and terrorists.
The county had been awarded £17m from a public subsidy, one of the largest amounts given to any UK council.
Both BT and Fujitsu have been given more time to come up with better offers.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
This is addition to £68.8m allocated for Scotland in 2011.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore MP said:
Access to superfast broadband means Scottish businesses can expand, develop new markets and compete globally. It also allows local communities to access public services more quickly and efficiently online.See also the Scotland Office press release.
Providing Scotland with high-speed broadband is essential for businesses to grow and to create the new jobs we need. That is why the UK government believes broadband is essential not only for everyday life, but also for the future economic success of Scotland and the UK.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Europe - Council of ministers agreed on €9.1 billion for trans-European networks and digital platforms
agreed on the creation of a "Connecting Europe Facility" (CEF) – the future funding instrument for Europe's key infrastructures in the energy, telecommunications and transport. The ministers reached a compromise on the last outstanding question – whether the CEF should provide for more possibilities of funding road development projects.See also the Presidency Conclusions.
The draft regulation on CEF, worth €50 billion of investment, aims to help create high-performing, environmentally sustainable and interconnected networks across Europe.
Telecommunications sector: broadband networks can receive funding rates of up to 50%, generic services and cross-cutting priorities – up to 75%, while projects linked to "Europeana" – the digital platform for the European cultural heritage – can receive funding of up to 100%.