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Showing posts from June, 2014

Enventis Sale Illustrates Rural Telco Dilemma

Another acquisition by regional telco Consolidated Communications, which now is acquiring Enventis Corporation, formerly HickoryTech, illustrates the pattern of “growth by acquisition” for Consolidated Communications and other regional telcos that formerly primarily earned their revenues from telecom services, mostly voice, sold to rural consumers.

In recent years, leading regional telcos that formerly could have rightly been called “rural telcos” have grown not just by acquiring assets, but by changing the nature of their businesses, becoming largely suppliers of services sold to business customers.
In most cases, such transformations have been accomplished through acquisitions, especially of service provider operations that historically have focused on business customers.
Almost by definition, that strategy cannot work for all rural telcos. An acquisition strategy requires access to capital, plus geographical proximity, management expertise and reasonable existing scale.
Windstream an…

"No Business Case" for Voice over LTE, At Least, Not Yet

“VoLTE rollouts are taking off, but “There is no business case,” at least yet, for voice over Long Term Evolution, says Stéphane Téral,Infonetics Research principal analyst.

To be sure, that could change over time, and some might argue that high-definition voice services already operating on over 100 global GSM networks do have a business case, mainly related to boosting the value of carrier voice services, and thereby stemming churn.
Some might argue the effort to add value as a means of protecting voice revenue streams is an issue in the over-the-top voice app market as well.
“Japan-based Line has topped Skype as the market leader, capturing roughly a quarter of worldwide active users in 2013,” says Diane Myers, Infonetics Research principal analyst for VoIP, UC, and IMS.
In a manner similar to high-definition voice, Line has added new unique features, including stickers and games that change the product.  
Myers also notes that “most providers in this space are making very little mon…

T-Mobile US Zero Rates Speed Tests

T-Mobile US does not count bits consumed as part of speed tests against a user data usage allowance. Of course, some network neutrality supporters will--as they have with other pro-consumer issues, stretch the concept to the point of intellectual incoherence and silliness.

Worst of all, the intellectual incoherence leads to outcomes that are not consumer friendly, not conducive to innovation, and not enabling differentiation and creativity.

“Network neutrality” has been stretched unnaturally to argue against zero-rating applications usage, something Facebook and other app providers think has merit as a way of providing value to users of mobile Internet access in undeveloped regions. The charge is that doing so does not “treat all bits the same.”
Those on the other side of the net neutrality debate have argued against the concept precisely because it does prevent innovation, creativity and new ways of providing end user value.
In large part, such anti-consumer outcomes result because the…

Mobile Now 66% of Total U.S. Internet Connections

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Though it still makes sense, conceptually, to separate fixed network Internet access services from mobile Internet access services, mobile connections now vastly outnumber fixed connections.
Overall, mobile Internet connections represent about 66 percent of all Internet access connections. The distinction is important because blended averages of access speeds, including both fixed and mobile connections, can obscure the differences between platforms.
In June 2013, 15 percent of fixed connections (13.8 million connections) were slower than 3 Mbps in the downstream direction.
At the same time, 46 percent of mobile connections (83.7 million connections) were slower than 3 Mbps in the downstream direction.
Some 70 percent of fixed accounts (66.3 million connections), more importantly, operated at 6 Mbps or faster in the downstream direction.
About 36 percent of mobile accounts (or 64.7 million connections) operated at 6 Mbps or faster in the downstream direction.
The divergence is even great…

Facebook Has 69 Million Indonesian Users

Facebook has some 69 million monthly active users in populous Indonesia, according to Anand Tilak, Facebook’s Indonesia head. That’s a six percent increase from the 65 million users Facebook reported six months ago.



Indonesian smartphone penetration is just 23 percent, underscoring the role key apps such as Facebook are deemed to play in creating demand for smartphone usage.

Content Consumption Has Shifted to Mobile Devices

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Mobile devices now are the dominant content-consumption devices, in terms of “time spent,” surpassing personal computers.
Mobile platforms, including both smartphones and tablets, represented 60 percent of total digital media time, up from 50 percent in 2013.
Several key content categories have shifted almost exclusively to mobile.
Digital Radio, led by category leader Pandora now generates more than 96 percent of its total engagement from mobile devices.
Engagement with photos--especially Instagram and Flickr--also occurs 96 percent of the time on mobile devices.
Other categories getting at least 90 percent of their engagement time from mobile include maps (Google Maps, Apple Maps) and instant messenger (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber) apps.
Social networking now generates more than 70 percent of its activity on mobile devices.
Mobile apps accounted for more than half of all digital media time spent in May 2014, coming in at 51 percent, according to comScore.

source: comScore

Voice Still Drives Net New Subscriber Accounts, Globally

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To the extent that service provider revenue is driven by net subscriber additions, mobile voice accounts remain the global growth driver in 2014, though mobile broadband is assuming a bigger role.
Fixed broadband net additions will be roughly flat through 2018, Infonetics Research predicts.
That pattern has been in place for several years, particularly since the Great Recession of 2008. source: Infonetics Research
In the U.S. market, for example, the number of consumers using fixed network voice lines has dropped by about 50 percent. Other surveys have shown the same trend.
A 2012 survey of buyers of wholesale voice services showed a belief that the most disruptive trends in the voice business included declining use of the fixed network for voice, as well as VoIP over mobile networks.
source: inetwork

Chapel Hill to Get Gigabit Access from AT&T

Chapel Hill, N.C. will get a gigabit access service provided by AT&T. Durham, N.C., Cary, N.C., Raleigh, N.C. and Winston-Salem, N.C. also are getting GigaPower service.
As many as 100 other cities in 21 metropolitan areas are potentially candidates for "GigaPower" service, AT&T says.
They include Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, San Francisco, and San Jose.
With previously announced markets, AT&T now has committed to or is exploring about 25 metro areas for fiber deployment.

FreedomPop to Introduce Sponsored Data Access

AT&T has been criticized in some quarters for supporting a “sponsored data ” retail model where content or other sponsors pay for mobile data charges to support end user consumption of some particular apps.

The concern is that such practices contribute to creation of a multi-tiered or two-tier Internet where some apps and services are more favored than others, even when--or perhaps precisely because--the feature is available to all content and app providers.

But such sponsored data consumption has been tried in a number of developing markets, typically to encourage use of social apps. And though there has been some criticism of sponsored data, even major app providers are working to do so.

Pryte, for example, now owned by Facebook, specializes in creating platforms that allow service or app providers to collaborate in offering such sponsored app programs.

Now there is more movement in the direction of sponsored data consumption, this time by FreedomPop, the Internet access provide…

China Argues for "Internet Sovereignty"

Each country should have ultimate power to determine what Internet traffic flows in and out of its territory, China's Communist Party believes. Such Internet sovereignty does of course raise issues about the original "anyone can communicate with anyone else" origins of the Internet, but that is a time long passed.



In practice, the Internet is substantially fragmented, and it is no longer true that anyone can speak to anyone else, as it no longer is true that anyone can use any Internet app or service. 



That is one reason why controversies about "Internet freedom" these days are relative. An equally big problem is the casual way many unrelated controversies are said to involve disputes about what freedom remains. 



It isn't helpful to equate application blocking with network management or managed services or quality of service. There is room for disagreement within the ecosystem about such matters. 



What isn't particularly helpful is the overly-broad depictio…

Creating End User Value Often Requires Treating "Internet Apps" Unequally

Twitter has crafted a new partnership with Indonesia’s Indosat, to streamline the signup process for new users who want to receive World Cup-related tweets.
The arrangement is the first of its kind in Asia-Pacific and one of several that are being rolled out during the World Cup in emerging markets like Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana and Latin America.
Under the arrangement with Indosat, which has some 59.7 million mobile subscribers, users can type in a code or visit a URL using their Android or iOS phones.
Users are then allowed to create a new account, pick their favorite World Cup team and select a corresponding profile image. They can then chose various specialized accounts to follow, such as World Cup players.
Business terms are unknown, but the deal does raise the issue of how innovative features that provide value to end users can be created without some exclusivity, uniqueness or ease of use features that are not available to all apps.
That sort of uniqueness, some might argue, doe…

Sprint Counters T-Mobile US "Test Drive" and Zero-Rated Music Consumption

The new T-Mobile US "test drive" program, which allows the first million takers to test an Apple iPhone 5C for seven days, without obligation to buy the device or keep the service, has been countered by Sprint, which now offers a 30-day money back guarantee for new potential customers.
The satisfaction guarantee allows new customers who are not satisfied with the Sprint experience to cancel within the first 30 days, with Sprint refunding the cost of the device and waiving all service and activation charges.
The satisfaction guarantee is available beginning June 27, 2014 to new consumers and select small corporate liable customers who activate a new line of service at a Sprint company owned store or preferred retailer, by calling 1-800-SPRINT1 or using www.sprint.com/network.
The guarantee also is available to current customers adding new lines of service in a Sprint store, online at sprint.com or by calling 1-800-SPRINT1.
Some might argue Sprint already was in position to essen…

Maybe Amazon Fire is Not Supposed to Be About Smartphone Share

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners has estimated that roughly 40 percent of all Amazon shoppers own a Kindle device and that those shoppers on average spend $1,233 with the retailer annually, which is $443, or 56 percent, more than the $790 non-Kindle owners spend with the retailer each year.
CIRP surveyed 300 Amazon.com shoppers online from Nov. 15, 2013 to Nov. 18, 2013,  about their Amazon purchasing behavior in the previous 90 days. As more retail activity starts to happen on smartphones, something like that also could develop for Amazon-centric smartphones.
It’s a gamble, to be sure. It is a management distraction, to be sure. But the objective might not be so much “competition with other smartphone suppliers” as “competition with other major retailers,” including Apple and Google, to name a few.
The prediction that Amazon is too late to make a dent in smartphone market share is reasonable enough. Some might say Amazon has failed to take lots of share in the tablet market, as…