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Showing posts from November, 2012

Unintended Consequences of Regulator Policy Decisions

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Telecom policy makers always face tough choices when designing national communications policies. Because “for every public policy there is a corresponding private interest,” no single set of policies will universally be seen as “fair.” What helps big carriers often hurts smaller carriers. What favors mobile operators can disadvantage fixed network providers.

And, even where rules only affect a single provider, such as LightSquared or Dish Network, the affected providers might not think government rules are especially fair. And there always is a risk of unintended consequences, even when a policy is well intentioned.

Something like that, with price implications for lighter mobile data users, arguably has happened as an unintended result of an apparently unrelated decsion by the Federal Communications Commission regarding Verizon’s purchase of 700-MHz spectrum.

The FCC decided that Verizon was violating the “open access” rules of the 700 MHz spectrum licenses it purchased in 2008 by cha…

Search Can Predict Smart Phone Launch Success

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Google says search predicts smart phone sales with over 90 percent accuracy.

In its "2012 Smartphone Launch Predictor" study, Google found that an extra 1,000 news stories in the weeks before launch will likely lead to a nine percent boost in smartphone sales.

About 52 percent of purchase-related searches occur before launch (and over one third of general smartphone searches).

An extra 25,000 mobile searches will likely increase smartphone sales 17 percent. One month after launch, those searches boost sales 20 percent.




Tablets a Nightmare for Microsoft?

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Are tablets potentially a nightmare for Microsoft and other leaders in the PC market? Some think that could happen. The indicators include a shift of buyer spending towards tablets, and away from PCs.

At work, there is a trend of workers substituting tablets, smart phones and Apple PCs for Windows machines. Office suites can be sourced online, at free or low costs. Developer attention is shifting to iOS and Android.

And then there are the questions about Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Those fears might be overblown. But the data points seem to suggest there is legitimate danger. We will know more as Windows 8 rolls out, and as Windows Phone efforts intensify in 2013. 







Digital Wallet Value Proposition Might be Clearer for Online Payments

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New markets often do not develop as proponents originally envisioned, at least in part because end users and customers often decide that the value represented by an innovation is different than what was intended by the developers. At least where it comes to products or services they never have seen before, people are unpredictable

That might also be true for "mobile wallets" and "digital wallets," which generally are seen as innovations for retail checkout and shopping. But it might turn out that people find more value for online shopping and checkout. 

Today’s consumer types in an average of 44 fields when shopping online, and V.me gets you down to five or six, Visa says. 

Smart Phone Becomes “Primary” Screen for Teenagers, for First Time

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Once upon a time, the movie theater was the primary content consumption screen, followed by the television. These days, a smart phone, tablet or PC increasingly is likely to have become the primary media consumption screen for a significant percentage of users, a study by Orange suggests.

The “Orange Exposure 2012/2013” study shows a  stark contrast in mobile media habits between teenagers and adults, for example.

For teenagers, the mobile phone is the primary screen, for the first time, not the TV or PC.

Also, adults are using multiple screens more interchangeably than ever before, choosing the most suitable screen for any particular situation, Orange says.

In the United Kingdom, 83 percent of teenagers have a smart phone and 95 percent have one in Spain. In addition, 92 percent of teenagers in the United Kingdom say mobile is a “way to always have a media device at hand” and 55 per cent of teenagers in the UK say that they prefer their mobile over other screens.

Consumers also are increa…

Freemium Apps Grow Google Play Revenue 350% in 2012

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Freemium app revenues in both iOS and Google Play stores have, over the last two years,  more than quadrupled, for both Google Play and the Apple Store. 

In 2012, global "freemium" app revenues on Google Play have grown 3.5 times over 2011, App Annie says, Those revenues include content or virtual goods sales inside the free to use apps and advertising. 

Premium revenues (paid apps)  for both app stores remained relatively flat in 2011 and 2012. 


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Value and Data Consumption are Not Closely Correlated, for Smart Phone Users

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Though it is helpful in some ways to know how much total bandwidth is consumed from fixed devices, on fixed networks, compared to mobile devices on mobile networks, volume of data is not a reasonable proxy for value.

The reason is that the value of the mobile applications is very high, even if total consumed bandwidth is relatively low. And it appears the value of many different Internet applications is one reason so many people have embraced smart phones.

On the other hand, few of the popular activities really consume all that much bandwidth, and many of the activities have a real-time focus. The value comes largely from the context, the ability to get information immediately and use it to direct one's activities.

Chicago Issues RFI for Municipal Wi-Fi

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The City of Chicago has issued a request for information for potential bidders on a new municipal Wi-Fi service that would serve public areas such as parks, and areas around research institutions, Chicago Business reports.  

The network does not appear to aim at providing service to residential consumers in the manner of high-speed access typically provided by cable companies and telephone companies, but is more a spot deployment more reminiscent of a competitive local exchange carrier network. 

At least so far, similar efforts have generally proven unworkable.

Mobile Capital Investment Will Shift to Small Cells, but When?

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Joe Madden of Mobile Experts thinks the global mobile service provider industry is about to enter a period where capital investment shifts to smaller cells. To be sure, 2012 seemed to see a waning of capital investment, with 12 percent lower RF transceiver shipments than 2011.

Madden says that fits a pattern of investment in transmission facilities that has been typical of second generation and third generation networks.

He calls the pattern a "two hump camel.” The first hump reflects the initial build. About four years later, those initial systems are upgraded with additional radio capacity and additional towers, and the second "hump" begins.

Of course, many service providers globally are on the cusp of major investments for Long Term Evolution. But global economic uncertainty appears to be causing a delay in capital investment, either in the form of additional 3G base stations or new LTE base stations, Madden argues.


The next big upsurge in investment will occur about 2…

Battery Life, Not Bandwidth, Sometimes is the Key Mobile Limitation

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The average power consumption for a 10-minute CDMA circuit-switched call in a recent test was about half that of a 4G Long Term Evolution call. That will get better over time, but right now, it appears that LTE voice calls are going to drain batteries about twice as fast as talking using CDMA networks. 

A 10-minute call using CDMA consumed 680 milliwatts (mW) while the average consumption for a VoLTE call of the same duration was 1358 mW. 

Spirent estimated that on a full charge, its test smartphone could support 502.6 minutes of talk time using CDMA only, but the same charge would only deliver 251.8 minutes of talk time using VoIP on the 4G network. And that’s with all other data communications turned off. And how often do users turn off unneeded radios?

U,K. Mobile Operator EE Boosts Data Allowances 60%

EE, the U.K. mobile service provider now offering Long Term Evolution services, has boosted 4G data allowances about 60 percent, while keeping prices the same. 

 The 2GB plan now becomes a 3GB allowance, with the 3GB plan increasing to 5GB, and the 5GB allowance now extending to 8GB. All existing 4GEE customers will be automatically upgraded to the new data allowances, with no increase in their monthly fee, the company says.

iPhone 5 Tops U.S. Smart Phone Sales, Android Leads Elsewhere

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The latest smart phone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech shows that strong uptake of the iPhone 5 over the past 12 weeks ending in October 2012 has boosted iOS back to the number one spot in the U.S. market. 

Apple now has a 48.1 percent shareof U.S. smartphone sales compared with Android which has 46.7 percent.

Android leads in other markets, though. In Europe, Android has the lead, accounting for 73.9 percent of sales in Germany and 81.7 percent in Spain.

The majority of US iPhone 5 sales, 62 percent, have come from existing Apple owners upgrading to the new device.

Apple Maintains Lead in Tablets but Market Share Down 14% in 3Q 2012

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Apple had 55 percent share of the tablet market in the third quarter of 2012, says ABI Research. But competition from tablets powered by Google’s Android OS continue to eat away at Apple’s share. 

“With the introduction of a smaller, lower-cost iPad mini, Apple has acknowledged Android’s beachhead of 7-inch-class tablets,” says ABI Research senior practice director Jeff Orr.

If this continues, we will have the answer to the question of whether can create an MP-3 style market, where it completely dominates market share, or whether a pattern somewhat more akin to the smart phone or notebook markets will ultimately develop. So far, it appears Apple will not be able to sustain an MP-3 style lock on the market. 

So the market perhaps already has changed. Where early on one might have argued there was an "iPad market" and then a "tablet market," it seems that a unified "tablet" market is developing. For some, the additional question is whether we might see replay,…

More Carrier Over the Top Services Launching

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A few more European mobile service providers are jumping into the over the top voice and messaging app business.  In Spain, Movistar, Orange and Vodafone, Spain's three leading mobile service providers, have launched "Rich Communication Services" using the "joyn" brand.

That makes Spain the first country in the world to offer a fully interoperable carrier-owned over the topvoice and messaging app, meaning that any customers of any of the mobile service providers can communicate with each other. 

In Germany, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone both support joyn. 

The idea is that joyn will allow mobile service provides to create a very large community of users, with access to "rich" voice and messaging ("rich" generally implies support for video) features. So both "scale" and "feature richness" are viewed as part of the strategy. 

There are about three or four different ways mobile service providers globally can react. About half th…

European Broadband Access: DSL and Satellite Rule

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Despite the seeming reality presented by media and analyst reports, change comes relatively slowly in the access business. 

"Despite all the publicity, FTTP doesn’t offer the main route to digital heaven, at least not for the time being. So far FTTP covers only 12 percent of homes," says Tim Johnson, Point Topicchief analyst. 

By way of contrast, cable operators can reach about 37 percent of homes with the Docsis 3.0 network, generally capable of providing faster speeds than digital subscriber line. 

In rural areas, only DSL and satellite networks are ubiquitous. 


Click image for larger version of infographic
Rural coverage by technology for each country in 2011CountriesDSLVDSLFTTPWiMAXStandard cableDocsis 3 cableHSPALTESatelliteFrance96.3%0%0.3%0%39.9%28.2%87%0%100%Germany51.4%0%0%

Globally, Satellite TV Subs will Surpass Cable TV Subs in 2016

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On a global basis, there will be more satellite subscription TV customers than cable TV customers by about 2016, Infonetics Research now predicts. 



Half of all Mobiles Will Use 3G, 4G networks by 2017

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About half of all mobile devices in use in 2017 will use either 3G or 4G networks according to Wireless Intelligence. About 40 percent of connections will use 3G. About half will use 2G. Fourth generation networks will support about 10 percent of connections

U.K. Mobile Operator Three Launches M2M Platform

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U.K. mobile operator Three has launched a wholesale machine-to-machine (M2M) platform designed to bring down setup costs and speed time to market for M2M retailers.

Ericsson is providing the platform, said to enable MVNOs launching M2M services to do so in just two weeks time.

Three partners get their own branded portal, the ability to activate and deactivate their own connections, apply data caps and track data usage.

Most researchers believe M2M will be a big market for mobile service providers.


Mobile Service Provider Capex Will Shift to Small Cells by 2014

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Joe Madden of Mobile Experts thinks the global mobile service provider industry is about to enter a period where capital investment shifts to smaller cells. To be sure, 2012 seemed to see a waning of capital investment, with 12 percent lower RF transceiver shipments than 2011.

Madden says that fits a pattern of investment in transmission facilities that has been typical of second generation and third generation networks.

He calls the pattern a "two hump camel.” The first hump reflects the initial build. About four years later, those initial systems are upgraded with additional radio capacity and additional towers, and the second "hump" begins.

Of course, many service providers globally are on the cusp of major investments for Long Term Evolution. But global economic uncertainty appears to be causing a delay in capital investment, either in the form of additional 3G base stations or new LTE base stations, Madden argues.


The next big upsurge in investment will occur about 2…

How Much Mobile Traffic Can be Offloaded to Wi-Fi?

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How much smart phone traffic can be offloaded to Wi-Fi is uncertain, at this point, though it already is clear that perhaps a majority of at-home smart phone usage routinely is shifted to Wi-Fi access. 

The bigger question is how much "out and about" usage might be shifted to Wi-Fi, particularly in urban areas. That might affect the deployment of small cells that also support Wi-Fi. 

Softbank in Japan has tested the offload potential of dense Wi-Fi deployments and apparently has concluded that less than 25 percent of mobile data traffic can be offloaded to public Wi-Fi in the long term.

Those estimates correspond with figures Boingo suggests. Boingo believes about 22 percent of mobile traffic will be offloaded to Wi-Fi by about 2016.

Others might disagree. Cisco analysts say as much as 30 percent of mobile traffic could occur on Wi-Fi networks. And analysts at Juniper Research think more than 60 percent of mobile device traffic could be offloaded to Wi-Fi means by about 2015.

O…

Service Providers Don't Always Pick Technology Winners

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For those who can remember widespread cable operator interest in "interactive TV," dating back to the 1980s, there is a lesson. Service providers are not always "right" about what consumers want, or how to supply the demand.

The early thinking was that people wanted, and would use, interactive features built around the video experience, using the TV, remote control and cable box as enablers.

As it turns out, people do "interact" or "augment" video programming, but in a way not foreseen: they use their PCs, tablets and smart phones to multitask. In other words, they "do other things" while watching TV. 

But they do not really want to interact directly with video content. The lesson is that suppliers do not always understand what it is that people might want to do. So the instinctive response is to ask people what they want, what they might pay for experiences and how they want those experiences delivered. 

But consumers nearly always have a…

Android, Apple iPhone: Key Mobile Shopping Differences

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IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark reported U.S. Black Friday sales and the news is reasonably good. Overall online sales grew by 17.4 percent while mobile sales grew to make up 24 percent of traffic. That probably does not come as a surprise. 


The study suggests 75 percent of the activity was from PCs. Of the mobile activity, a highly disproportionate share was conducted by owners of Apple iPhones. That is more notable. 

Apple iPhone owners were nearly four times more likely to conduct transactions using their devices, compared to Android owners. 

What nobody can tell, at this point, is whether those differences are due to some key difference in user interface, activity preferences or are more related to differences in end user personal wealth, or something else. 


Google Rumor: 13-inch Chrome OS Touch Notebook?

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The launch of a rumored touch-enabled Chrome OS touch notebook might suggest Google is tiptoeing even further towards offering its own branded devices, as Microsoft has done with its branded "Surface" tablet. 

As always, the move would increase the odds of channel conflict for both Google and Microsoft. 

European Smart Phone Penetration Hits 54%

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Smart phone penetration in EU5 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK) is now at 53.7 percent, with nearly 130 million people using smart phones in the three month average ending September 2012, according to comScore.

Out of this smart phone audience, 15.5 percent also own a tablet, compared to 9.3 percent last year.

Deutsche Telekom Faces Same Challenge as Many U.S. Service Providers

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Most telecom executives, especially those facing growing competition from cable operators, have had to ask hard questions about their options for upgrading access networks. The simple fact is that a full replacement of the network to fiber to the home technology is expensive. 

Japan's Bank Nomura estimated the cost of a digital subscriber line upgrade, in areas where Deutsche Telekom needs more speed to counter cable operator high speed access offering, at around 4 billion euros ($5.1 billion), while a full upgrade to fiber to the home, across Germany, could cost around EUR80 billion, or perhaps $102 billion.

So Deutsche Telekom plans to selectively upgrade, using a faster form of digital subscriber line technology, in those areas where competition is most fierce. The vectoring approach provides a dramatic boost in speeds. 

Some would argue that Deutsche Telekom should simply rebuild its network using fiber to the home, essentially creating a "future proof" network. 

The pro…