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TalkTalk's special: Free live calls for the elderly
Saturday, 17 April 2010 13:07
British_PensioneerCharlie Dunstone has a great idea for 30-50% of those who can afford broadband, are able to read and likely to be interested. His employees will make a scheduled weekly 5 minute call to any elderly subscriber who'd like a contact with the outside world. They'll look up local information, explain the service, or just chat about sports or the telly. It's a small gesture, but likely appreciated by many who rarely get out. 
    If it brings new customers this will be good business for Charlie. Since TalkTalk (the Carphone Warehouse spinoff that's #2 in the UK) can schedule the calls, an employee should be able to do 10-20/hour (many won't be home), making the cost per $1-2/call, $4-8 per customer. The service typically goes for $28 or more, and this is directly targeted at the largest base of prospective new customers. 
     Affordability is by far the biggest obstacle to broadband takeup. A huge but unmentioned factor is that 20-40% of those who don't take broadband are functionally illiterate. A huge proportion of those remaining prospects are elderly, possibly as many as half.
Last Updated on Saturday, 17 April 2010 15:01
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Frontier: 10M Americans must not watch TV over the net
Thursday, 15 April 2010 11:36

Wicked-WitchIn an almost unbelievable move, Maggie Wilderotter of Frontier has threatened to shut down the DSL connection of any of her customers watching more than 30-90 minutes of regular TV a week over the Internet. Frontier asserts "A reasonable amount of usage is defined as 5GB combined upload and download consumption during the course of a 30-day billing period." I'd like to introduce them to what comes out of the rear end of a male cow. The average use in the U.S. today is over 10 gigabytes, based on Cisco data. SD TV requires 500 megabytes/hour or more, HD TV 1.5-2.5 gigabytes and is becoming increasingly available. Assuming light usage of other services, that means you're over the limit watching 30 minutes of HD or 90 minutes of SD each week.

      DSL Reports has a letter from Frontier demanding people pay either $99.99 or $249.50 if they use more data. Maggie earned the picture at left when she told the NY Times she was proud they had the highest broadband prices in the country. They charge $39.95 for service that Verizon or AT&T offer for $20. They have now raised those prices.

     There's nothing wrong with a bandwidth cap or charging for data used, as long as the price bears a reasonable relationship to the costs incurred. My Net Neutrality friends came down on me hard for writing Comcast's fair 250 gigabyte cap, but bandwidth isn't free. It costs a carrier with good fiber connections to all exchanges 4 to 8 cent/s gigabyte. Frontier's $99.99 price represents a markup of 1500% to 3000% over the costs at a competently run carrier the size of Frontier. 

     Julius Genachowski, if he has any courage, will "just say no" to the Verizon-Frontier deal. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:44
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Niel and Brin: Two CEOs Changing the Internet
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 08:46

sergey-brin-space-flightXavier Niel in France and Sergei Brin at Google have stamped their personalities on their companies. Niel changed the Internet across Europe by proving a 30 euro triple play was not only possible but extremely profitable. He started the first ISP in France in 1993 and built Free.fr from very little. He's now virtually a folk hero as well as a billionaire, but still thinks differently. St�phane Richard of France Telecom is a product of Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales and a distinguished government career. Xavi dropped out of school at 17 to start Minitel Rose. He's comfortable trying completely new approaches, including the first all IP DSL network in the west. That proved a brilliant move; his costs really are much lower and staff much fewer than any other company I've visited. Niel is very angry at new French taxes on the Internet and may pass them on as a price increase. Let's hope not; the entire Western world holds up France as a model. 
     Brin is willing to take risks to improve the Internet.  Google with AOL/TIme Warner were ready five years ago to build a WiFi network across the U.S. (I don't think anyone has reported that story previously but my source (not Levin) is definitive.  It would have been mostly or entirely ad-supported and both the numbers and engineering checked out. Google and the top management of Time Warner gave it a go, but the cable side of Time Warner vetoed it to prevent customers turning off their cable modems. 
If the FCC hadn't agreed to the AOL-TimeWarner merger in 2000, 95+% of the U.S. would have free/very cheap WiFi now.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 April 2010 09:18
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Australia: 0% growth in 2009
Saturday, 03 April 2010 05:39
KangarooAustralia began 2009 with 4,176,000 DSL subscribers and ended with 4,193,000. The net gain of 17,000 is 0.4%, which rounds to 0%. Cable and fibre did little better, going from 913,000 to 935,000, up 2%. This is abysmal, especially because 369,000 canceled dial-up. 
     Mobile wireless data more than doubled, from 1,368,000 to 2,838,000 with the growth increasing in the second half of the year. The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines "mobile wireless" as connected via a datacard, dongle or USB modem. http://bit.ly/bwkG8V. Petroc Wilton of Commsday suggests "the available market for DSL customers is flattening out quickly."
     Wilson quotes Frost and Sullivan’s Phil Harpur belief that the trend would soon level off, with very limited cannibalisation from the fixed market. “I think the period of that very high growth has peaked and the growth rates are going to plateau out.... although you get some people who’ll totally do away with the fixed line, the problem you’ve got with wireless is that network can only take so much... and it can get overloaded.” Nathan Burley of Ovum calculates that from June to December the average monthly download went from 4.7GB to 5.8GB. per user.



Last Updated on Saturday, 03 April 2010 06:15
 
Ivan Seidenberg: Many $millions to finish the Verizon-Vodafone deal
Monday, 29 March 2010 04:51

ivanUpdate 4/7 Ivan at CFR says no merger likely. He usually tells truth. Prev: Ivan Seidenberg has tens of millions of reasons to sell Verizon to Vodafone before he retires in a year or two. Vittorio Calao also wants to strike a deal in the next few months. Needing to keep short term numbers high to raise the deal price explains Verizon recent moves: firing 8,000 more people than originally intended, canceling 5M planned lines of FiOS and reaching an entente with cable to both raise prices.

    Calao is an ex-Morgan banker who will drive a tough bargain. Craig Moffett notes that Verizon has a problem the current dividend, which in 2009 was substantially higher than earnings. He thinks Voda has a trump card in Verizon's need to pull cash out of the 45% Vodafone owned Verizon Wireless if they don't want to cut the dividend, although cutting capex could put that off several years. 

     Mike McCormack of JP Morgan sees it differently. "

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 April 2010 08:03
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Great Firewall eats Facebook in Chile
Saturday, 27 March 2010 11:18
Robert McMillan reports Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were all inaccessible at a Chilean ISP great_firewallwho used a root DNS server in China. A censorship tool spread internationally, although it's since been corrected.

     Earl Zmijewski at the very valuable Renesys blog tracked down the details which he calls "Accidentally Importing Censorship" It appears the Chilean and possibly an American ISP peers with China Telecom and followed a route through that peer.  bit.ly/cpZF64

Here's the code
$ dig @i.root-servers.net www.facebook.com A
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 18:34
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TSMC: 20nm chips in 2012 will do three times as much
Thursday, 15 April 2010 12:22
TSMC_Fab_bunny_suitShang-yi Chiang announced TSMC, the world's largest foundry, expects to enter 20nm "risk production" in the second half of 2012. Volume production at a reasonable cost will likely follow in 2013 or 2014. The most advanced communications chips are currently produced at 45nm, and the more advanced manufacturing will allow about 3 times the capabilities at a roughly similar cost as well as considerably reduced power consumption. In DSL, state of the art 100 megabit VDSL2 chips could be cranked out at close to the cost of today's ADSL chips, or a slew of now separte functionality can be included on the same chip. I'd guess you could include 802.11n WiFi, gigabit Ethernet, enough packet processing to run 4 HD channels down and two up, and maybe even an LTE femtocell.

    This is further confirmation that Moore's Law improvements are likely to continue for many years. Morris Chang of TSMC spoke of their technology choices for 14nm and no technologist doubts that further improvement will be practical in a few years. That capability will enable matching the processing power of the iPhone 4G in a $75 phone around 2015-2017, so it's reasonable to expect nearly everyone in the developed world to be carrying a smartphone better than any on the market today later in the decade.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 April 2010 12:50
 
100,000 UK families proving powerline home networking works
Tuesday, 13 April 2010 13:49

Comtrend_home_powerlineBT has distributed several hundred thousand home powerline units for home networking and they are working fine according to several reviews. Years of hype - and promises of speeds of 200 and 400 megabits - have made most of us cynical about powerline home networks. It's time to rethink that skepticism.  Xavier Niel at free.fr now includes a powerline chip in the cord of his Freebox and probably has deployed over a million homes. BT and Telfonica are in volume deployment of IPTV over powerline, although that is mostly standard definition.

    John Egan of DS2 tells me real world speeds rarely drop below 20 megabits and frequently are much higher. Power lines are inherently noisy so performance varies considerably, but SD TV is having few problems. Egan is confident that the next generation of chips, to the G.hn standard, will support HD speeds to multiple TVs. G.hn has been designed with forward error correction and QOS to make HD highly reliable as well.

     The chipmakers are enthusiastic about G.hn, which will run over powerlines, coax, and practically anything else including barbed wire. The carriers are waiting for results before committing, however.

    It hasn't been easy going for powerline, with competing standards and disappointing early results. DS2 was struggling but now is hopeful about a reorganization. 



Last Updated on Friday, 16 April 2010 16:02
 
D.C. squabbles won't affect broadband investment
Tuesday, 06 April 2010 15:40
AT&T and Verizon are telling everyone in D.C. they will cut broadband spending heavily if they lose on NN and the Title I/Title II technicalities. There's one wall street guy who has this wrong, and they will make sure everyone in D.C. knows his comments. Carriers can't radically downsize because they have already cut broadband spending to the bone.
    10 companies are over 85% of the market, with four - AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner - about 70%. By looking at the plans of each, you can determine any large moves possible in U.S. broadband.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 16:37
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2009: China up 22M to 104M and domination
Monday, 29 March 2010 16:26
Point_Topic_2009China added three times as many broadband subscriptions in 2009 than the U.S. and the 18M subscriber gap is almost as many as the total broadband customers in France or Britain. The ever-invaluable Point-Topic figures show  Mexico and India surprise third and fourth. Argentina, Russia and especially Brazil are doing better than many realize, and Vietnam added almost as many subscribers as Italy or Britain. 
 
     China, India, and Russia all grew by over 20%.  The U.S., Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, and Italy all grew 7-10%; Britain and Canada were a little lower.
     Japan, with 80% fiber availability, has the best built Internet in the world but only grew 3%. The 65% household penetration is comparable to Germany or Spain. Effective prices have gone up substantially in the last few years as the government has allowed NTT fiber to dominate after some of the most vigorous DSL competition in the world early in the decade. Japan has long had the most advanced mobile data devices; I suspect what's going on is that many Japanese are content with mobile.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2010 23:28
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Finally: AT&T femtos
Sunday, 28 March 2010 08:00

femtooysterRandall Stephenson will put 10M AT&T femtocells across the U.S., I reported in 2008. He told Wall Street that a half-billion dollar investment in femtos would save him the equivalent of $3B in spectrum. They've now officially launched, but at a high price ($100-150) to limit early demand. Cisco is selling femtos to AT&T for about $50 (very large quantities). They save bandwidth (think reducing iPhone problems) and make customers happy, so T's logical strategy is to include a femto in most  bundles. 2Wire, part owned by AT&T, discussed a gateway with a femto included three years ago.

    Checking with parts suppliers I'm finding that including a femto will only add $20-30 to the cost in the near future, and be a natural to include with every U-Verse order. T has invested in their chip supplier, picoChip, rapidly introducing integrated chips that bring down the cost. Randall has a powerful incentive to move quickly after they resolve the last few bugs; wall street is downgrading for reputation issues due to iPhone problems,

     4-10 devices can connect via each femto. Think several phones, the meter for the smartgrid service, electric appliances to switch on or off for automatic energy savings, and others not yet dreamed of. No one is doing it yet,

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2010 23:22
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DSL the Great Gamekiller
Saturday, 27 March 2010 10:50

DSL_killed_meJeff Green's DSL line dropped and he tweeted "Booted twice -- and progress lost -- on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. ...Well. I've tried to be open-minded. But my 'net connection is finicky -- and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable. The story is fun, the gameplay is interesting and different at least -- but if you suffer from shaky/unreliable DSL -- you've been warned."

     Jeff, editor-in-chief of Electronic Arts, added "We need new solutions." DSL reliability, please. (via Neoseeker and slashdot)

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 March 2010 11:05
 
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