Posted by: Costas Troulos | July 29, 2008

Video on Demand by OTE. But When?

There were numerous references in telecom blogs and news-sites on OTE‘s & ODG plans for Video on Demand (VOD) services. Throughout the web, I didn’t found nothing more than a reproduction of ODG’s press release which can be found on their website.

ODG has been selected by OTE to provide outsourced VOD, IPTV solutions. But the question is which access platform will these services be provided on?

OTE currently operates a copper access network offering ADSL2+ services and a satellite service (Hellas-Sat). VOD can’t be offered in neither of those access platforms because they are both inadequate to provide high quality digital TV services due to:

  • Current ADSL2+ roll-outs offer average speed of barely 6-7Mbps
  • Hellas-Sat’s capacity is being fully used and no extra services can be offered without the deployment of additional satellite(s), or dropping existing customers.

OTE is planning FTTC, that’s no secret; organisation’s executives mention current VDSL pilots , in every occasion. Noone knows when for sure, though. However, if in fact VOD is ready (as various sources are indicating) this year’s fall then we might expect VDSL network to be open for business sooner than anticipated, much sooner.

After Vivodi‘s and On Telecoms‘ VOD offerings and Forthnet‘s acquisition of NetMed NV, OTE is the next contender to dynamically join the scene with a planned VDSL network better than the competition by an order of magnitude, with no (expressed) regulation plans for it, whatsoever. That’s some serious business.

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Posted by: Costas Troulos | July 25, 2008

[Site Update] Changing Blog Service

After some experimentation and proof testing I decided to switch my blog service to Google’s Blogger. The blog’s new place is http://broadbandprime.blogspot.com/.

Some of the reasons are explained in This is a First Test Post. I have changed the looks of the blog, and I hope you find it better.

I will be cross-posting for a little more until you get the time to update your RSS feeds. If you click on the banner just below you can directly add the new feed to your reader.

Broadband Prime

I have also added an email subscription form for those who might prefer it.

Posted by: Costas Troulos | July 24, 2008

FTTH Global Rankings mid-2008

(WASHINGTON, DC) – With continued regional growth in fiber to the home (FTTH) market penetration, Asia consolidated its position as the global leader in the march toward next-generation broadband while the United States and Europe also continued to experience robust growth in FTTH, according to an updated global ranking issued today by the FTTH Councils of Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.

The ranking, updated twice a year and released today at the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific’s 3rd Annual Conference and Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, tracks the level of FTTH market penetration in economies where more than one percent of households are connected directly into high speed fiber networks. In all, 14 economies met this threshold.

South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan now occupy the top four positions in the ranking, and the Asian region now accounts for more than 27 million of the world’s estimated 32 million fiber to the home connections. South Korea now has nearly 37 percent of its households connected to fiber, with Hong Kong at 27 percent, Japan at 24 percent and Taiwan at 7.7 percent. And while the People’s Republic of China ranked 11th in terms of market penetration, growth in the number of connections to 7.5 million means that China is now second only to Japan in the number of households with FTTH.

“This is an exciting time for FTTH broadband in Asia. FTTH has overtaken DSL in South Korea and will soon do the same in Japan,” said Shoichi Hanatani, President of the FTTH Council Asia Pacific. “Here in the Asia-Pac region, we are witnessing the end of a hundred years of telecom history as copper loops are quickly being replaced by optical fiber access networks.”

Four Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark) and Slovenia occupied the fifth through ninth positions in the ranking, with market penetration ranging from 7.5 percent to 3.2 percent. The Netherlands and Italy were in the 12th and 13th positions, each with market penetration of 1.4 percent. In all, European countries reported 1.4 million FTTH connections.

Joeri Van Bogaert, President of the FTTH Council Europe, noted that large FTTH projects now underway in France and Germany, as well as deployments in other EU countries such as Greece and Portugal, will likely affect the rankings in the near future.

“The fact that seven European countries made the global ranking, and that several rank among the top FTTH countries in the world, is a clear indication that Europe is moving forward with the adoption of next-generation broadband,” he said. “However, this positive picture does not yet represent the entire continent, which is why the FTTH Council Europe will continue to educate investors and other stakeholders and to promote accelerated deployment of FTTH networks in all European countries.”

The United States is third among the world’s economies in the total number of FTTH households at 3.3 million, and is in 10th position in the global ranking with 2.9 percent market penetration. The U.S. continues to experience the highest rate of growth of any economy in terms of FTTH subscribers – doubling the number of connections year over year. This is due largely to an aggressive FTTH deployment by market leader Verizon, Inc. and ongoing FTTH build out by more than 600 smaller providers across the country.

“Clearly, North America, and particularly the United States, has crossed the chasm and is now moving decisively toward fiber to the home as the broadband platform of choice,” said Joe Savage, President of the FTTH Council North America. “Aggressive FTTH deployment in the U.S. has created a lot of buzz about this exciting technology, and the word of mouth from early FTTH subscribers is driving growth and fueling further deployments.”

Source: FTTH Council Press Release 23/7/2008

Is it my impression or in fact Norway, very quietly, is building a strong FTTH infrastructure that expands to continuously greater population segments?

Following the recent public consultation [See EETT Consultation on Quality Indicators for Electronic Communications Services] on measurements and monitoring of a set of quality indicators, EETT has finally issued the Code for Quality Indicators in Electronic Communication Services. The code comprises of a strict set of rules to measuring and publishing a series of quality indicators:

  • Fixed Telephony Quality Indicators
  • Mobile Telephony Quality Indicators
  • Broadband & VoIP Services Quality Indicators
  • Directory & Information Services Quality Indicators
  • Customer Service Quality Indicators

Read More…

Posted by: Costas Troulos | July 22, 2008

Code of Conduct in Electronic Communications Services in Greece

Following the public consultation with all stakeholders, Greek NRA, EETT has adopted the Code of Conduct for the provision of electronic communications services to consumers on 15/7/2008.

The Code sets general principles, clarifies procedures and clearly defines the behavior and obligations of electronic communications services providers to their consumers.

The adoption (note: and future enforcement) of the Code has been sought for quite some time by Consumer Associations and individuals due to the increased consumer complaints and problems encountered in pre- and contractual relationships with the telecommunications providers.

For more information please read the press release or directly download the Code of Conduct (both in Greek).

Posted by: Costas Troulos | July 18, 2008

EMERG – European Mediterranean Regulators Group

In Malta early July, the National Regulation Authorities of the countries in the Mediterranean basin agreed and signed the memorandum of EMERG, a network for Euro-Mediterranean Telecom Regulators. The group’s establishment and goals have been agreed with European Commission earlier this year.

The primary objectives shared by the regulatory authorities of electronic communications of Euro countries, which include both EU Member States and neighboring countries around the Mediterranean:

  • To create a viable market for electronic communications for the benefit of consumers and businesses, and
  • To bridge the digital divide, making the benefits of the information society accessible to all, especially by providing universal service

Read More…

Posted by: Costas Troulos | July 10, 2008

Facilities-based Competition vs. Open Access Networks

Facilities based competition versus open access public networks is a debate that seems to always surface in almost every fiber agenda. I will try to put in order some thoughts in a personal attempt to clear up things a bit. The choice of one option over the other is not an easy call and it has to be coordinated very carefully. None of them is the panacea to the investment debate and most likely the best solution can be found somewhere in the middle.

Facilities-based Competition

Those who favor facilities-based competition prefer to let market dynamics to shape sustainable business models and market structure. By many economists, primarily US influenced, letting the market forces decide on the competition and market structure for NGANs is considered the most appropriate approach.

Also, it must not be neglected that NRAs welcome facilities based competition since it generally makes their job a lot easier. When physical monopolies become thinner and more and more players have access to rare goods (e.g. land, soil, street subsoil, building basements, collocation facilities) there is evidently less need for regulation.

However, the economics of NGANs (based on international practice, construction costs and services pricing) suggest that business sustainability requires a substantial subscriber base, and (closely depended on the size of the market) significant market share. Facilities-based competition offers very limited options for clear product differentiation to the competing firms. Thus price competition is left probably the only form of differentiation that can have an immediate impact on consumer preferences. However, it also has an immediate (negative) impact to margins and profitability.

Open Access Networks

On the other hand, those who favor open access public networks propose the establishment of one physical infrastructure operator (or equivalent schemes such as one infrastructure owner and one communications operator) that will provide physical access services to all competing providers of the upper market layers.

They argue that a public network’s equal and open access offerings not only lowers the financial barriers to entry for operators, but also increases the profitability in the upper layers of the market and can also serve more efficiently the local communities.

Some even propose that no operator should have the right to dig to places where municipal networks are already present and provide network elements unbundling services. Others further extend these measures to the entire jurisdictional area of the municipal network arguing that if digging is required to serve a certain area of the city, municipal authorities/public operator must take care of it.

On the downside, permitting a single operator to manage the physical infrastructure without direct competition may bring significant social risks. The monopoly power given to the physical infrastructure operator (even if regulated) may have serious negative results as in the case of numerous physical monopolies in the past. For example, it can lead to increased services prices or to overspending of public money to support ineffective operations. If the physical provider is privately operated inefficient management can simply result to service termination and severely hurt public welfare with no short-time immediate alternatives. The presence of competition provides 1) the necessary efficiency incentives to the firms and 2) a sustainable market structure in case of malpractice or management inefficiencies.

Last, far more complex evaluation models are required to assess fiber investments of a publicly owned entity in terms of profitability, paybacks and returns. If we suppose that the principal strategic objective of a public physical infrastructure operator is the increase of local communities’ social welfare then advanced models will have to be designed, which will factor in social and municipal benefits, local economy indicators, public services efficiency, citizens satisfaction, life conditions etc.

Posted by: Costas Troulos | July 9, 2008

NGANs: Regulation to Avoid another Tragedy of the Commons

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a civil constructor asking assistance and opinion. He was installing new water pipes along a city district and to his surprise he came across a street where installation was impossible. The reason was that throughout the entire width of the street various fiber networks have already been installed.

This is probably much more serious than it looks at first hand. If there are streets already so congested that no other dug infrastructures can be installed think of what we are about to face in the next few years! Facilities-based competition may be a good thing for many but we may really want to handle the streets as a common good. In this respect, since street capacity for underground infrastructures is limited certain principles, rules and regulation have to be applied. Regulation is required to provide incentives for investments, promote competing firms collaboration and discourage free riders. If not we may soon experience a depletion of a common good (the street’s underground capacity) or as put in literature another tragedy of the commons [1], [2].

It looks like EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding’s plans for a European regulator will be shot down by the European Council of Ministers today.

Read more in the article of Telecom TV.

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