IPTV and super-fast broadband subscriptions boom in Eastern Europe

March 30, 2012

FTTx Summit Europe

As operators become more and more active in deploying fibre networks we are seeing exceptional growth in some key Eastern European markets, such as Russia, Poland and the Ukraine.

As Europe hit a record 10 million FTTH/B subscribers in the summer of 2011 of which Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan counted for 5.6 million subscribers between them, it’s clear that, for the most part, Eastern European countries are leading the way forward for super-fast fibre optic broadband.

Recent statistics also show that Lithuania leads Europe in terms of penetration of FTTH, measured as a percentage of population. Highlighting the growth in Eastern Europe even more, the two most recent entrants in the world FTTH ranking are Hungary and Ukraine.  Furthermore, of the top 20 on the present ranking, 11 are Eastern European countries.

Figures, prepared for the Broadband Forum by broadband industry analysts Point Topic, go on to detail the strongest ever quarter of growth in IPTV, today’s most demanding application for super-fast broadband.  IPTV’s best quarter ever saw net additions of 3.68 million to finish the year strong with more than 58.2 million IPTV subscribers worldwide.  Yet again, it’s Eastern Europe that continues to lead the way with Russia outperforming all other countries in both broadband and IPTV figures in 2011 as they report over 36% growth in broadband and a doubling of their IPTV subscribers from 495,500 to 1,145,000 in just one year.

However, as Eastern Europe’s booming broadband and IPTV market establishes the region as one of the most active in the field, telecoms operators are asking themselves the critical question – how do I get the network build right first time?

It’s clear that there are a number of key questions that operators are still struggling to answer, including:

– How do I justify the business case for fibre networks and successfully finance the roll-out?

– How do I build the best fibre network with such a tight budget?

– How do I successfully handle the scale and complexity of deploying a fibre network?

In order to remain some of the most active in the field and to further propel Eastern Europe forwards in world broadband rankings, it’s critical that operators get to grips with the above issues or risk stagnating and falling behind their Western counterparts.

Let us know what you think in the comment section below or on Twitter @TelecomsForum

Telecoms IQ’s FTTx Summit Eastern Europe takes place in Budapest from 18th-21st September 2012.  For more information, visit www.fttxeasterneurope.com.


EU to implement new roaming price caps from July 1st and increase competition

March 29, 2012

Telecoms operators will have to rethink their roaming strategies after the EU announced yesterday that it will implement new roaming pricing caps to ensure that customers are paying fair prices when abroad.

The new pricing structure, which comes into effect from July 1st 2012, sees calls capped at 24p a minute, 8p per text message and 70p per MB of data. The EU is also keen to increase competition within the market with virtual mobile network operators gaining the immediate right to access other operator networks at regulated wholesale prices in order to provide roaming services to their customers.

Neelie KroesNeelie Kroes, the European Commission’s vice president for the Digital Agenda, welcomed the announcement of these new roaming caps, saying: “Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges,” she said. “The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution, with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and internet browsing.”

It is anticipated that the added competition within the market with aim to bring roaming prices down even further. In addition, as the use of smartphones abroad increases at an exponential rate, from 2014 it is expected that users will only have to pay 17p per MB of data used. Moreover, when customers travel outside of the EU they will now also get a warning if their data bills exceed £50. This is expected to eradicate ‘bill shock’ whereby background applications crunch through data while the user is abroad running up huge phone bills and is welcomed by operators, small businesses and leading consumer advice websites.

However, while operators are welcoming the news announced by the EU yesterday, they could be forgiven for secretly hoping that the addition of increased competition will see the end of pricing caps by 2014. Additionally, with customers allowed the choice of swapping their network while abroad, this will see a huge dent in revenues which the operator will rely on in lieu of higher roaming prices.

So what innovations will we see come to the forefront of the back of these caps as operators aim to drive profitability from roaming? 4G? Mobile Payments? M2M services? Let us know what you think below or on twitter @TelecomsForum.

These ideas, issues, solutions and more will be discussed at Telecoms IQ’s Roaming Strategies in June – just before the roaming caps come into effect. Hear from Europe’s operators, regulators and the European Commission on the impending caps and discuss and exchange innovative ideas in order to maximise profitability.

For more information on Roaming Strategies, visit www.roamingstrategies.com.

Roaming Strategies

George Osborne commits to investing more than £100 million into super-fast broadband across the UK in the 2012 budget

March 28, 2012
FTTx Report

Taken from the UK FTTx report at http://www.fttxsummiteurope.com

Broadband service providers across the country waited with baited breath last week as George Osborne revealed his 2012 budget.  The big question on their minds; would they at last be getting the much needed investment they need to deliver super-fast broadband?

Luckily for them, the Chancellor did reveal that the government will be investing more than £100 million into improving broadband infrastructure throughout 10 cities in the UK.

Soon to be known as the ‘super-connected cities’ of the UK, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle are all set to benefit from the Chancellor’s 2012 budget announcement last week.

However, key questions still remain as to whether the Chancellor’s announcement will be enough to move the UK up in the European rankings and whether funding from local authorities and private companies will match the government’s proposals to help accelerate broadband speeds.

Broadband providers must also be concerned that the government didn’t actually set out a clear plan to encourage broadband providers to adopt fibre to the building models in cities or invest in developing technology that is going to be compatible in legacy networks. 

Additionally, experts across the UK are asking why the Chancellor is so desperate to get speeds up to 100Mbps when this should be our minimum standard!  How are we expected to keep up with the rest of the world, and in particular Asia, if our biggest ambition is only aiming for their basic minimum speed?

Furthermore, whilst the Chancellor proudly announces which 10 large cities will benefit from super-fast broadband investment – the stand out question for me remains – what about the UK’s smaller cities? 

Yes there is a commitment to investing £50 million into ramping up broadband speeds in some of the UK’s smaller cities, but the budget didn’t specify which cities, how the £50 million will be divided between them, or exactly what speeds these cities could expect!

These questions aside though, the announcement last week, is definitely a positive step forward for Britain.  It is clear that the Chancellor, and the rest of the government, now recognise the importance of super-fast broadband to both residents and businesses across the UK.  I guess the biggest question is, will they deliver on what they promise, or in 2015 will the UK still be lagging behind in the world super-fast broadband rankings?

Let us know what you think in the comment section below or on Twitter @TelecomsForum

Telecoms IQ’s FTTx Summit Europe takes place from 23-26 April 2012.  For more information, visit www.fttxsummiteurope.com

M2M marks the spot: path to profit mapped out

March 5, 2012

M2M path to profitIt was standing room only at the Connected Day of seminars at Mobile World Congress this week, as key players from across the ecosystem debated the value and opportunities presented by the M2M market.

Experts from AT&T, Everything Everywhere, Orange France Telecom and Telenor Connexion demonstrated how they are already making money from home security, automotive, healthcare and consumer electronics solutions.  But discussions really centred around two key themes: business models and operational strategies.

Looking at the business models, there was clear agreement that operators need the flexibility to develop different models for different verticals.  But there are still significant question marks over what the appropriate model actually is for each vertical.  And once the business models are in place, what KPIs should you use to measure the success of your M2M solution?  Marc Overton, Vice President of Wholesale & M2M at Everything Everywhere, was clear that, contrary to everything else that operators do, ARPU was not the best indicator in this case.  It was suggested by different members of the panel that the number of connections, revenues or the lifetime value of the solution should be used instead.

From an operational point of view, it’s all about the partnerships!  Operators have a clear role to play in the M2M ecosystem but, as Marc Overton said, operators don’t know everything about M2M solutions and need to work with those people that do.  And of course operators need to make it easy for people to partner with them.  One member of the audience asked what operational changes operators need to make in preparation for M2M.  The panellists responded with a range of answers including:

– Increased flexibility in the platforms, to manage complex deployments and different speeds to markets for different verticals.

– Ability to manage the mass deployment of connected devices through, for example, provisioning and peak loading.

– Changing your way of working to give your partners the operational support that they need to deliver M2M solutions.

And, finally, the key barriers to market were seen to be developing new ecosystems, ensuring system integration, poor ease and speed of certification, and standardisation.

The discussions from the day showcased a wide variety of experiences and opinions from across Europe and the US, and it is clear that M2M is happening here and now!  The questions are, how do you develop the business models and find the partners that will generate revenues in this field and, critically, which verticals should you invest in?

Let us know what you think in the comment section below or on Twitter @TelecomsForum.

Telecoms IQ’s M2M Forum Europe takes place from 11th – 14th June 2012. For more information, visit www.m2mforumeurope.com.