Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Digital Divide Narrows in Europe

The gap between EU countries in terms of broadband penetration is narrowing, from 28.4 percentage points in July 2007 to 27.7 this July.


New figures published by the European Commission today show that, in spite of reduced growth perspectives for the economy at large, broadband growth has continued in the last year throughout the EU, with an increase of 19.23% between July 2008 and July 2007. On 1 July 2008 there were over 107 million fixed broadband lines in the EU, of which 17 million lines have been added since July 2007. The rate of growth was highest in Malta (6.7 lines per 100 inhabitants), Germany (5.1 per 100 inhabitants) and Cyprus (4.9 per 100 inhabitants) and lowest in Finland (1.9 per 100 inhabitants) and Portugal (1.0 per 100 inhabitants).




Globally, Denmark and the Netherlands continue to be world leaders in broadband, with penetration over 35%. Nine EU countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, and Germany) are above the United States which stands at 25% according to OECD June 2008 statistics.


The gap between the strongest (Denmark 37.2%) and weakest broadband performers (Bulgaria 9.5%) remains significant but is decreasing for the first time (penetration in Denmark was 34.1% in July 2007 while in Bulgaria it was 5.7%). The gap can mainly be explained by lack of competition and regulatory weaknesses. For example, while the market share for incumbent fixed broadband operators is beginning to stabilize at around 45%, in some countries (Austria, Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and Spain) it has increased since July 2007. These main obstacles to broadband growth remain to be addressed through the reform of the EU's telecoms rules, which is currently under discussion by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.


The Commission also published the first figures showing fixed broadband speeds, which is an important indicator in a knowledge-based society. 74.8% of reported lines in the EU are in the range of 2 Mbps and above: 62% between 2 and 10 Mbps, 12.8% above 10 Mbps. Greater data transmission speeds generally provide customers with more and better choice at a lower price per megabit. Extremely fast connections (up to 100 Mbps or beyond) such as fibre only cover 1.4% of European internet subscribers.


DSL with nearly 86 million lines. However, DSL growth continues to decrease rapidly, slowed by 10.9% compared to July 2007, to the benefit of other fixed broadband technologies like cable, FTTH and wireless local loops.


The report is available online.

Vietnam Datacommunications Deploys 802.16e Trial with Motorola

Vietnam Datacommunications Company (VDC), a member company of the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and the largest Internet service provider (ISP) in Vietnam, has partnered with Motorola to commence a technical and commercial WiMAX trial in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Under the agreement, Motorola will install WiMAX Diversity Access Points and more than 100 customer premises equipment (CPE) in the nation's two largest cities.


Motorola noted that it now has 24 contracts for commercial WiMAX networks in 19 countries around the world.http://www.motorola.com

ITU Advocates Infrastructure Sharing to Counter Investment Drought

In response to the global financial crisis which may make it more difficult for investors to obtain financing for continuing network development, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is advocating infrastructure sharing as a means to continue to rapid rollout of network resources to underserved populations.


In its newly published annual report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2008: Six Degrees of Sharing, the ITU examines the sharing of civil engineering costs in deploying networks, promoting open access to network support infrastructure (poles, ducts, conduits), essential facilities (submarine cable landing stations and international gateways) as well as access to radio-frequency spectrum and end-user devices.


The "Six Degrees of Sharing" theme was first discussed in Thailand during ITU's 2008 Global Symposium for Regulators last March. Developing countries embraced sharing to make more affordable the expansion of ICT networks to rural and under-served areas. Since then, the global economic turmoil has increased the interest in infrastructure sharing in developed markets as well.


What had been foreseen as ideal strategies to extend broadband network access in developing markets may now be viewed as a prescription for the entire world. If the sources of capital for network investment suffer a temporary drought, the ITU believes policy-makers could take steps to make their markets more amenable to the shrinking pool of investment.

  • Lower investment barriers that inhibit capital flows from one country to another


  • Reduce regulatory barriers (high license fees or market-entry bans) that represent hostile environments for capital investment and market growth


  • Share essential facilities, such as cable landing stations, local switching centres or fibre backbone networks


  • Adopt rules to provide for infrastructure sharing, particularly "passive" sharing of towers, ducts, rights-of-way and other support facilities


  • Overhaul and streamline cross-agency processes to create a ‘one-stop shop' for various network-related authorizations, such as land management, port access, environmental and safety permits


  • Add innovative spectrum management mechanisms that promote increased sharing and efficient use of spectrum


  • Amend regulatory frameworks to eliminate discriminatory rules that favour one company or industry over another in a converged services market.


  • Ensure that government policies and rules maximize the ability of incumbents and market entrants to choose between different opportunities for business plans and long-term strategies, including resale, wholesale, and niche markets.
http://www.itu.int/newsroom/press_releases/2008/35.html

Nokia Develops Smart Home Platform with Mobile Support

Nokia is developing a Home Control Center platform that aims to integrate mobile devices, home networks, home security and household energy management systems. The platform will be based on a customized home gateway with integrated antennas for WLAN, GSM/GPRS, and Z-Wave. The gateway will also feature Ethernet ports, USB ports, a firewall, SD card reader and other connectivity options. Nokia will provide home control logic for simple automatic responses to
events such as motion sensor triggering, luminance levels, moisture or temperature limits. Consumers will be able to monitor and control their electricity usage, switch devices on and off, and monitor different objects. The platform will be open for allowing third parties to integrate their own smart home solutions and services.


Nokia also announced a partnership with RWE, one of Europe's biggest energy companies. The companies are working on a joint solution for managing energy consumption and CO2 footage at home. The first result of this partnership will focus on home heating management. The product consists of a central control unit together with remote-controlled thermostats for the actual radiator. The user interface will be the PC and the mobile phone. In addition, a separate display will be available. RWE is also planning special offers combining these devices with new energy supply contracts. In a second step, Nokia and RWE are planning additional services in connection with smart meters beyond 2009. These services will provide consumers with real-time information about their energy consumption and allow them to control their energy bill remotely.


Nokia is also working with other partners, including Danfoss, Delta Dore, Ensto, and Meishar Immediate Community (MIC) and Zensys. Target areas for these partnerships include security, energy efficiency, wellness, construction, real estate, and smart home solutions.
http://www.nokia.com

STMicroelectronics Cuts Q4 Outlook

Citing further deterioration on the worldwide financial markets, economic recession in one or more of the world's major economies and the effect on demand for semiconductors, STMicroelectronics cut its financial guidance. The company now expects fourth quarter revenues to be between approximately $2.2 billion and $2.35 billion, as compared to $2.7 billion reported in the prior quarter, or a sequential change in the range of about -12.8% to -18.4%. The revised revenue outlook is the consequence of a recent slowdown in the billings, recent and substantial changes in customers' demand and order push-outs for the month of December. ST said the weaknesses affects most geographies and market segments, and, in particular, in wireless, automotive, and computer peripherals.


ST also noted that it will reduce its manufacturing activity and reduce sourcing from third-party suppliers, compared to planned activities when entering the quarter. Primarily as a result of higher-than-anticipated unused capacity charges in the quarter, the gross margin expected for the fourth quarter 2008 is now about 38% plus or minus one percentage point.


Additionally, the company continues to aggressively implement cost-control initiatives and is progressing in its accelerated effort to capture the cost synergies from the recent creation of ST-NXP Wireless.http://www.st.com

L.A. Times: Cyber-attack on Defense Department

President Bush was briefed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on a cyber-attack on Defense Department computers, including those on a classified network, according to The Los Angeles Times. The cyber-attack reportedly occurred within networks of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and may have originated with hackers from Russia.http://www.latimes.com

See also