The race for place (passive telecoms infrastructure) is over

11 Jul

Why telecom has been a land grab for exclusive telecoms infrastructure – and why this needs to change.

Source: richardmedcalf.com

I’m not sure that I fully agree about the degrading value of the last mile argument, but I really like the way Richard looks at it, especially in light of considerations on structural separation: an alternative to value going down is keeping the monoploly separated and regulated. A better (in my opinion) way to keep the investment going. 

Keith McMahon left us…

2 Jul

It’s with great sadness that I learned about the passing away of Keith McMahon on Monday. I only met Keith on a couple of occasions, but he was at the top of the analyst game when it comes to meaningful, insightful and no-nonsense analysis. I followed him on twitter and his feed was one of those that rarely failed to make me ponder. He will be sorely missed.

How much money is there in Net Discrimination?

1 Jul

One of the striking realizations of my Analyst career was when I found out that very often companies in the broadband ecosystem defend, or even lobby for positions that they assume to be in their interest for ideological reasons, but without having worked out rationally if indeed they are. I have many an anecdote about crestfallen faces when real numbers are worked out and exposed.

And in fact, this has long informed my own approach to research: the idea is, based (ideally) on hard data or failing that on documented modeling, to assess whether a policy position actually makes sense or delivers what it’s supposed to deliver. This was the genesis of our short report Net Discrimination Won’t Buy You Next-Generation Access (still available, dirt cheap) in which we modeled a top-down revenue share between OSPs and ISPs to figure out the financial impact it would have. Long story short: not a lot, and certainly not enough to shift the lines in terms of network investment (as often argued by ISPs).

Fellow analyst and provocative thinker Dean Bubley has just gone one step further in what I consider to be a groundbreaking piece of analysis entitled Non Neutral Mobile Broadband Business Models. In this report, Dean doesn’t look at the classic arguments for or against net discrimination, he examines in-depth which business models net discrimination would enable and how much revenue they might generate.

You can get a feel for the material that’s in that report through the following presentation he’s made available on Slideshare:

The report is thorough, very well documented and enlightening. A highly recommended read.

Photo (cc) by Tax Credits

One Leg in Europe, One Leg in Asia

20 Jun

The Two Towers

As some of you may have heard on the grapevine already, I am moving to Asia over the summer. More specifically, Shanghai. I am moving for family-related reasons, but I am very excited about the opportunities this move represents for me professionally.

First of all, I should reassure the friends, colleagues and customers in Europe that have been kind enough to trust my company Diffraction Analysis to assist them with their various needs for insight in the last years: we will continue to do so.

I’m not turning my back on Europe, far from it: there are many valuable projects, companies and initiatives here that are examples for the rest of the world and we will keep looking for them, analyzing them and meeting with their representatives. I will personally be traveling back to Europe on a regular basis to connect with customers, prospects, policy makers and more generally anyone in the broadband and telecom ecosystem worth talking to.

I see moving to Asia as an opportunity to broaden our understanding of best in class companies and policies. I think that the Asian NGA story has yet to be told ; I keep hearing partial analysis or misplaced examples that simply aren’t enough to understand how countries that are 10 years ahead of Europe in infrastructure deployment have evolved and what that means for Europe and the US.

So part of the opportunity for me will be in being really close to two key markets, Japan and South Korea that I will strive to understand more thoroughly. Of course, proximity to Hong-Kong, Singapore and Malaysia will also be opportunities for better insight as well. Here are some of the questions that are already on my curiosity list:

  • why is NTT changing its corporate structure now (and only now) and how does it affected the growth of Japanese next-generation broadband (or lack thereof)?
  • how much profit (if any) have the Korean broadband operators made with fiber, and assuming (as its often told in the West) that they didn’t make profit, how much has the rest of the Korean IT economy benefited from highly adopted ultra-fast broadband?
  • is Singapore turning into the footprint for a Smart City built from the ground up, with infrastructure as an enabler as opposed to a constraint? Also, what are the impacts of a three-tier market model (infra, wholesale, retail) on Smart City initiatives?
  • is Malaysia paving the way for emerging market connectivity, demonstrating the value of mass deployed fiber for economic development?

There are many more fascinating stories to be told, around what’s happening in Indonesia, the turmoils of the Australian NBN, and of course the Chinese fiber story itself, and I hope to have the opportunity to tell all of these stories once I’m there.

So if you’ve been following me from Europe or the US, rest assured that it’s not the end of the story by a long stretch: it’s a new chapter, richer in meaningful examples and useful insight. And I’ve you’ve been following me from Asia, please ping me: I’ll be there full-time from August and expect to be fully operational by September.

Some telcos do understand customer service…

16 Jun

It’s refreshing to see that not all telcos are going the way of the phone tree, doing all they can to discourage you from talking to anyone on the phone.

US Cable Reviled by its customers

9 Jun

 

 

It’s hard to believe that profitable businesses would be so detested by their customers, and yet survey after survey shows how US broadband users revile their cable operator. The latest is the subject of an article in the Washington post entitled A Soup of Misery, which shows (amongst other findings) that over half of US Cable customers would switch to another provider if they actually had an alternative.

The amusing thing (or ironic, or sad depending on how you want to look at it) about this is that cable still insists there is competition. If this market was a free market, with satisfaction ratings like that cable would be bankrupt instead of being amongst the most profitable industries in the US.

There’s an added bit of irony for me. A few weeks ago I got into a bit of tiff on twitter debating with Luigi Gambardella, the head of the European Telecom Network Operators’s Association (ETNO). ETNO has been lobbying fiercely for a regulatory model that’s more akin to that of the US, despite overwhelming evidence that that market is dysfunctional and anti-competitive. I naturally took exception to this view (as well as to the preposterous assertion that wherever fiber was being deployed, it was not regulated), and the back and forth went south very quickly (you can read the whole exchange here, assuming it doesn’t get deleted). The point here is that Gambardella’s final stroke was the following:

Needless to say that baffled me…

Anyway, all this to say that looking at the US for a functional model for Europe is not just ridiculous, it’s dangerous…

The Right to be Forgotten

2 Jun

For the last few days I’ve been musing about the recent “right to be forgotten” that has been imposed on Google (and, presumably other search engines, although I haven’t looked at Bing and others in any detail on this issue). Read this good Techcrunch feature if you don’t know what I’m talking about. And then I watched the excellent segment above last night and things started to coalesce.

Needless to say, I think it’s a bad idea. If you are (to take a hypothetical example) a failed Spanish business man who is tired of people finding newspaper articles on your failures, you should turn to said newspapers and ask them to remove the incriminating articles from their online archives, or at least delete your name. The newspapers are the ones who wrote about you. Google changes nothing conceptually from someone finding an article on you in the paper archives of a library. Sure, it’s easier to find information on you via a search engine today than it was twenty years ago, but the search engine is not responsible for the information it links to.

The implementation seems even more ridiculous to me. Quite simply, here it is: I can see three circumstances here where this plays out, and all three are different :

  • first, you post stuff that you regret later. Then it’s your responsibility to remove it. Or it should have been your responsibility to not post it in the first place. Ignorance is a lame excuse in that instance: it’s been said enough that anything posted to the internet is there forever.
  • second, someone (an individual) posts stuff about you that harms your reputation (photos, sex-tapes, illegal recording). Then there are laws to protect you, you should sue their ass and get the content removed by law.
  • third, the (online) press at large writes about you. That’s not a search engine issue, it’s a freedom of the press issue. If it’s defamatory, you sue.

In none of these circumstances is the fact that potentially harmful information about you is available on the internet Google’s responsibility. None.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about absolving Google on all issues, but on this particular issue, I think this is totally wrong-headed. Ironically, Google is playing this the way they play best: they’re playing dumb. The process to remove things is so manual and so subjective that the results will most likely be disheartening for anyone who wants out of Google.

And, as John Oliver points out in the video above, the Spanish guy who wanted his debts forgotten now is famous worldwide… for his debts.

Living with Latency

29 Apr

Just found this fantastic video that illustrates in the best way I’ve ever seen what latency really is.

Net Neutrality Threatened…

24 Apr

Last night the US regulator FCC announced that they were carving out exceptions to Net Neutrality rulings for “fast lanes” that ISPs could charge to OSPs. Only in La La Land can this still be called Neutrality. I’ll write about this more at length when time allows, but in the meantime let me share this wonderful drawing on the topic by Susie Cagle:

TomWheeler

 

(Source: http://news.linktv.org/net-neutrality/r-i-p-net-neutrality)

Rescheduled Webinar on Swedish Broadband Consumers

17 Apr

The webinar that was scheduled this week on the Swedish Broadband Consumer study ran with the FTTH Council Europe had to be postponed due to a platform failure outside of our control. We apologise for those who waited in vain until we figured out we couldn’t go forward.

Everything is fixed now, so we are rescheduling the webinar to April 24th (next Thursday) at 3PM CET. For details on the content see here and also this interview from the FTTH Council Europe conference (starts at 37:30).

Registration is here!

Spread the word!