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White Paper: Connectivity Models for Developing Economies

3 Mar

ConnectivityThumbThere are recurring misconceptions about broadband in emerging markets. These are considered “truths” and repeated in newspaper articles and at telecom events. For example:

  • “There’s no space for wireline services in developing economies!”
  • “FTTH in emerging markets? You’ve got to be joking!”
  • “There will never be a way to deliver mobile services outside of urban areas in these markets!”

But the urban mobile model that is often described is not a universal truth, far from it. A few months ago the Google policy team contacted Diffraction Analysis and asked us to analyze alternative connectivity models were and how they worked. The result is this white paper entitled Connectivity Models for Developing Economies. In this paper we examine a number of cases that do not conform to the “standard” model being displayed for developing economies. We also examine policy approaches that seem to have made a measurable difference.

This paper does not offer a silver bullet solution for all developing economies: there’s no such thing. It does however analyse interesting case studies and looks at the replicable aspects of some of these models.

You can find the paper on SSRN through the following link: Connectivity Models for Developing Economies.

TPG Telecom’s FTTB play a headache for Turnbull

11 Feb

See on Scoop.itConnected World

Although obviously very unhappy with the broadband monopoly created by the previous government, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull – as its shareholder minister – also has to protect the interests of NBN Co.

Benoit Felten‘s insight:

I must confess to a certain amount of pleasure watching Malcolm Turnbull struggle to keep together the NBN he has contributed so hard to undermine. It’s not good news for Australia, but you can’t help but feel he got it coming…

See on

Table Ronde du G9+ le 24 Juin

12 Jun

(Apologies for non-French speakers but since this is an announcement for a French event in French, it didn’t seem to make much sense writing it in English.)


Le 24 Juin, le G9+, un Think Tank formé d’anciens élèves des Grandes Ecoles travaillant dans l’IT ou les Télécoms organise une table-ronde débat au titre provocateur:

Opérateurs Télécoms: Dinosaures ou Mutants.

J’y serais (a priori pas en tant qu’intervenant). Afin de mettre en avant certains des sujets qui y seront débattus, le G9+ m’a demandé de participer à une discussion vidéo avec Nicolas Martinez Dubost du G9+ et Régis Castagné d’Interoute France.Voici un court teaser de ce débat, qui est accessible en version longue sur le site du G9+ (il faut ouvrir un compte).

Benefits of FTTH for Real-Estate Players

10 Apr

At the FTTH Council Europe conference in London, I presented the results of a study commissioned by the Council on the benefits of FTTH deployment for real-estate players. 8 real-estate companies were interviewed extensively to understand how they viewed FTTH, having deployed it, and if they perceived benefits in integrating FTTH in the properties they build or manage. The results of this study will be presented in a webinar organised by the council on April 18th at 11 AM CET. If the topic is of interest to you, please register here.

Awareness of FTTH/LTE Symbiosis is Growing

8 Apr

I have in the past been very vocal about the need to understand FTTH and LTE in symbiosis. I was therefore quite pleased and interested to read the following interview of Suresh Sidhu, CCO of Celcom Axiata Berhad in Malaysia where he says (amongst other things): “FTTH is key to meeting business and consumer needs”. In a nutshell, the mobile arm of the Malaysian Incumbent TM does not think next-generation wireless and FTTH are antithetical, quite the contrary.

The interviewer (who seems to doubt the benefits of wireline connectivity) drives the following exchange:

As next-gen wireless services develop will there be a need for fixed-line services in five years’ time?

We see that the customers we serve are changing their behaviour from “walk and talk” to “sit and play”. Or rather – “walk somewhere, sit, play, walk somewhere else, sit, play”. Critical to this value proposition is the ability for wireless service providers to be present at the key “data hotspots” which could be home, cafes or the traditional street locations. We believe that LTE, HSPA+ and HetNets (including femtocells, WiFi, etc.) are key to serving this need. However, the best way forward may well be to seek convergent approaches that include the fixed world as well. People will do different things at different locations and a holistic relationship will drive both wireless and fixed technologies to develop their niches.

I’ll let you read the rest of the interview here.

On Broadband Value Perception

12 Mar

I have great news to share with you today: Eurotelcoblog, the original disruptive telecom blog that inspired so many (myself included) is back!

James Enck posted a very interesting entry today (peppered with his usual sharp wit) about value perception in the broadband market, arguing that customer perceptions are largely skewed when it comes to the relative value of broadband and other goods and services (including POTS line rental). The post is entitled Value Perceptions and is well worth a read.

I fully agree that this situation opens up opportunities for disruptive positioning, and this ties back to my earlier blog post on Technically Speaking about the Innovator’s Dilemna in the broadband market. It’s a sad truth of our market that few players dare to be disruptive, even if they are poised to benefit the most from turning the tables on legacy players. Who is going to educate the customers on the value of high quality broadband if not them?

On abundance and disruption…

7 Mar

I have been invited to contribute my thoughts to the Technically Speaking blog edited and moderated by the excellent Gareth Spence. My first contribution went up yesterday under the title of Scarcity is the Achilles’ Heel of Legacy Broadband. I’m going to try and make these on a regular basis; they will at times move into tech territories that I don’t normally dwell in, but that’s a good thing, I think!

(Oh, and if you don’t know why apples and oranges, well… I’m not sure I do either!)

Don't miss this year's F2C (even if I will)

27 Feb

There are so many ways in which the internet has changed our lives, both personal and professionals. Opportunities have been created, legacy businesses have been displaced. The rate at which this transformation is happening can seem mind boggling, and there seems to be a general tendancy now by large established businesses and even governments to “fight back”. One way the fight is taking shape is restrictions of our individual liberties, and denial of the ability of each and everyone to go online and benefit from whatever opportunities the internet has to offer.

I don’t know if David Isenberg would agree with that, but it seems to me that defending the continued ability to reap these benefits is at the heart of what Freedom to Connect is about. F2C is not an event amongst many with a few interesting talks drowned in vendor sales pitches. It’s a unique opportunity to hear radical thoughts from speakers who are more passionate than they are interested. Last year, I was privileged to hear the late Aaron Swartz talk about how the fight against SOPA/PIPA was won, a lesson both in activism and in internet collaboration. You don’t hear speeches like that every day. In fact, you’re lucky to hear that once in a lifetime.

This year (March 4 & 5, 2013), David’s done it again. His program includes such luminaries as Vint Cerf, Jeff Jarvis, Peter Cochrane and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. Trust me though, as important as those people are, the true gem of F2C is discovering the new brightest brains of the internet era; the young people whose name may mean nothing to us today but will be the makers of tomorrow’s connected world. That’s what I will miss the most this year, because sadly I can’t attend Freedom to Connect.

But if you can, you should. Especially if it’s not a 6000 mile ride for you too.

Short interview on Stokab

11 Feb

Before the municipal event organised by SKL in Brussels last Thursday I did a quick interview on Stokab which has been put up over the week-end.

You can see it here:

As mentioned previously, this relates to our recent study and white paper on Stokab.

Fixing broadband as a service

19 Nov

Flowing Water
Flowing Water (CC) bcimet

Martin Geddes is one of the smartest brains in the business, and a good friend. That doesn’t stop us from disagreeing on a number of things (business related), the chief one being the notion that internet in general and IP routing specifically are broken and need fixing. That being said, and while I’m open to hearing any well constructed argument – even those I think I’ll disagree with – I never understood the technology reasoning behind that assertion of his, and that made it hard for me to translate it into a business reasoning.

The excellent video interview of Martin over at Br0kenTeleph0n3 has changed this. It is rather overdramatically entitled How to avoid the coming broadband catastrophe but is well worth 10 minutes of your time nonetheless.

The core of the argument as I understand it is that bandwidth needs are fluid, and bandwidth itself is only one (and maybe not the most important) component of the broadband experience. Therefore by offering speed as the only service differentiator, and the same speed to one customer all the time, broadband access providers are shooting themselves in the foot and missing out on the real business opportunity.

I find myself, therefore, in agreement with the core tenet if that is indeed what it is. I’m assuming there’s a depth of technical reasoning below that that I have no chance in hell of grasping, but that hardly matters to me as long as I understand the business consequences. So that leads me to a few points of mild disagreement and a few comments on implications:

  • The title of the article is overdramatic, and indeed Martin’s own speech is overdramatizing because service providers are not dying. As I mentioned before, I’m myself often guilty of treating the service providers as companies who are suffering in my own writing. Because the goggles through which they view the world are so antiquated, because they repeatedly do stupid things that are clearly not in their best interests, because the innovators in the market are no longer the service providers, etc. But that doesn’t make them a dying breed, and in fact the notion that they’re in dire straits is not supported by their financial performance. So I think we should be careful about not painting proposed solutions as “saves”, just as radical improvements.
  • Martin is indeed right that the issue is a mindframe issue. It’s not necessarily that people within these organisations don’t understand the argument. The technical people probably will, the marketing people will struggle (but if I can get it, surely they will). It’s that they consider the way the internet market works to be beyond their grasp. In his interview, Martin doesn’t touch much on the ecosystem implications of the changes he’s proposing, and implicitly suggests that service providers have full end-to-end control of the traffic they receive and send. That’s not the case (and I know he doesn’t think that) but it’s going to be one of the main objections to changing the way things are done.
  • The final point I’d like to make is that while there are no doubt ways to improve customer experience (and monetize that improvement), it’s easy – perhaps too easy – to read that as “there’s no issue in the access network”. In fact at one point in the interview Ian Grant tries to get Martin to comment on BT’s FTTC investment, and to his credit, Martin dodges the bullet by stating that that’s an infrastructure consideration. The question ultimately is: will the proposed changes in traffic management and monetization improve the performance enough to meet the challenges of demand in the next few years. I have a hard time believing that, so I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition, but here my own biases may be showing.