China Authorizes 4th Mobile Operator

China has authorized a fourth mobile operator , allowing state-owned China Broadcasting Network–which was created in 2014 to consolidate cable TV and broadcast operations in China–to enter the mobile services market. Two angles are noteworthy. First, CBN marks the entry of the cable TV industry in China into the mobility business. Second, the move illustrates a continuing divide among communications regulatory authorities about the “best” market structure for mobile communications. Given a choice, most seem to believe “four” providers a better structure (at least in terms of competition) than “three.” French regulators are foremost among proponents of a “three supplier” structure, largely to bolster the climate for more-robust investment

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China Authorizes 4th Mobile Operator

Ecosystem Value of "Access" is Declining

One hard reality of the access provider (we used to call this “telecom” ) business is that ecosystem value in the “access networks” portion of the business is going to be under increasing and persistent pressure over the next couple of decades, at least in developed nations. Google Fiber, other independent Internet service providers, municipal Wi-Fi and mobile Internet access to an extent are going to reduce demand for traditional Internet access provided by fixed line providers. So lower revenues and lower profit margins are almost certainly going to be on-going pressures within the access business. Not only are new providers having lots of success in the market, notably cable TV providers and more recently perhaps Google Fiber, independent ISPs and a growing number of municipal networks, but we are far from exhausting what could happen in the future with new or rival platforms

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Ecosystem Value of "Access" is Declining

To Build a Big New Business Selling Internet Access at $2 a Month, You Need Lower Spectrum Costs

There is a good reason why spectrum policy has emerged as a key underpinning of efforts to eliminate the digital divide. Simply, connecting the unconnected will require infrastructure that costs far less. For many, that means greater reliance on use of shared spectrum and license-exempt spectrum. The former promises lower license fees, the latter zero license fees

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To Build a Big New Business Selling Internet Access at $2 a Month, You Need Lower Spectrum Costs

Half of Free Basics Users Buy Mobile Internet Access Within 30 Days

Half of all “ Free Basics ” users buy a data plan from their mobile service provider within 30 days of trying Facebook’s free service, said Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s manager for product partnerships for Middle East and Africa. Mobile operators receive no compensation from Facebook or Internet.org, and give away mobile Internet access to Free Basics users. The perceived–and apparently real–upside is the chance to acquaint new users to the value of mobile Internet access and key Internet apps themselves. Free Basics is offered in 37 countries , though Egypt and India have banned the service.

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Half of Free Basics Users Buy Mobile Internet Access Within 30 Days

Is T-Mobile US Disruptor Role Right for Netherlands?

Necessity might be the mother of invention, but having a role model helps. So it is that Deutsche Telekom, which tried and failed to sell its Netherlands mobile business, possibily is  looking at replicating the T-Mobile US approach in the Netherlands. As in the U.S. market, DT wanted to sell its business, and could not do so. But DT apparently now believes it can follow the U.S

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Is T-Mobile US Disruptor Role Right for Netherlands?

What are the Major MVNO Opportunities?

Where are the most-significant mobile virtual network operator niches? The answer might hinge on what sort of market the MVNO operates in, as well as existing assets the MVNO can exploit. There are six common market entry strategies, according to Peppers and Rogers Group .   Low price: These companies offer frugal plans, often with only simple voice and SMS services, limited data, and inexpensive devices. MVNOs selecting this strategy target price-conscious customer segments with a limited marketing budget, utilizing traditional sales channels such as physical stores rather than alternative channels.

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What are the Major MVNO Opportunities?

No Surprise: Survey Finds Consumers Love Zero Rated App Usage

A new CTIA-commissioned Harris Poll survey found that Americans would overwhelmingly welcome new free data options that allow consumers to access more content and services without counting against their data plan. That should come as absolutely no surprise. What consumer would turn down a chance to use desired apps, and learn about new apps, at no incremental cost? In fact, opponents of zero rating are virtually required to argue that “despite clear consumer and end user value,” zero rating should be banned. Why

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No Surprise: Survey Finds Consumers Love Zero Rated App Usage

Clashes Over Regulation of IP Voice in India Escalate

The Cellular Operators Association of India wants BSNL to stop offering a calling service that allows international travelers to link their mobiles and domestic fixed line voice accounts, allowing them to make calls cheaper than would otherwise be the case if they called using billing based on their roaming-connected mobile phones. COAI earlier had raised concerns about the Ringo service that appears to work using “dial-around” principles, and offering domestic calling rates that Credit Suisse analysts say are 69 percent cheaper than voice calls on the mobile network and even 24 percent cheaper than voice over IP services in India. Such disputes seem to be an inevitable development whenever IP-based calling starts to compete directly with older forms of telephony that do not offer such flexibility. COAI argues such dial-around programs are unlawful under existing rules on public network calling. Similar issues have been raised in other markets as well where IP-enabled virtual numbers and virtual devices can be used in a variety of ways related to messaging, notifications, call or message origination and termination

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Clashes Over Regulation of IP Voice in India Escalate

India Internet Access Markets are Unstable

As on 31st January, 2016, the top five fixed network Internet access providers were BSNL (9.90 million), Bharti Airtel (1.68 million), MTNL (1.12 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (0.89 million) and YOU Broadband (0.51 million).   The top five mobile Internet access providers were Bharti Airtel (31.02 million), Vodafone (26.23 million), Idea Cellular (22.04 million), Reliance Communications Group (15.37 million) and BSNL (10.26 million). The market for high speed access is fragmented, almost always a sign of an unstable market likely to consolidate, eventually. A theoretical stable market structure would have the leader with market share (installed base, actually) twice that of the number-two player, which, in turn, would have installed base double that of the number three provider. Classically, a stable market would have the leading provider having up to half the installed base of customers in the market, with three top providers having 85 percent or more of the installed base.

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India Internet Access Markets are Unstable

Mobile IS Interner Access for Half of Asia Customers

Some 90 percent of mobile subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region access the Internet using their mobile devices every day, according to a September 2015 survey of users by the Internet Society (ISOC). For 47 percent of respondents, the mobile device is the primary means of online access. Some 52 percent of mobile device users in Southeast Asia and India primarily access the internet using a mobile device. Some 90 percent of respondents using their mobile device to send and receive emails, while  87 percent use a smartphone both for social media and to search for information

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Mobile IS Interner Access for Half of Asia Customers

Altice to Sell Gigabit Internet Access in France

Altice will supply gigabit (1 Gbps) services to customers of its SFR cable TV networks in France, pointing out one advantage of a facilities-based approach to the problem of creating and sustaining both competition and innovation in fixed Internet access networks. The global telecom industry tends to frame the access problem in terms of fiber or copper, this fiber architecture versus the other. At a policy level, the thrust often is to ensure robust wholesale policies, allowing many competitors to use a single infrastructure. That has worked to spur competition, but not so well to ensure innovation.

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Altice to Sell Gigabit Internet Access in France

Will Netherlands Businesses See Higher Prices After Ziggo-Vodafone Merger?

The Netherlands communications market will see an interesting real-world test of what happens when a market consolidates, particularly in the areas of prices for business services and churn rates, as Viggo and Vodafone merger their Netherlands operations. Coursr Research, for example, predicts prices will rise as a direct result of the combination, as competition lessens. Duopolies, though, have not always–perhaps almost never in the Internet era, lead to that result, for voice or data communications in the business segment, where prices have fallen for decades. To be sure, prices often fall in hyper-competitive markets as well, for a time.

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Will Netherlands Businesses See Higher Prices After Ziggo-Vodafone Merger?

Wi-Fi Offload Not Simply a "Developed Market" Trend

Most observers would now agree that Wi-Fi offload plays a significant role in supporting mobile device Internet access. The only real issue is the extent of the reliance. According to Juniper Research, phone data is delivered to phones using the mobile network 65 percent of the time.

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Wi-Fi Offload Not Simply a "Developed Market" Trend

Google Reshaping ISP Business Model

Fewer observers these days believe “what Google wants” from Google Fiber is solely to put pressure on the largest U.S. Internet service providers to upgrade networks faster. That has benefits for Google (Alphabet), but might be only one of several potential benefits. Quite simply, every incremental user, every incremental increase in access speed and every incremental increase in coverage increases ad inventory and ad impressions, which underpin the core Google revenue model

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Google Reshaping ISP Business Model

Communications Policy is Becoming Disconnected from Reality

High speed access markets in the United Kingdom and United States show a pattern that should fundamentally challenge the prevailing communications policy framework. Simply put, lightly-regulated cable TV operators are emerging as the dominant suppliers of consumer triple-play services. Telcos not only are losing installed base and market share, but not are facing additional pressure from cable TV suppliers in small business, mid-sized and increasingly enterprise services as well. Soon, cable TV will enter the mobile business as well.

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Communications Policy is Becoming Disconnected from Reality

GSMA Launches "Connected Women" Initiative

The GSMA today announced the launch of the Connected Women Commitment Initiative, aimed at reducing the mobile gender gap and connecting millions more women in low- and middle-income countries by 2020. Dialog Axiata PLC in Sri Lanka, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Digi) in Malaysia, Indosat Ooredoo in Indonesia, Ooredoo Maldives, Ooredoo Myanmar, Robi Axiata Limited in Bangladesh, Tigo Rwanda and Turkcell in Turkey are initial supporters. GSMA estimates there are 200 million fewer women than men who own a mobile phone in low- and middle-income countries. In a study conducted by the GSMA, across 11 countries studied, the top five barriers to mobile phone ownership and use by women are: High cost of mobile handsets and credit Poor network quality and coverage Security concerns and harassment over mobile phones Lack of trust in agents and operators Low technical literacy and confidence   But even when women do own a mobile device, they are far less likely to use it for more sophisticated services, such as mobile internet and mobile money, and therefore miss out on key socio-economic opportunities.

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GSMA Launches "Connected Women" Initiative

Verizon Best U.S. Mobile Network Nationally, Rootmetrics Says

With the caveat that any network will be better than another at any specific location, RootMetrics  says that in the second half 2015 , Verizon’s performance across the United States continues to set the pace, leading the mobile network race in nearly all aspects of testing. “This was Verizon’s fifth consecutive time receiving the United States Overall Performance RootScore Award,” Rootmetrics said. For the fourth consecutive national report, AT&T was the only carrier other than Verizon to win or share a RootScore award at the national level. The overall national scores: 1 – Verizon (94.5) 2 – AT&T (91.3) 3 – Sprint (86.0) 4 – T-Mobile (80.9) Sprint showed improvements in the second half of 2015 at the national level, Rootmetrics says.

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Verizon Best U.S. Mobile Network Nationally, Rootmetrics Says

When Private Equity Gets Involved, There Usually is a Problem

Private equity investors over the past couple of decades have mostly tended to get involved in ownership of telecom companies primarily during the Internet investment boom of the late 1990s, and generally in roles similar to that of venture capital. Occasionally, private equity gets involved only in smaller or moderate-size telecom deals where there is distress of some sort. That has been the case for Portugal Telecom and Hawaiian Telcom .

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When Private Equity Gets Involved, There Usually is a Problem

AT&T, CenturyLink and others commit to SDN despite ROI uncertainty

The wireline and wireless industry segments have started, or are considering, implementing SDN and NFV into their networks to gain new network agility and the ability to drive automation into their service delivery processes. These providers' SDN/NFV strategies will be the focus of a  panel  I'm moderating at Mobile World Congress.

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AT&T, CenturyLink and others commit to SDN despite ROI uncertainty

Video Turns Business Models Upside Down

If policymakers want new networks to develop as functional substitutes for existing networks, some structural realities will have to be addressed.  Mobile services already have become functional substitutes for fixed network voice, much Internet access and some portion of entertainment video viewing. But the future is entertainment video, especially over the top, on demand video. And that sort of entertainment video poses huge problems for any number of wireless and mobile networks.

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Video Turns Business Models Upside Down

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