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Friday, September 23, 2016

KPN, T-Mobile Extend 4G Home Broadband Services


KPN and T-Mobile Netherlands have reported success with their initial tests of 4G as a replacement for home broadband, and the Dutch operators say they expect to continue the services. A year after launching a special offer for rural areas, KPN said it has a few thousand customers for the 4G service, while T-Mobile is testing the service with 500 customers and plans a commercial launch in October. KPN first introduced the offer last November, targeting around 100,000 households in rural areas that were unable to receive fast fixed broadband. A KPN spokesman said this figure has since grown to around 130,000. KPN offers a modem with a SIM card slot for the service.

T-Mobile started testing its “4G voor Thuis” service early this year and in August launched a beta service with 500 customers. Based on initial feedback, a number of changes were made to the service, such as allowing port forwarding for remote access to devices such as hard drives or IP cameras and introducing unlimited data volume at night. A T-Mobile spokesman said a number of network optimizations are also planned for the commercial launch. According to a research report, 34 percent of Dutch consumers are interested in mobile internet as a fixed broadband replacement, if the speed is at least the same or higher than their current connection.  

Although these experiments in the Netherlands are starting small, in terms of number of customers, we believe that it is very realistic to envision that fixed broadband technology eventually could be more or less completely replaced by mobile high-speed networks. As mobile technology improves by leaps and bounds—not only 4G but 5G as trials increase in many markets—it approaches the speeds and reliability hitherto offered only by fixed internet connections.

While 4G in the home is currently most attractive to those who for geographical reasons cannot get fixed line service, there are several reasons why it can, and most likely will, appeal to other types of customers. For one thing, the seamlessness of having one kind of service at home and away from home simplifies connectivity across multiple devices. For another, it would simplify billing and plan structures. And finally, the lack of need to install and maintain wire lines removes a level of complexity and potential worry for consumers, not to mention for operators.

The Netherlands is a sophisticated, advanced mobile market; if over one third of customers there are interested in substituting mobile for fixed internet, that is an indicator that this is an idea whose time has come—not only in the developing world, where remote, rural locations cannot get fixed line service, but in the developed world, as well.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. 



To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Facebook CEO Visits Kenya, Generating Speculation

Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of U.S.-based internet giant Facebook, made a surprise visit to Kenya on September 1, giving rise to speculation that Facebook was interested in acquiring Safaricom’s mobile money platform M-Pesa. M-Pesa CEO Bob Collymore denied the rumors, saying that if Facebook wanted a mobile money service it could create its own. Zuckerberg toured iHub, the tech development center in Nairobi, and met with executives at BRCK, the Wi-Fi modem manufacturer that has been described as potential rival to Facebook’s plans to spread connectivity throughout Africa. He also met with Kenya’s cabinet secretary for ICT.

 
Even if the story of Facebook aiming to buy M-Pesa is, as Collymore said, a fabrication, Zuckerberg’s visit highlights the growing vitality of the tech sector in Kenya and points to the very real opportunities for outside companies to do business in this vibrant “mobile-first” region. It also suggests that lessons learned from the rapid and successful uptake of mobile money in Africa could be of interest to entrepreneurs in the developed world, as well. 


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. 

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Vodafone Germany and Recogizer Offer Big-Data Analysis

Vodafone Germany, in cooperation with Recogizer Analytics, a German company, is offering an analysis tool for companies using the Internet of Things. Business customers can evaluate large quantities of data from building technology, machines and sensors, with the goal of increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, reducing machine downtime and improving the reliability of installations. With the Big Data Analysis cluster, Vodafone is offering a complete product range consisting of hardware, a Vodafone Global SIM, data analysis collection, secure data hosting on German servers and intelligent data analysis. The service is based on Vodafone’s LTE grid and, in future, will be based on the operator’s 5G network.
 
 
This ambitious offering targeted at business subscribers appears to be an excellent way for a mobile operator to create revenue and innovative opportunities for itself beyond traditional mobile services. The rapidly growing IoT sector is already a promising source of revenue for operators, as we have written in the past; providing an analytic tool for the IoT is a new and creative way to grow within that sector. Not only is Big Data Analysis potentially very useful to companies in the building industry and therefore an opportunity to enhance Vodafone’s brand, but the fact that it runs on Vodafone’s LTE network makes it a source of ongoing revenue, a way of more fully utilizing the operator’s capacity, and a way of increasing Vodafone’s customer base (via the Global SIMs). Partnering with a technology company to develop this complex system looks to be a savvy move, and on the whole, we see Big Data Analytics as a likely win-win situation.
Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. 

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dutch Company Threatened With Fines Over Retail Wi-Fi Tracking


The Dutch Personal Data Authority has threatened Bluetrace, a Netherlands-based company, with a fine if it does not change its practices to meet privacy regulations. The company provides devices to help retailers track store traffic by registering the MAC address on smartphones. Bluetrace Wi-Fi receivers track people in a store, as well as passers-by on the street and nearby residents, but the regulator said that it needs to differentiate between store visitors, who have given prior approval for the tracking, and others, who have not. The information collected must also be rendered anonymous and processed within 24 hours. Any other data collected on other people should be deleted. Bluetrace has six months to implement the changes and demonstrate that it is in compliance. It must also improve the information provided to store visitors. If it does not make the changes, the company faces fines of €5,000 (US $5625) per day, up to a maximum €100,000 (US $112,480).
 
 
Another major opportunity for the mobile telecom industry is mobile advertising, which relies on (among other things) information about consumer behavior gleaned in real time via public Wi-Fi. Operators can monetize this process by making deals with retailers and mobile advertising service providers that provide special access to the operator’s subscribers. Mobile advertising is a very fast-growing sector; however, this report from the Netherlands sounds a cautionary note. Operators and other entities involved should be aware of the potential not only for regulator sanctions but for alienating the public if the data gathering is perceived as violating privacy. A careful approach that involves above-board acknowledgment of the specifics of the tracking is highly advisable. 

Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. 

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 



Thursday, September 8, 2016

Digicel Launches Play Go Streaming App Across Caribbean

Bermuda-based telecommunications group Digicel has announced the launch of Play Go, a new live-streaming platform with sports and exclusive content, across 19 Caribbean markets (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Panama). Digicel Play Go includes live programming from seven HD channels—SportsMax, SportsMax2, NBA TV, Fight Sports, Catch, Catch 2 and Revolt TV—as well as drama, sitcom, reality series and popular documentary series. First and foremost, the platform is aimed at sports fans, with action ranging from soccer (UEFA Championships League, La Liga and Serie A) to cricket (the Indian Premier League, England Domestic League and International Cricket), basketball (NBA and NCAA), rugby and boxing. Play Go runs on iOS and Android for mobile devices and via a special browser platform for PCs. The service requires an active monthly subscription, and Digicel is offering the first 30 days free of charge.
 
 
As we have observed in the past, offering customers access to entertainment content is one of the best ways for mobile operators to keep their product above commodity status, particularly if that content is exclusive to the operator. The revenue potential of these services is substantial, the more so if the content is closely targeted to specific demographic groups. In this case, we think Digicel is making a very smart move, and that its investment in licensing sports and other entertainment streaming services will likely pay off nicely. Due to its presence in so many markets across a geographic region, the operator can roll out its streaming services on a grand scale, and at the same time present tightly curated offerings that cater to the tastes of Caribbean audiences, whose preferences Digicel has had a long time to learn and understand. The availability of Play Go on a variety of platforms should also spur broad-based uptake. On the whole, this sport-intensive offer has all the hallmarks of a winner. 


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. 

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Friday, September 2, 2016

U.S. Appeals Court Rules in Favor of AT&T in Throttling Suit

A federal appeals court in California has ordered a lower court to dismiss the data-throttling lawsuit filed against AT&T in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The case accused the carrier of deceiving customers by reducing internet speeds for those with unlimited mobile data plans after certain usage levels were exceeded. The FTC asserted that the carrier failed to inform consumers of this. In some cases, according to the suit, data speeds were slowed by almost 90 percent. The FTC called the practice deceptive and, as a result, barred under the Federal Trade Commission Act. AT&T argued that there was an exception for so-called common carriers, and the appeals court agreed. The company said it was pleased with the decision. The FTC has not yet decided whether to appeal. AT&T could still face action from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In June 2015, the agency proposed a fine of US $100 million for the operator’s alleged failure to inform customers with unlimited data plans about the speed reductions. AT&T has contested that proposed fine.
 

The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is certainly a victory, and perhaps an indication that the practice of data throttling—whose demise has been predicted due to vigorous action from the FTC and FCC—may still have some life left in it. For AT&T, without a doubt, the ruling is good news, insofar as it spares the operator fines and customer refunds. However, we should note that data throttling is no longer as important a strategy for the major operators as it formerly was, since the trend away from “unlimited” data got underway. At this point, it applies only to legacy customers still on plans that are no longer available to new customers. What the AT&T’s court victory does not change is the fact that public awareness of throttling and the seemingly un-straightforward approach the operator took toward disclosing and explaining it hurt the company’s image with consumers. Even if legal, reducing speeds to the point at which in-demand data services are impossible to use is, we believe, bad advertising for AT&T.
 
Interestingly, the issue has arisen again due to the policies of a U.S. operator that is bucking the trend—T-Mobile. The “Uncarrier,” as we reported last week, is defiantly declaring that plans with data allowances are “over” and offering so-called unlimited data. However, in a seeming flashback to earlier practices, T-Mobile throttles data in two ways, for video and hotspot use. We will be watching to see whether the public becomes as outraged at this as it did at AT&T’s throttling. 

 
 Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. 

                                          To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 



Monday, August 22, 2016

Google Unveils Video Chat App


Google has released a simple video calling application called Google Duo for Android and iOS devices. Designed as a no-frills rival to Facebook Messenger and Apple's FaceTime, the app was first announced at Google’s I/O Conference in May and will begin to roll out in 78 languages over the next few days. To get started, users simply download the app and can then instantly begin a video call with a single tap of the face of the person they want to call. Contacts who do not have Duo can be invited over SMS with an app download link. For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and mobile data automatically without dropping the call, Google said. The Android version of the app comes with a feature called Knock Knock, which allows call recipients to see live video of a caller before they answer the call.  According to Google, “Knock Knock makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up.”

Google is a late entrant into the OTT video calling game, and its offering is not revolutionary in nature. However, it has features that could make it a game-changer. Most importantly, Google is going head-to-head with mega-rival Apple’s FaceTime app, with one major difference: Duo is device-agnostic, whereas FaceTime only works between Apple devices. In general market-strategic terms, Apple has always emphasized its hardware, while Google has emphasized its universally-available operating system, Android. And of course, here Google is going Apple one better by offering its Duo app for iOS, as well.

Duo, which has few frills, is intending to appeal to consumers with signal quality and reliability. Calls are encrypted, and the resolution is automatically adjusted according to the prevailing signal strength. Google has said that it created a new protocol for Duo, which guarantees fast and secure calling, in partnership with the developers behind the open framework WebRTC. In short, by offering the FaceTime experience to the vast majority of smartphone users worldwide, across platforms, with potentially greater reliability and security, Google, is in a position to get a large chunk of the video-calling customer base and hold onto it. The fact that Google has an enormous pre-existing customer base only adds to its chances of success. For mobile operators, then, Duo represents a further challenge to its voice calling revenue streams, since video calling competes directly with voice. 
Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com