They sold out of wifi-enabled iPad mini tablets at 8.30am this morning at the flagship Apple store in Regent Street, London. It has been a similar story every day this week. The nice Apple lady in the shop told me that the queues were now starting at around 6.00am.
Going into 2013, the communications industry will continue its campaign to be the enabler of critical functions for cities and public services. These are challenging markets that demand patient investment. Administrative systems and working practices – not to mention public policy and regulation – take time to adapt to connected environments. Citizens and consumers also need time to understand their more proactive role.
The presence of BT and PCCW – which owns fixed-wireless 4G operator UK Broadband – among the bidders in the UK’s upcoming 4G spectrum auction has put a new twist on the narrative for the country’s mobile market. In the run-up to the auction, which will see regulator Ofcom sell off the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies, the perceived wisdom was that challenger operator 3 UK would pick up the 800MHz block reserved for an operator that holds no sub-1GHz spectrum, and the rest would be business as usual. However, with these companies entering the fray, the picture becomes much murkier.
It took a while, but the spectrum auction in the Netherlands is finally over. The mobile operators are essentially in a position to fully roll out 4G services, and as the regulator had desired, a fourth entrant is poised to come in and shake things up. But it’s worth remembering the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same: increasing competition by adding a fourth operator may well result in one of the existing players exiting the market.
Ofcom doesn’t get a whole lot of days like this. I suggested back in March that when you get a bunch of mobile operators in the same room to talk about spectrum, the one thing they’ll be able to agree on is that somewhere, somehow the regulator has dropped the ball. The Finally 4G Westminster e-Forum featured none of that, presumably to the great relief of the Ofcom representatives in attendance.
Bengt Nordstrom, founder of industry consultancy NorthStream, shares a series of predictions for the mobile industry in 2013. In this fourth instalment he says that the managed services market will consolidate next year, down to a three-player market, as competition intensifies.
Microsoft Office 365 is becoming to telco SaaS what the Big Mac is to fast food. That’s not a health warning, but a fact, based on a 38-country study* of 51 communication service providers’ business SaaS portfolios that I’ve just completed. Microsoft powers an astonishing 51% of these CSPs’ productivity and collaboration offers. Want a SaaS [...]
Bengt Nordstrom, founder of industry consultancy NorthStream, shares a series of predictions for the mobile industry in 2013. In this third instalment he says that LTE rollouts will result in operators requiring less small cells than had previously been the case, ending the “small cell debate”.
Speculation over the likely purchaser of Nokia Siemens Networks’ BSS assets was ended with the announcement on 5th December that Canadian BSS solutions vendor Redknee is to acquire most of them for around €40m and in the process give a massive boost to its customer base. Until very recently, Ericsson and Amdocs were being tipped as likely contenders but few pundits had seen Redknee waiting in the wings.
Bengt Nordstrom, founder of industry consultancy NorthStream, shares a series of predictions for the mobile industry in 2013. In this second instalment he suggests that European regulators will become more open to consolidation among operators, helping to revitalise the European market.
In common I suspect with many other longer-serving observers of the telecoms industry, the news that it has been all of 20 years since engineer Neil Papworth tapped out his seasonal text message to a friend and unwittingly launched what was to become next most successful service to voice, bought a wry smile to my face. It is tempting to look back and wonder just how we failed to see that one coming. The fact is however we didn’t see it coming and were collectively taken by surprise by the speed with which the world and his dog adopted text messaging as its second most favourite means of telecommunication. While we may find it deeply ironic that the fickleness of human nature could take a multi-trillion dollar global industry by surprise, we should look for the lessons to be learned from the experience.
Bengt Nordstrom, founder of industry consultancy NorthStream, shares his predictions for the mobile industry in 2013. In this first instalment he argues that the shift in power from network operators to device manufacturers, in particular Apple and Samsung, will have a significant impact on industry R&D and standardisation work.
The Libyan revolution destroyed an estimated $1bn in telecoms infrastructure, the new administration has yet to prove itself, and the country’s security has still not completely stabilised. Nonetheless, Etisalat, France Telecom, Vodafone, VimpelCom, Orascom, Q-Tel and Bharti Airtel, among others, have all expressed strong interest in either acquiring a new license in Libya or buying into an existing operator.
Here in Australia the debate over the A$37 billion FTTH National Broadband Network (NBN) has been as bitter and partisan as anything I have seen in my 15 years living down under, at times it has made debates over traditional hot-button issues like abortion and gay marriage seem like tea and biscuits with the local Vicar.
Quite a number of my analyst colleagues were in sunny Cape Town for the AfricaCom conference last week. I on the other hand have just returned from more northerly climes, from an Ericsson industry analyst forum held in a decidedly chillier Stockholm. I was struck by a number of things at this event, the first and foremost being how thoroughly Ericsson is seeking to reposition itself.
LTE users consume significantly more mobile data when services are priced and marketed in the right way
LTE is providing operators with a new lease on life, and not just in terms of being able to offer an improved user experience, a chance to sharpen branding messages and an opportunity to differentiate themselves from rivals. Operators are also seeing changes in consumer behavior, and initial signs are that LTE users are consuming more data than 3G customers.
“Events, dear boy, events.” British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s oft-quoted answer when asked what he most feared as a politician seems worth dusting down when considering the departure of the BBC’s Director-General George Entwistle less than two months into his job. Running the UK’s largest media company comes with numerous challenges, but no-one was prescient enough to predict that the vile abuses of a BBC TV personality from the 1970s would ultimately have spiralled into a crisis that has led to Entwistle’s demise, with other big hitters likely to follow. The BBC, incredibly, has gone in a matter of weeks from a much-loved national institution, basking in the glow of a triumphal summer Olympics, to an organisation in meltdown, beset by crisis upon crisis.
Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once famously remarked that “a week is a long time in politics.” Few would doubt that, but judging from the change in mood between Broadband World Forums 2011 and 2012, if a week is a long time in politics, a year is an eternity in the telecoms market.
“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”. Amara’s law will probably apply to superfast-broadband services, but it’s little comfort to those operators faced with investing in the multi-billion dollar networks that will support them. While most have one very solid short-term reason for investing in next-generation access – competition from cable – what they might gain in the longer-term remains unclear.
Last week I attended the GSMA’s NFC & Mobile Money Summit in Milan to take the pulse of what’s been happening in the mobile contactless payments space over the past year.