UK Mobile Broadband Report!

29 07 2009

Recently a Broadband Communication firm Epitiro, released UK Mobile Broadband report, which has some significant points to take note of. The report details the performance of mobile broadband networks based on data collected from Dec 8, 2008 to May 8, 2009. It includes the analysis done for major mobile broadband operators including Hutchison 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin mobile. The most significant part of this report involves over 1.4 million tests recorded on performance from more than 1300 mobile agents across England. So what’s fuss about all this? Why this report is significant?

In UK, there are significant numbers of notspots (No Coverage Areas), when it comes to 3G mobile coverage. This revelation came from Ofcom, the telecom regulatory body in UK. It also added that it will investigate the mobile broadband speeds which vary from places to places and from time to time. So in short all isn’t going well on mobile broadband front, when it comes to real world deployments.

The Epitiro report says that average download speed achieved on mobile broadband is just below 1Mbps. The speed depends on how many people are using these services at a given time. It also revealed that subscribers are getting only one fourth of the advertised speed. This is in contrast to consumer behaviors, who are dropping fixed line connections for mobile broadband. Consumers are increasingly becoming Data Hungry; this is justified by the fact that in 2003, just 1% of revenue per mobile connection came from data, which rose to 6% by 2008.  But then Ofcom has to resolve lot many issues before it could make 3G Mobile Broadband available to all. Perhaps the demand for for more 3G spectrum is growing in light of significant number of notspots, particularly in rural areas.

Some of the key points mentioned in report are:

  • Mobile broadband users experience on average 24% of maximum headline “up to‟ speeds advertised
  • The average mobile broadband speed achieved is less than 1 Mbps
  • Of the 1,300 agents tested, the fastest 20 agents posted an average speed of 1.8 Mbps
  • The average Ping time is 150msec which exceeds the recommended 100msec ceiling for internet game playing. Similarly specified ADSL broadband achieves an average of less than 50 msec.
  • Web browsing, on average, is 34% slower than speeds achieved on ADSL connections though smaller but popular web sites download in less than 3 seconds
  • Trends in mobile data indicate TCP download speeds improving at a rate of 11% over the test period

The challenge is significant in the sense, that mobile is now treated as essential service rather than a luxury and more and more consumers want pervasive coverage for accessing Internet on mobile. This report would help Indian Operators to understand the implications & traps of 3G rollout services, who are in process of bidding for NGN mobile spectrum in coming months. Achieving full customer satisfaction could be a distant dream, but at least we can have some innovative 3G rollout strategies whereby we could minimize the notspots to a significantly low number. If all goes well, then generating revenue remains the challenge in coming years, so in short we need to overcome significant number of hurdles, before we could actually make successful business case for NGN Mobile Broadband.

Global Mobile Broadband Traffic Report-Q2/2009

26 07 2009

Allot Communications, in an ongoing initiative to track global IP application and bandwidth usage and growth in mobile broadband networks, released Global Mobile Broadband Traffic Report (GMBT) for Q2-2009. The data was collected from leading mobile operators across globe with a combined user base of more than 150million subscribers.

Let’s summaries the key findings of the report:

  • Global mobile data bandwidth usage increased significantly over Q2-2009, with a jump of 30%. Asia-Pacific has the highest growth of 36%, followed by Europe 28% and America 25%.
  • HTTP Browsing is the #1 application both globally & in each individual region, though its growth rate is slower than HTTP streaming (Video) & HTTP downloads.
  • HTTP streaming is the fastest growing application with rise of 58%.
  • HTTP downloads currently generate 19% of mobile broadband traffic worldwide and in Europe. HTTP Downloads are currently more popular than Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing (bit torrent).
  • The single largest factor leading to cell congestion is P2P which accounts for 42% of BW (Bandwidth) utilization in top 5% cells.


So what’s conclusion?  The most interesting part of this report states that mobile users are treating their mobile networks much same as their fixed networks. This is particularly true for heavy users who aren’t bothered about the type of access network they use.

Mobile Broadband networks face the same challenges as fixed networks- increasing BW demands and congestion. BW hungry applications are negatively impacting subscriber Quality of Experience (QoE) which tends to dominate the BW resources.

With technical innovation of ‘Direct Tunnel’  along with range of packet core solutions by Nokia Siemens Network, which provides operators with simpler ‘flat’ connectivity architecture, NSN expects mobile data to take up more network capacity than voice traffic by 2011. In a footnote, vendor states:

While Nokia Siemens Networks estimates that the number of bytes of mobile voice traffic will continue to grow steadily, the growing popularity of mobile broadband services and even machine-to-machine applications will create an exponential rise in the number of bytes of data traffic carried by mobile packet core networks worldwide. This will result in a yearly doubling of data traffic from almost 400 petabytes (400 million gigabytes) a year in 2009 to almost 2,000 petabytes (2 billion gigabytes) a year by 2011, bypassing the estimated volume of voice traffic (1,200 petabytes).

Close to 300 customers use Nokia Siemens Networks’ packet core solutions including operators such as America Movil, AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Oi, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and Vodafone.

But whether Mobile Broadband is cost effective as compared to DSL? Is it a profitable technology to invest in long term? We will have to wait and see more business models evolving in coming years, but one thing is clear, which ever way you go (irrespective of access technology) Data seems to the future of NGN mobile network.

Airtel’s Open Developer Community- AODC

13 07 2009

If you have read ET on 10th July, this one Telecom news stood apart & perhaps it would have wider implications in coming months on Indian Telecom Industry. Airtel, India’s biggest telecom operator by subscriber base, hired approx 1000 developers to form an Application Developer community (Independent) called ‘Airtel Open Developer Community (AODC)’, which will develop applications for Airtel’s 100million+ subscribers across Mobile, TV, DTH etc services.

As per Economic Times report, Bharti will be providing a Software Development Kit (Read Java SDK), the main set of tools to write applications to AODC members, along with training to build applications across three screens- TV, Mobile & PC.  This all will happen irrespective of devices used by consumers. Though Vodafone runs such an independent software development community called Betavine, Airtel’s attempt to set up such community in India is first one by any major Telco.

Why I am excited about this development? Perhaps, it opened a new paradigm shift for IT + Telecom development in coming years, on mass scale. Secondly, it would create differentiation for Airtel in market place along with value addition to its portfolio (Read VAS). Third, there is good chance of grabbing new revenue sources by developing new applications for subscribers (device independent software development- Open Source), besides improving customer perception towards Brand Airtel. This business model will entirely rely on customer centric approach. So sooner, you might visit Airtel’s nearby showroom to download paid/free application developed by AODC (just like they do in Apple’s Store in US)

What should you expect from such community? Though I tried to search on about AODC, there are no official updates available as of now. We will have to wait for details, but one thing is clear, Airtel is pushing hard towards realization of its vision of becoming most admired brand of India in coming few years.  This is one such attempt, after launch of Airtel’s Innovation Fund ( in last year September, which will give long term benefits in terms of both, growth & development.

Now the industry first movers namely Apple & Google who devised this strategy have benefited heavily earlier. If you ask me, why Palm Pre on Sprint, which is earlier touted as iPhone killer by many, failed to generate momentum? Pre had very few applications running on their device as compared to Apple’s strong community of developers who already developed more than 50000+ applications for iPhone (Refer iPhone Blogs) ( Though only 2000+ are free applications). It simply adds value to user experience and attracts large user base. Same is true for Google Android development. Besides cost benefits it added great value in your portfolio in terms of applications. Perhaps in coming months, Android will drive NGN mobile industry.

Yesterday, I got hands on Samsung’s Android phone, Galaxy. To my surprise, Samsung which will be launching nearly eight phones in the array, in India (Touch to Pixon, Omnia- Few are launched already), only Galaxy is Android powered. Initially accessing on Galaxy appeared slow, but still its worth to bet on Android phones than Symbian (Nokia Driven) ( Again applications advantage).  But there were few takers to it too, partly because of unawareness. Samsung, the number two mobile device manufacturer in the world is eating up Smart phone segment shares of Nokia & LG very fast.

Now last part of story is about 3G subscriber numbers of MTNL.  Business Standard last month reported that MTNL could grab only 400+ subscribers for its 3G service called ‘Jadoo’. Not surprising, first movers will always have new challenges to face. This partially shows that 3G adaptation in India might take longer time than expected. Though it is true that initially services offered on 3G platform were costly, now MTNL is trying to make it affordable with wide variety of schemes for 3G users. Perhaps, new marketing strategy of cost reduction of new 3G SIM cards might help MTNL to achieve its said target for ‘Jadoo’. Wait & Watch!


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Economic Times:

Household Broadband Penetration Report

1 07 2009

Few days back I have written a blog at SiliconIndia, where I proposed the idea of National Broadband Plan-2020 for India. But after writing the blog, I was attacked by few of my friends who thought the idea is totally rubbish & I am trying to sell my company’s agenda. Despite this fact, here I am, stressing on the need of Broadband in households irrespective of what I try to sell or buy on my independent blog platform.

Telegeography, a leading telecom market research firm, has tracked the Home broadband service provision in 127 countries and came up with a report highlighting few facts about Home broadband penetration rates. Here are few facts:

  • Only Ten countries have achieved the penetration rate of > 80%, which includes South Korea, Singapore, Hong-Kong, UAE, Denmark etc.
  • None of the above markets are huge & total market opportunity doesn’t have a ceiling of 100%- the interesting fact to mention about these markets.
  • Fifty countries have more broadband penetration between 20-80%, which represents the huge potential of broadband expansion opportunity.
  • While 36 countries have penetration less than 5%; 88 countries even couldn’t have measurable penetration on scale. Together, these two represent the potential of 700 million subscribers.
  • Less than 2% households in Africa are having broadband at home, compared to 68% in US.

Facts & market potential apart, we ‘India’ are still having broadband penetration less than 1%. As per May-09 count, we have approx 7 million broadband subscribers in India. The figure doesn’t clarify how many of them are household & business users. So in terms of home broadband subscriber numbers, we fair even worse. Probably we come under category of those 88 countries which couldn’t even make it to scale. How poor!

Broadband can’t be an individual perspective; nor it is industry promotion. We do need broader outlook to help people understand how effective it would be if you could have a broadband connection at home. But yes, focus should be on need & applications, while promoting broadband in India; speed is less likely to catch attention in coming days. Till then, we will happily 😉 lie at the bottom of pyramid.