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Global mobile penetration ‘only 45%’: Google drops results; DTAG launches ADN - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Join us at Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region, and there’s a great line up of top-notch stimulus speakers from Du, Mobily, Etisalat, Singtel, Globe, Qtel, Telecom Indonesia, Google, Amex, Unilever and others.)

The GSMA thinks that levels of mobile penetration have been greatly exaggerated, because the degree of multiple SIM ownership has been underestimated. Therefore, they now reckon that the ratio of SIMs to subscribers is 1.85 globally, which implies a penetration rate by subscribers of 45% and a customer base of 3.2 billion, roughly where we thought we were several years ago.

We weren’t convinced, thinking that despite all this time in the mobile business, we didn’t know anyone who actually used multiple SIMs, and an average of 1.85 with a lower bound of 1 suggests that a typical multiple user must have quite a few…until we remembered the pile of unsolicited pre-paid SIM packs gathering dust in a drawer, which does suggest the GSMA has a point about the numbers.

Anyway, plenty of food for thought there. RootMetrics’ crowdsourced coverage maps have reached the UK, which also implies food for thought.

China Mobile reported its profits were up 1.3%, beating the estimate, on the basis of strong subscriber growth in the low-end of the market.

Megafon has put back its IPO until the Q3 results drop. Connoisseurs will note that whenever the IPO happens, it will finally resolve one of the industry’s longest-running disputes, that between TeliaSonera and Mikhail Fridman over the controlling stake in Megafon. Once the company floats, either party or both will be able to finally flog their interest and go home.

Q-Tel may be in the market for the Vivendi stake in Maroc Telecom. Vodacom upped its estimates for H1 sharply. Verizon Wireless reported its earnings per share in Q3 were up 4%, and the iPhone 5 had dramatically boosted the take-up of LTE. 35% of their data traffic is now on the new LTE network. Meanwhile, 66% of the fixed-line operation’s revenues are now from its FiOS FTTH network, and revenues are growing 4.6%. On the other hand, the cloud-centric enterprise division’s revenues shrank 3.6%.

Is AT&T going to sell its rural PSTN lines? Or is it, instead, going to deploy LTE in a fixed-wireless mode, like Verizon and DTAG?

ISIS, the US carriers’ payments joint venture, names the day and it’s…today. A few hundred retailers in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City are participating in the trial, and the app was released onto Google Play last week.

The value of M-PESA transactions shot up 41% in H1, and the Kenyan government now wants to tax them. Safaricom isn’t happy about this, pointing to the irony that 35% of the company belongs to the government.

Here’s an M2M application: lone-worker security, for diplomats. Speaking of M2M, the 3G & 4G Wireless Blog links to the proposals for special M2M features in 3GPP Release 10.

Did you know Manchester has a completely unused metro-fibre network?

Google was so keen to tell us about its Q3s that it published them early! Well, they say the printers jumped the gun. The big news, though, was that the results were bad, at least for Google values of bad - the company is still a cash machine, just not as lucrative as expected. The core of the problem is that the cost-per-click in Google advertising is down sharply, 15%, implying that prices were slashed to fill inventory. Further, growth was faster for network partners than for Google’s own websites, so revenue-share payments and hence traffic-acquisition costs were up. And Motorola is a problem.

More analysis is here and here.

It was especially painful, as Google shares had hit an all-time high on the 5th of October and the company was in a celebratory mood, inviting Steven Levy to visit its data centres and preparing to launch a new Chromebook, based on an ARM processor and dramatically cheaper.

Google’s VP of partner business solutions, Henrique de Castro, is off to be Marissa Mayer’s COO at Yahoo! She’s also looking to fill a vacancy for the head of Yahoo! software development, which probably means another headhunter raid on Mountain View.

Facebook, meanwhile, has put its new mobile ads into production. The service, in trials since August, permits app developers to bid for adverts that are inserted into mobile users’ news feeds. Interesting questions: how many developers have a substantial ad budget, and how many users will put up with ads in their stuff?

Here’s a good discussion of why Facebook Credits didn’t work. Trying to win small businesses.

Ben Evans looks into Whatsapp and argues that it’s like Instagram, but bigger, cheaper to run, faster-growing, and with revenue.

O2 UK has decided to drop an Ericsson HSS/HLR product, their Centralised User Database, after the second big outage this year. A budget of £10m is named. LightReading has a more detailed story, including a handy list of recent HLR failures.

Vodafone’s SureSignal femto product was also down recently.

On the more positive side, Ericsson do have some interesting new ideas like this WebRTC-enabled browser:


China Mobile has given Alcatel-Lucent the job of building a TD-LTE trial network, but decided to buy from ZTE for the production build-out. That’s no fewer than 20,000 base stations. ALU, for its part, is going to cut 5,500 jobs.

Meanwhile, NSN had non-horrible results in Q3. Not just non-horrible, but the biggest profit in the joint venture’s history.

DTAG this week announced a new cloud product, its Application Delivery Network. We’ve been talking about ADN as a concept for some time, so it’s good to see it deploying. DTAG are using Edgecast’s CDN technology.

Benoit Felten blogs back from Broadband World Forum and notes that everyone loves software-defined networking, and also that telcos make strategy decisions on a TCO basis but buy on upfront price.

Elsewhere, Jeff Atwood walks through pricing the servers for his StackExchange websites. Like quite a few people, he notes that you can buy a lot more power for your money if you forget the cloud, though that’s not always the reason that people use the cloud. He also links to Pinboard’s similar decision. The question is how much you value the other services that come with the cloud. We look at this, and telcos’ roles overall in more depth in our new report.

How does Google cool its servers? Data Centre Knowledge finds out. The whole room is the cold-aisle and the hot-aisles are enclosed and water-cooled.

OpenStack now implements the Google Compute Engine API, for the following reasons:

Our customers are asking for two interrelated items: federation to public clouds and a choice of public cloud APIs. It’s been very consistent. Customers are all deploying some kind of hybrid solution. Some times they start in public and want to move some workloads back to private, like Zynga. Some times they start in private and want to move some workloads back to public. Regardless, it’s clear they want to run mixed mode for the forseeable future: some capacity in private and some in public. The challenge, then is for them have private clouds that are compatible with public clouds.

Apple, meanwhile, started building another huge data centre in Prineville, Oregon. The ARM-based cloud hardware is coming. Jerry Yang invests in an OpenStack private cloud shop.

Nokia had Q3s out, and they weren’t much fun. There was a loss of €576m, sales of smartphones are down, sales of Windows devices are down sharply after the revelation that they wouldn’t support Windows 8, and astonishingly, Symbian and Linux devices are still outselling Windows Phone ones.

Nokia still has €3.6bn of cash on hand, though, and the latest lot of Windows 8 gadgets won’t be counted until Q4. On the other hand, BGR argues that RIM is in a better position thanks to its network products and the fact that it controls its own technology.

Here’s a really fascinating historical look at Maemo, MeeGo, etc.

Is Windows 8 depressing PC sales? And here’s a deep dive into the guts of Windows RT from Ars Technica.

How much video? 20 times as much as the Beijing Olympics, says the BBC’s controller of digital distribution, Richard Cooper. At the peak, the BBC was streaming 700Gbps of video. Fortunately, they’d provisioned the CDN infrastructure for 1,000Gbps…

Meanwhile, there’s an excellent post on the BBC Research blog about why “interactive TV apps” are a bad idea, and not just because the user experience is often terrible.

Comcast makes its own move towards interactive TV.

Is the real patent war still to come - when TiVO tries to enforce its patents on the DVR concept?

YouTube’s networks, aggregators of independent video content, are criticised for “old Hollywood” practices.

Music streamer Deezer has decided to ignore the US.

Boxee’s new gadget is out and it’s heavily dependent on Amazon Web Services.

Time was, Android’s support for Flash was considered an advantage. Now, it seems more of a bug. Dan Rayburn writes that many video-related app developers are considering dropping Android support, because its implementation of HTTP Live Streaming is so poor.

And here’s some advice from Jeff Bezos: “people who are right a lot are people who change their minds”.

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