Internet Access And Service Archive

NBN to consider G.fast for fibre-copper setups

Article

Australia’s nbn preps G.Fast launch | Advanced Television

My Comments

NBN are considering implementing G.Fast technology in to their fibre-copper “multi-technology” mix for Australia’s next-generation broadband network. This is in addition to VDSL2 for “fibre-to-the-node” and “fibre-to-the-building” , fibre-to-the-premises and HFC coaxial deployments for fixed-line setups.

But what is G.Fast?

G.Fast is a DSL-based broadband technology that uses phone wires. Yet it has a faster throughput than VDSL2 that is currently used for fibre-copper setups. Here, the local copper loop between the customer’s premises and the DSLAM can be less than 500 metres for a 100Mbps link speed but can achieve a link speed of 1.3Gbps for a 70-metre loop.

It is capable of symmetrical operation which can please business deployments where a lot of data is uploaded as part of cloud computing and remote storage requirements.

Where would an infrastructure provider deploy this technology?

This would be deployed to a “fibre-to-the-distribution-point” setup where the fibre-copper interface is a distribution box that covers a residential street or block and any cul-de-sacs that run off that street, or a small strip of shops typically this side of 50 premises.

Similarly, most multi-tenancy units like apartment blocks or shopping centres would benefit from this kind of technology for their fibre-copper needs.

But there is a setup that appeals to the infrastructure providers where they could service a single premises by having fibre to the pole or pit outside the premises and using the telephone cabling to provide the copper link. This has a strong appeal when it comes to a “self-provisioned” Gigabit service where the service provider doesn’t have to interact with landlords or schedule installation appointments with householders to get the household on board.

There is the appeal that the technology can allow the DSLAM to be “reverse powered” – powered by the customer’s modem router or a power-injector that the customer installs at their premises.

One major current problem with deploying G.Fast, especially in a self-install setup is that, at the moment, there isn’t much support for this technology as far as customer-premises equipment is concerned. Most likely, this will be rectified as more countries roll out G.Fast deployments and manufacturers offer DSL modem routers that support G.Fast alongside VDSL2 and ADSL2; and this will initially appeal to carriers and service providers who want to provide the equipment rather than have customers buy their own equipment.

NBN’s trial deployment

NBN ran their first trial in a Melbourne office building which was wired up with 20-year-old Category 3 cabling and provided with a VDSL2 “fibre-to-the-node” service. But they nailed a throughput of 600Mbps with the VDSL2 service operating and found that they could achieve 800Mbps in that same development without VDSL2 running.

They realised that they would need to complete more trials in conjunction with the retail ISPs who are using this infrastructure through 2016. This is more to test the waters with different operating environments and to identify whether it is the technology that can be used.

As an infrastructure provider, they were drawn to the G.Fast concept due to the idea of providing Gigabit service to most urban premises on a self-install basis rather than messing with truck rolls, landlords and owners corporations.

The burning question that will come across NBN deploying G.Fast is knowing whether the wiring at the consumer premises is up to the task for transferring high-speed data. It is because of the fact that there are older deployments that may be victims to poor connections including wiring short-cuts that may hamper the throughput needed for today’s needs.

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Gigaclear hits the big 10,000

Article

Cotswolds hill and village picture courtesy of Glenluwin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Cotswolds – part of the big 10000 for Gigaclear

Gigaclear races past 10,000 premises passed mark | ThinkBroadband

From the horse’s mouth

Gigaclear

Press Release

My Comments

I have been following Gigaclear’s efforts in making sure that rural areas in Britain have access to real broadband. Think of places like Epping Forest, the Cotswolds, Underriver in Kent along with a few Oxfordshire villages gaining real broadband that attracts city dwellers wanting to “get away from it all”.

This effort started off in 2010 when Gigaclear was founded by Matthew Hare in 2010 with a focus towards real broadband in rural areas. The first effort was in Lyddington, Rutland where there was a VDSL2-based fibre-to-the-cabinet setup serving that village, then there was a fibre-to-the-premises setup in Hambledon shortly after that.

I did a Skype interview with Matthew Hare regarding the impact these broadband developments had on these towns in the early days of Gigaclear’s existence.  Through the interview, I had found that there was real interest in rural broadband with at least a third of Lyddington subscribing to the fibre-to-the-cabinet rollout and two-thirds of Hambledon pre-contracted to the fibre-to-the-premises rollout at the time of the interview.

As well, these deployments were satisfying business reality by allowing a “country-house” hotel in Hambledon to put forward a fully-functional public-access Wi-Fi Internet service as a drawcard feature; along with allowing small businesses to think of cloud-based software as a way of feeling “grown up”. It also encompassed the fact that an increasing number of villagers were using their computers for some form of income-generating work, whether to telecommute or to run a business or practise a profession from home. This underscored the need for reliable Internet service.

The interview also underscored Gigaclear’s rural-broadband effort as being a real commercial effort in a competitive market rather than philanthropic effort. This is because Gigaclear were coming through as an infrastructure competitor to BT Openreach for these rural areas.

Gigaclear found that the symmetrical FTTP technology was found to be more scalable than other technologies and this led to future-proof setups which can come about as a village or town grows. I would see this underscored more when the same village or town or one nearby acquires a larger employer and more people move in to these communities to work for the employer or work for new shops, schools and other employers that come on the scene to support a larger community.

There has been 40% takeup across the 36 communities in 5 different counties where this service has been deployed with a focus on the slower underserved communities. For that matter, construction activity surrounding a fibre-to-the-premises rollout piques interest because of the impending arrival of an Internet service that realistically serves local needs.

Keep up the good work with covering more villages, hamlets and small towns with real broadband Internet service, Gigaclear!

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AT&T charging less for Gigabit Internet service in some cities–Why?

Article US Flag By Dbenbenn, Zscout370, Jacobolus, Indolences, Technion. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Want cheaper AT&T gigabit service? Move to a Google Fiber city | The Register

My Comments

Linksys EA8500 broadband router press picture courtesy of Linksys USA

A competitive Internet service market coming to more US cities

Regular readers will know about Google Fiber showing up in an increasing number of US cities and bringing real competition to the US fixed-line broadband Internet market.

Before Google Fiber came to these cities, there was a very cosy cartel between the local “Baby Bell” telecommunications company who provided DSL Internet service and the local cable TV company who provided cable Internet service. This led to a woeful Internet experience where there wasn’t value for money and, in some cases, there was poor customer service, something that affected householders and small-business owners in most of the USA. The big telcos and the cable TV companies even were working with state governments to frustrate the creation of competitive services so that they can maintain the status quo.

Now the presence of Google Fiber has even raised the idea that you could sign up to AT&T’s 1Gbit/s GigaPower service for an ask of US$70 in Nashville or Atlanta while the same service would go for US$110. There was even a situation in Raleigh where the existing ISPs were deploying high-speed networks in that city with a photo of AT&T’s U-Verse announcement door hanger on someone’s front door appearing in the comments trail of that article.

Personally, I would see it become real that any American city that Google Fiber touches will become an attractive city to live or run a small business in because the costs of decent Internet service have reduced due to the arrival of competition.

Keep up the work, FCC and the competing Internet service providers including Google!

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York to become the UK battleground for next-generation broadband

Articles

York UK aerial view courtesy of DACP [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

York is intending to become a battleground for next-generation broadband Internet

Battle for your broadband custom in York hotting up | ThinkBroadband

Sky first ultrafast broadband connections | Advanced Television

From the horse’s mouth

Sky Broadband

Press Release

My Comments

York in the UK is showing up as a market where there is some intense competition for next-generation broadband Internet service.

This has come about due to fibre-optic infrastructure being laid down by CityFibre in conjunction with Sky and TalkTalk for a fibre-to-the-premises network capable of operating to 940Mbps. Just lately, Sky had connected their first customer to this network.

It brought out a war of words about what qualifies a city as an “ultrafast” or “gigabit” city when it comes to the presence of next-generation broadband Internet service. The European Union and the UK Government qualified a residential Internet service “ultrafast” as being greater than 100Mbps “at the customer’s door”. But CityFibre were using the term “Gigabit City” to qualify where there is an Internet service with a bandwidth capable of close to a Gigabit per second and is an actual revenue-providing service rather than a trial service.

It is feasible to call many of the UK’s cities as being “ultrafast” when it comes to next-generation broadband deployment because there was services of at least 152Mbps bandwidth penetrating 90% of these cities. Then the other qualifier was the presence of fibre-to-the-premises service with Kingston Upon Hull having 30.9% coverage.

Questions were also raised about BT Openreach providing full fibre-to-the-premises service in York with their central-activities district having native FTTP coverage of 12.4% and the rest of that city having 3.25%. As well, Hyperoptic had wired a large number of apartment blocks in York with FTTP broadband,

The competition issue that may need to be resolved is whether there is any “building-over” taking place where competing infrastructure providers are deploying their infrastructure in to each other’s territory. In a similar vein, there is also the issue of the availability of competing retail Internet service across many or all of the different infrastructures that exist. This could come to a point where the UK will need to determine a policy that affects competing next-generation broadband Internet services delivered using competing last-mile infrastructures in urban areas. This will have to encompass competitors “building over” each others’ infrastructure including access to multiple-premises buildings like apartment or office blocks and shopping centres.

What is happening in York could lead to a very interesting road for delivering fibre-based next-generation broadband in the UK’s urban areas. As well, it could lead to next-generation broadband Internet that is increasingly affordable for most households and small businesses in these areas and yields increased value for money for these users.

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BT to go IPv6 across their consumer Internet services

ArticleBT brand identity Enquiries about this image can be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK, dial +44 20 7356 5369. News releases and images can be accessed at the BT web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre.

UPDATE3 BT to Deploy IPv6 Across Entire Network by December 2016 | ISPReview

My Comments

Another step towards widespread IPv6 adoption has taken place with BT, one of Britain’s major ISPs, moving their UK customers including households towards IPv6. This is after Comcast had provided a 100% IPv6 rollout to their customers in August 2014 and is a sign of the times for big ISPs who have the large customer bases because they are running out of public IPv4 addresses to issue to customers.IPv6 logo courtesy of World IPv6 Launch program

There is a goal to have half of the UK covered by April 2016 then to have all covered by Christmas that year. They will also want to get this going with a soft launch rather than with a lot of publicity.

This will typically be in a dual-stack setup like most other IPv6 ISP developments but customers who use their Home Hub 5 routers. Home Hub 4 routers will be IPv6-ready after an upgrade.  But this can also work with third-party routers that implement IPv6 in a dual-stack manner, a feature that is being asked of for recent premium and mid-tier equipment but is starting to become more common. Some of you may use a router that can be enabled for IPv6 after a firmware upgrade and it is wise to check at your equipment manufacturer’s Website for any newer firmware that allows for this. Typically, you just have to enable IPv6 on your router’s WAN (Internet) connections to have this function enabled which is something you do via its management Web page.

As for your equipment, your computer, tablet and smartphone will be IPv6 ready if it is running a recent operating system and most of the high-end home and small-business NAS devices will support IPv6. At the moment, if you are after a network-capable printer that supports IPv6, you will probably have to purchase a small-business device from one of the big names.

What it is showing is that IPv6 will become a strong reality for the provisioning and sustenance of your current or next Internet service. If BT can go IPv6 for their Internet services, why can’t Telstra do it for their BigPond Internet services?

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TPG poised to be Australia’s Hyperoptic

Article

TPG to offer fibre-to-the-basement Internet to these kind of apartment blocks

TPG to offer fibre-to-the-basement Internet to these kind of apartment blocks

TPG Is Still Building Its Own Competitor To The NBN | Gizmodo Australia

My Comments

As some of you may know from a few previous posts, Hyperoptic is an Internet service provider who runs their own fibre-optic infrastructure and services apartment and office buildings and similar developments in an increasing number of UK cities with next-generation broadband. They are standing as viable competition against BT Openreach who are effectively owned by British Telecom and offering increased value by deploying FTTP installations in to these buildings whereas the Openreach setup will be based around fibre-copper setups, either FTTC (fibre to the street cabinet) or FTTB (fibre to the basement) setups with VDSL2 to the customer’s premises.

As well, they even offered customers the option to sign up for this service “by the month” rather than a 12-month or longer contract. This was pitched at people who are on short-term work placements or are living “month-by-month” and may not rent the same apartment for a year or more.

In Australia, iiNet recently started to offer a competitive fibre-to-the-building Internet service for apartment blocks and similar developments to answer the National Broadband Network efforts concerning next-generation broadband and this effort has continued since TPG took over iiNet. Like Hyperoptic’s effort in the UK market, this is based on fibre-optic infrastructure that they own rather than the National Broadband Network who are working in a similar manner to BT’s Openreach, thus allowing them to charge cheaper prices for their Internet service and offer better value.

They are different from Hyperoptic because they implement fibre-to-the-building technology where there is copper cabling between the basement and the customer’s apartment, office or shop. But TPG could be in a position to offer fibre-to-the-premises for these users if they so wished to.

A question that will be raised in conjunction with these competitive deployments is whether NBN and competing next-generation-broadband infrastructure can coexist with each other in the same neigbbourhood or building; including whether a retail operator can sell their service on one or more different infrastructures . This could open up infrastructure-level competition for Australian users who live or run businesses in these developments. Similarly, it could be about lighting up “Gigaclear-style” fibre-optic rollouts to rural, regional and peri-urban areas using infrastructure not under the control of NBN.

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Four more US cities to benefit from Google Fiber competition

Article

Linksys EA8500 broadband router press picture courtesy of Linksys USA

A competitive Internet service market coming to more US cities

Google Fiber Eyes Louisville, Irvine and San Diego Expansions | Broadband News & DSL Reports

From the horse’s mouth

Google Fiber

Press Release

My Comments

US Flag By Dbenbenn, Zscout370, Jacobolus, Indolences, Technion. [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsI have been covering Google Fiber’s rollout of competing fibre-optic Internet service to various communities in the US and how this is bringing about real competition to the communities’ Internet-service markets. Examples of this include an impending Google Fiber deployment in Raleigh, North Carolina putting the existing ISPs on notice with them offering a similar-speed Internet service to their customers.

Some more communities are now to be touched by this competitive spirit, this time in California where there is a strong start-up and IT-driven business culture. The Californian communities are Irvine, which was where Linksys started from, along with San Diego; while Louisville in Kentucky which has the “Code Louisville” software-development effort is also to benefit. IAt the moment, Google is “checking the boxes” by getting things worked out and approved with the various local governments, “chalking out” where utility lines are and the like so they can start working.

I wouldn’t put it past AT&T, the Big Red or Comcast to get their act together once they know this is going on and “sweeten the deal” for their subscriber bases to avoid the inevitable churn to Google Fiber before the soil is turned. Definitely, things are looking up for competitive Internet service in the USA.

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Free–ready for VDSL2 in France

Article – French language / Langue française

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution – – ready for VDSL2 when you are closer

Free propose le VDSL2 sur tout son réseau dégroupé | Freenews

My Comments

The competitive environment has paid off in France especially with Free.fr .

They have wanted to head down the VDSL2 path and have equipped their Révolution modem-router for this technology.

But they wanted to have a service ready to go in October 2013 then they wanted to be sure most, if not all of their subscriber base across France can benefit from this technology and needed to test all of the infrastructure to be sure. As well, they didn’t want to publish the number of customers that were ready until they were sure of their facts.

They then went over everything and were able to know that their whole dégroupé (unbundled local-loop / sub-loop) network was ready to go VDSL2 and had the necessary equipment in place to go. The technology has been set up on a “fallback basis” where the customer would have the high bandwidth associated with the VDSL2 technology if they are closer to the exchange or connection point that is suitably equipped but fall back to regular ADSL2 conditions otherwise. The distance to benefit would be around 1500 metres or closer which would typically be places closer to town centres or other dense urban areas.

The unforgettable Freebox Révolution is already to go for VDSL2 as the customer-premises endpoint or can benefit through a software upgrade in the same way it has benefited from other newer features. It can be a proving ground for any fibre-copper deployment or redesigning a community’s telephony infrastructure to raise the issue of higher-throughput VDSL2 service for people closer to connection points but allow for better quality ADSL2 service.

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Achieving the goal of a competitive Internet service

Linksys EA8500 broadband router press picture courtesy of Linksys USA

A competitive Internet service market is lively and for the end user

The common problem

A market with one Internet-service player, described as a monopoly, is at risk of poor customer service and prices that don’t represent real value.  A similar situation can occur where there are two or three players colluding together and this can be described as a cartel or oligopoly.

In some situations, the Internet service providers can engage in activities that are hostile to the customer such as bandwidth limiting, contracts with onerous terms and conditions or simply refusing to invest in the Internet service they provide.

How is the Internet service constructed?

The Internet service that we buy consists of various components, namely the wired or wireless infrastructure that brings the service to the customer’s door, the off-ramps from various national and global Internet backbones and the Internet services which are provided on a retail basis to the customers.

Ownership approaches

The North American approach

Infrastructure for the exclusive use of the communications company

In the USA and Canada, the retail Internet service is provided by companies who own the infrastructure, the off-ramps from the backbones along with the “to-the-customer” functions. Sadly this has led to a situation where few companies exist to provide this service – one for each wired or wireless broadband medium. This is represented by a cable-TV firm providing cable-modem service, a “Baby Bell” telephone company offering ADSL or fibre-optic service along with one or two wireless (cellular) telephone providers offering mobile broadband.

The European model

An established telephony infrastructure owned by the incumbent telephony company but leased to other ISPs.

But in Europe, Asia and Oceania, there is a different approach. This is where multiple companies, including the incumbent telephony companies provided wholesale Internet service which was sold by different retail ISPs that used the same physical infrastructure which was the copper telephone cabling.

These countries typically had an incumbent telecommunications company that was initially part of the national government’s post-telephone-telegraph ministry and was typically split from the post office, ran as a government entity then fully privatised. Such companies were often charged with providing the universal telephone service including the public payphones installed in the streets and managing the national emergency telephone service i.e. 999, 000 or 112 and they owned the abovementioned established telephone infrastructure.

But there was still the ability for other companies like cable-TV companies to use other wired and wireless infrastructure for their Internet offerings.

The problem here was that the incumbent telephony provider “taxed” the other providers for using the established telephone infrastructure to provide an ADSL service in an unfair manner, such as by requiring the rental of their equipment and requiring customers to subscribe to a local “dial-tone” telephony service through these providers even if they just want Internet service.

Key issues

Access to established infrastructure by competitors

One issue that is always raised is allowing competing telecommunications providers to have access to established telecommunications infrastructure, especially wireline infrastructure. There were issues where the incumbent telecommunications company would frustrate this access through onerous costs or service requirements levied on competing providers and their customers who wanted to use this infrastructure.

Unbundling the connection between the customer’s premises and the exchange

Instead, this has lead to the arrival of “local loop unbundling” or “dégroupage” where the wires between the customer’s door and the telephone exchange were effectively handed over to the competing operator. Typically this is facilitated through the incumbent telco renting rack-space in their exchanges out to competing operators and connecting the subscriber to the competing ISP’s equipment in that rack-space. A variant of this technique is “sub-loop unbundling” where the competitor connects to the subscriber at the local telecommunications distribution point in the street or the telecommunications wiring closet in a multiple-tenancy building.

ADSL service that is independent of dial-tone telephony service

Another tactic is to allow the sale of a “naked” or “dry-loop” DSL service which doesn’t require the customer to rent a local “dial-tone” telephony service from the incumbent telco. This meant that the wires were just to be used just to provide Internet access and a voice telephony service was either provided as a VoIP service or the customer had to subscribe to a mobile telephone service. This has been practices in Australia, France and a few other countries but not in the UK.

This service appeals also to customers who used to maintain a separate telephone line for a fax machine or dial-up Internet but want to use those wires for a dedicated ADSL data path with all the benefits of better throughput.  They can maintain their main telephone line for their classic voice telephone service with a traditional telephone as a “lifeline” independent of local power conditions or a “catch-all” phone number for the household.

Removal of infrastructure control from the incumbent telco

But this elephant of monopolistic practices didn’t go away while the incumbent telco had control of the wires to the customer’s door. Instead, some countries used various procedures to remove the infrastructure from the incumbent telco’s control and either require these assets to be divested to a separate company or to be nationalised where they owned by the nation’s government.

If this was a separate legal company that was owned by the telco, the situation was called “functional separation”. This would require the telco to sell retail service through its own entity while access is sold via that separate legal entity.An example of this is BT Openreach who maintains the infrastructure for the UK’s telephony and Internet service while BT supplies retail telephony and Internet service to customers but competitors use Openreach to provide telephony and Internet service.

On the other hand. “full separation” would require the infrastructure to be nationalised or owned by another entirely different business entity and the incumbent telco would be required to rent the infrastructure and use the infrastructure to sell their telecommunications services. This is while competitors can rent this same infrastructure to sell their telecommunications services.

Competing infrastructure providers

There has been the creation of competitive infrastructure, typically in the form of coaxial cable by cable-TV providers and cellular radio setups for mobile-telephony services. These were then set up for Internet service through the gradual evolution of technology. Similarly, some towns had their own copper and fibre infrastructure that was owned by a separate entity to provide a telecommunications service for that area or leased back to the incumbent telco.

But this idea was taken up in a strong manner in some markets where competing infrastructure companies who just owned the wires and leased these wires to other providers and/or offered a retail Internet service to these markets. The UK have moved along this path with some fibre-optic deployments in rural areas, more as a way to seek independence from British Telecom. It is a similar path in France where multiple retail ISPs established partnerships who owned particular fibre-optic infrastructure.

An issue that is being examined by regulators is the ability for competing interests to build infrastructure of the same technology in the same area for the same purpose, commonly described as “build-over”. This could allow a retail ISP to choose a particular infrastructure for the best package or allow them to provide the same service across multiple infrastructures.

Similarly, in North America, the established telcos and cable-TV companies were paying US state governments to prohibit the deployment of infrastructure for competing Internet service. It was perceived as a way to stop local government and other public-minded organisations from spending public money on providing free wireless Internet as a community service in competition to the established operators. This allowed for comfortable oligopolies to exist between these established players and, among other things, had ruined the quality of service and value for money Internet users experienced.

Google and a few other private operators set up Gigabit fibre Internet service at prices that most could afford in a few neighbourhoods using their own infrastructure and this opened up the floodgates of competition. This along with various laws and regulations put up by Uncle Sam had improved access to Internet service which was about better value for money.

Pay-TV and multiple-play services

Foxtel IQ2 pay-TV PVR

Access to desirable content by all Pay-TV providers including telcos and ISPs helps with competitive Internet service

Another issue that is creeping up in some markets is the provision of subscription multiple-channel TV. This was typically provided by a cable-TV provider or a satellite-TV provider who owned the infrastructure on an “end-to-end” model.

But there is interest amongst telecommunications and Internet providers in the concept of providing a pay-TV service as part of a “multiple-play” offering, something which the traditional cable-TV providers could do with their infrastructure. These “multiple-play” packages typically include landline telephony, pay-TV and/or broadband Internet with some packages offering mobile telephony and mobile broadband Internet.

Such services appeal to most of us because of the ability to have “all the eggs in one basket” with only one account to think of and pay to obtain telephony, pay-TV and Internet.

Previously, a telco or ISP would deliver these services if they had a contractural arrangement with a cable-TV or satellite-TV provider and this involved installation of extra infrastructure at the customer’s premises. Now this involves a “single-pipe triple-play” setup based on IPTV technology which makes it feasible for an ADSL-based or fibre-based provider to offer multichannel pay-TV as part of their service offerings without needing to support new infrastructure.

These providers may run their own pay-TV service such as what Telstra, BT and most of the French ISPs do and solicit the content to show on these services themselves. On the other hand, they would sign up to an IPTV franchise which solicits the content itself and provides it to multiple telcos and ISPs. An example of this is the Australian Fetch TV franchise who offers pay TV to independent ISPs. In some cases, a traditional pay-TV provider could offer their services as an IPTV service as well as through their own end-to-end infrastructure and franchise it to ISPs and telcos.

Access to desirable TV content

A problem that is showing up in the UK and could show up in Australia and other markets where there is a dominant pay-TV provider like Sky or Foxtel is the availability of desirable TV content, whether as particular channels or shows, only through that dominant TV provider rather than through other pay-TV services like IPTV services.

Typically a content provider like Viacom or the BBC would offer channels of particular content like MTV, Comedy Central or BBC First for people to subscribe to. A dominant pay-TV provider would obtain the content on an exclusive basis so that a competing pay-TV provider like a telco or IPTV franchise can’t make these channels available to their customers for the duration of the contract.

This is augmented if the local outpost of a particular channel which is supplied via the dominant pay-TV provider obtains exclusive TV rights to a popular sports event or movie. The UK example would be for Sky Sports owned by Sky TV obtaining exclusive rights to the  Premier League soccer (association football) matches while the Australian example is for one of Foxtel’s premium channels to obtain exclusive rights to “Game Of Thrones”. Here, they can play a rough hand with these shows by: running them on premium channels only available to “platinum-package” subscribers, even making it hard for commercial (hotel/restaurant/bar) subscribers to play these shows; not completing their screening obligations in order to inhibit access to the show by free-to-air TV, “over-the-top” video-on-demand services or home video; or even trying to frustrate access to radio-broadcast or online-service rights for the hot games so you can’t get play-by-play commentary unless you subscribe to their sports channel.

Such situations lead to customers taking out multiple pay-TV subscriptions and dealing with multiple set-top boxes in order to get the video content that they want. That is if the dominant pay-TV provider will only deliver their service in an “end-to-end” fashion requiring the customer to install their infrastructure and set-top box.

Personally, I would like to see limitations placed on exclusive-access contracts for pay-TV channels so that a particular MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor – a Pay-TV provider) cannot tie up channels for their own exclusive access. It could be facilitated through an open “wholesale-retail” market for each content provider and pay-TV provider where content packages and channels are sold to pay-TV providers as though the content provider is a wholesaler and the pay-TV provider is a retailer.

In the USA, the FCC have achieved this goal with satellite TV by making it hard for cable-TV companies to tie up content so that DirecTV and DISH can’t screen that content or have to pay too much. They are working towards extending the rules about that situation to encompass telcos and others using IPTV methods.

There will be other issues that need to be looked at such as differentiating between “first-run” and repertory screening when determining the conditions of a contract affecting a show’s broadcast in order to prohibit tying up of shows so it takes too long for them to appear on home video or other screening platforms.

Net Neutrality

Another key issue that is raised in the context of Internet services is Net Neutrality. This is where everyone has equal access to the Internet as a highway.

It is compared to practices by various telcos and ISPs who would make it hard for customers to gain access to Internet services unless the company providing these services paid the ISP for a high-throughput path. This was feared because it would make it harder for small-time publishers and new startups to be seen by their customers.

It has been the subject of debate and is something I mention in the same breath as competitive Internet service. A competitive Internet market would provide proper benefit to customers in the form of value for money and if a customer couldn’t benefit from a particular Internet resource like, say, Wikipedia; they would want to “jump ship” to someone who provided the proper throughput.

Conclusion

To maintain a healthy Internet-service market that allows us to make the best use of this technology, there needs to be a strong effort to assure sustainable competition. This includes government departments that oversee telecommunications and competitive-market issues maintaining that level of competition by removing encumbrances and protections for established operators along with limiting market consolidation.

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Rural-growth campaigns need to factor in broadband and mobile

Article

A house in an Australian country town - telecommunications needs to be factored in for rural areas if there is pressure for them to grow

A house in an Australian country town – telecommunications needs to be factored in for rural areas if there is pressure for them to grow

Government to Build More Rural Homes, But What of Broadband? | ISPReview.co.uk

My Comments

The UK Chancellor, George Osborne, puts forward a growth and productivity plan for UK’s rural areas, an activity which other countries call for in order to “spark up” their similar low-density areas. This may also involve encouraging a larger employer to set up shop in or near a rural area or nurturing a tourist area for increased capacity and attraction. Similarly a town with a tourist attraction may see economic growth based on that tourist attraction.

But even if the government doesn’t call for this, these rural areas continue to attract the “tree-change” culture where people who were in urban areas shift out to these rural areas because of attractions like beauty, tranquility, ability to know locals easily and the like. This also encompasses an increase in small businesses operating in these areas, whether to serve the local area or larger areas. Let’s not forget rural areas that exist on the periphery of an urban area falling victim to urban sprawl as the neighbouring urban area expands.

This is something that typically encompasses an increase in housing density in these areas such as subdivision of land, creation of new housing communities or expansion of existing housing areas.. But there is the need for improvements in local (private and public) transport, infrastructure, education and the like which also will include a requirement to see local telecommunications services like broadband Internet and mobile (cellular) telephony be brought to urban standards.

With the telecommunications issue, this may be sorted with extension of telephone lines from the town-based exchange in to the new developments but this can limit bandwidth for DSL-based broadband services. Such situations may call upon a need to re-architect the telecommunications infrastructure that serves the town and neighbouring communities, whether to have separate exchanges or distribution points for each community. In the case of a next-generation broadband rollout, it may call for a fibre-based fixed-line rather than a fixed-wireless deployment for the town and those communities.

Similarly, there will have to be the issue of mobile coverage which may be contentious ion some areas due to the perceived health effects of electromagnetic radiation. This could be approached again through re-architecting the mobile base station layout with use of more low-powered base stations in denser neighbourhoods.

So if there are efforts to increase capacity for a rural neighbourhood or factor in a change of direction for these neighbourhoods, the telecommunications issue may have to be factored as much as housing density and other infrastructure.

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