Tag: broadband service standards

Rural-growth campaigns need to factor in broadband and mobile


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.

Quality of life becomes another argument to validate rural broadband


Tree on a country property

Local government could also improve the reality of proper broadband in the country

Good Broadband Helps Lift Rutland to Top Halifax’s 50 Best Rural Areas | ISPReview

My Comments

I have given increased coverage to the subject of rural broadband, including implementation of next-generation technologies in the country.

Here I have stood for proper rural broadband due to raising the bar for people who live or work in the country rather than treating them as second-class citizens, something I have experienced with radio, television and telephone. An example of this was a telephone service that was frequently riddled with crosstalk, a radio service with reduced access to music content or a TV service with unreliable reception.

In the UK, the Broadband Delivery UK programme assisted by British Telecom made sure that real broadband passed 98% of the county’s premises courtesy of fibre-to-the-cabinet technology. This was also complemented in some villages with fibre-to-the-premises technology courtesy of Gigaclear and Rutland Telecom. This has been demonstrated as a way to lift the value of the properties in these areas as the quality of broadband service can improve one’s online life.

But real broadband in rural areas has been seen as contributing to an improvement to quality of life in these neighbourhoods, which was highlighted in a Halifax survey that was just published. Halifax factored the quality of broadband service in to this list with a bandwidth of 2Mbps or greater as a positive influence. Here, the Rutland neighbourhood appeared at number 1 thanks to the Gigaclear and BDUK

These figures could be used by local government and citizen groups to substantiate why real competition is important for Internet service and why country areas need real Internet service that is reliable. It can also be used by national governments to define the standard of adequate broadband Internet service and justify having this service covered by a universal-service obligation along with protection of real competition for these services and the provision of public money to set these services up.

New York State to raise the bar for US broadband


New York State plots broadband future | The Register

From the horse’s mouth

New York State Government

Governor’s speech (video)

My Comments

The New York State government are taking the bull by the horns to raise the bar for broadband in New York State. This is a regional-government effort to counteract the way that the US broadband Internet service has been going downhill.

This may rattle some “established” cages regarding public funding for projects but they are pitching US$500 million towards public-private broadband-service improvement projects through the state. Here, they want a minimum bandwidth of 100Mbps for most of the state with, in some rural situations, 25Mbps. This is compared to a state average of around 6Mbps.

Albany is also soliciting local input to guide development so they know of unserved or underserved neighbourhoods; aggregate the demand across across business, institutional and residential usage sectors; identify and detail the most cost-effective ways to achieve this universal-access goal along with leveraging their state-owned assets. The goal of identifying the unserved and underserved areas works well also to combat any redlining that is taking place concerning service provision.

Any of the developments that are taking place will be worked to support a “dig once, make ready” policy so that any further work to improve the state’s broadband doesn’t require any further major work that would be costly.

Of course, a lot of these efforts put forward the idea of increased employment and business development in the areas concerned.

But they would need to encourage the provision of competitive broadband by allowing those other than the incumbent telcos or cable-TV firms to lay down infrastructure or provide broadband service to the state’s citizens.

Could this light up New York State for Broadband?

A UK developer now makes fibre broadband a key feature for their properties


All New Berkeley UK Homes to be Fibre Optic Broadband Compatible | ISPReview.co.uk

From the horse’s mouth

Berkeley Group

Press Release

My Comments

Beautiful house

House developers could offer broadband readiness as a selling point

Especially in the UK, accessibility to next-generation broadband is being considered a key feature for a property. This has been underscored with Rightmove using this as something to assess a property or neighbourhood with when it comes to its saleability and could easily put a positive impression on its value.

Now Berkeley Group, a developer of premium residential properties in the UK, have released their business plan with the supply of fibre broadband to be part of the feature set for these developments. It is in response to a European Union directive that is requiring new buildings to be ready for high-speed broadband by 2016. In Europe, people are seeing broadband Internet service on the same level as water, electricity, fixed telephoy service and other utilities.

The big question I would have about these developments is whether they would be “wired for Ethernet” and whether this would reach most rooms in these homes? Similarly, would there be the ability for an average home-network wireless router to cover all of the premises with Wi-Fi signal using its own antennas (aerials)?

It is also in addition to a Britain-first strategy for marketing policy, a significant increase in apprenticeships, improved on-site safety as well as a desire to have customer satisfaction that beats Apple’s standards.

Personally, I would see residential building developers implement next-generation broadband and the connected home as a key differentiator with customers and property investors.

Allowing competitive infrastructure can help US broadband


Killing Muni-Broadband Bans First Step to Helping U.S. Broadband | Broadband News & DSL Reports (USA)

My Comments

As previously covered, the US broadband Internet service is heading down the path of a poor-value service. This is due to very cosy duopolies and cartels that exist in providing this service on both the fixed and mobile platforms and are placing householders, small business and community organisations at a disadvantage.

This article is highlighting how the state governments are doing their bit to protect these cartels by passing laws that proscribe companies and local governments from deploying their own infrastructure to provide retail communications services in their neighbourhoods. These laws came about when various local governments were setting up free public-access Wi-Fi services for their constituents and this activity was disturbing the likes of Comcast and the Baby Bells.

But the issue is being highlighted again by Google launching their own Google Fiber service which has its own infrastructure and has an intent to provide next-generation broadband at next-generation speeds for rock-bottom prices. The same issue could be raised concerning a competing provider who uses other technologies like fixed wireless or even their own coaxial cable to raise the Internet bar in a neighbourhood.

Some of these efforts may be to either provide real broadband Internet to rural communities or enable disadvantaged communities to have access to high-quality broadband. It also is about igniting business development and sparking up residential and commercial property values in various neighbourhoods, especially where a lot of business is being conducted online.

What is being raised in this article is to have some form of oversight concerning the state laws affecting the deployment of municipal or other competing retail broadband services. Personally, I would like to see these laws looked at in the context of antitrust (competition) issues, because they have been architected to protect uncompetitive behaviour.

Rightmove adds broadband as a factor to buying property in the UK

House for sale in Melbourne

Could the value of a house be affected by its access to decent broadband?


Rightmove adds Point Topic broadband speed data to property listings | ThinkBroadband

From the horse’s mouth


Broadband Speed Map page

My Comments

When one is considering property, an issue that may come up is whether there is access to broadband Internet with a decent bandwidth at that property. This is due to the Internet being considered a commodity especially in those countries like the UK and France where there is competitive Internet service overseen by pro-competition government telecommunications authorities that have teeth.

Now an online property-listings service operating in the UK is listing the Internet bandwidth available at that property alongside factors like number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms and existence of a garage. The data is being based on a snapshot of what is available at June 2013 but would be considered dynamic due to various broadband-improvement projects taking place around the country.

Personally I see this kind of listing as being able to vary a house’s price not just on location, view or kind of house but also the kind of Internet service available to the prospective householder. Even factors like a property being wired for Ethernet, recent AC rewiring (conducive for proper HomePlug AV operation) and/or the vendor showing a Wi-Fi “heatmap” that is strong for the whole house may also be seen as important to the prospective buyer / tenant.

This trend may also extend to other estate agents and property-listing services where a property’s suitability to “online life” may be seen as a selling point. It is more so as people start to work from home such as through telecommuting or running a small business; or want more out of an online-driven personal life.

As for local government (who are dependent on their local property taxes), they could see these resources as a way to encourage the deployment of high-speed broadband to all of the properties. It is more so in Europe where local and regional government is able to plough public money that is under their remit towards broadband-improvement  projects in a similar manner to other local infrastructure.

Of course, maps offered by ThinkBroadband (UK), DegroupNews (France) and similar comprehensive Web resources will earn their keep when you assess a target area for broadband availability.

Multi-line mobile contracts or fixed-line plans for partially-used buildings–what’s happening

There are two main usage classes that ISPs and telecommunciations carriers will have to cater towards when it comes to providing fixed or mobile communications and Internet service.

One is a “multi-line” mobile contract that allows multiple post-paid mobile devices to exist on the same account at cost-effective tariffs. The other is catering to fixed-line communications services that serve secondary locations, especially those that aren’t occupied on a full-time basis.

The multi-line mobile contract

The reason that the multi-line mobile contract needs to be available to home or small-business users is that most mobile-wireless-communications users will end up maintaining at lest two, if not three or more mobile communications devices.These kind of plans are typically sold to larger businesses who have a large fleet of mobile devices and are sold for a large premium with a large minimum-device requirement but they need to be available for the small number of devices that a householder or small-business owner would own.

The typical scenario would be a smartphone used for voice, SMS/MMS messaging and on-device Internet use; alongside a data-only device like a tablet or laptop that either has integrated wireless broadband or is connected to a separate wireless broadband service via a USB modem or “Mi-Fi” wireless-broadband router.

Feature that are typically offered in these contracts include a data allowance that is pooled amongst the devices and / or reduced per-device plan fees. In some cases,  the services may provide unlimited “all-you-can-eat” voice telephony and text messaging or a similar option.

An increasing number of mobile-telephony operators are tapping this market by offering these plans. For example, the two main mobile-telephony players in the USA, AT&T and Verizon are putting up shared-data plans from US$40 per month for 1Gb of data to up to US$50 for 500Gb of data on AT&T with similar pricing from Verizon. Both these companies offer unlimited talk and text for phones connected to the plan. Similar efforts have taken place with Bougyes Télécom in France and Airtel in India where they are offering shared-data plans as part of their tariff charts. There has even been rumours that Telstra was to be the first Australian mobile phone provider to run a shared-data plan for the Australian market.

Fixed-line plans for partially-used secondary locations

This user class represents people who maintain city apartments, holiday homes and seasonal homes like summer houses but don’t live in these locations on a full-time basis. Typically they are occupied for shorter periods like a weekend or a week at a time or, in the case of a seasonal home, a few consecutive months. It is known for some of these properties to be shuttered for many consecutive months at a time.

On the other hand, this market isn’t serviced readily by the fixed-line telephony, pay-TV and Internet providers, save for Orange (France Télécom) who offer a “by-the-month” package for Internet and telephony to the French market. Here they got in to a spat with SFR because SFR, who was buying wholesale service from Orange, wanted to offer a similar “by-the-month” service for these customers. On the other hand, users are sold plans that have lesser call or data allowances and may be lucky to have the option to have all the service locations on one account.

Again, larger enterprises who have many services and a large amount of call traffic fare better than smaller businesses or residential users.

These users could be satisfied with a “by-the-month” service or a seasonal plan that provides full service for a time period that is predetermined by the customer with limited service outside that time period. Such a limited service could be specified to cater for security and home-automation equipment used to monitor the secondary premises or keep it in good order.

If a plan works on call or data allowance and the user maintains services provided by the same provider at each location, there could be the ability to offer plans that have the allowances pooled across the locations. Similarly, if a user has the same service provider or a related company provide communications services to all the locations, they could offer a reduced price for all of the services. It doesn’t matter if the secondary property is on the same service plan as the primary property or on a lesser plan that has fewer services or smaller allowances.


What needs to happen is that telephone and Internet companies need to pay attention to customers’ needs and look for the “gaps in the market” that currently exist. This could allow for a range of tariffs that is more granular and able to suit particular needs. It also includes situations where a user is responsible for a small number of services of the same kind whether as multiple wireless-broadband devices or fixed-line services serving two or more properties.

A fight for broadband is an instrument of democracy


What a fight for broadband tells us about democracy | GigaOM

My Comments

A situation that is repeating itself in many US towns and communities that don’t have proper broadband is the desire for these towns to benefit from the broadband service. They will typically use tactics like a wired or wireless broadband Internet service funded by the local government, perhaps in partnership with a telecommunications firm. It can even encompass the provision of full infrastructure by local interests for annexation by a local telecommunications carrier in order to hasten the provision of real Internet service.

But established telecommunications and cable-TV firms like Comcast who have wireline monopoly over these areas fear the arrival of these competitive elements. They have established requirements on towns who want to set up such services to run referenda about such services and run highly-funded campaigns against these services when they come to the vote.

This situation creates a breeding ground for redlining and an anticompetitive trade environment for Internet and other advanced telecommunications services. The redlining can occur based on perceived “lack of profitability” for communities even though the community will benefit economically through access to advanced telecommunications.

At the moment, the Federal Communications Commission are in the throes of reforming the Universal Service Fund which financially offsets universal-service obligations for basic telephony service through the USA. Here, they want to encompass broadband Internet and cable-TV services in this mix and local communities should also lobby the FCC on this issue.

The FCC could also work better by allowing European-style competition regimes like local-loop unbundling for ADSL or mandated access to pits, ducts and poles for cable and fibre-optic service. This ends up favouring the customers through what I have observed in France and the UK.

As well, the Federal Trade Commission could be allowed to be involved in issues concerning anticompetitive behaviour in telecommunications-service provisioning. This can allow for antitrust aspects to be investigated as well as other standards concerning telecommunications service.

But I would see this more likely occurring under a Democrat administration rather than a Republican administration which favours the big corporations and anticompetitive trading. As well, where there is lively competition, there is a greater chance for people to take up the technology and a greater chance for innovation.

A standard for qualifying the provision of next-generation broadband for developments now exists in France


Fibre Optique : 11 zones labellisées Zone d’activité Très Haut Débit – DegroupNews.com (France – French language)

www.labelzathd.fr – Home site for the ZA THD logo program (France – French language)

My comments

It is so easy for land and building developers to hawk the possibilities of new technology like fibre-optic communications when they sell their properties. This was increasingly done through the 1970s to the 1990s as a way of stating that the development was “ready for the future” and is still practised today with some residential-commercial developments. In a lot of these cases, there really isn’t a way of benchmarking the quality and capacity of the fibre-optic technology that goes in to these locations and knowing whether they really live up to the expectations.

The French government have taken a step in the right direction with the “Zone d’Activité Très Haut Débit” (Very High Bandwidth Business Zone) where there is a particular logo for fully-qualified developments.

Here, they required the following standards of the infrastructure for the development to be “logo-compliant”:

  • Next-generation broadband to be delivered by optical fibre to every property
  • A minimum service bandwidth of 100Mbps symmetric “to the door” 
  • Provision for the competitive delivery of next-generation broadband by several retail providers.

This was to be supervised by SETICS in order to assure throughput and competitive-service compliance.

The current shortcomings that I find with this project is that it doesn’t qualify residential developments or the provision of next-generation broadband to the tenancy units (offices, shops, apartments) in a multiple-tenancy building like an office block, shopping centre or block of flats. These kind of developments are where there is the likelihood of hyping-up broadband infrastructure that falls short of the mark.

What needs to happen with this is to extend the logo standards to residential developments and multiple-tenancy buildings owned or managed by a particular entity. As well, local government should be involved in the promotion of the minimum-standard next generation broadband service so that if they have a logo like the “ZA THD” logo, they can become attractive to the “switched on” residents and businesses.