Template Tools
DSL Prime
It's the Microfilter, Stupid
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 20:05

Vectoring’s cool, fiber is fast, customer support and maintenance is boring. But bringing down operating expenses may have more impact on broadband economics than exciting technology. One large European carrier is finding big savings changing the call center scripts to emphasize the most common problem. The ASSIA presentation for their new release (below) identified the microfilter problem, which they are addressing with diagnostics.
  The flashiest feature in ASSIA’s new DSL Expresse 2.7 is the ability of a field technician to use her iPhone for “real-time line optimization.” While at the customer premise, the tech can adjust the DSLAM parameters for the line and see if it resolves the problem. So can the call center operator. ASSIA’s extending that to Android phones as well.
   Expresse now can support unbundled VDSL, crucial to several European rollouts, especially of vectoring. British Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, the largest VDSL/FTTN rollouts in Europe, can’t use vectoring until they make it compatible with regulatory policy. Expresse now supports “Multi-tenancy,” allowing each ISP access to their own customer information and support. This is now supported on Alcatel DSLAMs and will soon cover Huawei as well.
   KPN confirms they will deploy vectoring by the end of the year, as reported by Telecom Paper. They join Telecom Austria, Swisscom and Belgacom in public announcements of vectoring. Vectored DSL will be common in new builds later this year or next.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 23:39
Alcatel: Vectoring in the wild
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 17:55

 3 customers, 15 trials complete. Alcatel's first to the field with announced deployments at Belgacom and Telecom Austria. Stefaan Vanhastel writes

" - we now have 3 customers: Belgacom, Telecom Austria pilot deployment in Korneuburg, + 1 other tier-1 in Europe (not yet public)

- we expect more customer announcements in the next 3-6 months

- we have 15+ trials completed, and many planned. (trials not only in Europe and NAR, but also in the Middle East, Latin America, and APAC)"

   In the lab, vectored noise cancellation (John Cioffi's DSM Level III) doubles speeds on short loops. Those results are common but not universal in the trials, with lots of issues everyone is working hard to resolve. 

   Until large carriers invest in more remote terminals and updating the networks, only a very few lucky customers will get vectored speeds.

Ericsson dropping the DSLAM line
Saturday, 14 April 2012 11:58
Lars Magnus Ericsson statue Telefonplan Midsomarkransen Stockholm 2005-08-13Commsday reports pulling out by end of year. Ericsson has been a leading maker of DSLAMs at least since 1998, selling about $100M/year recently. Their market share has been modest as Alcatel and Huawei fight it out for the lead.  Commsday reports Ericsson has told multiple ISPs they are phasing out the product and not seeking customers after the end of this year.

Ericsson bought Entrisphere because they were confident they would win much of the 30M line AT&T U-Verse contract from Alcatel. AT&T soon announced Ericsson-Entrisphere as a supplier but ultimately sourced most units from Alcatel. That was a surprise, because Alcatel (and Microsoft) were  two years late according to a presentation I have from Alcatel to AT&T. They also went $B over budget, including $hundreds of millions that Alcatel claimed for "changes" and AT&T believed were covered by the initial contract. Ben's new management at Alcatel patched things up somehow.

 They did sell nearly a million ports in one quarter last year but to do so had to meet extremely aggressive pricing. About a year ago, I congratulated CEO Hans Vestberg on winning a contract in China for VDSL. He replied "If you knew the price we had to offer, you wouldn't be so enthusiastic."  At the time, he was confident that the new edge routers from the old Redback division would become a hot product and pull up sales for the wireline division. It hasn't worked out that way.

  Two years ago, Ericsson and Huawei made opposite decisions. Ericsson is concentrating almost everything on wireless and LTE, where they remain at the very top tier. Huawei is branching out, investing $billions in enterprise routers, smartphones, and the cloud. Inevitably Huawei will far surpass Ericsson in sales but Ericsson expects to be more profitable being less diverse.

   LTE sales are booming, with AT&T, Vodafone, and now France Telecom building quickly. But Verizon is winding down and AT&T has guided to flat capex. LTE Advanced is a huge advance - 5 and 10 times the speed - but is already designed into most LTE gear shipping. In competitive countries, LTE Advanced will inspire a wave of network upgrades but the network requirements are relatively modest.

   Sad to see Nokia and Ericsson abandon the DSLAM business.
Last Updated on Saturday, 14 April 2012 12:06
DSLAM shipments up 10% Q4. VDSL + 25% Y/Y
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 12:44

Dell’oro finds VDSL now 31% of ports. Steve Nozik of Dell’oro sees a strong trend to VDSL as customers are demanding higher speeds. Years ago, I reported chipmakers expected ADSL to rapidly fade away because VDSL chips were faster for short loops while identical to ADSL for longer loops. It didn’t play out that way; the ADSL mode in VDSL chips had performance problems. Power and space requirements were much greater. VDSL DSLAMs still cost about $20 more per port.
     Nozik believes that ADSL will still lead in unit sales but VDSL in 2012 will pull ahead in revenue. With DSL coverage well over 90% of the developed world, I believe unit growth will predictably drop. Although China’s 35M ports of fiber this year is a factor,  saturation is the primary reason DSL sales will almost certainly be flat to down. DSL gear remains a multi-billion dollar per year market.
     Dell’Oro shares much of the primary data with me, allowing me to confirm, yet again, they do a superb job gathering the data. http://www.delloro.com/services_access.htm.

Russia leads the world with 37% growth
Monday, 26 March 2012 01:14

Ukraine 32%, India 24%, China 20%, Brazil 19%
66M new broadband connections in 2011 brought the world total to 597M,  up 12% on the year. China added 27M and the U.S. 4M. DSL continues to dominate everywhere except the U.S. and Canada, with 61% of the market while cable has less than 20%. Below the full chart with the largest broadband nations first. Here's the same data sorted by % growth.

 Russia  37%
 Ukraine  32%
 India  24%
 China  20%
 Brazil  19%
 Mexico  10%
 France  8%
 Poland  8%
 Japan  7%
 Taiwan  7%
 Germany  7%
 Netherlands  7%
 Turkey  6%
 UK  6%
 Spain  5%
 U.S.  5%
 Canada  5%
 Korea  4%
 Australia  4%
 Italy  3%

      The vigor of the emerging economies gave us the best growth in five years. China's 27M net adds are almost 40% of the world total. Russia's 5.6M are more than France, Germany, and Britain combined. Add Brazil and India, both 2.6M, and that's well over half the year's 59M net adds.

All data from the ever-invaluable Point Topic via the Broadband Forum.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 14:07
RUS Writeoffs: Easily $300M, possibly $3B
Friday, 23 March 2012 22:22
More than just the USF cutbacks. A third of the small telcos will go bust the next few years, one of their advocates claims, unless the USF/ICC cutbacks are reversed. Some very intense lobbying is urging the White House to restore the old subsidies, no matter what the cost. Some waivers are appropriate for the truly brutal high cost areas, but after hours reading submissions I find no doubt doubt the FCC reductions are good government work. The companies simply haven't provided any solid data otherwise.

Whatever the details of the USF/ICC program, wireline telephony is a declining business. Many companies have large debt or high operating costs and will fail at any plausible level of subsidy. A decade ago the FCC forecast that loss of long distance revenues and wired lines would bankrupt many of the rurals. Robert Pepper, head of the Office of Policy and Plans, had figures that made clear a day of reckoning was coming. Every landline only company in the world is struggling, including British Telecom (dividend cut), Frontier (dividend cut), Hawaiian Tel (bankruptcy), and Fairpoint (bankruptcy, with a second bankruptcy hard to avoid.) Both Century-Qwest and Windstream have earnings below their dividend payments, propped up by capex far below depreciation and ultimately unsustainable. The smaller rurals are facing the same objective problems but don't report publicly so I can't provide firm numbers. Tweaking the details of USF might postpone but won't prevent wide distress.

Some of the coming RUS losses are clear cases of abuse. Sandwich Islands, with $116M in loans approved, has told the FCC they will default unless they get a huge (and totally inappropriate) change in the new FCC CAF/USF  regulations.   Sandwich Islands is a secretive outfit with close ties to Democratic politicians exposed by the local press. Lobbyist Mike Powell helped them out when he was FCC Chairman. It looks like they spent $100M on running unnecessary fiber between the islands. USF was showering money on them: somewhere north of $25,000 per home passed, although they refuse to provide the figures. (The FCC is considering my FOIA request for the basic data to report this story.)

RUS is already liquidating a $200M loan to Open Range gone bad. In the guise of reaching unserved, Open Range got funded for $267M. This was deceptive; in fact, most of their deployment was wireless to mid-sized metros that already had both DSL and cable. It was a mistake to fund it initially, especially because the FCC knew there were highly credible allegations of fraud against the CEO. (I know they were aware because I asked them about it in 2007 or 2008 before the loans was granted. The agency stonewalled me and I'm sorry I didn't push harder. Adelstein since he took office has watched them carefully and shut them down before all the money was disbursed.) A large loss is inevitable. I urge a full forensic audit because the company statements as they hit the skids were misleading.

    Another large borrower with a few hundred rural high cost homes borrowed extravagantly to run fiber to the home to a suburban area that already has cable. In an official filing, it also projects bankruptcy if its subsidy is cut to "only" $3,000 per year per home - including many homes that are reached by cable without subsidy.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 13:49
Middle of England: DSL live speeds of 80-120 megabits
Monday, 23 April 2012 08:57

origin turtleOrigin Broadband, in Sheffield and Doncaster, is installing their own field cabinets and published actual data from their first installs. Many customers are getting actual speeds of 80+ megabits down and 20+ megabits up, depending on how close they are to the cabinet. Origin's prices range from about $28 for 24 down, 2 up to Origin Max, as fast as they can get you, for less than $60. Install fees are a little high, $85-$120. 

   Neil Hart writes me "It's an initiative part funded by the EU and the city councils in the area. It doesn't rely on BT infrastructure (except the wire to the home) and is entirely independent. We are able to offer all of our customers a service free of any restrictions, limits, caps, contention or fair usage policies. We are a local company set up by local entrepreneurs determined to do things differently to the big players. We can offer speeds of up to (and in some cases over) 100mb."


Distance to Cabinet

147 m 106 Mbps 22 Mbps
171 m 121 Mbps 27 Mbps
183 m 98 Mbps 9 Mbps
245 m 104 Mbps 21.6 Mbps
248 m 107 Mbps 27 Mbps
269 m 98 Mbps 27 Mbps
392 m 81.5 Mbps 19.8 Mbps
416 m 96 Mbps 30 Mbps
490 m 76 Mbps 24.2 Mbps
612 m 56 Mbps 22 Mbps
857 m 32 Mbps 8.5 Mbps
1372 m 22 Mbps 1.7 Mbps


Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 23:36
Deutsche Telekom Renationalized? Union says yes
Saturday, 14 April 2012 12:08

DT logo in lightsDisguised bailout. Once mighty Deutsche Telekom is reeling after paying $27B in dividends the last six years on only $10B in profits. They’ve milked the network to pay for that, with capex more than $10B less than depreciation. Continued low capex is a plan for disaster, especailly as cable covers 65% of the country and is rapidly taking broadband customers. They killed their plans to upgrade most of the country to fiber home and fiber/DSL (FTTN). Billions have been lost in expansion into Eastern Europe, especially Greece. Billions more - possibly tens of billions - have been tossed away at T-Systems, their huge IT outsourcing subsidiary.

   They are now pleading for a state bailout of their shareholders. Vice Chairman Lothar Schroeder wants the government to reinvest in the company the $1.3B a year it collects in dividends. Germany owns 32% of the company, which has a market cap of $50B. It wouldn’t be long before the government owned virtually the majority of the company. Schreoder represents the ver.di union on DT’s board, which is concerned that DT’s massive disinvestment will force further cutbacks and wage concessions.    “Leave the money in the company and take a higher share,” Schroeder tells Cornelius Rahn of Bloomberg. http://bloom.bg/HnGd6C “If you do that for five years, Deutsche Telekom would make some progress in broadband and the government would have something to show for.”

    The union at France Telecom is going further in a battle between employees and shareholders for cash. The union fund, a minor shareholder, is proposing a dividend cut from 1,40 to 1,0 euro at the next shareholders meeting. Les Echos suggests that management is quietly backing the proposal although the CEO publicly denies that. Telefonica, KPN, TI, Frontier and British Telecom have already cut dividends.  Others - especially AT&T and Verizon - are cutting back wherever necessary in order to keep dividends and presumably share prices up.

Verizon is prettying itself for a merger with a huge DSL price increase that brings up short run profits.
Last Updated on Saturday, 14 April 2012 13:41
CISPA - Beyond Security to allowing total corporate surveillance
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 18:29

Letting any almost company legally get all your phone and email records. CISPA would allow companies to share any information they have with government if claimed related to cyber-security. Civil libertarians hate that; others think anything done in the CISPA croppedname of security needs to be allowed. You can and should make up your own mind on what's right. The bill (below) goes much further, including allowing essentially any company to share essentially anything with other companies. They merely need to claim it's somehow related to "cyber-security."

     But it's ridiculous to allow say Microsoft to ask Verizon for all my phone call records and who I emailed because I break a story about Microsoft, say how they price Microsoft Mediaroom that disadvantages community television. They could claim that a "trade secret" and hence intellectual property. This "cyber-security" bill provides near total protection to private companies sharing information about "theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information."  The plain language of the bill would allow Verizon to hand over my email and phone contacts if I reported, as I have, that three separate senior FCC employees thought the Spectrum Crunch report was a fiction invented for political reasons. That's government information not officially released I may have "mis-appropriated."  Cisco, I discovered, was damned mad I reported they were offering to sell AT&T femtocells (quantity 10M) for $50 and certainly both companies believed it "private information." Especially because Cisco was selling the same unit to others at $125-150. Gucci would love to get the complete list of emails from a company they think is selling counterfeits on eBay. They could follow up with (legal) questions to every customer asking about counterfeits and probably destroy the business even if they found nothing. Think of the possibilities for a lawyer chasing "pirates" of pornography if they could get someone complete email and phone records. 

    Adding fake handbags and basic reporting makes this far more than a bill about security and totally abusive. Reasonable people may disagree about how far government should go in the name of security. But giving private companies complete access with no recourse for abuses is off the wall. So shame on Christopher Padilla of IBM, Tim McKone of AT&T, Peter Davidson of Verizon, Michael Powell of NCTA and Fred Humphries of Microsoft for their strong support of the House bill. Maybe that didn't bother to read what they were signing on to and didn't realize the bombshell built in.  At minimum, all ISPs should make clear they will not provide information outside of government unless subpoenaed. 

    Those who believe this bill is important for "security" should be the first to strip "theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information" out so the bill isn't blocked.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 April 2012 16:34
U.S. 2011 - Up 3-4M
Wednesday, 28 March 2012 11:43

AT&T went negative Q4. UBS predicts telco broadband will go negative in 2012, led by a 400K drop at AT&T. With U-Verse and FiOS mostly ended, cablecos are pulling ahead. Net adds overall are so few - about 5% - that the total share has only moved about 2 points despite a huge lead in net adds for cable in 2011. The data below are from Leichtman, who estimates the listed carriers represent 93% of the market. UBS numbers are similar. There aren't that many smaller carriers so I have to determine why the Point-Topic figures are somewhat higher.

    The gain at Charter makes sense as they've enlarged their buildout after coming out of bankruptcy. Jay Rolls, one of the industry's top engineers, has nearly completed the DOCSIS 3.0 downstream rollout. FiOS is showing strength compared to U-Verse, although not enough to pay back the higher deployment cost.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 12:10
DSL bonding: Yes for business, no for homes at Sonic.net
Saturday, 24 March 2012 14:51

Sonic.net-began-as-a-room-in-this-houseFewer than one in twenty consumers buy bonded. Dane Jasper brought the price of two lines bonded down from $80 to $70 but consumers just didn't bite. On the other hand, businesses are buying the double line DSL, two unlimited phone line offering. Sonic.net has now simplified their offering. Consumers get "up to 24 meg" DSL and unlimited voice with full features for ~$40. Business get double speeds and two full-featured phone lines for ~$90. Typical download speeds are 5-15 megabits for one line and 10-30 megabits for two.

 Bonding two pair works, generally doubling speed at the cost of using a second copper pair, another dslam port and a fancier modem at home. The service generally performed well although there were some inside wiring problems. If you're a telco with loads of unused copper, bonding may be an attractive product. A competitor like California's Sonic.net has to pay the telco for each line and needs to charge much more, however.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 March 2012 01:53
China broadband: 2.5M more in January to 150M
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 16:19

Mobile over 1B subscribers. China continues to add broadband subscribers at a rate of about 30M per year. MIIT puts the January growth at 2.5M to a total of 152.5M. Of those, about 1.5M were DSL. They don't realease fiber counts, but Jeff Heynen of Infonetics is reporting tens of millions of lines of fiber gear are in the pipeline. China has been consistently at 2-3M net adds per month.

   Two key policy moves are likely to maintain or even increase the growth rate. The government is leaning hard on China Tel and China Unicom to drop prices. They've begun the first major antitrust action against state-owned companies since the beginning of the Communist era. (The government continues to own over 70% of each telco.) China Telecom responded by promising to cut prices in half, but some of that is empty rhetoric. (link) As China goes through a government transition, forceful action is on hold. Evidence around the world is that nothing increases customers nearly as effectively as lowering prices.

   China Mobile jumping into landlines, hard, with an investment in the emerging national cable operator, Marbridge speculates. At the highest levels, government has also been calling for more competition through "convergence" of telcos, broadcasters, and cablecos. The central government continues to make proclamations that would allow the cablecos into data while the political power of the telcos holds them back. A series of maneuvers, some orchestrated by the media regulator SARFT, are consolidating cablecos across the industry into the China Radio and Television Network and allying them with the powerful "media groups." The companies in turn are expressing interest in huge purchases of equipment. If the political problems clear, over 100M cable customers will soon have new, attractively priced broadband choices.

    10M new “subscribers” purchased mobile in January to reach 996M. China passed 1B subscribers sometime in February. Like mobile figures everywhere, the totals are distorted by the large number of customers with multiple phones or just multiple SIM cards. People take a new subscription to get a new phone or just to take advantage of a good deal on a SIM. In India, common phones have 2 SIM card slots. A dozen companies in the most competitive market in the world for mobile are constantly offering deals and customers simply add a second SIM to take advantage of the best prices for local and national calling.

   The official figures of 70+% penetration therefore do not imply that the vast majority of Chinese 15 years or older have a mobile, but most do. 8M in January upgraded to 3G, nearly ubiquitous and not too expensive.  4G LTE is essentially on hold, with the ministry holding back frequency allocations until TD-LTE is fully ready. TD is in "trials" that will soon amount to millions of customers, but expect 2-3 more years before the ministry thinks the device ecosystem is ready for full fledged competition with FD-LTE deployed by China Telecom and Unicom. The continuing patent farce in the West - It's Yahoo against Facebook against Apple against Motorola against Kodak against Samsung against Microsoft against Ericsson - provides continuing motivation for the Chinese to develop their own standard by whatever means necessary.

More Articles...
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 4 of 11