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Triductor, the New Chinese VDSL & G.hn Chipmaker
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 21:51

Yaolong Tan "Our chips are 8% faster than Broadcom's" Yaolong Tan earned his doctorate at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering in 2000. He worked in Silicon Valley for years, and now is back in China. He's CEO of Triductor, founded in 2006. He is shipping VDSL2 vectored cpe chips to Chinese manufacturers who in turn are distributing the boxes worldwide.

Tan received his UCLA degree directly from Henry Samueli. He has enormous respect for Broadcom. But he's not afraid to take on Broadcom's chips. China is deeply committed to replacing imported chips with Chinese designs. Tan said,"The technology of this chip used to be monopolized by America, so our country had to spend tens of millions of dollars importing from overseas. What my team and I want to do is realize the localization of this chip in the new developing wave of semi-conductor industry, to equip Chinese people with their own high-speed video networks."

Triductor, like HiSilicon, has also announced a G.hn chip. While G.fast is getting the publicity, thanks to an effective campaign by the ITU, it's two years or more away. G.hn, a much simpler system, is already being used to extend "fiber to the basement" to apartments at hundreds of megabits. China Telecom & Unicom, the monopoly landline providers, are fiercely resisting government demands they upgrade something like 100 million apartments from DSL to fiber. Fiber to the basement + G.hn might be an attractive alternative.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 12:57
Forbes: India has more net users than the United States
Sunday, 13 July 2014 20:59

Their 243 million Internet connection estimate is high but the result is inevitable soon. I wouldn't count 2G smartphones with minimal data allowances who rarely if ever connect to the net, so my figure would be lower. However Indian 3G & 4G connections will soon pass the 315 million population of the U.S.. Fewer than 20M of these connections are fixed, mostly DSL. With fewer than 40M landlines in place, the Indian future is inevitably mobile.

    Newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks about the "broadband highway" and has promised almost $10B over five years for broadband, smart cities, wireless in Naxalite territory and more. Much of that money will be needed to prop up ailing government carriers BSNL & MTNL. There's an ongoing project to connect 250,000 villages that's two years behind schedule. Completion is now set for 2017, but the local loop is not included. 69% of Indians - 700M - still live in villages.

   New Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is promising to meet the revised schedule. He may be the right man to overcome the inertia and corruption that has plagued so many Indian projects. Prasad prosecuted a corrupt Governor of Bihar state and put him in jail. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 23:46
DT: "We had in the fourth quarter minus 47, Q4 minus 22, minus 7 in the first quarter"
Sunday, 18 May 2014 20:44

Deutsche Telekom loses 89K subscribers because they delayed VDSL upgrades. Cable offers twice the speed for the same price as DT and covers 2/3rds of Germany. German regulator Matthias Kurth told me five years ago that DT had no choice but to upgrade where they face cable, but they've been delaying in hopes of persuading the government to cripple their competition. They finally got their way in 2013 and began the build of fiber/DSL hybrids. CEO Tim Höttges, quoted above bit.ly/1o5a85S , now hopes that the 24M lines of vectored VDSL saves his company from disaster. "The fiber is the answer on what we are doing."

   BNetzA is playing dumb, acting as though the regulatory changes were the reason that DT did what we all knew they had to do.


Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 15:34
700M Broadband Subs (Wired)
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 00:20

Broadband sub growthGrowth down from 15% to 5% in five years.  China's about to reach 200M, but even there the growth rate of wired connections has gone down from over 20M/year to closer to 10M/year. The brown line in the chart alongside (and larger below) is the rate of growth. The trend is clear. The main cause of the slowdown until now has been the approaching saturation of the developed world. But with LTE speeds now faster than DSL in much of the world, we're starting to see some homes "cutting the cord" on data as well as voice. That's probably still less than 10% of the current market in the richer parts of the world, growing modestly. In Africa and Indonesia, we're seeing explosive growth in wireless broadband, with Cisco estimating Africa - nearly all wireless - will have more Internet connections than the U.S. around 2017. 

The Point-Topic/Broadband Forum yearend 2013 figure is 679M with growth of ~10M/quarter. Sometime between July and September, the world figure will pass 700M. DSL will be 400M+, Cable and fiber each are less than half the DSL figure.  


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 01:25
$200 for Fiber to the Basement in East Europe
Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:20

I didn't believe Rupert Wood's estimate but he has strong evidence. The going estimate for fiber to a typical neighborhood is $300-$500/unit, based on actual experience at DT, BT, AT&T and others. Analysys-Mason's Rupert Wood surprised me with the $200/unit estimate so I asked for details.

    This is an actual figure from several, not just one, Eastern European carriers, Rupert tells me. He shared enough details to convince me $200 corresponds to what these operators are seeing. Unfortunately, client confidentiality prohibits my publishing the specifics. 

~$1,000/home Fiber at CenturyQwest
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 18:15

The Enola Gay was built in Omaha 45,000 homes passed in Nebraska. Randall Stephenson of AT&T last year claimed "fiber costs have come all the way down" and Stu Ewing of Century just confirmed a figure of about $1,000 in modestly dense areas. "In Omaha, where we have done fiber-to-the-home to about 45,000 homes and it costs us about $600 per home passed to do that in Omaha. When you enable a house, a home and get the drop and the ONU and the set-top boxes, it’s $1,000 to $1,200 per home." http://bit.ly/1frXuH1 Obviously, fiber costs can be much higher. But Verizon, Bell Aliant and now Century are reaching the majority of homes at a relatively modest cost.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 23:00
Huawei/HiSilicon Coming on Fast
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 12:21

Producing a vectored VDSL chip. Like Henry Ford steel & timber mills, Huawei seems to be following the path to "vertical integration." Their latest DSLAM board features vectored VDSL chips from their HiSilicon subsidiary. There is no announcement and I haven't been able to find any article about the chips in either English or (Google-translated) Chinese but I have multiple sources within the industry. HiSilicon also has a G.hn chip close to market.

    Huawei is the chosen supplier for vectoring to Telecom Italia & Fastweb/Swisscom and bids on nearly all other large contracts. The Italian deployment is struggling, however. TI & Fastweb agreed to link their vectored DSLAMs and unbundle local loops. Huawei promised they would be able to have separate terminals, possibly 50 meters apart, but still vector the local loops. As far as I can determine, they haven't delivered yet and the companies are scrambling.

    HiSilicon did $1.3B in chip sales in 2013. Growth is well into double digits although 90% of chips still go to the parent company. Digitimes believes HiSilicon, like Samsung, is actively looking for outside customers. R & D budget is well into the $hundreds of millions. HiSilicon chips are in Hewlett-Packard terminals. They have an 8 core cell phone application processor (ARM Big-Little) that is among the leaders. They are among the first with 300 megabit CAT 6 LTE, possibly beating Qualcomm to market. These are fabricated at 28 nanometers and soon below. TSMC, with massive orders from Apple, is essentially sold out at advanced nodes for the rest of the year. HiSilicon will probably be capacity-constrained.

    TSMC 16nm FinFET chips will be TSMC's best in 2015 and HiSilicon is the first vendor to commit.    

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 15:32
Broadband Growth in One Chart
Thursday, 03 July 2014 16:55

Africa 5%, U.S. & West ~1%; China huge. This chart from Point-Topic makes wireline clear in 2014. The West is almost saturated, including the U.S. China, Latin America and East Europe are growing two or three times faster. Africa, with nearly no wires, has the most room to grow.

     This would look different if wireless smartphones were included. The countries with few wires - India, Indonesia and most of Africa - are seeing fantastic growth in mobile broadband. By around 2017, there will be more Africans than Americans on the net, I've calculated from Cisco data.

Last Updated on Sunday, 24 August 2014 21:53
16 Week Chip Logjam Driven by 1B Smartphones & China Mobile's 500K Basestations
Friday, 09 May 2014 17:07

Both Alcatel & Nokia can't keep up with demand. Smartphones take a lot of chips and sales are up 25-30% this year. China Mobile is installing nearly a thousand base stations per day, and China Telecom is now rushing to catch up. "Supply is tight," Dan Heyler of Merrill Lynch believes, and Digitimes reports TSMC, the largest foundry, has a four month backlog. As word gets out, companies are double and triple ordering. The result: what probably would have been a small problem now has become a crisis.

    "An apparently disastrous shortage of components for the Sony Xperia Z2 means we may not see the thing landing in the flesh for another seven months" http://bit.ly/1m8wyDq Ray LeMaistre of Light Reading, one of Europe's best reporters, hears from Nokia "a shortage of 'certain components' hurt sales during the first three months of this year. The company expects the problem to persist." Alcatel "has identified the same problem."

    Bitter experience is that serious slumps often follow shortages like this. When people believe the factories are catching up, they slow orders and "work off inventory." I learned that lesson many years ago selling computers. Epsons were in such demand that you couldn't get them from the wholesalers. Suddenly, all my back orders came in C.O.D. It was a true crisis.

     Although sales of DSL chips and the like are not booming, they require much of the same production lines as wireless. The result is that even slow-selling items will see spot shortages and perhaps worse.

      TV host Johnny Carson once made a joke about a (nonexistent) shortage of toilet paper. So many rushed out and bought a supply the next day the shortage was real. 



Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 18:06
Gigabit and More Wireless Surprisingly Close
Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:59

Stanford Professor Andrea Goldsmith believes wireless capacity can increase 50 times in the next 5 to 10 years. We'll soon have gigabits rather than the tens of megabits now typical. The cost of delivering each bit - or gigabyte - is dropping at a ferocious rate. Prices are staying high in most countries.

   Inability to sell the capacity coming online at the prices they want is far more of a problem for telcos than the wildly exaggerated spectrum "crisis." The result is a desperate effort to eliminate competitors around the world. It's easy to see price-fixing is the goal behind Sprint/T-Mobile, Bouygues/SFR, Telefonica/E-Plus, Softbank/eAccess, AT&T/Leap and the massive CEO support for ETNO's campaign to shrink the industry.

   Cell phone inventor Marty Cooper points out "we've never had a spectrum shortage." By and large, the "spectrum crisis" has been invented by politicians and lobbyists who pull politicians' strings. In all but  limited situations, there's plenty of bandwidth and spectrum.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 May 2014 04:11
No One Buys Cable Caps at Time Warner
Thursday, 13 March 2014 15:35

MSlavik No DogFewer than 1 in 100 take 30 gig cap for $5 discount. CEO Rob Marcus reports only "thousands" of Time Warner's 11M customers are taking the discount after 6 months. He still supports the idea because he wants to charge heavier users more. "Notwithstanding the low uptake of usage-based tiers, I think it's a very important component of our overall pricing philosophy." Thanks to Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica for catching the comment and also finding a great picture. http://bit.ly/1i8rQmy Another interesting datapoint from Marcus was that only about 8% of data customers buy their own modem. His pr person was unhappy I included the modem rental in my previous articel on TWC http://bit.ly/1hfPIpR but I think that appropriate if more than 90% of customers rent.

    Marcus explained that Comcast deal was much more attractive than Charter because he had "significant concerns about the value of Charter stock" inspired me to look at the price of Charter stock. A market cap of $13B and debt of about $14B values the company at ~$6,000/subscriber. That's very hard to justify on any plausible earnings, even if John Malone is a financial magician and Tom Rutledge a strong operations manager. 

   My latest bill from Time Warner for regular cable modem service was $63/month, up about 40% in just a few years.



Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 13:58
Cisco: Africa in 2017 to Have More Internet Users than U.S.
Sunday, 02 March 2014 15:18

Size of Africa300,000,000 smartphones coming soon. Carlos Slim of Telmex tells me the world is about to change. “Two billion more people will connect to the Internet when smartphones cost $50. The phone makers are promising me a $50 phone in 2014.” If Spreadtrum and Firefox deliver a $25 smartphone, as promised, that could accelerate takeover.

   ~310,000,000 Africans will be connected to the Internet in 2017, Arielle Sumits of Cisco predicts. The population of the U.S. is about 310,000,000, Africa over a billion. It’s inevitable that the U.S. will be dwarfed by the rest of the world. In Africa, there are already about 450,000,000 mobile phone users with substantial growth continuing. Most of them will get Internet-capable phones in the next few years. 

    There are fewer than 10M broadband landlines on the continent, about one line per hundred people.

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 March 2014 18:23
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