Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wind chooses MMDS and not Wimax for new TV service

The Dominican operator - Wind Telecom - Could have chosen to use the WiMax network which they have bought from Nortel to supply a true triple-play service on the same carrier, but no. Wind has apparently now chosen to use a traditional MMDS network for the TV service and WiMax for Telephony and Broadband. The Brazilian Ministry of Communication is pushing for WiMax for TV. Worthwhile looking a bit closer into this.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Interactive TV - A glimse of the future?

You have turned on you TV, and the latest police blitz on the Rio Favelas are rolling on the screen. All that shooting is not really what you want to see after a long days work. Your TV reads the expression on your face, and change automatically to a stream of content more on line with your mood. This is one of the scenarios of the CALLAS program joining a number of European and one New Zealand science institutions running until 2010.

See also Creativematch

For mid term TV visions, see also NDS

Get the picture? - Polar Rose

Let's take look at a very interesting newcomer: Polar Rose.
The company has developed an algorithm which can recognize human faces, for example on the internet. Polar Rose has apparently been discovered now, because the company has been gifted with a number of high-flying awards lately, such as : Best Technical Innovation at the SIME conference in Stockholm, the Red Herring Global 100 list, selected as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in 2008, with invitation to participate in the famous Davos meeting.

So what is it about?

It is an image recognition plug-in for your Firefox net browser.
You are using Firefox I suppose...!? I find no excuse for not installing his faster, and more user friendly, browser on all my PC's.

Anyway, the plug-in detects people in public photos and places a signature rose (see above) approximately where the pinhole of their shirt would be. If the photo can not be identified it will ask you to confirm the identity of the person on the photo. A true Web 2.0 service with huge potential. Imaging the Google Image search function, which today is relaying on the context and surrounding text of an image to identify it. Now, the Polar Rose software will, with the help from all of us, build up a data base from our collective knowledge of the identity of a myriad of people browsed from all over the Internet. Try it out. Maybe you are already a known face on the Internet...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

News from Barcelona? - Mobile Broadband

Last year in Barcelona, Arun Sarin, Vodafone’s Chief Executive, shook the industry by saying that LTE (Long Term Evolution), the planned evolution of the GSM/WCDMA/HSPA track, had some catching up to do compared to WiMax. This year things turned out different: It seems that LTE has in fact caught up. This year the Vodafone CEO informed that the operator will join China Mobile and Verizon in the path towards LTE. Together with the success of the roll-out of HSPA, this has taken a great amount of the stream out of the WiMax train. This is not to say that WiMax is out. Especially for operators without a mobile license WiMax could be a viable business case, though still surrounded by some essential questions:

- Will WiMax terminals reach a competitive price level with the current volume forecasts?

- Can WiMax provide the aggressively low Subscriber Acquisition Cost that is needed to penetrate low income segments?

- Is a WiMax Base Station cheaper than a HSPA or LTE ditto?

- If transmission cost is the prime cost driver for rural Broadband, and the Base Station typically take up only 15% of the cost for a cell site, why talk so much about the cost of the equipment?

- CDMA and WiFi never got a good automatic roaming standard. Will WiMax?

- Will WiMax terminals come in dual mode version is a sufficient number of models? Today virtually any 3G terminal also works on a GSM network.

In a newly held IPTV congress in Rio, a spokesperson from the Brazilian ministry of communication presented WiMax as the natural technology of choice to establish the return channel for the Brazilian Digital TV Broadcasting version of the Japanese ISDB-T standard. I couldn’t help asking him the question in public of who, according the ministry, should invest in the network. The answer was: The operators. I looked around and saw a fair amount of surprised expressions. Mostly on the faces of colleagues from the operators. Difficult to imagine now that HSPA has been launched in Brazil, and more is to come.

In fact the WiMax discussion has nearly disappeared in the Brazilian press. I guess that current service beats future promises. This is not to say that I don’t think that WiMax will make it self heard in the fight for a space in the sun when it comes to 4G, but right now 3,5G is getting prime time, and operators do their best to capture the head lines based on that.

But telecom regulators have to be aware that the success of mobile broadband could also spell trouble for the current roll out of the 3,5G family. Brazil has very dense urban areas with bad Broadband connectivity via wireline. Therefore the Mobile Broadband solution has a good opportunity to seize the market. This will consume a considerable amount of bandwidth, even with the efficient HPSA in the coming versions. Therefore regulators must se to that operators can expand in the 2,5 GHz band and others if they so choose. If these bands get locked up by other applications, we could very well se a patchwork of non-compatible standards for Mobile Broadband. In some cases, a White Knight sometimes try to make a recovery mission of offering hybrid chipsets with multi mode in all bands. We just need to think a few years back to Qualcomm’s 1xRTT/GSM chipset, and the TDMA/GSM GAITphone. Did we see one or two models? Anyway, they became history even before they could make prime time.

When it comes to it, this is not a technology game as some engineers and vendor try to make it. It is a retail make. Ask why Vivo in Brazil dropped the “more efficient” CDMA standard for the “older” GSM: The subscriber acquisition cost is just so must lower. Think about that when you start rolling out broadband in you neighborhood.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What can we learn from the Telenor Q4 report

Defining and executing on a good wholesales strategy can have a significant impact on mobile operator’s results. Telenor released their Q4 and 2007 result this week, and apparently the loss of the wholesales deal with Tele2 has contributed to the drag from the domestic operation. If we turn this around, striking a good wholesales deal with a couple of good MVNOs, can boost the result of a mobile operator. Telenor was apparently in a relatively week position to negotiate the continuation of the agreement with Tele2 as the MVNO has its subscribers in on its own Home Location Register (HLR), which makes a change of host network easier. Otherwise they would have to issue new SIM-card to all users.

Back in Brazil wholesales is not widespread, though small cases exist. Most of the market seems to think that wholesales is not permitted in Brazil. That might be true for the MVNO model, but in the last few years the Branded Reseller business has emerged, mainly in Europe, and that model seem to be applicable in Brazil already from today. The issue is probably that no one wants to be the first mover, but as the market is getting closer to saturation, my bet is that things will move within a year.

For more information check out
Telenor Q4 report
Telenor: Q4 results show a maturing business

Still something to wish for in Lisbon

I still remember the Lisbon airport from my first bagpack trip to Latin America in 1988. At that time i spent 5 hours bored to death. Today, with no Diners Lounge, I am spending 3,5 hours on the floor here. Thank God for emails, so I have someting to spend my time on...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

News from Barcelona?

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year did not bring a lot of new topics into the arena. On the other hand, we got much more insight on which topics that are getting more serious. I am summing up my notes and will comment on it over the next few days.

The Key Topics on my list are:
- Mobile Broadband.
- The fight in location and navigation.
- The fight for the device screen.
- Pipe-line versus Walled Garden.
- The key drivers are Devices and Connectivity
- The role and importance of advertising.

On the other hand, it was also interesting to note the absence of most of the media industry. Many vendors say that they have made solutions for a converging industry, where Telecommunication and Media are melting together, but there still seem to be a significant distance between the two. First of all there were very few media companies, this year. Two years back MTV, Sky, and record labels had prime time space. This year they were hard to find. My feeling is that they are finding the mobile industry much harder to penetrate than they thought initially. Revenue share and content rights seem to be a tougher question than we all thought a few years back….

More in that later, now I will pack my stuff and get back to Brazil…

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Future revenue for TV networks

As part of the convergence, which is sweeping though many media and communication companies in these times, where traditional voice communication, TV, and Internet services are being blended together, the power and importance of the media as an advertising channel is changing. As advertising is a key revenue driver in the media food chain, this could spell major chances in the coming years. Marketing managers are loosing power and acceptance to push global brand and agendas directly to consumers. We have entered the so-called you-cracy, where the consumer sets the agenda. Today users classify most of the direct non-segmented and, in many cases, irrelevant advertising as spam, no matter if it is sent as email or it is the local advertising folder from the local super market. It has to be relevant and close to our hearts.

There are several ways to achieve relevance. Search machines like Google and Yahoo are tracking our search words and click-streams, which reveals what we are looking for, and can therefore connect us to a company with the right and relevant product. Furthermore, it is a large advantage that advertisers only pay for their advertisement when customers actually follow the link that is presented together with the search results.

Another way of creating relevance is Viral Marketing. Here the concept is very different. On the contrary to the search model, in Viral Marketing the advertiser will embed the logo or message into a host message which is expected to be appealing to the target group of consumers, in a way that people will begin to send the movie or picture to other friends or colleagues, and thereby spreading the message to millions of consumers over a few days. People pass it on to others because they like the funny scene or apparent message. It’s a way to keep our personal network alive. We do not really relate to the company logo in the corner, even though it sneaks into our minds, and that is what advertised are looking for: Top of Mind. Whether it is seen on a popular community site, or in a peer-to-peer mail, the message is replicated from mind to mind like a virus, living in a host cell. When we receive an email from a friend, we are simply too curious not to open the mail and see the video or whatever it is. In some cases consumers will send links to Youtube or other shared content sites. This increases the possibility for the original creator of the message to track it, because the owner of the site could potentially log the traffic then the server hosting the viral message is accessed by the consumer. But where the search engine has a quite precise picture of the how even individuals are acting, the Viral Advertiser will in many cases not know exactly who is relaying and receiving the message.

All of these attempts to catch our attention have one objective: To make us pay attention to the message of the advertiser.

Today, the Internet has a very strong value proposition when it comes to advertising: It offers the possibility to give an individual and therefore relevant experience, and it can fulfill our need for information on the subject being advertised through interactivity. Therefore the Internet is becoming the prime channel for marketing and advertising in these years. Until recently, the Internet has served more as a parallel channel, leading the audience to the old prime channels like commercial TV. Analysts say that this is beginning to chance, and the Internet is becoming a prime channel of advertising in some developed countries and that the trend is spreading rapidly. If this is true, the importance of the TV and Internet channel will revert, and TV advertising the serve to lead consumers to the Internet sites. Furthermore, the large brands has to evaluate to what extension they can be stretched from the classical presence in TV mainstream contexts to the new advertising channels. Many teenagers simply turn off the classical TV. Teenagers are moving away from TV today as presented by Promon at the TV 2.0 seminar end 2007. Centralized one-way communication does simply not interest them. Therefore, large advertisers are now beginning to move to community sites like MySpace and Facebook together with the Viral marketing. If the implementation of the digital TV standard in Brazil does not take this trend into consideration, the service is likely to lack a significant amount of users in the future.

We can already see a very concrete result of this change. In October last year the advertising revenue of Google in the UK passed the revenue of the largest commercial TV channel. This should raise some eye-brows at Rede Globo here in Brazil. The country’s largest TV network and the fourth largest worldwide. Globo has excellent content, and the lions part of the advertising market, but what will its strategy to survive be faced to this dramatic change? Today only a tiny fraction of Globos revenue comes from advertising on the Internet, but the numbers of Brazilians with access to the Internet is now growing towards 40 million. Still far from the population of 180 million, but we should also remember the people currently connected to the Internet have a much larger purchasing power than the remaining part. Already at the TV 2.0 seminar in Sao Paulo end of 2007 I asked managers from Globo if, or when, we could expect Google to pass Globo in Brazil. The question raised some eye-browes, but the answer is still unknown.

Launch your own cellular brand in 15 minutes

Working with what is new in Digital Communication, Sonopia.com is really interesting news. The mobile communication industry has been transforming over the last 10 years from a pure technology driven business to a retail, distribution, and branding based business. Somehow the North Americans has been a slower on this, and has frequently over the last ten or so year being injecting new technologies into the market place, giving little importance to the retail model and to scale the business: TDMA, CDMA, EvDO, EvDV, Canopy, WiMax, etc...
The European mobile market has focused more on shaping up the retail business model: Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Service Providers, and Branded Resellers. In Europe the Discount wave in Mobile Telephony started with Telmore.dk around 2001, and spread around in Northern Europe initially, and is now moving into micro-segmentation and value added niche play. Operators need a competitive voice offering in order to compete on value added service. There are today many MVNO or Service Providers in the US. Trackfone and Virgin being the more retail based. Big flagships in the US like Disney and ESPN did not pay much attention to shaping the customer acquisition cost and subsidies to the business, and then the business model does not add up, even if you have attractive content, and they have withdrawn from the market now.
This time the Americans have chosen to use technology to create a new business model. Combining the Internet and easy-to-use site builder tools, on Solopia.com, you can create your own mobile operator in 15 minutes. You can build your own brand for you school, shop, football team, or whatever. Now, this is micro-segmentation! All the traffic is concentrated to the Verizon host network. Verizon has been driving good traffic growth on their network through different distribution channels for some time now, a pretty smart move.


Article 1
Article 2

Where is IPTV going?

In a European reasearch project called ShapeShifted TV we might be seing one of the new applications for IPTV, combining an indiviual and interactive experiance. The user can choose between different plots during a program. A true individidal experiance. The question is how this could effect the our need to tell stories. We normally tell shared stories, which build our group identity. What do you think? Check it out...