Thursday, November 4, 2010

Texting still burning hot, but does mobile operators understand this?

So once again we are getting the confirmation that texting is the killer applications if there ever was one.

Ever since GSM operators in Europe discovered that the native texting function, called SMS, which was initially made for technicians and maintenance staff, caught great interest with subscribers, this has been spreading like a fever all over the world.

Last month, Nielsen, a company specialized in marketing metrics, has issued figures that show that teenagers in the USA are sending more than 3000 text messages per month. In some cases women are up to over 4000 messages per month.

Though the survey mention texting in general, and only SMS once, it is not clear if SMS is the only texting considered in this survey. The number as a stand alone without comparison to texting through other applications does not give a total picture of the usage of texting.

10 years ago SMS had a very slow take-off in USA because operator tariffs plans were not fit to a text messaging uptake. In Europe, some operators like the MVNO CBB in Denmark have launched SMS texting price plans where subscribers can buy free SMS for a whole year for 99 DKK (19 USD).

SMS is working on all GSM and 3G handsets. It is quick and easy to use, and a very stable service. In many cases where subscribers cannot reach each other because the network is congested with voice calls, SMS will continue to work as long as the handset can reach the mobile radio base station.

Voice has become intrusive.

Another interesting finding in the Nielsen survey is that the same teenage segment which is sending and receiving 3339 text messages per month, corresponding to an 8% jump from last year, see their voice calls has dropping 14% to 646 minutes on average per month over the same period. Studies show that among teens voice has become more intrusive, and one could argue that by spending 10 minutes on Twitter or another social service, you can make yourself more heard, than if you make a 10 minute phone call.

This is actually a tendency that has been some time underway. We see that the professional sphere is penetrating the private sphere, and we get work related calls when we are at home. Many people defend that flights should continue to be phone-free. Not for security reasons, but to get a legitimate reason to turn off the mobile phone. In this way, you can say that that the falling voice traffic is yet another way that the Internet and Social media is making people gain more control of their own life.

Brazil is lagging behind on SMS, but not in texting.

The Nielsen survey does not mention the overall average of texting per month among all mobile phone users in USA, but from the tables we can assume that it is around 600 messages per month.

Last week at the Futurecom telecom trade show in Sao Paulo, one of the panel discussions, in which I participated, was dealing with outlook for Value Added Services (VAS) in the Latin American market, and Acision, a vendor of messaging platforms, pointed out that the Brazilian mobile users in average are sending 15 messages per month.

So, does that mean that Brazilians are not into texting? Not at all. In an article from last week, TIME Magazine, reports that 23% of Internet users in Brazil are using Twitter against 12% in USA. This should of cause be compared with the higher Internet penetration in USA. The Twitter traffic in Brazil has grown by 479% over the last year. Orkut, a social site, had 36 million unique visits in August this year.

Backfire on mobile operators?

The conclusion is that Brazilians are texting a lot, but not via the SMS texting channel that operators are offering. This is dangerous to operators. From the figures from USA, we can already see that voice calls are dropping when text really takes off, and Brazilian mobile operators have also used this argument of protecting the voice traffic by keeping SMS tariffs higher, but now there are clear signs that the Brazilian users are now migrating to Internet based texting and messaging services, and if operators are keeping a SMS price level of about 0,10 USD per message, they will place themselves in the high end by global measures.

It seems strange that in days where mobile operators are complaining about the Google and Apple over-the-top business models that leaves no money on the table for the mobile operators, they are now squeezing their current SMS users over to Twitter and their alike. These services are broad band over-the-top services for messaging, which eventually could leave operators in an even weaker position when it some to generating value adding revenue.

The traffic from Twitter and other messaging and social services is likely to make voice traffic fall, and broad band connectivity will hardly qualify to be called value added VAS revenue. The key question remains whether mobile operators in Brazil, and some other countries will claim their place in the future revenue chain, or mainly become broad band providers leaving the messaging revenue to the Internet players financed via advertising.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mobile Broadband Congestions

People living in Sao Paulo, Brazil, already knows how it is when traffic is congested, just like in the case of mobile networks, everybody gets affected.

Well, in most cases anyway, because some operators are offering a way for some of their customers to get a fast lane in stead of the slow traffic.

Do no evil?

Vodafone Spain and Elisa in Finland have introduced a VIP Broadband tariff plan with prioritised traffic. But is that the best solution? Should normal users be left with a bad service just because the service is popular? It is actually curious that a Finish mobile operator is charging a premium for getting a good mobile connection to the Internet, when the Finish government has lately decided to make broadband a Human Right. Elsewhere, operators and technology suppliers are looking for other ways to solve the problem.

In many places, including Brazil, the lack of spectrum has been blamed for the congestion and slow speed in mobile networks, but in a number of cases the real problem has been the Access Network, i.e. the leased line, fiber, or radio connection which links the cellular radio base-station to the core of the network.

I highlighted this already 10 years ago when operators where connecting their GSM radio bases with one or two E1 connections, which can carry about 2MB/s each, whereas a 3G HSPA radio base would need ten to twelve E1's to feed full capacity. This made the cost increase directly together with the higher data volumes, and as the price per Megabyte has been dropping ever since, operators have been bound for trouble for some time now.

 Even though this still seem to be a problem for some operators in Brazil, most European operators have got over that part, by installing high capacity radios or fiber which will have sufficient capacity to withstand demand for some time to come. These operators are now getting to the next bottleneck in the broadband supply-chain: The Air Interface.

Broadband World Forum in Paris.

This week at the Broadband World Forum in Paris, Deutsche Telecom pointed out that the frequency spectrum currently foreseen for the LTE technology is not enough. Also in Brazil, Falco, the Oi CEO, predicted this week that mobile traffic will grow ten-fold until 2014, and Ericsson is foreseeing growth at 15 times today's levels for 1015. This will for sure put hard constraints on the frequency spectrum made available from the regulator, ANATEL.

To keep mobile operators out of trouble, so called, data off-load solutions have been developed by the technology suppliers. Among them Femto Cells, which works like small cellular base stations with some meters of range that can be placed in residence and office locations, and which are connected to a fixed broadband connection in most cases. Handsets can then reach the mobile network through an Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) connection. Off-load via WiFi is also a solution, and is already helping operators in areas where mobile handsets, laptops and iPads are connected to the Internet through wireless routers that people have connected to their fixed broadband connections at home or elsewhere.

Some operators are worried about this, as most WiFi solutions use unlicensed frequencies which are open to many types of equipment, and where there is no network planning to deal with radio interference. Some US cities, like Philadelphia, which have open public WiFi access have seen reports on interference problems decreasing peoples experienced connection quality.

Now, both the UK and the US government are reported to have plans on making 500MHz available for cellular systems to coupe with the traffic needs. Then again, some other markets have looked more to changes in the data plans, and are cancelling the unlimited data plans as was seen after the iPad launch at AT&T in USA, as mentioned in some of my previous blogs on Net Neutrality, Price Plans in the UK, and France Telecom.

This is probably not enough in the long run to keep data volumes out of trouble then it comes to spectrum capacity, as the competitive price erosion together with video anywhere (Video is finally escaping from home) will end up driving the total data volume much higher. In Brazil, which have low penetration of fixed broadband, with a large number of multi-million inhabitant cities, the spectrum looks to get under pressure in the coming years, and here planning is very important, and the possibility to use the 450MHz spectrum could become essencial.

It seem to be a very narrow vision when the Brazilian government believe that the current lack of broadband access should be solved by state subsidized backbones and LAN Houses. With nearly 200 million mobile users in Brazil, mobility is still not on the government's national Broadband agenda. Soon, more serious trouble have to be solved if Brazil wants to have a GDP growth bonus out of having a connected population.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thanks for the confidence - Now, Let's go mobile

Eric Schmidt said it last month at the IFA show in Berlin. Apple has made a bold move in this direction. My meetings with global top brands confirm that up to 10% of advertising budgets are allocated for Mobile Advertising for 2011, and this year it is just about 2% when it is good. "Mobile First", by the way, is the mantra that Google keeps repeating nowadays, and Apple is investing heavily in getting Mobile Advertising right.

Therefore I am very happy for the confidence that you showed by electing me to the board of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) in Latin America.

There is a lot to do. Media owners, such as mobile operators are eager to get a part of the revenue, but also see Google and Apple moving in fast. They also see that there are no metrics by which they can prove the efficiency of this media, which has been around for some time, but only now is bound for main stream, judging by the allocated budgets for 2011. Not because it could not have happened before. Mobile operators in Europe and Asia have for more than 10 years operated SMS and MMS premium content deliveries, which could have been developed into the Mobile Advertising, as mobile had a well-working charging model way before the Web. Most efforts has been put into the Web, and the brands and agencies seem to have had little time left to look after the mobile business models. Mobile operators also spend way to much time looking for a "Killer Application" that never turned up. This is a petty for mobile operators, as SMS and MMS are much easier for them to monetize on. Nowadays, Smartphones and http traffic with advertising banners are easier to run as "over-the-top" (OTT) business models where operators have more competition with for example Google and Apple. Now that the Web advertising budgets are crossing 20% of total spending, it is time for mobile, or "Mobile First" as mentioned above.

The market is moving on with high speed, and the meetings with Jeffrey Cole from the Center for the Digital Future in California, and operators, agencies and brands, which I arranged last week, show that the interest is really growing. One topic form the talks is that there are basically only three ways to get content: Advertising, Paying, and stealing. Stealing is still the option for many, but as buying is getting much more convenient than stealing and perceived to have more fair conditions than before, more people are accepting to buy, even if it will never bring the music industry back to the revenue it enjoyed before. Research show that people are reluctant to pay if there is another way to get to the content. And there is. Free-to-air TV which stands for around 90% of the viewing in Brazil is financed by advertising, and this is also a great option for mobile. You could even give end-users the choice that if they do not accept advertising, then they could pay. Some will argue that user-generated content is another business model, but well-known sites for where this type of content like YouTube or Facebook, are already investing heavily in financing their sites with Advertising. Another curious fact is that the wast majority of the visits to YouTube is to get free or time-shifted access to the professionally generated content from TV.

All of this is accelerating our entrance in business models for Mobile Advertising but we need to remember that this is not Web advertising on a mobile phone. The same way that TV was not radio with images, and the mobile Internet is not the same at the Web, like many argued in early days, and it took some 10 years to get that right from the first GPRS phones. Now we entering the LTE era, and we already have over 5 billion mobile screens out there that people are looking at every day. But Mobile Advertising is different, and has to do with relevance. Research show that the mobile screens are seen as a more personal sphere than both TV and the computer screen. This means less but more targeted advertising, and the value of the viewer or click (expressed by the CPM price) is likely to grow significantly as we learn to understand the underlying behaviour, and agree on commonly accepted metrics among all players in this business.

This is just one area where the MMA has to a lot to do, and I am very happy for the trust that so many has showed by electing me to the board. Once again, thanks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Marketing for Mobile and the MMA

The global economy took a severe hit in last year, however the online advertising market proved resistant to the recession. Unlike spending on all other major media, online advertising spending increased 2% to $55 billion, and measured-media advertising spending did better during the recession in Latin America than in any other region of the world.

This year brought a return to double-digit growth, with online ad spending tracking towards more than $60 billion worldwide in 2010. By 2014, the sending in online marketing could reach around $100 billion, growing around 12% a year. These rates will be unmatched by other media.

The recession has made online advertisers with limited budgets to make every dollar count. Even though Mobile Advertising is still only a few pro cent of the total advertising spending, resent global research point to the fact that marketeers worldwide are unsatisfied with the metrics that they get from Mobile Marketing, where figures show that the category is the lowest ranked together with Off-site Social Media. Both Google and Apple are very clear on a strategy for the future called "Mobile First", as also pointed out by Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the IFA show last month.

This is no different in Latin America, and the repositioning of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), is an excellent platform for creating a common language and establishing an aligned and coordinated metrics in the regions with global standards, but with much higher quality than today.

My main aim as candidate to the board of director at MMA is to:
  • Promote open and standardized interfaces to mobile marketing channels as efficient connections between agencies and publishers.
  • Seek common agreement among all the players in the mobile marketing space to establish the metric by with we can define milestones and set goals for the development of our common business. The penetration of mobile phones in Latin America is tracking steadily towards 100% penetration, and the interest in the mobile handset as a media is increasing significantly. Therefore, we must make sure that the marketing space becomes open to all players in the value chain, and not overtaken by a few dominant Internet players.
  • Use my well established network to open a constructive dialog with regulators about how we can improve the regulatory and legal framework for Mobile Advertising, while still protecting the end user.

Looking into the future, there are a lot of very interesting challenges to embrace. Social network advertising is getting renewed attention in 2010. Ad spending on social destinations in the US will cross the $2 billion mark in 2011. Mobile Facebook users are twice as active as their fixed broadband colleagues.

Twitter has finally launched its ad business earlier this year. And the potential for 2011 and beyond could be dramatic if it proves that its model of measuring advertising effectiveness works.

Finally, online social games and applications are becoming a more important part of the mix.
Teenagers are spending less time talking and more time playing on their phones.

All of this will spell a very interesting next season for the MMA.

You can also read more on the Top 5 five Mobile Marketing Trends to watch on Mashable.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Growth in the VAS business

It is very interesting to note the growth in the VAS revenue as part of the total for the North American market, where VAS has gone up from about 6% of total revenue in 2005 to 32% in 2010. The developed Asian countries have been high in this measure ever since the i-mode days in Japan. The North American mobile operators have apparently had much more success on finding their place in the data centric mobile universe compared to the mobile infrastructure suppliers from both USA and Canada, which has nearly all disappeared in the same period. Take a look for your self.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

VAS is not really Value Added.

During the last ten to fifteen years mobile operators have reported how much of their revenue is coming from so called Value Added Services, or VAS. Traditionally, the scope of this measure has been a mix of SMS peer-to-peer, and premium, as well for same two both types of MMS services, plus any other content sold together with the cost of transport, whether this was a packed or circuit switched data connection (if anyone can still remember that). The transport part is exactly the problem. As Mobile Broadband if becoming a prime product, large portion of what today is called Value Added comes from the revenue of connecting users to the network, which is not value added, and the measure is now difficult to make sense of. Let's take an example:

Before Mobile Broadband took off in Brazil, operators would have a VAS revenue of about 8% of the total revenue (some of the lowest numbers in the region), compared to Europa and Asia where several operators were on about 20%-25%. Some even higher, but mostly due to fundamentally different business model like SMART on the Philippines.

Now, Brazilian operators happily report a 12% of revenue as VAS, but large part of this comes from the Broadband services which are nothing but connection fees to hook up on the Internet, with no value added at all. On the contrary, operators are themselves worried about the Apples and Googles of the Internet, that have so-called "Over-The-Top" business models that does not include the operator in the revenue stream.

This is relevant because a number of operators are reporting to have trouble with their earnings on Mobile Broadband, and AT&T, 3-UK, Orange, and other are terminating Flat-fee tariff plans and launching volume based plans.

What operators are interested in, is to add value on top of their connectivity business, being voice or data driven, and the VAS measure does not give any indication on their ability to do so. If we estimate that the Broadband revenue is about on third of the VAS measure, then operators are still on the former 8% level, just like they were before they began to sell Broadband.

This could make sense when we see the content provisioning and distribution conditions that some operators are presenting to the market. They clearly show that the market is still immature, and if the 8% figure is a correct assumption, it means that Brazil is at least 5 years behind the European market when it come to real VAS value to the mobile connectivity.


As demand for smartphones skyrockets in Sweden, customers are being waitlisted to purchase the most popular models, sometimes for months, reports DN. Jonny Malmlöf, head of PR for the retail giant Phonehouse, said his company is unable to meet demand. Sony Ericsson’s X10 Mini has been one of the best-selling models recently, while Apple is unable to meet demand for its new iPhone and customers are forced to wait to get their HTC Desire handsets. Apple declines to comment on the reason it is unable to supply enough devices, but HTC admits that demand for the Desire has exceeded the forecast around which HTC had planned its manufacturing schedules. Meanwhile, Nokia is planning to launch three new smartphones this fall, which it will price just under Apple’s iPhones. (Dagens Nyheter)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Should operators own content?

Should operators take a more vertical position and own content rights to TV for example to attract subscribers? There are several religions in the market about this. BT in the UK is going this way and ended up with resistance from Sky, and now France Telecom might be backing out.

... and the unlimited story continues

After my latest post about how AT&T and UK mobile operators have changed from the flat fee unlimited tariff model to segmenting users into plans with caps on the usage of data volume, France Telecom has apparently gathered enough courage to sail by the new winds of change, and have announced that the current unlimited plans are unsustainable. This looks to be a clear trend that other market should get prepared to deal with also.

Brazilian operators are estimating that by 2014 the mobile data volumes will be twenty-fold compared to the current level, and as revenue is now likely to follow that trend, either the price erosion on transmission and access technology sould yield equal decline, or the cost for data transmisson will rise.

So to keep the moster on a leash, operators are now taking the step into controlling the data volume with the pricing and segmenting tool. As mentioned in earlier posts this will also ease the Net Neutrality discussion, as operators will now get a charging model for large data volumes resulting from data hungry Internet applications as Youtube and others. Extreme cases showing that data volumes can really go thought the roof was examplified by the Norwegian State Broadcaster, NRK, how offered an nearly 8 hour train trip from Bergen to Olso recorded in HD as a BitTorrent download of 246 gigabytes! Even your HSPA+ wireless broadband modem will have a hardtime with this. The claimes are the tens of thousands of users have done the download.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Smartphones lay mobile network down at festival

Just to underline the importance for Mobile operators to plan for large events:

The Danish yearly Rock festival "Roskilde Festivalen" has been held for about 40 years now, so even though the number of participants is expressive but stable with about 70.000 paying guests plus staff and musicians, you could argue that mobile operators have had plenty of time to learn with the mobile evolution over the years, but the evolution of usage of mobile phones is apparently so fast that it caught operators unprepared, although they are reluctant to admit it.

The take-up of Smartphone and laptops (not to forget) is drastically changing to loads that mobile operators are experiencing, and if they are not prepared for it, there is little to do when people start rushing in.

Hereunder is an article translated from a Danish newspaper yesterday on how people could not communicate during the music festival, sometimes for hours, and how this caused confusion when people needed to communicate with each other.

The message is: Don't think that you as an operators can cope with the new usage pattern just because things have gone well until today. Brazil have some very big events coming up in the coming years, and there is a lot to do yet in both the access, transmission, and signaling networks.


Smartphones lays mobile network down at festival.
But telecommunications companies deny that they have problems with their networks
By Marie Sæhl

'Dut-dut-dut' and 'There is no contact with the mobile phone.

Many festival guests have experienced that they could not call their friends up, and SMS messages have been several hours late.The emergence of new smartphones - the iPhone as the dominant - is probably responsible for a portion of network problems.

18-year-old Frederick Roee Letter from Oslo could not call his friends up since he arrived at the festival. "I was lost for five hours because I could not get hold of anyone and therefore not knowing where the others had camped up ', he says.

Missed a ride
The same happened to 25-year-old Rie von Wowern couldn't pick up her cousin as she drove home last night.
"My cousin was suppose to drive home with me yesterday, but I simply could not get through. Simply no connection, and she could not see on her phone later that I had tried to call, "she says. And the two are far from the only ones. have spoken with several festival participants who have repeatedly seen that the phones have not worked.

Operators see no problem
Nevertheless, says three of the big companies - Telenor, TDC and Telia - the operational status has not shown signs of problems.
"I've heard that there have been problems. But it is not on our network because we can see that they have not been overloaded, "says Lasse Bastkjær Jensen, press counselor at TDC. "But it's clear that if all of the guests writes an SMS to their friends about that now begins the concert, then sms'erne be delayed", he added.
The operator "3" indicates as the only operator that they have had problems with their network.

Smartphones loads the Networks
"Our network has seen max load all day. We have a base station on site, which we have even upgraded last Wednesday, but there has still been a lot more load than last year, "said communications director in "3", Stine Green Paulsen.
According to "3"'s technicians this may be because there are now more smartphones compared to last year, and it puts more pressure on the network, as people also go online via their mobile.

Spokesperson for the Roskilde Festival, Christina Bilde, called on Saturday for people to make good old fashioned agreements to be on the safe side.!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

3 UK moves away from unlimited data

As mentioned in my previous post, operators are now eying the chance to curb one of the biggest worries they have had since mobile Internet really started to take off, namely the uneven consumption of data volumes.

USA and UK seem to be leading into this trend, and all marketing managers at Brazilian mobile operators that I have spoken to in the last 6 month are planning for the same thing if they have not already launched planes with volume cap to release the unlimited plans.

Some have expressed worries that the networks might melt down, but of course no operator would accept seeing all profit go away and their network break down. Volume caps will be introduced. The question for a long time has been where the pain point is. AT&T in USA have for long been criticized by smartphone users for bad service, and the fact that they have an exclusive deal with Apple on the iPhone have prevented people from trying out other operators network. That might have been a better solution, as people might have discovered that other networks are suffering from the same similar problems. Anyway, as mentioned before, AT&T is now stoping new unlimited plans, and 3 UK seem to have hit the pain point also. Strand Consult argues that the iPhone deal is not such a good deal for the operator anyway.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Unlimited data plans and Network Neutrality. What is the fair deal?

This must be the most fair thing in the world, right?

Well, from an end-user perspective I have seen it from that side many times. Now, that I have spend some time rolling out the largest networks in Brazil, as well as having a user experience, I can see that there are more details to the picture then that.
First of all, the term Network Neutrality is very well chosen. Who can ever be against neutrality? It seem as the prime quality of any system is that should be fair to everybody. The argument could be even stronger when we learn that it is supported by a very large company with the tag-line "Don't be eval" - Google.

The demand for Broadband in Brazil is very big, and operators have accelerated the roll-out to keep up with the demand, but the service is still performing under expectations in many places. Some operators have statistics saying that 20% or less of the subscribers take op more than 80% of the broadband capacity due to the imbalance that the uneven usage causes. This reminds me about the bill for heating the flat when I was living in Denmark. All flats payed according to size and not usage. The bill was sky high, not the mention the carbon footprint, but that was not considered at that time. This means that I was paying for other people leaving their windows open at freezing temperatures at winter. After we get individual metering, the total usage fell to a more reasonable level. Prices in Brazil are already high, among other things, due to taxes, even on SIM cards if they are not used, which makes the business case even harder to solve for serving the low income classes.

Some argue that broad band should be seen as a public service like running water or street illuminations. The Finnish government has even decided that a 100mbps broad band connections shall be a human right in Finland. That could all make sense if we agree on what type of service we are talking about. We do not pay extra for using more street illumination, which makes sense because the cost for providing it is not linked to the usage, but for a public service as water and electricity we pay an amount equal to our usage.

The Net Neutrality discussion has been much centered around the network operators right to charge upstream in the value chain, e.i. to the Internet Companies earning money on the access that people make to their sites. In the mobile content delivery environment this is quite normal, but there, the delivery cost is included in the price we pay for the content. The problem about charging upstream is that, as users, we will not know which Internet sites have paid to get better speeds to what networks. And should all network operators now start to charge Google? To me, this looks like a complex and less transparent eco-system to set up where the end-user will have a hard time knowing what he or she is actually buying. Both the FCC in USA and the Brazilian Government are working on how to regulate this, but looking that the latest industry development, there is a fair change that they do not need to spend much time on discussing this in the future.

It now seem that the industry is betting on solving this in another way. The iPad has apparently made operators see that the tariff concept is not sustainable. Few weeks ago AT&T decided to abandon unlimited data plans, and in the UK the operator 3 claims to have the most attractive plans, and none are unlimited. If the industry can settle around a reasonable price level for the data plans, this could be a way to end the Net Neutrality discussion before it gets nasty. Just like for the heating, metering provides a fair balanced solution.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How to get weather info in Brazil

Many people ask me how to get the necessary information about the weather here in Brazil. I am not professionally qualified to talk about the weather, but as pilot I need to have a good notion about where things are heading, as this is crucial to aviation safety.

Here is a short description on how I approach the subject. Even though this text is in English you will find that most relevant sources are in Portuguese. Fact of life when dealing with Brazil. If your Portuguese is not sufficient, you can use Google Translator.

Having a basic understanding of how the weather works of course makes the understanding even better, but you can still get very useful information from several sources without knowing the theory.

Brazil is huge and covers several climate belts, each with its own characteristics and predominant meteorological events. Lets concentrate on the Southeast, i.e. the states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Espirito Santo.

A frequent event are the Cold-fronts sweeping up along the costline starting in Argentina and moving up bound for Rio or even further North. Sometimes they get dissolved on their way or moves out over the ocean. Those with knowledge from Europe and Southern Argentina have also heard about Warm-fronts occurring in connection with low pressure frontal systems, but these are less frequents on our attitudes here, and show a somewhat different behavior.

Depending on how strong the Low Pressures are, the Cold-fronts will bring more or less rain with them, not seldom followed by thunderstorms. These fronts will in many cases cause stronger rain showers on their front side, one or two days of light rain or drizzle on their back side. Especially at coastal areas. If you want more info on Climate Belts you can check out this site on the Climate System.

Another basic feature which is interesting to observe is the effect that the sun has on the lower atmosphere mainly in the summer period.

In this region, typically the air is more humid and the sun is stronger, and this combination will create conditions for building rain storms during the day. Humidity and temperature in the different layers of the atmosphere are determent for whether or not the storms will build, but in general storms are likely to build on days with strong sun and humid air.

In order to understand the weather development the coming days I recommend to get the overall picture first. You could start looking at the continent at the Climatempo Synoptic Chart (Carta Sinotica) down on the right side. Here you can see high (A=Alto) and low (B=Baixo) pressures together with the fronts. If you want some text or explanation you can look here.

Now that you are aware about the general movement in play, it is time to take a look at the actual situation at CPTEC for example. On the left side of the top menu bar click on the file symbol called "Produtos" when you hold the mouse over it. Chose "AMS Realcada Ch4 Alta Res". Click on the play symbol and, in the bar that opens, click on the play symbol. This will load a three-picture animation of the whole of South America. You can move it with your mouse. Here, your ability of interpretation comes into play. You can see the temperature codes on the side. The colder the temperature, the higher the clouds. Large circular areas are normally thunderstorms, or Cumulus Nimbus (CB). If the temperature drops over a very short distance, with the color going directly from grey to blue or purple, a lot of vertical movement is taking place and the CB is active and probably connected with thunder, rain and strong winds. Sometimes also grain. Larger circular areas where the temperature drops more slowly towards to center of the cloud is probably an dieing CB, where the cloud debris is spread in the higher atmosphere. This application is Flash animated, so if you are using a cell phone, you can use the picture archive and choose "Realçada" and get the last picture on with "Alto" (high) resolution. Remember that all times are in Z (Zulu = UTC), which corresponds to current time plus two hours at Brazilian daylight saving time, and plus three hours during normal "winther" hours. On the picture to the left red lines point to thunderstorm building up, and the green line shows an old thunderstorm dying out.

Thereafter, you can use the regional forecast in Climatempo. By clicking through the dates you can see the weather development. I recommend that you read the text under each picture. Be aware that the pictures are sometimes not in sync with the text.

You can also get more precise information with more weather data on specific forecast and current conditions about Brazil. The Brazilian Meteorological Institute (INMET) has a good regional forecast model, which in my experience is quite accurate. Click on the tabs with the red spots in the screen dump. Previçao Numerica > MBAR > Mapa de prognostigos 25 km. A popup window will appear (so be sure to enable that in your browser), and you can chose to look at rain, as in this case, but you can also look at Wind, Cloud coverage, Temperature, Relative humidity. Zoom in on the map and play with it. In the bottom you can see that date and time the forecast was made and what time is it valid for.
Apart from the overall picture that the satellite pictures can give, you can of course also use them to get a picture of the current situation. Talking about current situation: If you are concerned with rain for this afternoons churrasco, you can look at the doubler rain radars at Redemet. Click on "Radares Meteorologicos" on the left menu bar. There you will find radar pictures from several radars in Brazil, which seldom are more than one hour old. For Sao Paulo, pick "Sao Roque/SP" > MAXCAPPI. You can chose to plot the cities and landscape on to the map to make it easier, as shown on the picture.

Webcams are becoming more normal, and if you are going to the coast, for example, there are ways to get a good impression on how the weather is right now. Check out Helpjet's site.
The weather is very cyclic, and the more time you spend following these cycles, the better you become at predicting the development during the following days. Whenever you can, try to observe the weather and how it develops. Look how the clouds develop and refer to the weather sides afterwards to compare. Look at a satellite picture taken at the time you made the observation. This way you will be better at interpreting your observations sources in the future.

As you can see the sites contain much more services and information compared to that I have mentioned here. I tried to make this a simple and straight forward, but is you have interest, do not hesitate to contact me. Enjoy yourself with the weather, and let me know if I can improve the description.

Monday, May 31, 2010

John Strand visiting Brazil. Join him for dinner on June 7 in Sao Paulo

Once again John Strand is visiting us here in Brazil, and of course, I will arrange a dinner presentation with him.

Time is short but the content is good.

John was invited to speak at the Informa MVNO summit this week, and has already met operators. The MVNO issues are getting hotter, and most operators are now drafting the plans on how to approach the opportunity. But, in Brazil there are snakes in Paradise, and John will also look a the pit falls that companies might fall into when approaching the MVNO opportunity here.

Besides that, John is bringing news from other areas as well.

- Mobile Broad Band
- Next Generation Pre-paid
- Mobile VAS

You can also refer to John's own release hereunder.

The dinner will held on Monday, June 7, in Itam-Bibi, Sao Paulo.

Consagrado Bar e Restaurante
Rua Bandeira Paulista 812
Itaim Bibi - Sao Paulo

There is no entrance fee.
Food and beverage is "al a carte".

Time: 19:30h

I am looking forward to see you there.

If you want to participate, please mail me on

My very best regards, Jesper Rhode


News clipping with John appearance in the press lately:


Extract from John Strand's newsletter about the visit to Brasil:

John Strand will visit Brazil from May 24th to June 8th, to speak at a conference and hold a number of workshops

I will soon be returning to Brazil for my 16th visit. Having now held workshops for most of the mobile operators in the country, I feel that Strand Consult has a very good understanding of the Brazilian Telecom market and how it is developing.

The reason for my return to Brazil this time, is that I will be speaking about opportunities on the MVNO market on a conference and I will be holding a number of workshops for some of the new players on this market.

Knowledge is the path to success - we can offer you that knowledge and you have the will to succeed

Today Strand Consult has four focus areas that we have described in a series of reports. Our primary customers are over 160 operators around the world. Our four focus areas are:

  1. The MVNO market, what it looks like and how it is developing. Strand Consult has the world's largest MVNO market research centre and has published numerous reports and workshops that greatly increase the probability of achieving success on this market.

  2. Mobile broadband. The mobile broadband market is the fastest growing market in the history of the mobile industry. We have analysed and describe this market in a series of reports and can answer many of the questions that market players have regarding how to develop and implement a successful mobile broadband strategy.

  3. Next Generation Prepaid. Many mobile operators are currently seeing their prepaid business case developed negatively. Decreasing prices, lower termination revenue and problems with customers using multiple SIM cards and increasing churn is resulting in a business case that once was a goldmine, moving in a seriously negative direction. We have analysed the prepaid markets around the world and have the necessary knowledge for operators to launch the Next Generation Prepaid.

  4. Mobile VAS. The mobile services market is a vast area. What started with premium SMS is developing into a very fragmented market, where the mobile Apps that are being sold bypassing mobile operators are getting a great deal of attention, while many are overlooking the many opportunities to create revenue from other services. We have described this market in a series of reports and have some serious propositions on how to achieve success on the mobile VAS market.

Today Strand Consult is considered to be one of the most prominent market players within telecom market analysis and for providing specialised knowledge about today's telecom industry and how it is developing. For the past 15 years we have specialised in delivering high end information to telecom operators on the CxO and board of directors level across the whole world - including a number of players in Brazil.

Strand Consult currently has over 160 mobile operators worldwide in our customer base and additionally all the most significant technology companies in this industry. The operators are our most important target group and our main company vision is to deliver the necessary knowledge that an operator needs to be able to navigate this industry, where many technological providers have an amazing ability to hype new technology without examining the underlying business models.

And there is no doubt that we are good at what we do. We have a unique track record in predicting the future and have very often been the first in the industry to spot new technologies and trends that have gone on to greatly influence the telecom industry.

Personally I believe that there are a number of exciting things happening in Brazil, on the other hand there are a great number of factors that will influence how the market and business sector develops in the future. If you would like to read some more background information about me, please click here: .

Yours sincerely
John Strand

About me:

Encontro com Jeffrey Cole

Para atender a pedidos, depois da visita no ano passado, organizamos a volta do diretor do "Center for the Digital Future", Jeffrey Cole, para discutir com players importantes de nosso mercado sobre as novas tendências no mundo das mídias.
Sendo conselheiro para o Governo Bill Clinton e Barac Obama, o Jeffrey esta participando em muitos fórum e discussões onde o futuro das medias esta sendo formado com governos e mega-empresas.
Entre os assuntos que os Jeffrey esta trazendo esta:
- O Futuro da TV.
- As mídias atuais podem desaparecer durante a atual transformação?
- Qual ver ser a característica da publicidade daqui para frente?
- Como a Time Shift TV pode mudar o eco-sistema da publicidade?
- Qual é o futuro para TV móvel?
- Como ver ser a transformação dos jornais?
- Como esta o futuro da industria de Musica?
- O que as emissoras podem fazer para acompanhar as mudanças?
A biografia do Jeffrey:
A Ericsson esta oferecendo isso como um ponto de inspiração para formação de estratégia para um mercado em transformação cada vez mais rápido.
O Jeffrey estará no Rio de Janeiro nos dias 8 e 9 de Junho e em São Paulo nos dias 10 e 11 de Junho.
Se você tiver interesse me comunique o mais rápido possível.
Abraços, Jesper Rhode

Monday, May 10, 2010

Buying in Adroid Market

If you use your Android phone in a place where the Android market is limited, and where no commercial Android applications are available, try to get hold of a SIM card from the UK or USA. Even if the SIM card has no roaming, it will unlock the paid applications in Android market, and give you access to the commercial part. Lots of good stuff in there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Communication can be many things, but being without communication is becoming something between a quasi religious self imposed relief, or a medium to severe suffering if not opted into voluntarily.

We had accepted an invitation from from my close friend, Elza, to spend New Year on her farm near Cunha in the state of Sao Paulo. Little did we know about the volume of rain that the region would receive during the following days.

View Larger Map
We arrived on January 30, and it had already been raining from the day before. As it is a very nice place with a cozy house with a good view to the surrounding hills, we were basically doing fine, and sitting talking on the veranda felt very good.After spending the 31th sheltering from the rain, especially the kids wanted to go to Cunha to see the fireworks at midnight. So, at about 11 pm, we left in two cars for Cunha.The rain was still pouring down, and Elzas Fiat almost got stock in the mud on the five kilometer dirt road on the way to Cunha, and she wanted to go back to the farm, but as we were quite close to the town, we decided to go on to see the fireworks.
In Cunha we found shelter from the pouring rain in front of a closed shop from where we could observe the fireworks. Not the most impressive I had seen, but the kids were happy, and we had a great time making fun about the situation. From hereon things were about to happen.On our way back, the rain was still pouring down, and we were stopped by a mud slide on the dirt road. I stepped out of the car and checked the situation, and got totally wet. The mud was too deep to pass through, and more mud was beginning to slide, so we decided to get away before we would get buried in a new mud slide.
Soaked wet, I drove our Pajero 4x4 back to the town, where Elza helped us finding a small hotel where we could stay overnight for 20 Reais. Staying is probably the best word because it was hard to sleep in the pulsing noise from the new year party on the town square. During the night I woke up every hour, just to hear the rain pouring down outside the window.
Next morning, We tried to hire a bulldozer to remove the mud, but soon we received the information the one of the wooden bridges on the road to the farm was washed away, and we gave up on the project.
I went down to the homeland defense to see if we could help. We ended up towing a car out of the mud, and we managed to get the car well painted with mud on the inside as well.
Soon after, we learned that the two concrete bridges on the paved road back to the highway in Guaratingueta was also washed away, and we realized that we were in fact trapped in Cunha. During the first of January the rain stopped, and we could begin to evaluate our recovery plan. We slept two nights in Cunha.In the region about 40 people got killed in the mud slides during the three days with virtually constant rain. All but one in a 7 person family died when their house was smached to pieces on the outskirts of Cunha by sliding soil from a steep hill above them.
In Cunha, I bought two spades and a pair of boots, and drove outto the where the mud slides had occurred on the first night, only to discover that more slides had made the situation even more complicated. A few men had already started digging under the strong Brazilian summer sun, and after working for nearly two hours I got heavily sun burned, but we were close to a break through with the mud digging.
Finally, we managed to the get the car through. It didn't look nice (well, if you like dirt track you could have another opinion). The bridge was still down, so we had to drive through a swamp area, and finally we got to the farm where we stayed for another day and a half. We decided to forget about the troubles around us, especially because the kids were beginning to get nervous about the whole thing. And while food and fuel began to run out in Cunha, we had refulled on the first day we were trapped there, and were therefore well in control of the situation.
Our friend, Alex, who was driving a normal car could not get out through the swamp, so he was preparing to leave his car on the farm.

On the fourth of January we got informed by talking to people in the neighborhood that we should be able to make it to Guaratingueta. So we decided to brake up and leave the farm, and as the local wooden brigde was not ready yet, even if a local team was working on it, we drove back through the swamp. The concrete brigdes on the way to Guaratingueta were repared with interim solutions, and we managed to get all the way to Rio. Alex got his car out also later that day as the wooden bridge got replaced.

So what is the conclusion about communication here?

On the farm there was no cellphone coverage, and the fixed line was in a state where you were forced to make qualified guesses on what people were saying at the other end. Fifteen years ago few people had a cell phone so there was no way to check up on friends and family when they were not close to a fixed phone. Now things are different, and my good friend John Strand (, with whom I keep frequent SMS contact, sent me an SMS during the fireworks in the rain in Cunha. I responded promtly. When he heard about the tragic accidents here in the region in the days after, he tried to send another message just to make sure that I was OK. At that time I was already at the farm, so consequently he could not even get a delivery confirmation on the message. So, suddenly, the lack of immidiate phone contact in Brazil caused stress and worries in Denmark more than 10.000 kilometers away. The combination of the speed by which the news travels, and the anytime anywhere online scenario, has in fact changed our habits and threshold for lack of communication.

As soon as I got back into cell coverage John got his confirmation, and I immiditely got a call from him, and things were calm again.

When I came to Brazil first in 1988, I used to make contact with my family back in Denmark every three months. In case of an event like this I would propably make contact right after, but the whole scenario would be totally diferent.

This story also makes me wonder how many divorces are induced to due bad coverage where couples are not being able to make contact via a cell phone...

See the full photo album here

Recent Posts