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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Broadband costs remain highest in Africa

A basic broadband connection is most expensive in Africa of all the regions around the world. This is according to an update of the 2017 Affordability Report f[1]rom the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) which the internet lobby group says it compiled using more recent pricing and income data. “While the Asia-Pacific region boasts the most affordable broadband – 1GB of data costs citizens, on average, 2.5% of monthly income – not one of the regions surveyed meets the “1 for 2” target.

Costs remain highest in Africa, with 1GB costing 9.3% of a citizen’s average income; however, Africa also experienced the most significant cost reductions of any region – an average drop of 3.2 percentage points across the continent drove most of the global improvement in affordability seen in this data,” reads an excerpt from a statement issued by A4AI. A4AI first announced its “1 for 2” affordability threshold which requires for 1GB of mobile prepaid data to cost no more than 2% of average monthly income in its 2015-16 Affordability Report. The organisation believes meeting this yardstick would enable all income groups to afford a basic broadband connection.

The latest research shows some African countries have met the target. Arch. Sunday Echono, Permanent Secretary for Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu endorsed the affordability target during a speech he delivered on behalf of the Minister during an A4AI-Nigeria Coalition meeting in January.

“Consequently, A4AI and the Ministry share the common goal to make the Internet universally affordable for all who want to use it. This goal is quantified in a measure of having 1 Gigabyte of bandwidth not costing more than 2% of a person’s monthly income,” said Echono. The updated A4AI report shows that the cost of 1GB in Nigeria currently stands at 1.57% of income.

Ghana was second to Nigeria with its endorsement of the affordability target in April after an announcement by Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications for Ghana that the country would start working toward reducing internet costs. This is yet to materialise as the latest data shows 1GB in that country costs 4.11% of average income. Egypt has the lowest cost for 1GB on the continent at 0.47% of income.

A Gigabyte of data in Africa is most expensive in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mali among others. A4AI also revealed that it may modify its affordability target in the near future so that it is a more accurate assessment. “Mobile network operators in some countries are responding to the issue of income inequality through market segmentation – i.e., by offering very small plans (50MB or 100MB) or very big plans (2GB and above).

One implication of this trend is that using a single price point (e.g., 1GB) to assess affordability might not be appropriate for all countries, and having additional price points (e.g., low, medium, high) will be useful — something we will explore in further updates.”

A4AI adds that while prices are dropping globally, affordability continues to be a major obstacle to access that is compounded by high levels of income inequality.

The organisation has the support of ICT companies that include Google, Facebook and Cisco.

References

  1. ^ 2017 Affordability Report f (a4ai.org)

Explore This FCC Broadband Coverage Map to See How Much the End of Net Neutrality Will Likely Screw You Personally

FCC map Net Neutrality Broadband coverage Via reader “irihapeti”, here’s an interactive map from the FCC displaying broadband coverage across the US[1], a vivid illustration of Philip Rosedale’s point that few Americans have a meaningful choice[2] between competing broadband providers -and why the FCC’s proposed ending of net neutrality, the regulation that prohibits ISPs from charging extra for different Internet sites and services, is so concerning . You can adjust the Minimum and Maximum number of providers on the map interface, which is an important way of indicating how likely a given area is to be hurt by the end of neutrality.

An area with many providers — five or more is a pretty good bar — probably has enough competition that local consumers can easily switch their provider, if their current one starts adding extra fees for specific Internet services, or throttles them. (For example, let’s say, broadband-heavy virtual world/social VR/MMO usage[3].) As you can see in the screencap above, folks in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, and a few other big/wealthy cities will probably be fine if net neutrality goes away. (Though notably and ironically, people in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Bay Area may not do as well.) Less than five competitors, the option to switch gets increasingly difficult — two or less, and switching is probably next to impossible. How many Americans have two or less broadband options?

Here’s how many: FCC map Net Neutrality Broadband low coverageSo yes, most of us. Irihapeti puts it succinctly:

It simply reinforces the market dominance of the existing ISPs by allowing them to gain extract more revenue from their existing customer base, to deploy against new entrants into ‘their’ areas what does rectify the issue is that the infrastructure owner be required to be a broadband wholesaler and not a broadband retailer.

This actual solution which does work in practice from a customer’s pov, is rejected by the current USA Congress and Administration in line with their political view that the marketplace is a zero-sum environment zero-sum is a tenet of monopolism. Which many in the current USA climate accept as normal and a good thing. Monopolists play this card quite well (and always have done), selling monopoly to the libertarian-leaning general public as freedom.

If you buy the argument of Ajit Pai, Trump’s appointee to head the FCC, that ending net neutrality will enable more competition, services, and pricing options, this map is a good way of checking if you are taking a personal risk by accepting that gamble.

Everyone else may want to contact their Congressperson[4].

References

  1. ^ here’s an interactive map from the FCC displaying broadband coverage across the US (bit.ly)
  2. ^ Philip Rosedale’s point that few Americans have a meaningful choice (nwn.blogs.com)
  3. ^ For example, let’s say, broadband-heavy virtual world/social VR/MMO usage (nwn.blogs.com)
  4. ^ contact their Congressperson (nwn.blogs.com)

Verizon Commits To Preliminary 5G Residential Broadband Rollouts In 2018

Dave Altavilla[1] , Contributor I cover break-out technologies in mobile, desktop and the data center. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Verizon Communications stepped out this week and announced the company will be rolling out 5G wireless trials in as many as 5 major US markets sometime in 2018. The quick take-away here is that this is actually residential internet broadband connectivity, rather than cellular wireless for smartphones. Verizon estimates the market opportunity for residential broadband to be some 30 million subscriber homes nationwide.

5G residential broadband may require small antennas mounted on homes but promises gigabit speeds and throughput to homes, businesses and service providers in residential and metropolitan areas. And it’s all done without wires.

Verizon WirelessMike Mozart, Flickr

Verizon Wireless Store Verizon has been developing and acquiring the technology[2] on the 28GHz millimeter wave spectrum and it requires a larger number of cell sites for proper coverage, with as many as one per half-mile in dense urban areas, where line of site runs will be fewer with building obstructions.

The upshot is copious amounts of bandwidth and capacity for many more subscribers and a wider array of services. In short, it means gigabit connectivity to the home or office, over the air, with no need to run fiber or copper for the last mile. “This is a landmark announcement for customers and investors who have been waiting for the 5G future to become a reality,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon president of Global Networks and Chief Technology Officer. “We appreciate our strong ecosystem partners for their passion and technological support in helping us drive forward with 5G industry standards, for both fixed and mobile applications.

The targeted initial launches we are announcing today will provide a strong framework for accelerating 5G’s future deployment on the global standards.” Verizon goes on to note that the 5G launch will not have material impact on the company’s capital expenditures in 2018, so it’s clear this is just a pilot effort in key markets where the it can benefit from extended testing and preliminary deployment. The first commercial launch was disclosed as targeted for Sacramento California, some time in the second half of 2018.

Sacramento, you lucky guinea pigs, enjoy that glorious bandwidth.

It will be interesting to see what pricing plans look like as well.

Comment on this story[3]

References

  1. ^ Dave Altavilla (www.forbes.com)
  2. ^ acquiring the technology (hothardware.com)
  3. ^ Comment on this story (www.forbes.com)