Dots in the trend lines that we analyze in depth in the weekly The Online Reporter.
Liberty Global Adds 178k Broadband Subscribers & Extends Footprint
Showing cablecos’ continuing strengths in broadband, Liberty Global added another 178,000 broadband subscribers in Q3 – 60,000 in the UK (Virgin Media) and 56,000 in Germany. And the company is continuing to enlarge its footprint – despite the costs. CEO Mike Fries said: “Our new build activities, which are underway in nearly all markets, continue to deliver promising results. At the end of Q3, we had built nearly 850,000 new homes across Europe this year, and we are on pace to deliver over 1.3 million homes by year end.”
Sony to Launch 4K Smartphone at CES
Demand for consumer bandwidth will continue to accelerate as smartphone makers start launching 4K-capable smartphones. 4K requires twice the bandwidth as 1080p so both wireless and wireline networks will need more bandwidth. Sony is expected to launch a 4K-capable smartphones at CES in January 2017 – the G3121, which reportedly has a 5.5-inch 4K display. Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone also has a 4K display. 4K displays require more power so hopefully the G3121 will have a large capacity battery.
Amazon Offers 250 Blu-ray Titles for the Holidays
Amazon will offer over 250 Ultra HD Blu-ray movies this holiday shopping season, some as low as the $13.99 for “Now You See Me.” Blu-ray players are currently available for under $250 and may be considerably less after Black Friday. Purchases of Blu-ray players will inevitably lead to the demand for more bandwidth as users search the Net looking for OTT-delivered 4K content. 4K TVs with HDR are also now affordable – and please don’t buy a 4K set unless it has HDR.
Governments Worldwide Subsidize Broadband Build Out
Governments worldwide, including in the US, are spending big bucks to get high-speed broadband to every home. The French government’s national broadband scheme “Plan Très Haut Débit” has the goal of making sure that every household in France has access to at least 30 Mbps by 2022. To that end it will fund local government’s infrastructure projects. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s commissioner in charge of competition policy, said, “With these plans all French households and businesses will have access to high speed broadband by 2022. The plans also give more choice in [broadband] suppliers. This is good news for citizens and for small and medium sized companies in France. Access to high speed broadband is also a key priority of our Digital Single Market strategy.” France’s state aid’s guidelines wants to ensure that government funding does not take the place of private investment. The EU has approved France’s broadband scheme.
Meanwhile in the UK, Wales’ government has committed to spending up to £80 million ($99 million) on a broadband program called Taking Wales Forward that’s intended to connecting every residential and business premise in Wales by 2020. The new program is follow-on to the Superfast Cymru Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project, which has already passed 614,000 premises with 24Mbps – the UK government’s definition of “superfast” broadband. The Welsh government said the new program, like the one that preceded it, will leverage private sector match funding to get the job done. Minister for science and skills Julie James said that the prior Superfast Cymru project had been successful, there is still more to do “to bring faster broadband to those final hard to reach areas. “The funding package, once more, includes European funding. We are in the early stages of the application process, but remain confident that the funding will be available, subject to WEFO approval, as a result of the UK Treasury’s guarantee to honor EU bids approved prior to exit from the EU.” Plaid Cymru AM Dai Lloyd criticized Superfast Cymru Broadband Delivery, saying that fewer than a third of premises capable of receiving the service had signed up for it.
Drones Can Be Used to Efficiently Design 5G Deployments
Drones may be used in taking aerial photographs to help designing radio links for 5G networks, according to Researchers from Aalto University and Tampere University of Technology in Finland, headquarters of Nokia. 5G networks will require millions of small cells to be deployed much closer together than current cell towers. The researchers said remote-controlled drones can be used to create an accurate 3D model of an urban area, which would help in efficiently deploying small cells for 5G.
Vasilii Semkin, researcher from Aalto University, said, “Photogrammetry is a technique where 3D objects can be formed from two or more photographs. The measurements and simulations we performed in urban environments show that highly accurate 3D models can be beneficial for network planning at millimeter-wave frequencies. The researchers compared the simple modelling technique that is currently popular to their photogrammetry-based modelling technique. With the technique used by us, the resulting 3D model of the environment is much more detailed, and the technique also makes it possible to carry out the design process in a more cost-efficient way. It is then easier for designers to decide which objects in the environment to be taken into account, and where the base stations should be placed to get the optimum coverage.
Nielsen Reconfirms Decline in Linear Pay TV
The continuing move from traditional linear TV to OTT-delivered content continues.
Nielsen has reconfirmed its prior estimate of the continuing decline in pay TV subscribers, which in November showed a larger than usual decline. Nielsen conducted the review after some of its network clients objected. Nielsen said, “The month over month decline in coverage that most cable networks saw was driven primarily by an overall decline of approximately half a percentage point (0.55) in the Cable Plus universe, meaning fewer households are subscribing to pay TV via traditional cable MSOs, telcos or satellite providers. The decline was not specific to a network or group of networks, meaning, not driven by household changes in tiers or packages. In addition, Nielsen is researching new and emerging technologies and multichannel providers such as ‘virtual MVPDs’ and will incorporate these households into the Cable Network Coverage Area Universe Estimate definition at a future date and in cooperation and agreement with our clients,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen’s clients that own channels on pay TV – such as ESPN – are negatively impacted financially by Nielsen’s numbers because subscription fees paid by pay TV services and commercials are based on how many viewers they have.
T-Mobile to Offer Gigabit Speeds over LTE in 2017
Like many cellcos, perhaps most, T-Mobile is not counting on 5G as much as are AT&T, Verizon and other cellcos that are planning to begin deploying a fixed wireless version of 5G for homes in 2017. CTO Neville Ray said T-Mobile expects to deliver gigabit speeds over LTE in some markets next year by using three-way carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), which doubles the number of data paths between a cell and a cell phone and so doubles the speed.
Ray said, “In terms of speed, if you think about a world where you have three-way carrier aggregation and you can do 4×4, and you can do both together – which is the story of 2017 – then you’re approaching gigabit LTE speeds, which is really exciting for 2017. We can do about 400 Mbps on 4×4 and/or three-way carrier aggregation. And then the two coming together, you can start to double down, and as you expand your carrier-agg reach, you can move towards gigabits.”
T-Mobile has already deployed 4×4 MIMO in over 300 cities but users can access it only if they have Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones. Despite that limitation, Ray said that about 1 million T-Mobile subscribers are accessing 4×4 MIMO, which he said will accelerate dramatically next year.
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