By Paul Budde, edited by Alan J Weissberger
“Peak telecom” is described as the maximum point of expansion reached by the traditional telecommunications industry before the internet commoditized the industry to a utility (dumb) pipe.
I thought of this when I read the recent outcomes of the famous Ericsson Consumer Lab survey. The company used the results of the survey to counteract market criticism regarding the viability of the telco business models in the deployment of 5G.
It will come as no surprise that Ericsson, as a manufacturer of 5G gear, has given the report a positive spin. However, I remain skeptical about the short-term business models for the deployment of 5G (so does the editor). Once full deployment happens over the coming decade, I certainly can see long-term opportunities. These will revolve around content and apps as well as areas such as IoT in smart homes, cities and energy. However, the question is, will this lead to new financial opportunities for the telcos? Peak telecom questions such an outcome.
What exactly do these broader 5G opportunities mean for the telecommunications operators — the companies who have to build the infrastructure? It is here that we can see that we have reached peak telecom. For several years now, we have seen that growth in the telecom industry is rather stagnant. Profits are still being made but mostly generated by lowering costs. For example, new telecom access speeds are provided at no extra cost to the users. Basically, consumers are getting more for the same price.
There has continuously been the promise of new revenues that could be generated through a range of new telecoms development (internet, broadband, smartphones). The telcos have, however, largely failed to move into the content/app market where the new profits are occurring. Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Alibaba, Tencent and Netflix have been the primary commercial beneficiaries of these developments.
The Ericsson report mentions that mobile access in congested areas and in mega-cities is becoming a problem and that 5G will assist here. I agree, but will customers pay extra for it?
It also mentions opportunities for 5G to be an alternative to fixed broadband and for it to become a key technology in fixed wireless networks. There certainly will be niche market opportunities here, but this is a highly price-sensitive market. The economics of mass fixed infrastructure favors it over mobile infrastructure. Any gains here will basically be a substitution of a fixed service they already provide, so the overall net gain for the industry will be neglectable.
The report indicates that 20% of smartphone users are prepared to pay a premium for 5G. The current commercial 5G service in South Korea is charging a meager 10% premium. No doubt, in coming years, through competition even that premium will disappear.
The report indicates that consumers expect new innovation such as foldable phones, VR glasses, AI, 360-degree camera, robotics and so on. All true but it all depends how affordable these products and service will be and again who will develop these next “must-have” products? Here, also, the telcos will most likely be missing out.
I fully agree with the report’s assessment that we have to look at 5G over the more extended period. As mentioned, there are good reasons to believe that once full deployment exists, it will open up many new business opportunities.
However, will this promise be enough for telcos to make the substantial upfront investments that are needed? This without a clear indication if they can extract any significant new revenues from 5G? The more likely scenario is that the digital giants are going to be the ones that will reap the real profits of those innovations.
I stick to my argument that the key reason for the telcos to move into 5G is because of network efficiencies, which lead to lower costs.
–>This is absolutely critical in this peak telecom market.
To end on a more positive note for the industry, there is the first mover advantage with short term premium price opportunities for those who can tap into the early adopters’ market. There is always a group of users who simply do want to have the newest of the newest, whatever the price. The size of this market varies — depending on how “hot” the new product is seen by this market segment — and could be anywhere between 10% and 25%.
This is certainly attractive for the telcos as it allows them to recoup some of the initial investment rapidly. In relation to mobile products and services, this mainly relates to “must have” gadgets and, in particular, the smartphone. The current price (in Korea) of a 5G phone is approximately US$1,500 (AU$2,153), without any outstanding features.
The lack of attractive smartphones could be another negative for some of the early adopters. Time will tell.
Asia Telecoms Maturity Index:
This index, created by Paul Budde, analyzes the Broadband, Mobile and Fixed Line markets of a specific country as well as a range of parameters to help you evaluate the economic development of a country.
BuddeComm’s Telecoms Maturity Index measures and ranks the maturity of a country’s telecoms industry on a scale of 1 to 100. All countries are placed into one of three categories: ‘Market Leaders’, ‘Market Challengers’ and ‘Market Laggards’, according to their Market Index score.
The Telecoms maturity index is used to fuel regional analysis, it provides a unique approach and allows a comprehensive country vs region comparison.
Asian countries in the Market Leaders category have fixed broadband penetrations in the range of 25% and 42% and mobile broadband penetrations in the range of 98% and 135%. South Korea is the top-ranking country in Asia with a Telecoms Maturity Index score of 92, followed by Hong Kong (90) and Macau (86).
For more information on BuddeComm’s Telecoms Maturity Index, see:
- Africa – Fixed Broadband Market – Statistics and Analyses
- Africa – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Asia – Fixed Broadband Market – Statistics and Analyses
- Asia – Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband
- Asia – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Asia – Telecom Forecasts
- Europe – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Latin America – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Middle East – Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband
- Middle East – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
In a new report published Monday June 10th, Dell-Oro Group said that global revenue for broadband access equipment declined 2 percent Y/Y in 1Q 2019, reaching $2.9 Billion. Increased shipments of XG-PON1, XGS-PON, NG-PON2 OLT ports, and DOCSIS 3.1, CPE offset CCAP (Converged Cable Access Platform) spending declined for the second straight quarter.
“The 10 Gbps FTTH deployments continue to build momentum,” said Jeff Heynen, Research Director, Broadband Access and Home Networking. “The next-gen fiber increases nearly offset the weakness in cable CCAP spending, as cable operators push off new capacity purchases while they determine how to move forward with distributed access architectures,” Heynen added.
Following are additional highlights from the 1Q 2019 Broadband Access Quarterly Report:
- Total cable access concentrator revenue decreased 38 percent Y/Y to $275 M, driven by a strong slowdown in CCAP channel purchases in North America and EMEA.
- Total DSL port shipments decreased 21 percent Y/Y, with ADSL ports down 71 percent and VDSL ports down 20 percent.
- Total PON OLT port shipments increased 7 percent Y/Y, with XGS-PON ports up 337 percent.
- Total SOHO WLAN units increased 13 percent Y/Y, driven by the driven by 19% Y/Y growth in broadband CPE with WLAN and 125% Y/Y growth in mesh router units.
According to Dell’Oro Group’s Q1 2019 Broadband Access Quarterly Report, total cable access concentrator revenue was down 38% year over year to $275 million, driven by the slowdown in CCAP channel purchases in North America and EMEA.
Dell’Oro PRESS RELEASES:
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – June 11, 2019 – In a newly published report by Dell’Oro Group, the trusted source for information about the telecommunications and networking industries, shipments of 25 Gbps Ethernet controller and adapter ports reached a new height … Continued
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – June 11, 2019 – According to a recently published report by Dell’Oro Group, the trusted source for market information about the telecommunications, networks, and data center IT industries, the 1Q 2019 Enterprise Wireless LAN (WLAN) market … Continued
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – June 10, 2019 – According to a recently published report from Dell’Oro Group, the trusted source for market information about the telecommunications, networks, and data center IT industries, the worldwide Server market grew at the slowest … Continued
As China state-owned telecom carriers (Unicom, China Mobile, China Telecom) prepeare for launch of 5G services, Beijing is supporting the creation of a new full-service telco by upgrading the nation’s cable network giant, China Broadcasting Network Corp. This is evident from the flurry of initiatives from the state-owned cable TV network operator to enhance its infrastructure and emerge as a stronger entity that can join the Big Three telecom firms in their own game.
Last month, China Broadcasting, an entity set up to run the nation’s cable TV system before being awarded, in 2016, a license to operate internet and telecom services, announced strategic partnerships with CITIC Group and Alibaba Group to help speed up efforts for network upgrades.
Under the cooperation agreements, China Broadcasting, which was founded by what is currently known as the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), will receive assistance from CITIC and Alibaba “for integrated development and upgrading of the nation’s cable TV networks as well as related product development and management,” state news agency Xinhua reported.
China aims to make its national cable TV networks smarter and create new generation radio and TV technology infrastructure by integrating cable TV networks and letting 4K, 5G, IPv6, big data, artificial intelligence and quantum communications technologies play their roles, Nie Chenxi, the head of the NRTA, said at the signing ceremony.
China Broadcasting’s plans comes as the traditional cable TV business faces a tough challenge in the era of internet TV and streaming services, throwing up the need for operators to upgrade themselves and expand their services via two-way interactive high speed broadband infrastructure.
Currently, telecom operators like China Telecom and China Mobile are offering fiber-to-the-home or fiber-to-the-building broadband networks to provide dedicated bandwidth for each broadband line, while cable network can only adopt a share-bandwidth approach. That has made it difficult for cable networks to compete with the fiber broadband operators.
China has seen cable TV subscribers falling in number after hitting a peak in 2016. Last year, subscribers were estimated at 223 million, down 8.75 percent from a year ago. The industry has seen its profitability get constrained and profit margins decline amid the weak subscriber figures. Meanwhile, IPTV and OTT video platforms had around 150 million users in 2018.
As the industry gets reshaped, CITIC is emerging as a key player in the reform of China’s cable network. The group, as a matter of fact, is not new to telecom network deployment. It owns CITIC Guoan network in Beijing, which is expanding its cable network operation across the nation. The conglomerate is also exploring new business models by teaming up with local cable operators to operate smart community service platforms for citizens.
Such experience puts CITIC in a good position to help integrate China’s state-owned nationwide cable network into a single valuable backbone network to deliver high definition content to TV as well as mobile devices.
CITIC Group can also help ease the financial burden of the government on network capital expenditure. Though there isn’t an equity deal, CITIC’s partnership with China Broadcasting can help the latter catch up with the three big state-owned telecom carriers through a market-driven approach.
In November last year, mainland media quoted Chinese authorities as saying that they have allowed China Broadcasting to build 5G networks, a move that will allow the market to transform into a four-player battleground. China Daily cited sources close to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as saying that China Broadcasting, which was formed in 2014 by combining several regional cable TV operators, was officially applying for a 5G license. That will help boost competition in the industry that has long been dominated by three players — China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.
In China, traditional cable TV service has been facing keen competition from online media services such as IPTV, OTT video as well as Internet video. Telecom operators are using fiber broadband to provide IPTV services to their broadband users, while OTT players like Youku and Tencent also dominate the screen time of Chinese users.
Amid this situation, cable TV network operators need to invest not only on the content but also the network technology to provide triple or even quad play in the market to catch up with the telecom carriers.
China Broadcasting is preparing to launch a mobile network using the 700MHz spectrum band. The spectrum is currently being used for domestic analogue television broadcasting. Now, China Broadcasting and CITIC have formed a joint venture, China Broadcasting Network Mobile, to operate a mobile business on 700Mhz band. The joint venture is expected to receive a mobile license from the Chinese government so that they can build a network across the nation to challenge the dominance of the Big Three operators.
As the low-band 700MHz spectrum can have better network coverage compared with other frequency bands, the joint venture will be in a good position to provide better coverage for high speed mobile internet using 5G technology. Once the 5G war kicks off, apart from China Broadcasting, CITIC Group could also effectively become a major player in the China telecom market.
by Ms. Lauren Dawes, GSMA-UK firstname.lastname@example.org
- While mobile broadband (3G or 4G) coverage in the developed world is ubiquitous, 800 million people are still not covered by mobile broadband networks. In rural areas the cost of building and operating mobile infrastructure can be twice as expensive compared to urban areas, with revenues up to 10 times smaller.
- In addition, 3.2 billion people live in areas covered by mobile broadband networks but are not using mobile internet services. A large scale consumer survey conducted by the GSMA revealed that affordability was the greatest barrier to using mobile internet services.
- Both the private sector and public sector have important roles to play in improving the business case for mobile network coverage expansion.
- By providing precise and granular data on mobile coverage, GSMA Mobile Coverage Maps can help operators determine the costs of providing mobile broadband services in uncovered areas and support the development of mobile networks.
- For example, GSMA Coverage maps can help mobile operators assess the relevance of infrastructure sharing deals. Indeed, infrastructure sharing can help to lower the risk and costs of investments in network expansion. Regulators should seize this opportunity and ensure all forms of voluntary infrastructure sharing between operators are permitted.
- GSMA Coverage Maps can also help other stakeholders – including governments, NGOs, and private companies that rely on mobile connectivity – to strategically target their activity, by helping them identify the locations with existing coverage.
- In this context, policy-makers are encouraged to adopt policies that will support mobile operators’ efforts to provide affordable mobile internet services. This includes:
- Removing sector specific taxes which have an impact on the price of mobile devices and the costs of providing mobile internet services;
- Adopting pro-investment supply side policies in areas such as spectrum policy and planning;
- Providing open and non-discriminatory access to state-owned public infrastructures.
Mobile is now the most common – and often the only way – that many people around the world access the internet, with 3.6 billion now subscribing to mobile internet services. However, while mobile broadband (3G or 4G) coverage in the developed world is ubiquitous, 800 million people are still not covered by mobile broadband networks. In rural areas the cost of building and operating mobile infrastructure can be twice as expensive compared to urban areas, with revenues up to 10 times smaller. As a result, mobile operators who expand their networks to rural areas often find that they lose money or take a long time to produce a return on investment. While seeking to grow their coverage (and hence their subscriber base) they can struggle to identify locations that could be economically viable.
In addition, 3.2 billion people live in areas covered by mobile broadband networks but are not using mobile internet services – thus indicating that whilst coverage is a necessary criteria, it alone cannot address the problem of digital inclusion. A large scale consumer survey conducted by the GSMA revealed that affordability was the greatest barrier to using mobile internet services, for people who were aware of mobile internet. In almost all the sample countries, the greatest barriers to mobile internet use are access to, and the cost of, internet-enabled handsets and data. These barriers are clearly interlinked, representing the importance of the overall cost of mobile internet access. The analysis also indicates that, although cost is an important consideration for both women and men in many of the surveyed countries, this barrier disproportionately affects women. For example, in Dominican Republic, 53% of female mobile users who do not use mobile internet, but are aware of it, cited handset cost as a key barrier to mobile internet use compared to 37% of men. In a similar sample in Kenya, 43% of women and 31% of men stated that not having access to an internet-enabled mobile phone was a major barrier to using mobile internet.
Both the private sector and public sector have important roles to play in improving the business case for mobile network coverage expansion.
Precise and granular data is key to help mobile operators, governments and others to determine the costs of providing mobile broadband services in uncovered areas and support the development of sustainable networks. In this context, the GSMA developed Mobile Coverage Maps: a tool to help operators and others estimate the precise location and size of uncovered populations. These maps will allow users to:
- Gain an accurate and complete picture of the mobile coverage in a given country by each generation of mobile technology (2G, 3G and 4G)
- Estimate the population living in uncovered or underserved settlements with a very high level of granularity (e.g. small cities, villages or farms)
- Search for uncovered settlements based on population size.
GSMA Mobile Coverage Maps are therefore a key tool to help operators improve the efficiency of their investments. For example, GSMA Coverage maps can help mobile operators assess the need for infrastructure sharing deals. Indeed, infrastructure sharing can help to lower the risk and costs of investments in network expansion. Regulators should seize this opportunity and ensure all forms of voluntary infrastructure sharing between operators are permitted. This is especially the case since the costs savings of such commercial arrangements can be significant, reducing capital investment and on-going operating costs by between 50% and 80% -depending on market structure and the sharing model – which can be reinvested in network expansion. This helps to close the ‘coverage gap’ and encourage operators to venture into rural areas they might otherwise have not wanted or could not afford to go to.
GSMA Mobile Coverage Maps can also help other stakeholders – including governments, NGOs, and private companies that rely on mobile connectivity – to strategically target their activity, by helping them identify the locations with existing coverage.
In this context, it is critical for policy makers to adopt economic policies that will support mobile operators’ efforts to provide affordable services.
- Mobile is the main gateway to the internet for consumers in many parts of the world today, particularly in developing countries. Despite this, governments in many of these countries are increasingly imposing – in addition to general taxes – sector-specific taxes on consumers of mobile services and devices and on mobile operators. This poses a significant risk to the growth of the services among citizens, limiting the widely acknowledged social and economic benefits associated with mobile technology. This latest report from GSMA Intelligence https://www.gsmaintelligence.com/research/?file=8f36cd1c58c0d619d9f165261a57f4a9&download examines mobile sector taxation over time and its impact on affordability and connectivity. The report highlights the taxes applied to mobile services and how certain taxes can raise the affordability barrier and reduce the ability of citizens to take part in digital society. It also explores the impact of uncertain tax regimes on operators’ ability to continue investing in new networks. The report shows how sector-specific taxes can create inefficiency, inequity and complexity, and hinder achievement of the UN Broadband Commission’s target for affordable broadband for all by 2025.
- Effective pro-investment supply side policies should also be adopted in areas such as spectrum policy and planning to encourage long term investment in the sector and result in more affordable mobile internet services being made available to all.
- Providing open and non-discriminatory access to state-owned public infrastructures such as public buildings, roads, railways and utility service ducts can also significantly reduce the costs of network roll-out and can be key to providing the site access and necessary backhaul capacity so critical to operator investments.
 The analysis is based on findings from quantitative face-to-face surveys with women and men in 23 low- and middle-income countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Source: Gender Gap Report 2018. GSMA (2019). Available here: https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/GSMA_The_Mobile_Gender_Gap_Report_2018_32pp_WEBv7.pdf
 GSMA Mobile Coverage Maps use data collected directly from mobile operators and overlay it with the High Resolution Settlement Layer, a dataset developed by Facebook Connectivity Lab and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University. This data estimates human population distribution at a hyperlocal level, based on census data and high-resolution satellite imagery. We have further enriched this data by adding socioeconomic indicators and key buildings such as schools, hospitals, and medical centres. The Mobile Coverage Maps are accessible here: www.mobilecoveragemaps.com
 Unlocking rural coverage: Enablers for commercially sustainable mobile network expansion. GSMA (2016). Available here: https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Unlocking-Rural-Coverage-enablers-for-commercially-sustainable-mobile-network-expansion_English.pdf
U.S. households consumed an average of 268.7 gigabytes (GB) of data in 2018, up from 201.6 GB for 2017, according to a new report about U.S. household broadband data consumption from OpenVault, a provider of data consumption and analytics software. Median usage was 145.2 GB per household in 2018, up from 103.6 GB in 2017. The increase in average consumption was 33.3% and the increase in median consumption was 40%.
Open Vault attributed the different growth rates to growing consumption across service providers’ entire subscriber bases, rather than growth only among heavy users. Their year end 2018 data showed that:
U.S. Household Broadband Data Consumption:
- Average usage for households with flat-rate pricing was 282.1 GB per household, which was more than 9% higher than the 258.2GB average usage for households on usage-based billing (UBB) plans. Average usage for all households was 268.7GB/HH in 2018, up from 226.4GB/HH at the end of June 2018 and a 33.3% increase over the YE 2017 average of 201.6GB/HH.
- Median usage was 145.2GB/HH in 2018, up from 116.4GB/HH in June 2018 and a 40% increase over the YE 2017 median of 103.6GB/HH.
- The percentage of flat-rate (non-UBB) households exceeding 1 terabyte (TB) of usage was 4.82%, a full percentage point higher than the 3.81% of UBB households that exceeded the 1 TB threshold.
- The percentage of households using 1TB or more almost doubled in 2018, rising to 4.12% of all households from 2.11% in 2017, while the percentage of households exceeding 250 GB rose to 36.4% from 28.4% during the same time frame.
In addition to analyzing trends in broadband consumption, OpenVault also tracked expansion within the US consumer device landscape, observing a 5.3% increase in connected devices when comparing the week after Christmas with the week before Christmas. While Amazon, Samsung and Apple collectively accounted for the majority of the growth, the 15.6% rate of increase for Amazon devices was significantly higher than the rates of growth for Samsung (4.1%) and Apple (2.9%).
“As connected devices, streaming services and broadband speeds increase, service providers need an alternative to infrastructure upgrades that would enable them to keep up with demand,” said Josh Barstow, Open Vault executive vice president of corporate strategy and business development, in a prepared statement about the U.S. household broadband data consumption research. “Our analysis makes it clear that usage-based billing is among the most effective tools the industry has in managing consumption and reducing the need for massive capital expenditures.”
1. Point topic – FTTH/FTTP/FTTB:
Market research firm Point Topic predicts that 59% of broadband subscribers worldwide will be served by fiber to the home/premises/building (FTTH/FTTP/FTTB) by the end of 2025. That represents an 11% jump from current levels. Please see Rethink TV’s findings below, which corroborate the rise of fiber access based broadband network access.
Point Topic forecasts that there will be 1.2 billion fixed broadband subscribers worldwide by the end of 2025. Broadband subscriber totals exceeded 1 billion in the third quarter of this year, the market research firm points out. Approximately 89% of these subscribers reside in one of the top 30 markets as defined by subscriber numbers recorded in this year’s second quarter.
Within these markets, FTTH and related options will grab market share primarily from xDSL, which should decline 19% to 9% during the forecast period. While overall subscriber numbers for fiber to the curb (FTTC) and VDSL, as well as DOCSIS-based hybrid fiber/coax (HFC), should climb during the forecast window, market share will remain fairly stable. FTTC will account for approximately 12% of connections, while HFC will check in at 19%, the researchers estimate.
While legacy copper networks have been losing customers to more advanced technologies for years. It looks like direct fibre networks will attract the majority of new customers, with DSL figures forecast to drop to hundreds or tens of thousands in most technologically advanced markets.
However, one cannot completely discount FTTC/VDSL and cable platforms, preferred by some operators, and especially their more advanced versions such as G.fast and Docsis 3.1 which are capable of gigabit speeds. We have seen their deployment gather pace in certain regions of the world (see their latest map).
The advent of 5G should have a dampening effect on fixed broadband in the forecast period, according to Point Topic. They are awaiting data from the field as 5G service is rolled out before predicting how much of an impact that market will have on fixed broadband.
The forecasts include data for the top 30 fixed broadband markets and the rest of the world. Point Topic has based them on historical data on fixed broadband take up. The forecasts include trends in subscriber churn for various broadband technologies, the size of the addressable market at country level, and current and planned network upgrades.
Point Topic’s most recent outputs put the total number of global fixed line broadband subscribers at 983 million at the end of June. Current adoption rates mean that the billionth broadband line appeared in September 2018, probably in China they say.
Technologies rarely manage to spread through the world so quickly, in only twenty years more than half the households in the world have a fixed broadband line.
2. Rethink TV – China to lead in gigabit broadband:
A recent report from Rethink TV, the video research arm of Rethink Technology Research, says that “in advanced countries such as France, Switzerland and South Korea, more than 50% of households will take 1Gbps broadband by 2023.” Rethink TV says that 57% of the world’s 1Gbps connections installed by 2023 will be in China. Over 42% of all Chinese homes will have access to 1Gbps services, thanks to “a series of massive build-outs led by China Mobile.” Rethink CEO and co-founder Peter White, says that China will have 191 million homes connected to 1Gbps by 2023, leading the world market. Japan will have 19.4 million and South Korea will have 9.5 million 1Gbps homes. Today, China is already substantially in the lead with 18.8 1 Gbps lines, with France on 4 million, Japan on 3.8 million and the US on 3 million.
In sharp contrast, only 11% of North America households will have 1Gbps connections by 2023 (see map) – even though the US, at 33.5 million households, will be the second largest market behind China.
“Gigabit broadband will accelerate faster than previous forecasts have imagined, growing tenfold over the next five years,” said Rethink. “After a two-year period of being high priced luxuries, 1Gbps broadband will become commonplace and inexpensive.”
Fiber optics based network access will take over in most parts of the world from copper-based technologies such as G.fast, except in the US, where cable TV networks will rely on DOCSIS 3.1. “Laggards in percentage terms will include the United Kingdom and Germany and much of Latin America,” said Rethink.
Comcast says its Xfinity Gigabit Internet and Comcast Business Gigabit services are now available to nearly all of the 58 million homes and businesses the company’s infrastructure passes in 39 states and the District of Columbia (it’s not available in Santa Clara, CA where top downstream speed is 400M bits/sec). That makes the cable MSO the largest provider of gigabit Internet service in the U.S. based on the number of potential homes passed.
Gigabit Internet service is a residential XFINITY Internet service that delivers download speeds of up to 1 Gbps and upload speeds of up to 35 Mbps to customer homes via Comcast’s next technology DOCSIS 3.1 Hybrid Fiber-Coax (HFC) network. Gigabit Pro is a newer ultra-fast tier delivered via a fiber-to-the-home solution and offers symmetrical upload/download speeds of up to 2 Gbps.
Comcast notes it has increased speeds 17 times in the last 17 years and that the capacity of its broadband network has doubled every 18-24 months. The company uses Xfinity xFi to give customers control over their internet; xFi is a digital dashboard that allows users to personalize, monitor, and manage WiFi connected devices inside the home or business.
“Comcast continues to offer an unmatched Internet experience that combines gigabit speeds with wall-to-wall WiFi, personalized tools and controls, and enough capacity to stay ahead of tomorrow’s innovations,” said Dana Strong, president of Consumer Services, Comcast. “We’ve built an innovative high-speed data platform that combines speed, coverage and control features and really sets our broadband experience apart from the competition.”
“One of the ways that we compete, of course, is ensuring that we’ve got the fastest and the most reliable network,” Matt Strauss, executive vice president of Xfinity Services at Comcast, told Fortune. “What’s partly behind the announcement is reinforcing that now we have one gig deployed across our entire footprint.”
Comcast started deploying gigabit service in earnest about three years ago. The company, which has 24.4 million total home broadband customers, wouldn’t say how many people have signed up so far, disclosing only that 75% of all its customers now receive speeds of 100 megabits/sec or higher.
However, a Morgan Stanley survey released on Thursday said that only a tiny fraction of U.S. households—3% of cable Internet customers nationwide—have 1 gigabit/sec speeds or higher.
But 1 GB speeds may gain in popularity in the future. While a typical high-definition movie file is about 3 GB or 4 GB, a growing number of movies are available in 4K, for which files sizes can exceed 100 GB.
The top two U.S. fixed line telecom carriers Verizon and AT&T are just starting to introduce competing home Internet services with new “5G” (proprietary) fixed broadband wireless access (BWA) technology. Those “5G” BWA services are 10 to 40 times faster than current 4G LTE wireless networks, which are generally NOT used for BWA. Those two mega carriers along with Comcast are ranked among the best ISPs.
Google Fiber may not be too far behind in it’s use of fixed BWA technology to deliver triple play residential services. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has put Google Fiber projects on hold in San Jose, Portland, and California. Google states that the move to wireless is inevitable, it will not neglect existing markets and will continue signing up new customers with wireless instead of fiber. Plans are underway to provide cities such as Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago with wireless internet service. Wireless technology is less expensive as it does not require labor-intensive constructions, the issues with the telephone owners, current copper and fiber providers and much cheaper to roll out.
In October 2016, Google bought Webpass, a company that specializes in the provision of wireless internet that at speeds of 1GBps at around $60. Webpass uses antennas on a building’s rooftops to provide internet connections to both businesses and residences. Unlike in conventional ISPs where you would need to have a modem, with Webpass you only need to have a router where you can plug in an Ethernet cable and distribute the internet to your office or residence.
Globe Telecom  has extended internet reachability further in Europe by connecting its network to Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange (DE-CIX), the world’s largest internet exchange point (IXP)  by size. DE-CIX is a carrier and data center-neutral IXP operator situated in Frankfurt, with a peak traffic of over 6.4 Terabits per second, interconnecting more than 800 member networks from around the world.
In total, DE-CIX globally serves over 1,500 network operators, internet service providers (ISPs), and content providers from more than 100 countries with peering and interconnection services at its 13 locations in India, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Globe Telecom recently peered at the DE-CIX in Germany.
“This initiative will further complement existing infrastructure and enable users direct access to European content. At the same time, it functions as alternate internet gateways to the Philippines from that region as the internet is two-way,” said Gil Genio, Chief Technology and Information Officer at Globe.
In total, DE-CIX globally serves over 1500 network operators, internet service providers (ISPs), and content providers from more than 100 countries with peering and interconnection services at its 13 locations in India, the Middle East, Europe, and North America.
“We are pleased to welcome Globe Telecom within our broad range of customers. With the DE-CIX services, Globe Telecom will be able to enhance its customers’ internet user experience and connect to all major international content providers available at DE-CIX Frankfurt,” said Theresa Bobos, Director for DE-CIX Southern Europe.
- Globe Telecom, commonly shortened as Globe, is a major provider of telecommunications services in the Philippines. It operates one of the largest mobile, fixed line, and broadband networks in the country. The company’s principal shareholders are Ayala Corporation and Singapore Telecommunications.
- An IXP is where IP networks meet to exchange traffic, similar to malls where different stores are present at a common location. It provides the facility that promotes and enables multi-network traffic exchange. This provides for the lowest latency path possible and therefore greatly enhances Globe customers’ internet experience.
Genio said connecting to European IXPs is a step forward to reinforce the Philippines’ ICT ecosystem in terms of global IP connectivity as it enhances the flow of IP traffic in both directions. “Improvements may also be observed in reaching networks that are part of the exchanges as the set-up will avoid the traditional via US traverse,” he added.
Globe is currently the local telecommunications company with the most number of connections to IXPs, with 23, based on information from Hurricane Electric. This reflects the Philippines’ presence in the global IP landscape.
Separately, Globe Telecom was recognized as Asia’s Best Workplace of the Year at the Asia Corporate Excellence & Sustainability Awards (ACES). “We are glad to be recognized as Asia’s Best Workplace of the Year at the prestigious ACES. Being an integral part of the company’s and nation’s success, we put a premium on ensuring our employees find purpose and meaning in their work. By allowing their work to serve a purpose beyond just livelihood, we ensure the ability of our people to lead happy and meaningful lives. This, more than anything else, is what sets Globe apart from any other company,” said Renato Jiao, Chief Human Resource Officer at Globe.
Cogent Communications, one of the world’s largest ISPs, is carrying more traffic on its network than most incumbent telcos. During its most recent earnings report, Cogent said its quarterly traffic growth came in at 10%, while year-over-year traffic growth hit 44%. Let’s break that down into on-net and off-net services/customers:
On-net service is provided to customers located in buildings that are physically connected to Cogent’s network by Cogent facilities. On-net revenue was $93.0 million for the three months ended June 30, 2018; an increase of 0.7% from the three months ended March 31, 2018 and an increase of 8.7% over the three months ended June 30, 2017. Cogent’s more than 65,000 on-net customer connections and its nearly 2,600 on-net office buildings and carrier-neutral data centers send traffic over its all-IP-over-DWDM network, protected at Layer 3, using Ethernet as its network interface. On-net customers are obviously the most profitable customers for Cogent.
Off-net customers are located in buildings directly connected to Cogent’s network using other carriers’ facilities and services to provide the last mile portion of the link from the customers’ premises to Cogent’s network. Off-net revenue was $36.1 million for the three months ended June 30, 2018; the same amount as the three months ended March 31, 2018 and an increase of 6.3% over the three months ended June 30, 2017.
Total customer connections increased by 13.8% from June 30, 2017 to 76,193 as of June 30, 2018 and increased by 3.1% from March 31, 2018. On-net customer connections increased by 14.1% from June 30, 2017 to 65,407 as of June 30, 2018 and increased by 3.2% from March 31, 2018. Off-net customer connections increased by 12.3% from June 30, 2017 to 10,480 as of June 30, 2018 and increased by 2.3% from March 31, 2018. The number of on-net buildings increased by 161 on-net buildings from June 30, 2017 to 2,599 on-net buildings as of June 30, 2018 and increased by 58 on-net buildings from March 31, 2018.
Cogent classifies all of their customers into two types: NetCentric customers and Corporate customers.
- NetCentric customers buy large amounts of bandwidth from us and carrier neutral data centers and our Corporate customers buy bandwidth from us in large multi-tenant office buildings. Revenue in customer connections by customer type. There were 33,520 NetCentric customer connections on our network at quarter-end, which declined from last quarter due to significant circuit grooming, consolidating multiple 10 gig circuits to fewer 100 gig circuits at the same location from some of our larger NetCentric customers.
- Corporate customer revenue grew sequentially by 2.7% to $83.3 million and grew year-over-year by 11.9%. We had 42,673 Corporate customer connections on our network at quarter-end. Quarterly revenue from our NetCentric customers declined sequentially by 3.4% and grew year-over-year by 1.4%.
CEO Dave Schaeffer’s Earnings Call Remarks:
The size and scale of our network continues to grow. We have over 927 million square feet of multi-tenant office space on-net in North America. Our network consists of over 31,900 metro fiber miles and over 57,400 intercity route miles of fiber.
Cogent remains the most interconnected network in world, where we are directly connected with over 6,360 networks. Less than 30 of these networks are settlement-free peers. The remaining over 6,330 networks are paying Cogent transit customers.
We are currently utilizing 27% of the lit capacity in our network. We routinely augment capacity in sections of our network to maintain these low utilization rates. For the quarter, we achieved sequential quarterly traffic growth of 10% in what is traditionally a slow seasonal period for traffic growth and we saw a significant improvement in our year-over-year quarterly traffic growth to over 44%.
We operate 52 Cogent-controlled data centers with 587,000 square feet of space and we are operating those facilities at 32% utilization. Our sales force turnover rate in the quarter was 4.8% per month, again better than our long-term average turnover rate of 5.7% per month. And I think a testament to the training and retention programs that we’ve put in place. We ended the quarter with 438 reps selling our services.
Cogent remains the low cost provider of internet access and transit services. Our value proposition to our customers remains unparalleled in the industry. Our business remains entirely focused on the Internet and IP connectivity and data colocation services. Our services provide a necessary utility to our customers. Beginning at the start of Q2 and April 1st, we began selling our SD-WAN services. We do not expect a material contribution from these services for the next several quarters.
We expect our annualized constant currency long-term revenue growth to be consistent with our annualized guidance of 10% to 20%, and our long-term EBITDA margin expansion rates to remain approximately 200 basis points per year for the next several years.
We expect to grow the sales force at between 7% and 10% per year for the next several years, while we expect operational head count growth to be slower at probably 2% to 3%. So the mix will increasingly become more sales-centric. Because of the efficiencies in running our business and the standardization of our products and the systems that we’ve deployed, we can sustain 44% traffic growth, 20% growth in unit number of connections and do that with a increase in operational and overhead employees of only about 2% to 3% per year. The sales force, however, is the engine that will drive accelerating revenue growth. And investing in that sales force has been and continues to be our major focus.
Cogent is trying to provide the most bandwidth at the lowest possible price, which means it’s in a race to run its network at the lowest possible cost, which means it’s in a race to take every advantage of new optical networking and routing technologies, as soon as they’re available.
“We divide the network into four big technology regions — edge routing, core routing, metro transport and long-haul transport,” Schaeffer told Light Reading. “In all of those functional areas we are on our third generation of equipment — we’ve done two complete forklift upgrades in 19 years — and, you know, I’m sure we’ll go to a fourth generation soon,” he added.
The KeyBanc Capital Markets 20th Annual Global Technology Leadership Forum was held at the Sonnenalp in Vail, CO. Dave Schaeffer will be presenting on Monday, August 13th at 10:00 a.m. MT. Investors and other interested parties may access the live webcast of the presentation by visiting the webcast page.
The Oppenheimer 21st Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, MA. Dave Schaeffer will be presenting on Wednesday, August 8th at 1:05 p.m. ET. Investors and other interested parties may access the live webcast of the presentation by visiting the webcast page.
The Cowen 4th Annual Communications Infrastructure Summit was held at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa in Boulder, CO. Dave Schaeffer will be presenting on Tuesday, August 7th at 3:30 p.m. MT. Investors and other interested parties may access the live webcast of the presentation by visiting the webcast page.