Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Mobile broadband Tax Plan May Be Scrapped

As previously mentioned the Government has been planning a broadband tax in order to raise money to help provide 'broadband for all' by 2012. The idea of a planned tax was first put forward in the Digital Britain report as money is needed to improve the broadband infrastructure including the provision of better quality mobile broadband services to rural areas.

The planned tax would be paid by all those with a broadband connection and would be around 50p per month. Some have criticized the plan as they do not feel that the public should be funding infrastructure improvements when it will be the broadband providers who will stand to profit in the long run. Others have said that the tax is unlikely to raise enough money to make a real difference.

Speaking to The Times the Communications Minister Stephen Timms said:

“If the question is, is the levy definitely going to be legislated for this side of the election, I can’t say for sure. Things that are contentious will have to be left until after the election”

The Conservatives have said that they are against the broadband tax so the outcome of the election could decide the future of the tax. The debate will no doubt continue in the meantime.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

3 announces 170 per cent rise in mobile broadband subscriptions

The telecoms provider Three has recently announced that it has seen a 170% increase in new mobile broadband subscriptions for the first half of 2009. The company currently has 3.8 million mobile broadband customers between their fixed monthly and pay as you go options.

Three's revenue has increased by 2% making them one of the only major broadband companies to record a profit this year. It seems that only the best mobile broadband offers will attract customers during a recession. The average spend of most of Three's customers has gone down but they have attracted new customers to their mobile broadband offering.

Monday, 17 August 2009

50 Million Mobile Broadband Users Predicted in the Middle East by 2013

Mobile phone ownership rates are high in the Middle East and rising fast, in the UAE for example the penetration rate is 198.6 percent meaning there are on average two handsets per person. The latest worldwide success story in the telecoms world is undoubtedly mobile broadband and predictably it is taking off fast in the Middle East.

It has recently been predicted by Informa Telecoms & Media that mobile broadband subscription levels in the region could reach 50 million by 2013. To put this is perspective this would be more people connecting via a mobile broadband dongle than currently connect by any method.

"In the MEA region, there is no doubt that mobile broadband adoption will grow faster than the global average. We have observed that in some of the regional markets, mobile broadband services are attracting the majority of net additions. Very soon, mobile broadband will become the preferred option to access the internet, and I would estimate that by 2015 the total number of subscribers will reach 50 million."

Zoran Vasiljev of Value Partners

The lack of infrastructure in the Middle East means that mobile broadband is seen as a good alternative to a fixed line connection. As the coverage levels and speeds increase data traffic is expected to raise by 1,587 percent. The flexibility and portability of the best mobile broadband packages make them a big hit with business customers in the east.

"Mobile broadband has been a true success story over the past two to three years, and mobile data and wireless subscriptions will overtake fixed line data subscriptions in both numbers of customers and in revenue. The ever-growing and unmet demand for access coupled with lack of fixed infrastructure investments (improvements) have contributed to this trend and I do not see this changing or reversing. Demand for mobile broadband will exceed that of fixed line services."

The report also suggests that mobile broadband subscriptions will overtake fixed line connections globally by the year 2011. 65% of connections are expected to be mobile by 2013.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Television Channels Try Free Content As Online TV Usage Increasing

Another day, another broadband study, this time about those who watch television programs online. For those of us who are old enough to remember dial-up watching full length TV programs online without any significant loading time still seems amazing. Now that speeds have increased around 15% of those 'with a reliable broadband connection' use the BBC's iPlayer service to watch programs online.

Television channels are starting to realize that they need to put their content online for free in order to reach viewers who are watching less television. They know that if they don't offer their content online somebody else will and they might as well be getting the ad revenue. Channel 4 have recently put a large percentage of their back catalog online via their 4OD service after failed experiments with an online pay-per-view service.

The stats from this study would seem to contradict those of a recent study by YouGov into online viewing. 53% of those asked by YouGov said that they would not watch more online TV even if they had a faster, more reliable connection. Whatever the stats say it seems to me that the idea of watching a program at a fixed time via a television will one day seem as old fashioned as dial-up.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Broadband Increasingly Popular in Rural Wales

Ofcom's recent survey showed that broadband take up has continued to increase despite the recession. Connections are up 10% from last year with around 68% of households being online and 1 in 10 having a mobile broadband contract. The stats for Wales show an even bigger increase in connections with 30% more households getting online within the past 12 months.

Those in rural Wales are slightly more keen with 60% having a broadband connection compared to 58% of city dwellers. This goes to show that broadband coverage is perhaps more wide ranging than previously thought. Ofcom's coverage maps would seem to suggest that most of rural Wales is not covered by a 3G signal from any of the main providers. Despite this 11% of the Welsh population are using mobile broadband including those outside of the main urban areas.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Orange Launches Mobile Broadband Contract for Under £5 Per Month

The mobile broadband industry suffered some negative press recently when Ofcom released it's data about average download speeds and coverage. The average speed achieved is actually considerably less that the 'up to' speeds normally advertised. This will come as no big surprise to most but Ofcom argued that the main providers should be more clear about the speeds customers are actually likely to experience.

Orange has attempted to get customers back on side by offering a new low cost pay monthly mobile broadband package. The contract is the first to be offered for under £5 per month and comes with a free dongle. Users are tied in for 18 months giving a total cost of around £90.

Other new contracts recently released offer pay as you go and even month-by-month mobile broadband contracts. There is now a much wider range of contracts on offer to the 9/10 homes which have yet to sign up for mobile broadband.

The downside to Orange's new contract is that is only offers a meager 500mb monthly download limit. This might be enough to check your emails and browse occasionally but it wouldn't last long for most users. The deal is only being offered to those who already have a fixed line broadband or mobile phone contract with Orange.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Mobile Broadband Provider 3 Unveils Mi-Fi

Mobile broadband provider 3 has announced plans to launch a new device which they hope will change the way we connect to the internet. The device which has been named the Mi-Fi acts like a mobile Wi-Fi modem allowing multiple users to connect anywhere.

Traditional Wi-Fi connection are only found in fixed locations such as coffee shops, train stations or at home. They allow users to connected wirelessly but require a wired connection to a telephone line for the incoming signal. The Mi-Fi will use mobile broadband technology to connect allowing users to set up ad-hoc networks anywhere they can receive a signal.

The device is aimed at both home and business users and will potentially be useful as a back-up connection when fixed line connections fail.

Consumers Choose Mobile Broadband Over Holidays and New Clothes.

Ofcom have released the results of their latest survey and once again it shows just how popular broadband had become. The results show that whilst the Recession has affected people's spending habits a broadband connection is still seen as a necessity rather than a luxury. Consumers were asked what they had cut back on in order to save money in these economically tough times and most were unwilling to give up their internet connection entirely.

47% of those who responded to the survey said that the would cut back on going out for dinner and 41% said they would cut back on holidays in order to save. A quarter said that they would spend less on new clothes and 19% planned to spend less on their mobile phone. In contrast only 10% planned to cut back on broadband.

Around 68% of households now have a broadband connection, up 10% from last year. Mobile Broadband is the fastest growing sector with around a quarter of a million new connections this May alone. This means that just over 1 in 10 households now have a mobile broadband contract which is amazing when you consider that the technology is only a few years old.

The perceived lack of money means that consumers are becoming increasingly interested in getting better deals particularly when it comes to long term pay as you go mobile broadband packages. This will no doubt benefit those with the best mobile broadband packages but those who's offers are less competitive stand to lose out.

Monday, 3 August 2009

New Broadband Test Gives Hope To Those In Rural Not-Spots.

A test network has brought Broadband to those living on the remote isle of Skye in Scotland. The network was created by The University of Edinburgh in conjunction with the Highlands and Islands project in order to show that a quick and reliable broadband connection is possible in remote rural areas. It was created using a low-cost ring of wireless phone relays connected to the current internet connection at the Sabhal Mor Ostaig college.

The Government has pledged to provide 'Broadband for all' by 2012 as part of the Digital Britain project. This includes rural areas where fixed line and mobile broadband are not currently available. Bringing broadband to these areas is vital and, it would seem, not as difficult as once thought.

"Access to the internet is fast becoming a basic utility in cities, but in rural areas it is often unavailable. People living remotely need web access to run businesses, use mail order, to access educational support, or to contact friends and family. Broadband speed is doubly important in remote areas where radio, TV and telephones may not work well. Our study shows how high-speed access can be made available to remote areas."
Prof Peter Buneman, Edinburgh University.

Many areas of Scotland are still without an internet connection in part due to lack of investment. Broadband providers are unlikely to recoup costs from sparsely populated areas so government funding is vital. This test shows that providing coverage to rural areas is possible but further research and funding will be needed if the government is to meet it's target by 2012.

1 In 4 People Don't Know Their Mobile Broadband Download Limit

One of the most important factors to be taken into consideration when choosing a Mobile Broadband contract is the monthly download limit. It can be difficult to estimate what your average monthly usage will be but it is important to get the right allowance. Those who use the internet to check emails and make occasional purchases are likely to be 'light' users. Those who download music, stream videos and use the internet daily will need a higher limit to avoid incurring costs.

Going over your download limit can result in surprising large charges which are more like fines than payment for extra usage. In fact O2 has been criticized for charging a whopping £200.70 per extra GB. To put it in context that would get you about 12 months of Mobile Broadband with most providers. The cost of providing extra bandwidth does not justify this fee which O2 have referred to as 'a deterrent'.

A recent survey has shown that around 25% of Mobile Broadband users don't know what their download limit is. This puts them at risk of incurring a charge for every extra MB used. Most providers inform their pay as you go or fixed contract users when they are nearing their limit although this shouldn't be relied upon. Those looking to sign up for Mobile broadband can estimate their monthly downloads using Three's Data Usage Calculator.