Reflections on My Trip to Kazakhstan

Posted: October 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Almaty

I recently had the honour of travelling to Almaty to lead the largest ever Finnish-Kazakhstani business delegation regarding trade and economic cooperation. Ninety representatives from 55 companies were involved in addition to Finland’s minister for European affairs and foreign trade, Alexander Stubb, and other high-ranking officials. Altogether, 13 business sectors were represented; the information and communications technology (ICT) team consisted of TeliaSonera, Nokia Siemens Networks and Comptel.

At the delegation, the key priorities outlined were attracting Finnish investments into the Kazakhstan economy and furthering innovation and new technologies between the two regions. What’s interesting is that, for the past ten years, Kazakhstan has been the third, fastest growing economy in the world after China and Qatar.

We also had the opportunity to meet with both communications service provider (CSP) KCell (a customer of Comptel’s) and Minister Stubb, which certainly proved to be a highlight of the trip. Our head of Europe East, Timo Koistinen, with regional sales director, Sergey Biryukov, accompanied me in a tournament, trying to meet all of the local service providers and naturally network with the other delegation attendees. Timo and Sergey succeeded in speaking to the other three CSPs in the region, KazakhTelecom, Tele2 and Beeline, first, and since they moved so fast, they also experienced the “magic touch”—the hand of the president of Kazakhstan on the top of the Bayterek Monument in Astana. My schedule was very tight with several meetings to ensure the whole trip went smoothly for the whole Business Team Finland.

In all, this type of event is an excellent way of promoting Finland abroad. I’m confident that many of us succeeded in building new relationships with the companies in the region while networking with our Finnish business colleagues.


Around the World

Posted: August 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

CNET…
South Korea hits 100% mark in wireless broadband

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that South Korea is the first country to surpass 100% penetration for wireless broadband, with 100.6 subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants. To reach this conclusion, OECD analysed the standard mobile phone high-speed wireless Internet and data-only wireless Internet subscriptions. Additionally, the agency looked at its own data, which was based on the rate of high-speed Internet access versus the South Korean population.

The OECD is comprised of 34 countries, and based on the organisation’s metrics, the average domestic penetration percentage for high-Internet mobile wireless is 54.3%. Of this, Sweden comes in a close second to South Korea at 98 wireless broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The United States rated 76.1 followed by Finland at 87.8 and Japan at 82.4. Of the additional OECM member countries, the lower end included Mexico, at 7.7, Turkey at 8.9 and Hungary at 12.9.

The Guardian…
Superfast broadband will be available in 90% of UK by 2015, says Ed Vaizey

Britain’s culture minister Ed Vaizey has said that 90% of the country will have access to extremely fast broadband by the year 2015. The government is working to install an infrastructure that would both ensure the service’s longevity and enable consumers who want to connect to a “really, really fast” network to upgrade, if they choose.

Vaizey stated that when it comes to the speed of the network, “… most people define [superfast broadband] around the 35 megabits a second (Mbps) speed but we have said that 100% of the country should have access to 2Mbps. To put that in context, for example, if you want to watch the iPlayer on your computer you would need about 1-1.5Mbps.” To support this endeavor, a total of £1.2 billion has been dedicated to the project, plus additional funding for pockets of cities where broadband connection is poor.

However, a recent report by the House of Lords warned that the government’s broadband policy should shift its focus from delivering speed, and instead emphasise greater access through a national broadband network. After a six-month investigation, the committee concluded Britain would need a better overall broadband network in order to keep up with future technologies. It has raised concerns about Britain’s network, and the possibility of expanding the gap between those communities with fast Internet access and those without.

FierceBroadbandWireless and GigaOM…
ABI: Mobile data traffic growth to plummet below 50% after 2015
Mobile data growth rate to decrease by 2015? Doubtful.

A recent ABI Research report predicts mobile data traffic will soon level off, with 2015 being the last year that volume will grow by more than 50% annually. Although the rate of growth will start slowing down, the global mobile data traffic will exceed a whopping 107 exabytes by 2017. The forecasted slower growth rate is attributed to technology like Wi-Fi offload and more intelligent smartphones. For instance, on-demand video content will be increasingly viewed on non-cellular networks, such as Netflix’s iOS application, which utilises Wi-Fi.

GigaOM, however, argues this outlook may be flawed. Journalist Kevin Tofel points out that Cisco has estimated only 22% of mobile traffic will be delivered over Wi-Fi in 2016 – leaving a lot more for networks to handle. Tofel also says that as smartphones become more affordable and networks improve their service, it’s likely that mobile users will increase, thus accumulating more mobile data traffic. What do you think? Will mobile data traffic taper off as ABI predicted or does GigaOM have it right?


The Mobile Phone Bill Is What?!

Posted: May 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Last summer, I went gold prospecting in Finland’s Lemmenjoki National Park, which is about 250 km (155 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. This was at the height of the economic crisis, and desperate times called for desperate measures!

There is a serious telecom point to my story—while taking a break from panning, I checked my phone and found that it was connected to a Norwegian mobile network, even though Norway was some 65 km (40 miles) away! In other words, I was standing in one European country and roaming in another!

Unintentional roaming is not an unusual experience in Europe, but it also occurs elsewhere. For example, it happens frequently in Niagara Falls, which sits on the U.S. and Canadian border.

This brings me neatly to the subject of roaming cost control. Whether roaming intentionally or not, using one’s mobile phone abroad is far more costly than when using it at home. We’ve all heard the horror stories (admittedly some probably apocryphal). My own favourite is the one about the French café owner living on the Belgian border; he was hit by a €46,000 (U.S. $ 57,000) mobile Internet bill after unintentionally roaming into the neighbouring country. (An alternative, less credible but often quoted version of that story involves a German woman who downloaded an episode of Lost while in France.)

Now, however, regulators are stepping into the debate. Most notably, the European Union (EU) will, in just a few short weeks (1 July), enforce a new regulation on communications service providers (CSPs) in order to prevent ‘bill shock’. The legislation dictates lower costs for data services while roaming, and that subscribers are adequately informed of the charges.

One example of an operator preparing for this change—Finnish CSP DNA Ltd has deployed Comptel Roaming Cost Control, which allows subscribers to monitor their balances in real time, and notify them of any necessary actions, such as a notification or suspension of the services when a specified cut-off limit is reached.

The new regulation isn’t only affecting European CSPs.  After conducting a recent survey and finding that one in six mobile users have experienced ‘bill shock’ in service plans, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is putting pressure on U.S. operators and now considering legislation similar to that of the EU. Australian and New Zealand regulators are also looking into to tackling mobile roaming ‘bill shock’.

Excessive roaming bills have caused negative attention and bad publicity—and ultimately put customers off from using services that many operators are betting their futures on. Roaming cost control allows CSPs to not only comply with legislative demands, but also keep their customers satisfied and encourage data usage. As DNA points out, it is also an opportunity for CSPs to deploy real-time policy management and charging solutions that will help differentiate them from competitors by offering personalized services and price plans. This is critical for CSPs looking to fully monetize on mobile broadband services.

For the record, I did not find any gold. But thankfully, I was not hit by a big mobile phone bill either.