Friday, September 29, 2006

Neutrality or Net-reality

The debate is already burning in the internet world. Telecom operators are already asking to charge more to customer’s whose use of their network is intensive. Today peer to peer file sharing, content downloads, etc. are loading the networks with high traffic volumes. This issue is known as Net Neutrality.

So operators claim that companies such us Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, etc. are making business from internet use that is allowed by their networks. Actually it’s clear that the operators make networks and connectivity possible, but they already get paid for it. And contents, which give the value to the networks, are provided by groups like the mentioned ones before. What is the best solution to this dilemma?

Also, this can be related to the idea of free content and services within internet. We’re used to have free email, free instant messaging, free voice calls over IP, etc. This is making people getting used to no cost as well as is one of the keys of the success of the internet. How can business get done then, will users become keener to pay for high value web services?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Do you VoIP?

It's already becoming something even 'old' to talk about it, but VoIP is involving some remarkable changes in communications. Using programmes such as Skype, users are getting used to make phone calls for free. VoIP is one of the causes that fixed telephone call rates are decreasing even to very low limits, so they're now focusing on broadband services like ADSL. But how much traffic do operators lose due to these new VoIP applications? Or maybe there's more traffic because they're for free... We have to say that VoIP is especially helpful for long distance calls.

Then we get to the point of measuring the value of money and how much are users ready to pay for telecom services, or better: how much are they used to pay? For instance, we're 'used' to have email for free since it was born, and that's one of the reasons for its success. But for example SMS are not for free... So telecoms are facing the fight for revenue. If users are generating a monthly ARPU, what can you offer them so they become convinced that they can pay more for high value added services? Which is the limit for this ARPU? Users tend to switch to cheaper applications, and that's normal, but how will this affect the IT business, the revenues and the expense in innovation?

Returning to voice, the combination of VoIP with WiFi is what threatens the current model. Having voice with mobility is what turned to be the success of technologies such as GSM. But full mobility is not easy to achieve, that's why current voice operators and their massive network deployments have still much to say. What can arise from this competition of technologies is new business models such as the flat rate for mobile calls as it is today for fixed communications.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Is roaming cheaper ?!

The EU Commission has proposed to cut the roaming tariffs that mobile operators were charging to their customers when traveling within the EU territory. This has created controversial reactions from different sides. Logically, mobile operators are showing their opposition to this initiative as it reduces significantly this type of income. National regulators have also taken part in the issue claiming their involvement in these cases. For example the Spanish regulator was in favour of the operators arguing that they have to invest to give coverage to the increase of customers in tourist zones of the country, that become very populated specially in summer.

So by one side the EU Commission wanted to reduce to the minimum these roaming rates, to ideally being similar to the ones for calls inside the country of origin. In the opposite side, groups as the GSM Association defended the operators' view and stated that these measures were unfair.

Certainly, the roaming charges that the European users 'suffer' are quite high, multiplying by several times the ones that they have at their home countries. Which is your case for the roaming tariffs in other parts of the world?

Actually, if we think that in Europe GSM standard is widely used and it uses a centralized user locating system with VLR and HLR registers, why should it be so difficult to route these calls (apart from traffic interconnection between the two operators involved)? What do you think?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Share your bandwidth and roam the world!

Wireless is becoming the preferred option for today's telecommunications. Although their deployment and operation are not an easy task, its advantages are huge: communication anywhere and anytime, and each time with better speed and reliability.

One of the interesting projects that is using WiFi as base technology is the Spanish-based start-up FON. Their aim is to create a wireless network from the personal WiFi connections that users have at their homes, offices, etc., mainly aiming at residential users. They have two main types of users, basically speaking: those who share part of their bandwidth in exchange of being able to use other subscriber's hot spot, and those who share their bandwidth in exchange of a charge (part of it for the company itself). So the more subscribers that join FON, the more gain for them, as they can get braodband wireless in more sites. For more information please check the FON blog link in the section in the right. The idea is remarkable and seems to be likely to be expanded more each time. Here you have some reflections about it, what do you think?:

- The mobility is limited because the coverage is not widely spread
- By now there's no possibility to roam between access points as each one is independent and maybe from different service providers
- The core network is owned by the service providers and they won't respond on any issues and queries from users
- Quality of service is not guaranteed
- Security can be a vulnerable point

Please share with us if you know of any other innitiatives around the world similar to FON, or let us know your comments regarding any of the ideas displayed here!
Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.