Archive for January, 2006

Broadband Screwover

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet has an article on how broadband operators screw their customers by not delivering the rated speed.

Like tens of thousands of others, Claud Zacharias signed up with Telia for their fastest broadband, 24 Mbps.
-The service I had before was too slow, especially when the children and I were online at the same time, he says.
When he tested his new broadband connection he only got 11 Mbps at the most. He called up his broadband provider Telia, who responded that that’s as fast as he can get. And that his service agreement only guarantees up to 24 Mbps.
-I was mad. Not getting even half the speed you’re paying for is just fraud.

You can test your speed of your Internet connection with the Internet Speed test, and see if your ISP deliver what you pay for.

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Google updating Toolbar PageRank soon - What will your new PageRank be?

The PageRank value in the Google Toolbar is just a snapshot of what was in the Google index when they decided to export it from their index into the Toolbar. This export process happens roughly every three months, and the last update was made 19th October 2005. So another update should be just around the corner.

You may be curious if your PR will change, and hopefully for the better. A new tool that shows you the actual, current PageRank value used by the Google index is available, the Live PageRank calculator. Check it out.

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High-end consumers have broadband doubts

High-income households are likely to adopt “triple play” and converged services, but many have reservations about the need for broadband, according to a new study.

The study was carried out by BMI-TechKnowledge to examine telecoms usage and buying behaviour of high-income residential customers.
It looked at around 360 respondents with a household income of more than R8 000 per month. BMI-T analyst Tertia Smit, giving ITWeb a preview of the full report last week, said mobile phones account for half the telecoms budget among high-end residential users.

In releasing the full report this week, BMI-T said close to 85% of all the high-end households have DVD players, while 69% have a pay-TV subscription. These households have an average of two PCs and three active cellphone numbers - a substantial proportion of which are on postpaid contracts, said BMI-T.

The Internet accounts for only 12% of the average high-income household telecoms spending, says analyst Tertia Smit.

About one-quarter of respondents were aware they could have a PC bundled with an Internet subscription. However, only a small portion had such a subscription although the interest in such a service was high.

High-end households make up the biggest part of the market for pay-TV services. In future, this type of entertainment functionality could be combined with that of telecommunications in the so-called “triple-play” (phone, broadband Internet and subscription TV) service.

Smit said over a third of respondents without a broadband Internet service said they “had no need of one”. Another third expressed reservations about the costs associated with fast Internet access, and this is affecting broadband adoption.

However, Smit said: “South Africans are not generally known for having a strong ‘consumerism culture’, and this may rub off onto their technology services purchasing behaviour.”

The satisfaction level was above 88% for all aspects of Internet service providers’ service offerings confirming Telkom’s assertion that customers are generally happy with their services, the report said. At the same time, the survey revealed that Telkom dominated the growth in the Internet space in the last year.

Smit noted that while the high cost of broadband Internet services garnered the most media attention last year, the reality is that the Internet accounts for only 12% of the average high-income household telecoms spending. A much larger amount is consumed by cellphone bills and voice calls.

Despite the amount of advertising surrounding technologies like GPRS and 3G, awareness and adoption of these and other cellular technologies are still in an “early adopter” phase - albeit growing rapidly. Around half of the respondents replied they did not intend to use these services, while most of the remainder had not yet given it any serious consideration.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) adoption is still low, in respect of regular usage, although 14% have already tried it at least once. Most who have tried VOIP did so using Skype or another similar application - with most calls costing next to nothing. Over time, accelerating the rate of penetration of residential broadband could also help to unlock the possibilities of VOIP services in this customer base, which BMI-T believes will remain relatively low for the foreseeable future.

From MyBroadband.

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AOL steps up broadband firepower

Internet giant AOL has become the latest firm to announce plans to install its own kit in telephone exchanges around Britain.
The company’s £50m move into local loop unbundling will increase its firepower in the battle to win broadband customers and enter the race to deliver television and video through people’s phonelines.

AOL has said it will invest £50m in the first half of the year into putting its equipment in 300 exchanges in major British cities and towns - and the decision will allow it to cut prices and improve service by no longer having to rent equipment from BT.

High speed broadband services are seen as the key to the next stage in home media, with companies competing to deliver packages incorporating internet access, telephone and television.

Increased competition in the market is expected to bring prices down substantially, as consumers faced with more choice put pressure on companies to deliver top quality service at low costs.

The installation will allow AOL to offer superfast broadband at speeds of up to 8Mbps and go head-to-head with BT, which owns the exchanges, and high-speed players Bulldog and Wanadoo which have embarked on their own unbundling programmes.

AOL chief executive Karen Thompson said: ‘The opportunity to compete on a level playing field with the incumbent will encourage substantial investment in digital services and content in the UK to catch up with leading European countries, where unbundling is already delivering higher value services to consumers.

‘We look forward to working with Ofcom and BT to bring these benefits to British homes.’

If the first stages in its unbundling are successful, AOL will invest a further £70m to reach its target of 1,000 unbundled exchanges. But the firm said it would not cover 100% of Britain, just exchanges where it was economically viable.

AOL’s move comes in the wake of Tesco’s announcement last week that it would start offering a broadband internet telephone service giving users cut-price calls. Landline calls in the UK and 20 foreign destinations including America, Canada and Australia will cost 2p a minute. Calls to UK mobiles will be charged at 10p a minute.

Tesco became the biggest consumer name to launch the technology known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), BT and Dixons already offer a VoIP package and globally the best known provider is American company, Skype – bought last year by eBay.

From ThisIsMoney.

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FCC to Auction In-flight Broadband Airwaves

Airline passengers will soon be able to surf the Net under an agreement announced this week by the FCC. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will, beginning May 10, auction airwaves now used by in-flight phones.

These phones are owned are operated by Verizon Communications and operate wirelessly on low frequencies, so as to not interfere with airplane operations. Verizon owns the phones and will certainly be involved. The phones are not used now because of what many passengers to be the prohibitive cost of use. A Verizon victory would give the company a boost in what is now widely viewed as a losing venture.

“We’re certainly planning on being successful at the auction,” Bill Pallone, president of Verizon Airfone, said recently.

But Verizon is not the only telecommunications company aiming to enter what would be a new market. Cingular Wireless, the largest American wireless carrier, will not confirm or deny whether it would bid on such a service; industry experts think that a Cingular bid is inevitable. The FCC has used the magic word broadband to describe the Internet service that will be auctioned off, and industry experts think that that will encourage other carriers to enter the fray when auctioning gets under way.

The FCC has proposed setting US$5 million as the minimum price for carriers wishing to join the auction.

Such in-flight service is already available on Boeing flights run by Lufthansa of Germany and El Al of Israel. That service ranges from US$9.95 an hour to US$26.95 for a 24-hour pass.


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