Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Daiwa Eurotelcoblog No. 5: VoIP ruminations/GPRS black hole in London (original email blast 12:45 PM Wednesday, 20th August , 2003)

VoIP ruminations

Despite the fact that Swisscom management this morning reported seeing no effect from VoIP in the residential space, and said they did not expect to see any noticeable impact for the next two years, we noted with interest that they did (for the first time that we've ever seen) explicitly include e-mail substitution in their calculation for volume decline in the fixed network. Last night brought reports from the Washington Post (later reported elsewhere) that the FCC is to lift current restrictions on AOL offering real time video chat in the US market. We think this is significant, particularly if it allows a broader, more aggressive global push by AOL of its new IM applications. In the UK, we were particularly intrigued by an article in the Telegraph a couple of weeks back, which suggested that Dixons is to drop its long-standing agreement with Freeserve in favour of AOL, which would presumably make the AOL 9.0 Optimized software the de facto default for all new PCs sold through the Dixons channels. A similar push in Europe should provide signficant traction, and we continue to monitor the issue closely.

GPRS black hole in London

This author and another member of our Daiwa telecoms mega-team sit very near the window on the first floor of an office building located just a stone's throw from the Bank of England. We are both Orange GPRS subscribers, and have, to our annoyance, noticed that we have been unable to get a GPRS signal for the past two weeks - at various times of night and day. A member of our IT department, also an Orange GPRS user, told us this morning that he was unable to get a GPRS signal as far west as Aldwych only yesterday, and this author was unable to get a signal north of the Elephant and Castle roundabout last night. Our testing this morning also failed to get a signal as far east as Leadenhall Market. Apologies for those who do not know London geography, but suffice to say that we're talking about an area roughly 1.5 to 2km square, in one of the busiest parts of London (full of early adopters and business users), where there is apparently no GPRS coverage. Multiple attempts to call the Orange network quality reporting line this morning gave rise to comical scenes as our team member pressed his face against the window and shouted in an attempt to be heard - to no avail. This is a real shame, as this author has a number of revenue-generating MMS messages lying dormant in his drafts folder waiting for the proper conditions.

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