Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Power server

A Platinum Club mega-uber value reader points me to this interesting study published last week by Dr. Jonathan G. Koomey of Stanford University, which attempts to assess the power consumption of the servers which power our beloved internet. Power consumption by servers worldwide doubled between 2000 and 2005, and the total cost for the world in 2005 (including cooling and associated infrastructure costs) was $7.2bn. Not covered by the findings is the cost of energy consumed by delivering connectivity to end-users, which must certainly be even more staggering. The report notes that power consumption by servers and associated infrastructure in the US in 2005 accounted for 1.2% of the national total, an amount comparable to the total installed base of color television sets in the nation. Also of interest to me is the fact that the cut-off point for the data, 2005, really predates the net video/virtual world explosion we're seeing now, so I would love to know how the current situation differs from the growth trend observed here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Four cool things

Lately I've been a bad blogger, but with good reason. All will be revealed. Anyway, here are four things which came my way today, all of which caught my interest:

  • NeufCegetel ups the French FTTH stakes with the acquisition of fiber specialist Erenis. With aspirations of achieving 15k subs by March of this year, Erenis is clearly not the kind of acquisition which brings serious scale. But that's not the point - I think it's about tapping into the limited pool of people with true expertise in fiber deployments, as Iliad did with its October acquisition of Citefibre. No transaction value is stated, but I have to assume this deal makes a nice return for Iris Capital, et al, who funded Erenis just over a year ago.
  • My friend and Palladium Club mega-uber value reader, Lee Dryburgh, spent several days last week locked away in ITU meetings, which seem to have produced, somewhat remarkably, some hopeful-looking ideas on how telcos can position themselves as vital links in the chain of identity and reputation management. Check out the slides here. Will those of us who have spent the past four years (or more) chanting the mantra "telcos just don't get it" find reason for a re-examination in late 2007? As always, I'm skeptical, but nonetheless this is something to follow with interest.
  • A Pollonium Club mega-uber value reader points me to an apparently popular but still little-known corner of UK geekdom - the free cable TV via Linux phenomenon. Seems that a growing number of people are buying Nokia dbox2 set-top boxes from Germany with a Linux hack which allows them to do all sorts of cool things, including decrypting premium cable channels for free. Watch those RGUs, Virgin Media!
  • This interesting survey from and goo Research covers awareness in Japan of Second Life. As usual, the research covers a sample group of 1,073 internet users ranging in age from 10 to 60, and discovers that nearly 19% of them have at least heard of Second Life. I agree with the authors' conclusion that, for a US-based virtual world with no Japanese language support at this point, this is quite an impressive number. Only 1.1% claim to have actually used it, however, but given the tendency for the Japanese to come up with homespun adaptations of ideas from abroad, I wonder whether this low uptake points to an opportunity for a domestic rival?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Best guesses

Hello, mega-uber value readers. Apologies for my recent silence. I have been busy and very distracted with some major news, which I will share with you in coming days. Meanwhile, my cyberfreund Keith has been doing such a wonderfully irreverent job of covering the quarter's results, M&A foibles, and other oddities, that I am nearly speechless.

Nearly, that is. I am inspired by Telenor's results today to break my recent silence. How extraordinary it is that the best performing company in the European sector over the past two years finds itself in the position of having to publish estimates of the results of its own largest source of EBITDA, due to a court injunction over releasing financial information resulting from legal action by a partner (Storm LLC, which holds 43.5% of Kyivstar and is controlled by Altimo). Up to now the ongoing disagreements have been an area of concern, but without any visible impact on the share price. Altimo seems to have demonstrated powerfully today that throwing stumbling blocks in Telenor's way to cause uncertainty and a lack of visibility is enough to do serious damage after all - in this case a 9% decline in market cap.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hot off the presses

The good and clever people over at Stratix Consulting in the Netherlands have put together an exhaustive survey of the current state of FTTH in the Dutch market, which you should download and read now. I will too, once I finish breakfast.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

FTTx in suburban London

At last, a Pollonium Class mega-uber value reader pings me with news which we have been anxiously awaiting/expecting: an apparently open network FTTH deployment to a nearly 10k unit new-build development in Kent. If anyone out there has any additional info, please get in touch.

How many zeros are in a Googlewatt?

How fitting that, being here at the FTTH Council Europe event in Barcelona, where all 1,200 delegates are debating how much bandwidth is enough and how fast, while simultaneously jockying for position near scarce power sockets for a quick recharge of depleted laptops, today my friend and Palladium Club mega-uber value reader Vincent Dekker of Trouw in the Netherlands, breaks the story of a massive new data center being built in the northern Dutch backwater of Eemshaven. Though no official confirmation is forthcoming, the word is that this new data center's primary tenant will be Google, with space for 100k servers, and conveniently located near a 2.4Gigawatt power plant, a windfarm, a "green" power cable making landfall from Norway, and a harbor which will in future house an LNG terminal. Do we see a pattern here? What's also interesting is that Google is reportedly the largest occupant of the current largest server farm in the Netherlands, Zernike, just up the road in Groningen. Looks like when planning for its future bandwidth and power demands, Google is a believer in the immortal words of Jerry Lee Lewis, "Enough is good, more is better, and too much is just about right." Except that "too much" continues to prove very difficult to gauge.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

EuroTelcoblog Exclusive Offer of the Day!

Step right up! The kind people at Fon have offered EuroTelcoblog readers in the UK (sorry, only UK readers need apply) an exclusive claim to a free Fonera while supplies last. Head here to claim yours. Be quick and good luck. (Disclaimer - I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with Fon. I simply like what they are doing, and they are keen to engage with bloggers. I am honored to be chosen.)

UPDATE on 7 February: The folks at Fon inform me that the initial response to their offer is over four times what they expected. I always knew my mega-uber value readers were value-conscious!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Big Fon

I'm jetting off to Barcelona early tomorrow to hang out with the fiber geeks for a couple of days, at the FTTH Council Europe's annual trench-dig. Fun though that may sound, I hear that the real Fun will be taking place to the southwest, in Madrid, where Fon will be celebrating its first birthday. Remember that this feisty contender requires from the end user a hardware, not just a software, commitment, so don't expect anything like Skype user numbers after year one. But then consider that we're talking about viral access here, and an opportunity for some mainstream carriers to assert themselves virtually in the wireless domain. We've already seen it with NeufCegetel in France and a host of other, smaller players. What might lie ahead in 2007? Ignore at your peril...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Will steal for AdSense revenue

A friend pointed out a blog called voipniche, which has some interesting posts in it. Like this one, this one, and even this one. If they look familiar to you, it's because they have lifted them from this blog, verbatim, with no attribution.

Let's see if this is an automated process, or if there is a real live thief behind this AdSense scam.


I'll be curious to see if this post turns up there later today.

UPDATE: Less than two minutes later, the post indeed appeared on the site. Looks like voipniche is a direct RSS-reader-to-splog bot of some sort. What a wickedly ingenious development! I used Centralops to look up the domain. Seems to be registered to someone in Mumbai, but the traceroute ends in Brazil. Who knows, who cares? Enjoy that AdSense money, whoever you are!

Friday fun

A mega-uber value friend alerts me to this very clever viral marketing tool based on Carphone Warehouse's TV ad campaign. Here's my first effort, entitled "Come back, Arun." I don't know how much this will do to change people's perceptions of the broadband product after the beating it has taken in the UK press, but at least perhaps it will give people a way to amuse themselves while they wait on the customer help lines.

Baltic tigers

A Palladium Club mega-uber value reader points me to the latest broadband scorecard from ECTA. I used to get ECTA press releases, but it seems that they don't love me anymore... Anyway, my friend out there in cyberspace points out that the most fibered country in Europe is Estonia (17% of total connections in Q3 2006). After second place Sweden (14%) comes, that's right, Lithuania (6.2%), and Latvia is giving Italy a run for its money at 2.2%. In this Eurovision bandwidth contest, there's an awful lot of big countries scoring nul points.

Friday catch-up

This week seems to have gone in a flash, what with the Vodafone/Sky double-header on Wednesday and France Telecom yesterday. Still playing catch-up today, but here are a few things which caught my eye.

Keith has a nice write-up of the Vodafone results, which he refers to accurately as the quarterly game. I can't think of many other companies where the management consistently start the presentation by repeating that they think the KPIs they are about to report are of diminishing relevance in gauging performance. In that case, why not report quarterly results with a full set of financial statements? Surely that's preferable to the current system.

As for Sky and FT, there were a lot of interesting facets to their respective results, but the thing that really struck me most was the sharp contrast between the two broadband deployments. Sky has clearly ramped up the rate at which it is connecting new customers quite dramatically (from c.11k per week in the December quarter, to over 16k per week in January), 87% of its subs are unbundled, and 70% of that group has opted for a product carrying an additional charge (i.e., a higher bandwidth package). Orange UK, on the other hand, added only 34k broadband subs in Q4 (a connection per week rate of less than one quarter that of Sky's), and only 16% of its subscriber base is unbundled. On top of that, the company only added 50k net contract mobile subs, so clearly whatever the appeal of free broadband for contract spend of over GBP30 per month, it is not really having any visible impact. Keep in mind that Sky is concentrating on its existing base for the most part (only 18% of new broadband customers were completely new to Sky), while Orange's addressable market is arguably the entire contract mobile subscriber base of the UK, yet it seems to be making very feeble headway.

One other thing about the Sky presentation which I found impressive was James Murdoch's comments on positioning the brand in terms of social and environmental responsibility. I'm sure a lot of people would have some reservations about accepting this at face value given the source, but leaving Murdochophobia aside and taking a neutral view, it's a brilliant line to take. Committing to this is not only the right thing to do ethically, but it's the right thing for consumers to see you doing. Brands which don't position themselves adequately here may indeed risk creating a gulf between themselves and the consumers they aim to engage. As with so many other things, I think Sky is ahead of the curve here, and many others will follow in its wake.

Now back to my bandwidth obsessions.

The fact that 70% of Sky's unbundled customers take a higher bandwidth product, for which they have to pay an additional charge, seems to underline again that demand is indeed on the rise. I think James Murdoch must have used the word "bandwidth" at least 50 times in the course of the presentation. I wonder if he had seen the news that, only a couple of weeks after the HD DVD bombshell, Blu-Ray has also fallen victim to the tireless efforts of cryptogeeks, the first file weighing in at a healthy 22GB. What a bruiser.

A friend and Prix D'Or mega-uber value reader also drew my attention for the first time to some stats tracked by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which show bandwidth consumption among business and residential internet users. Notice that between March 2005 and June 2006, the number of broadband households nearly doubled, but data consumed nearly trebled. The next update is due on 16 February, and should be interesting.