Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Every time it rains, it rains...

Eurodata from heaven... A super-prime polyglot Palladium Class mega-uber value reader thankfully responded to my plea for pan-European data on subscriber satisfaction/network performance data, with some interesting input on France and Germany.

France: Grenouille has some very detailed and assiduously-maintained measurements and rankings, including some fairly damning assessments of Numericable's 100 Mbps offering. What the hell, never mind the leverage, it's Pierre's problem now...

Germany: An interesting and comprehensive ranking of operators here. I'm intrigued to see cable operators, which have historically suffered from a hugely asymmetrical funding and capex legacy, scoring on a par with, or slightly better than, many of their DSL competitors (on a 1-to-5 ranking). In particular, the results turn up as: Kabel BW (cable) 4.1, ish (cable) 3.6, Primacom (cable) 3.4, Kabel Deustchland (cable) 3.3, Unitymedia (cable) 3.1, iesy (cable) 2.9. In contrast, many of the DSL players rate below 3.0 (i.e., average), including DT's own offerings. Not hugely impressive. I am particularly depressed to see Versatel at a ranking of 2.2, given that many regard this company as the jewel in the crown in any German infrastructure roll-up scenario - the company has unparalleled infrastructure assets in its four major regional markets, but has significant issues on the retail front, an unwelcome challenge for Apax, who are presumably looking for a get-out-of-jail card sooner rather than later.

Speaking of which, am I alone in assuming that there must eventually emerge an unholy alliance between the alternative DSL players and the Level 3/4 cable players in Germany to create an alternative to DT's monolithic infrastructure "vision"? Perhaps I'm a conspiracy theorist, but I find it really interesting that Kai-Uwe Ricke, former CEO of DT (whose DNA is very definitely magenta), left the company under pressure (God knows the CEO role at DT is something you would only wish on your worst enemy), and ran straight into the arms of private equity (as an advisor to BC Partners, majority shareholder in Unitymedia, and as an advisor to KabelBW) and also earlier this year joined the advisory board of United Internet, DT's major irritant. Dr. Ricke is nobody's fool, and I'm sure he doesn't hang out with German cable and altnet companies just for the comic value. Something is going to happen here, mark my words.

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