Wednesday, July 07, 2010

BPN 1424 Netherlands - Telecoms, IP Networks and Digital Media

BuddeComm’s annual publication, Netherlands - Telecoms, IP Networks and Digital Media, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media sectors in this leading market.

The Dutch telecom market has one of the most developed infrastructures in Europe, providing a solid foundation for emerging bundled services offerings. The vast majority of the population uses the Internet, while broadband uptake – among the highest in the world – has benefited from government support as well as competing cable and DSL platforms. FttH networks are also a significant feature of the country’s broadband landscape, with an effective collaboration between national, regional and municipal governments working with industry and academic institutions to ensure that the country maintains its broadband lead into the fibre age. Although the majority of fibred homes lie in a small number of major towns, the sector has been stimulated by consumer demand for fast Internet connections as well as the recognition that such infrastructure is paramount for socio-economic prosperity and development. As such, dozens of smaller networks as expected to be developed by the end of the decade.

The government has hitherto maintained that the market is primarily responsible for the development of broadband infrastructure, though it has focussed on stimulating competition and new service development as well as on public/private partnerships. While the regulator favours an infrastructure facilities-based regulatory regime between telcos and cablecos to stimulate competition, this will need adjustment in relation to the development of FttH infrastructure since there remains insufficient economic viability for multiple fibre networks outside the major cities. As such FttH penetration has not progressed beyond about 15%, since most consumers do not perceive the extra value of higher-cost fibre against the existing excellent cable and upgraded DSL offerings. Stimulating fibre infrastructure is thus a continuing concern as the country moves forward.

Mobile penetration stood at about 130% in early 2010. The success in this sector in coming years will largely rest on strong competition among the network operators and the range of MVNOs which has kept consumer prices low. Operators have shifted their focus on migrating prepaid subscribers to contract plans, and while SMS is the most popular mobile data service the main players have invested in software upgrades to stimulate high-end data services.

The auction of 2.6GHz spectrum licences in mid-2010 saw the introduction of a new player in the mobile market – Ziggo 4 – which will allow the main cablecos Ziggo and UPC to deploy and run telecom and broadcast networks and so complement their existing bundled services (based on fixed-line access) with mobile voice and broadband offers. This is a welcome re-entry for the cablecos in the Dutch mobile market, for both of them had operated MVNO services until scrapping them due to low customer take-up.

Netherlands – key telecom parameters – 2009, 2011

Sector 2009/2011 (e)
Fixed broadband subscribers (million) 6.01/6.84
Fixed broadband penetration rate 37%/47%
Subscribers to telecoms services
Fixed-line telephony (million) 7.27/7.55
SIM cards in service (million) 20.5/23.8
SIM penetration (population) 123%/133%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Market highlights

- The excellent cross-platform infrastructure in the Netherlands has helped to propel the country to the top of the international league tables for broadband penetration. KPN’s DSL network reaches 99% of all homes while cable networks reach 95%. DSL commands about 56% of broadband connections and cable 40%. The DSL base is set to fall in coming years, as the numerous municipal fibre networks increase their geographic reach, and lead to increased customer churn.
- Fibre infrastructure is the country’s strong card, acting as a foundation and stimulus for the country’s budding transactor developments and serving as a model for strategies in other European countries. The regulator was among the first in the world to institute an effective wholesale regime, guaranteeing other telcos with non-discriminatory access to the incumbent’s network at fixed rates. Similar regulation which opened the cable networks to access to third parties will further stimulate competition in coming years.
- Mobile data revenues are comparatively low in the Netherlands, representing only about 5% of total mobile revenue. About half the subscriber bases spend next to nothing on mobile data services, usually because of the cost involved. To address this reticence among consumers mobile operators have introduced flat-fee offers. Stimulated by the plethora of paid applications made available through competing mobile operating platforms, operators expect mobile data to breach 30% of total revenue by the end of 2011.
- Mobile TV was launched in late 2009 by MTVNL, competing directly with KPN’s Mobiel TV service which uses the DVB-H standard. The Netherlands remains one of the few countries where DMB and DVB-H compete with each other. National coverage should be reached by 2015. Although the uptake has been slow, events such as the football world cup and the 2012 Olympics may stimulate mobile TV use and push it as a mainstream rather than frivolous activity.

More info:

BPN 1424

Friday, July 02, 2010

BPN 1423 Our company EMR celebrates 20 years of existence

Today it is 20 years ago that Electronic Media Reporting, often shortened to EMR, was registered in the Chambers of Commerce database as a company. Having worked for publishing companies like VNU and Kluwer, I had joined a Dutch software group MID, a spin-off of the VNU computer department. This company was going to be a leader in publishing software, introducing the make-up language SGML (Standard Generalised Mark-up language), a precursor of HTML and producing CD-ROMs with textual databases. However the publishing arm of the company failed and in 1990 people were asked to leave the company. So was I.

As I had been building up a trade in writing articles and had been a consultant in electronic publishing, I saw opportunities to start a business with my partner. So I had to find a name and make a profile. Eventually the name Electronic Media Reporting was selected, indicating the core business of the company: reporting about electronic media in consultancy and in publications (these days electronic media reporting is used in the US in order to indicate the process of reporting data electronically). A profile was written, but it projected basically the most ideal business. However over the years the business grew into four areas:
a. strategic advice: positioning content firms, development of content strategies;
b. studies: market studies, forecasting and scenario studies;
c. evaluation and auditing: evaluating proposals and auditing projects on maters of technology, organisation and finances;
d. publicity: editing newsletters, setting up conferences, writing books, blogs.

Over the years the services of Electronic Media Reporting have been requested by:
- The Dutch magazine publisher Broadcast Press Hilversum to be editor in chief of a biweekly newsletter on new media;
- Dutch the news agency ANP and a Dutch consortium of newspaper publishers to advise on the business plan for a selective news service, VNU and Wolters Kluwer for developing CD-ROMs and training for Internet;
- GOC for marketing research into the multimedia industry in The Netherlands;
- TNO to assist in the European Commission’s Midas program;
- The Dutch newspaper publisher Wegener to set up digital archives;
- The Dutch branch organisation of graphical entrepreneurs KVGO to assist with a strategic study;
- Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs for a report on the online business;
- European Commission for a monitor report on CD-media and several project reviews;
- Partner in several EU sponsored projects such as Docdel, INFORM, ACTEN, X-Melina, INYOP and lately Scienar.
- Secretariat for the European Academy of Digital Media (EADiM).

Presently also activities in the Middle East in the field of e-government are undertaken, e.g. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

The company has had its ups and downs. But it has three networks; one in the Netherlands, one in Europe and one worldwide. Through these networks the company has been in touch and co-operating with very interesting people over the years.
With the blog Buziaulane, the company has been reporting on electronic media for over 5 years now. Lately the blog has been underused, as a book is being produced about the pre-internet period in the polder, electronic media in The Netherlands from 1967-1997. The book is planned for publication in October 2010. After the publication the reporting on electronic media on the blog will be taken up again. Besides Buziaulane there are specialised blogs:
- Of ebooks and digital papers;
-Weblog museum;
- Fiber to my Almere home (FTMH);
- World Summit Award (WSA).

As for today, we will raise a glass with bubbles and start working on the next 5 years.