China Telecom takes center stage today, but there is a lot of activity around the broadband world. A number of operators -- including Comcast Business, Armstrong and FiberLight -- signed on the dotted line with various vendors, while Virgin Media and TalkTalk infrastructure company FibreNation come up with different strategies for the British market. In the US, Oregon lawmakers rethink a four-year-old law, while an influential Tennessee executive decides to retire after changing one city and many lives.
China Telecom signed a $5.4 billion agreement with Udenna Corp. to launch Mislatel Telecom, a third provider of fixed access and mobile telco services in the Philippines. The Philippine government wanted a third operator to compete with the country's two existing Tier 1 providers: PLDT's Smart Communications and Globe Telecom. Funds will go to Mislatel's deployment of 4G and 5G -- broadband infrastructure, towers, hiring and other capex -- over the next five years. Mislatel pledged to support "superfast broadband speeds" of at least 27 Mbps to 37.03% of the population in its first year; ultimately delivering 55 Mbps to 84.01% of the country's population by 2024. If the provider fails to meet any goals, it could lose a $266 million performance bond which it paid to the Philippines' government when founded. Services are scheduled to first deploy in 2021.
This is only one of many aggressive moves by China Telecom, writes Robert Clark in Light Reading today. "Hyper-aggressive price competition" has driven smaller, independent broadband operators -- such as Aipu (in 2018) and Great Wall Broadband (which just announced it's leaving the market) -- out of China. Backed by the Chinese government and its Ministry for Industry and Information Technology's (MIIT) mantra of faster broadband at lower prices, the three state-owned providers have plenty of advantages -- think funding, data and other resources. Even though China Mobile was barred from fixed-access broadband until 2014, in the last five years it's grown to become the top provider of broadband with 163.5 million subs. China Telecom had 147 million and China Unicom had 81.9 million at the end of February 2019. Only 12 months prior, China Telecom had 135.5 million, China Mobile served 119.8 million and Unicom had 77.5 million," Clark wrote. China Mobile is big on bundling, even giving away broadband last year to propel subscriber growth. (See China Mobile Upends Broadband Market.)
Plug In While Unplugged
While vacationing at Choice Hotel properties such as the Cibola Vista Resort and Spa in Peoria, Ariz., guests can choose to stay connected via Comcast Business's high-speed infrastructure under a four-year deal recently signed between the two organizations. (Photo Source: Choice Hotels)
In another deal, Comcast Business won a three-year contract with Choice Hotels to offer franchise operators nationwide its Hospitality Solutions. This expands upon a current relationship to deliver Ethernet services. Under the new deal, Choice Hotel franchisees can install Comcast Business' high-speed Internet access to support guests' streaming video, large-file downloads and other bandwidth-intense remote connectivity activities, said Rick Summa, vice president of partner services at Choice Hotels International. The agreement is part of Choice Hotels' new standard to ensure guests have constant access to high-speed broadband, he noted, and is part of the organization's investment in a new cloud- and platform-based back-end system.
Cable operator Armstrong chose Tivo's Next-Gen Platform for its subscribers. Armstrong will use Tivo's offering to transition to IPTV, using the vendor's cloud-based IPTV suite such as IPVOD, IP Linear, Restart, Catch-Up and Network DVR. Subscribers then can watch content across myriad devices, including managed set-top boxes powered by Android TV or Linux, their own gear like Apple TV, Amazon Fire or Roku, or their smartphones, tablets or notebooks.
And FiberLight -- which provides high-performance metro and long-haul fiber transport services -- chose Blue Planet automation software to improve its service-delivery process across its multi-vendor network. FiberLight will use the Ciena division's solutions such as Blue Planet Inventory (BPI) and Blue Planet Multi-Domain Service Orchestration (MDSO) to automate the rapid turn-up and delivery of new, on-demand services across its 14,000-mile fiber networks in expanding metro areas. These include Atlanta, Baltimore, Tampa and Washington, D.C. The two Blue Planet applications are designed to give FiberLight network visibility and automated software control across many layers, domains and vendors, giving the dark-fiber provider enhanced service, decreased errors and improved customer service. In addition, FiberLight tapped Blue Planet Professional Services to expand SDN capabilities throughout its operations to further accelerate the operator's time-to-market.
Sir Charles Dunstone, owner of British broadband operator TalkTalk, wants to raise £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) for an ultrafast broadband network FibreNation is deploying, according to UK reports. FibreNation, the infrastructure company TalkTalk set up last year, intends to connect 3 million homes and businesses in midsize towns and cities -- a move that would disconnect TalkTalk from its need to use BT's copper lines, the Daily Telegraph reports (paywall), citing financial-district sources.
England's Green & Pleasant Lands
Small towns and, perhaps, villages could see high-speed broadband if TalkTalk's founder realizes his goal and gets £1 billion in funding for FibreNation's infrastructure.
Staying in the UK for a minute, Virgin Media is launching offerings of up to 500 Mbit/s, reports Paul Rainford of Light Reading. Residential customers can choose a 500 Mbit/s bundle, add a mobile SIM and build their TV service (changeable each month). It will cost £99 ($128) per month for new customers with a 12-month contract, £139 ($179) after that. Virgin Media will give business customers "Voom 500," a broadband tier with up to 500 Mbit/s download and 35 Mbit/s upload, for £62 ($80) per month. "This will put pressure on BT and Sky to integrate more services into a convergent bundle, more so given the huge focus on retention and reducing churn," industry analyst Paolo Pescatore told Light Reading.
Oregon lawmakers last week unanimously voted to repeal a tax break originally created in 2015 to attract Google Fiber to the state. Passed unanimously four years ago, the tax break failed to lure Google Fiber but did give huge savings to tier one operators. Although set to expire in 2018, the bill "mysteriously died in committee," according to Oregon Live, ultimately saving Frontier and Comcast millions in taxes. With gigabit speeds becoming ubiquitous and Tier 1 operators like Comcast no longer lobbying Oregon legislators for the preferential treatment, the bill is expected to pass when it moves to the Oregon Senate (which could happen this week).
Joe Ferguson, who led Chattanooga utility EPB in its decision to build a community-wide fiber optics network and other advanced broadband infrastructure, will retire as chairman of the EPB board on July 31. Ferguson joined the board in 1991, and during his tenure oversaw the launch of EPB Telecom in 2000; 2007 decision to invest in broadband, and EPB's 2010 completion of gigabit FTTH. In 2015, EPB began offering 10-gig service to all businesses and homes within its 600-square-mile footprint. Throughout Ferguson's tenure, the utility also invested in smart-grid electric technology and smart-city IoT solutions.
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