BBWN Bites: Pay-TV Providers Frown, but Irish Eyes Smile at Broadband Deal
Today's BBWN Bites is chock full of good fiber news, from Ireland to the UK to Spain. But US pay-TV providers are not celebrating the latest report from respected industry analyst firm MoffettNathanson. In other news, US operators trying to bridge the digital divide get a helping hand from the government, while Virginia customers must get accustomed to a new name for an old provider.
In the first quarter of the year, the US pay-TV industry suffered more blows as "traditional" video providers (cable, satellite and telco) lost 1.4 million subscribers -- a 4.8% loss year-over-year, according to MoffettNathanson's most recent "Cord Cutting Monitor." A year ago, these providers lost 808,000 subs, the research firm said. (See US Pay-TV Subs Erode at Record Pace in Q1.)
The Irish government is moving ahead on its National Broadband Plan, granting preferred bidder status to the consortium led by David McCourt of investment firm Granahan McCourt, as Broadband World News reported last month. Incumbent Eir, which quit the competition, still could make up to €1 billion ($1.1 billion) from the National Broadband Plan as Granahan McCourt and the subcontracting operators it plans to work with on deployment will use Eir's poles and ducts, according to The Irish Times. The rollout will take seven years, the Irish government said.
Crossing the Irish Sea to the UK, that nation's broadband is accelerating, new Ofcom research finds. The average download speed in 2018 was 54.2 Mbit/s, up from 46.2 Mbit/s in 2017, while average upload stands at 7.2 Mbit/s, up from 6.2 Mbit/s, the government regulator said. Fastest speeds? They came from Virgin Media's VIVID 350 cable package, with average peak-time speeds hitting 360.2 Mbit/s, followed by BT's 300 Mbit/s full-fiber package, with an average peak-time speed of 300.6 Mbit/s, researchers reported.
And in our last Brit bit, full-fiber broadband provider Toob, which serves England's south coast, plans to deploy its first city-wide network in Southampton by year-end 2021. It looks to compete on both speed and price: For £25 ($32.53) a month, Toob says it will offer 900 Mbit/s average upload and download speeds to residential customers with unlimited usage and no line rental charges. It expects to provide businesses with 900 Mbit/s average up/down speeds, installation, business support and Mesh WiFi for £50 ($65.04) per month, plus tax.
Elsewhere in Europe, as of February 2019 Spain had more than 8.8 million FTTH lines, according to the most recent data published by regulator CNMC. That's an increase of 1.9 million lines; 175,000 lines were added in February alone, the annual report found. DSL lines dropped 1.3 million between February 2018 and February 2019, CNMC said. At the time the report was released, provider Movistar represented 45% -- 4 million -- FTTH lines and accounted for 40.22% of the fixed-broadband sector. Orange represented 26.76% of the fixed market, Vodafone held 21.6% and Grupo Masmovil accounted for 7.15%, CNMC found. Other providers completed the remaining 4.26% market share. Masmovil was the sole major operator to gain connections (38,400) in February 2019; with 10,000 losses, Movistar took the lead in that unwanted category.
The Universal Service Administrative Co. this week unveiled a one-stop information resource about Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auctions. The online guide is targeted at operators and vendors interested in participating in or seeking additional guidance about the program. USAC includes information on creating letters of credit, program details, deployment specifications, forms and annual filing requirements.
Virginia's broadband provider, Sunset Media, is now Point Broadband. The rebranding occurred after Georgia-based Point Broadband funded Sunset's acquisition of BVU Optinet in August 2018, reported WJHL. The former Sunset Media will look to expand its footprint but customer rates will not be affected, according to Point Broadband.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.