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The Moment of Truth - Why the Quality of Mobile Networks Differs

Many believe that a mobile application can measure the quality of the mobile and fixt network. Strand Consult’s new report "The Moment of Truth - Why the Quality of Mobile Networks Differs" describes the many factors that affect the network’s capacity and coverage and the user’s experience.

It assesses and compares the mobile apps which claim to measure network quality at a time when mobile networks are evolving from 2G, 3G and 4G to a combination of 4G and 5G. The next generation mobile networks are more complex and use technologies such as carrier aggregation, spectrum management, and multiple input/multiple output (MIMO). These innovations change how a network is built and operated and therefore also how the networks performance can be measured.

As each network is constructed differently, making comparisons across operators is difficult. The simple measurements collected and presented on a glossy app and the user’s experience will also differ considerably for various reasons.

While the effort to bring facts and evidence to policy and regulatory discussions is welcome, network measurement data from mobile apps is increasingly presented without adequate scientific and methodological background. Users of the various apps are perplexed about wildly differing measurements reported by the individual app even if the tests are run at the same time, in the same location and on the same device.

The real cost to rip and replace Chinese equipment from telecom networks

This report offers a critical review of the discussion of whether to replace mobile network equipment made by firms owned and / or affiliated by the Chinese government, notably Huawei and ZTE. The need for network security is not a new debate. Since 2005 many intelligence officials, militaries agencies, and security analysts have noted security risks of using such equipment, including theft of intellectual property, surveillance, espionage, and sabotage. Based on these reports, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia have restricted Huawei and ZTE from networks.

Strand Consult´s analysis shows that the concerns about Chinese made network equipment is not limited to national governments and the military intelligence operations. Nor is the concern confined to telecom operators which build and run networks.  It is the small, medium, and large enterprises that use networks which fear that their valuable data will be surveilled, sabotaged, or stolen by actors associated with the Chinese government and military. Consequently, it is also the clients of telecom operators which push to restrict Chinese-made equipment from networks. 

Net Neutrality in EU after 2 Years: Why operators keep losing the battle against Internet regulation

The EU’s net neutrality law has been in place for more than two years, and the European Commission has scheduled to review its implementation in 2019. Policymakers promised that the law would bring more innovation and protect end user rights, but it appears that the law is doing the opposite. The EU cannot point to new innovation as a result of the law, the law is being used by European regulators to restrict internet products and services that consumers want, and the dominant Silicon Valley platforms have increased their market share in EU. Moreover, the investment gap in EU has widened, and the region is 2 years behind the US and Asia on the rollout of 5G.
Strand Consult describes these and other developments in its report, Net Neutrality in EU after 2 Years: Why operators keep losing the battle against Internet regulation. We has again collected, translated, and summarized 29 reports from the national telecom regulatory authorities into a single document. This new report has more than 450 pages of information. In early December 2018, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) released its opinion on its implement of the EU net neutrality law. Unsurprisingly and uncritically, BEREC declared its implementation correct, but it failed to mention the many problems it created for operators, including more than half a dozen regulatory investigations attempting to create the appearance of violations of net neutrality, thereby justifying its heavy-handed approach.

Understanding the GDPR and Its Unintended Consequences
While the EU had preeminence in mobile for a time, it failed to create the companies that powered the Internet and is already behind the curve on 5G. Now the EU hopes to capture its former glory--not by making anything new or innovative--but in wielding the most draconian data protection regulation the world has ever seen. In so doing, it projects geopolitical leadership, empowers European regulatory institutions, and forces the nations and companies of the world to bend to its wishes. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) claims to regulate data processing for “mankind”, but make no mistake, the goal is to carve out one global domain in which the EU is not the loser. For a region that claims to want to be a competitive destination for innovative technologies and exit the lingering financial crisis, the GDPR is not what the doctor ordered.

The GDPR applies to any entity processing data of a European resident, regardless of where it is located. This applies to corporations (Google, AT&T, Alibaba), non-profits (UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders), and even individuals and households if they are engaged in data processing for commercial purposes. The regulation still applies even if the entity has no presence in the EU. EU government entities are exempt, as is data processing conducted for national security purposes. The GDPR has 47 specific provisions including consent, data portability, right to erasure, right to object to profiling, breach notification, data protection assessments, and data protection officers. Penalties for non-compliance and/or violation can be up to 4% of turnover or €20 million, whichever is greater.

How to deploy 5G: Best practices for infrastructure, regulation and business models

Operators around the world are building the next and 5th generation of mobile networks. 5G is clearly an evolution, and commercial products are combinations of 4G, 5G, NB-LTE and other technologies. While 5G promises a new technological revolution, there are major regulatory challenges to deploy networks and new business models.

Strand Consult’s survey of the past 20 years of building and operating mobile networks shows that conditions for mobile operators have gotten worse, not better, for operators. The process to erect a single mobile mast/antenna can take between 12-36 months and cost €150,000 – €350,000. Policymakers and local government want to copy-paste the tower paradigm to small cell networks, a development which would kill 5G in the cradle.

While operators are stepping up their investments in spectrum, infrastructure, and technology, consumers increasingly complain about mobile coverage. Demand for data has exploded but subscriber revenues have not kept pace. As such, operators need to take concerted steps to optimize the expected benefits and costs when they deploy 5G. Operators need to learn how to rollout infrastructure, to find partners for business models, and to address the regulatory challenges that impede its business.

Net Neutrality in EU after 1 Year: Unintended Consequences for operators, content providers, and consumers
The EU’s net neutrality law has been in place for more than a year. Lacking real problems or bad actors to expose, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) needs to invent a reason for continuing to regulate the Internet. It interprets the EU law on open internet access as an opportunity to engage in re-regulation of broadband networks and uses the requirement of annual reporting as a means to push regulation beyond the bounds of the EU law. Even though BEREC’s pronouncements are non-binding, the agency exerts peer-pressure on national telecom regulators to align to a common pro-regulatory view and exploits the law’s reporting requirement to force the toughest interpretations.

Strand Consult has done the painstaking work to collect, translate, and summarize some 30 reports from the national telecom regulators into a single document Net Neutrality in EU after 1 Year: Unintended Consequences for operators, content providers, and consumers, so that you don’t have to.

Next gen telecom policy and regulation - Workshop for leaders in the telecommunications industry

In the telecom industry, regulation is not driven by market failure, but market success. In less than a generation, the telecom industry succeeded to connect nearly every person to a mobile phone and almost half of the world to the Internet. During this period, prices have fallen more than 90 percent while data volumes has increased thousands of times.

The telecom industry should be celebrated for its achievements which were largely achieved without government subsidies, but instead it is vilified as a bottleneck to the very services it delivers. Moreover, Google and Facebook get the credit for building infrastructure; they launch a few drones and balloons, but the telecom industry has invested trillions of dollars in advanced networks. Regulations such as net neutrality, roaming, municipal broadband, free Wi-Fi, online privacy, speed requirements, open access, set-top box requirements and so on are designed to divert value away from operators' shareholders to their competitors in other industries while strengthening the authority of government.

For more than 20 years, Strand Consult has held strategic workshops for boards of directors and other leaders in the telecom industry. With this workshop concept, we have consolidated our knowledge on global regulatory trends and the experience of operators worldwide and packaged it into a workshop for professionals with responsibility for policy, public affairs, regulation, communications, strategy and related roles.

Follow the money - Net Neutrality Activism Around the Globe

Much has been said and written about network neutrality regulation around the world, but there is little transparency to the powerful and moneyed forces which fund net neutrality activism.

Many governments and telecom regulators have experienced how net neutrality activists disrupt political and regulatory systems. Consider how net neutrality activists influenced the European Union and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) by launching a globally coordinated campaign to influence the democratic process. BEREC clocked a record of some 1 million comments in its consultation on net neutrality guidelines in 2016, with at least one-third of the comments coming from the US and a large part from non-EU citizens outside the EU. The regulatory process is purported to be expert and independent, but the manipulation by activists questions the credibility of rulemaking.

The moment of truth – a portrait of the fight for hard net neutrality regulation by Save The Internet and other internet activists

Over the last few years, Strand Consult has followed the net neutrality debate and published a number of research notes and 7 detailed reports on the topic. Hard net neutrality rules are in place in some 50 countries even though soft rules are proven to work better to support investment and innovation. With the free report “The moment of truth – a portrait of the fight for hard net neutrality regulation by Save The Internet and other internet activists” Strand Consult shares its knowledge and offers a free 40 page report detailing how sophisticated global coalitions such as Save the Internet have succeeded to overwhelm seemingly “independent” telecom regulators and implement hard rules.

The experienced mobile coverage - what is bogus and what are the facts?

Around the world there are many who believe that you can install an app on a smartphone and use the resulting metrics to measure the quality of a modern mobile network. The New report from Strand Consult "The experienced mobile coverage - what is bogus and what are the facts?" documents that these measurements are worthless and do not provide an accurate picture mobile coverage they purport to measure.

When different app publishers claim that they can measure the quality of a network and when they publish their data, we see that there is often a heated debate between mobile operators in the media about who has the best mobile network in a country. It’s also the case that these app reports can be used be praise an operator one day for good coverage but blame them on another for bad. Vodafone, Orange, EE, Telia, Telenor, AT&T, Verizon, and Telefonica, and others have appeared either at the top or bottom of any one app report. So while operators’ media team would like the opportunity to take advantage of good press when they can, the strategy can also backfire.

The Wireless Ecosystem, US vs. EU

By the end of 2016, it is expected that two-thirds of all mobile subscriptions in the US will be 4G/LTE. The European Union at best will see 30 percent of subscriptions being 4G/LTE. The US has multiple operators with pan-American 4G networks, but the EU can’t claim even a single mobile operator with pan-European 4G scale. The European Commission, while having paid lip service to the need for more infrastructure investment, reports that investment has stayed flat for the last two years. Meanwhile the US had a record year in wireless investment in 2014. These are some of the conclusions in Strand Consult’s latest report ,”The Wireless Ecosystem, US vs. EU”. Order it for free today.

This report follows what Strand Consult observed in 2014 in ”The EU’s Broadband and Telecom Policy is not working. Europe is falling further behind the US”. The EU, which had accounted for a third of the world’s capital investment in telecom infrastructure in the preceding decade, fell to less than one-fifth. Meanwhile per capita, America’s private telecom providers invested at double the rate of providers in the EU. In fact, the US maintained global leadership in infrastructure investment, accounting for about a quarter of the world’s total from 2003-2013. It reviews the most recent official data from the FCC, European Commission, and other prominent sources on international broadband comparisons, infrastructure investment, wireless competition, coverage, and subscriptions.

The EU’s Broadband and Telecom policy is not working. Europe is falling further behind the US

There is much discussion about how to create a healthy and competitive telecommunications market in Europe and how the EU can meet its 2020 broadband goals. Strand Consult has made a research note describing the differences between the American and European approach to broadband. The conclusion is clear: The EU’s broadband and telecom policy is not working. The gap between the EU and the US in investment, next generation access, and the digital economy is growing in America’s favor. While the EU Commission has made an attempt to address the imbalance with a Digital Single Market initiative, the effort relies on feel-good solutions such as roaming and the app economy without taking on the major issues that need fundamental reform, namely eliminating the failed managed access “ladder of investment” regime, removing barriers to consolidation, and reducing opportunities for tax arbitrage.

How a carrier’s carrier can add value to the mobile market
– The story of how the mobile industry is consolidating and how it will develop in the future. This report shows how mobile operators can think outside the box in an intelligent way.
There is talk about consolidation in the mobile industry around the world, and an increasing number of operators will share network. Enabling mobile broadband in rural areas is a related and important issue. LTE has changed the course of the internet’s development. Companies such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo and others now take a mobile first strategy in new markets.

This unique report is based on the mobile market, how it is structured, and what happens from when an operator gets a license to when they have a signal to sell to their customers. It reviews how mobile operators have evolved over time and how a number of mobile operators have had success with aggressive MVNO strategies. The report How a carrier’s carrier can add value to a mobile market looks at how to solve the challenge of getting internet access to rural areas. It pushes the mobile industry to think outside the box.

The 10 Myths and Realities of Broadband Internet in the USA
Strand Consult’s report the “10 Myths and Realities of Broadband Internet in the USA” investigates the debate about broadband.
Recently there have been a series of books and media telling a negative story about broadband in America. We have read these books and articles and have reviewed the relevant data. We see these materials as part of a the larger ”America is falling behind” literary tradition, the kinds of books and magazines that are sold in airports warning of the next crisis, how America is slipping, and how the author’s recommendations will help the country achieve its former glory. We are reminded of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in which persons of high station abuse their credibility to mislead the people.

Understanding Net Neutrality and Stakeholders’ Arguments
There is no doubt that net neutrality has become a big topic and is on the agenda of the telecom regulators around the world. There are a number of stakeholders who have an interest in this debate but have not taken the time to familiarize themselves with the arguments of the interested stakeholders. Too often the debate is often derailed by people who have a religious approach to net neutrality and important opposing viewpoints are not expressed.

“Generating Growth in Europe – How the ICT Sector is the Solution”
- a research note about EU Vice President Neelie Kroes and the dream of a single digital market in Europe.
EU Vice President Neelie Kroes has started an important debate that may have a lasting impact on the telecom industry. She address issues such as the digital single market for Europe and net neutrality. Strand Consult has reviewed the challenges in the way for Ms. Kroes to realize the dream of a digital single market in Europe along with the reality that the USA dominates the internet in Europe. The research note “Generating Growth in Europe – How the ICT Sector is the Solution” highlights some of the questions and issues around this debate.

10 Steps to reduce cost for mobile masts and improve mast regulation
A survey of the past 20 years of building and operating mobile networks clearly shows that conditions for mobile operators have gotten worse for operators, not better. At present the process to erect a single mobile mast/antenna can take between 12 - 18 months and cost €100.000 – €250.000.

Consumers increasingly complain about coverage at a time when operators are investing in expansion and new technologies more than ever before. Building and running a mobile network can exceed 12 - 18% of the operator’s sales. In an era where consumer demand for data accessed by mobile networks is exploding but revenues for operators are not growing, operators need to take concerted steps to reduce cost.

How mobile operators can reduce cost for mobile masts and improve mast regulation
This report is not just an analysis, but also a tool that can show mobile operators around the world how to both reduce their rental costs on mobile masts sites, and also improve regulations and rules governing the whole placement of mobile masts issue.

The analysis describes the full process from a mobile operator receiving a mobile licence and up to being able to offer customers mobile coverage having built a mobile network - in other words the process from frequency to mobile signal.

In our analysis "How mobile operators can reduce cost for mobile masts and improve mast regulation" we have described the process from when a mobile operator decides to build a mobile network, up to the point where they actually can offer their customers mobile coverage via a network of mobile masts. We have examined the challenges operators face in the following situations:

The good, the bad and the ugly side of Facebook - A report that describes how Facebook affects the mobile industry strategically, operationally and financially
With our new report we have published yet another unique report to add to our history of comprehensive reports where we closely examine and describe the challenges that the mobile industry faces when customers start using new platforms and technologies.

Mobile operators cannot avoid Facebook. With the current popularity Facebook has acquired it is becoming increasingly important for mobile operators and other market players in the mobile industry to evaluate how Facebook is influencing their business. Is Facebook only good news, or does Facebook also have a bad and an ugly side?

The toolbox that will give you success on the MVNO market – a unique toolbox of knowledge
Strand Consult is one of the world’s leading knowledge centers on MVNOs. In the last 14 years Strand Consult has worked with the world’s most successful MNVOs and has delivered its reports and workshops to over 170 mobile operators. Now that knowledge is assembled into The toolbox that will give you success on the MVNO market.