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April 8, 2008 Provided by System Dynamics Inc.

Briefly Noted: Updates, Observations and Trends

Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations you might have missed. This month's briefs focus on WiMAX news, iTunes Store passes Wal-Mart, updated FTTH statistics, the FCC's broadband definition, the UK digital transition and more.

WiMAX Update

Here are a few of the recent WiMAX news items.

  • Analysts who were hoping for some sort of major announcement from Sprint at the recent CTIA conference came away disappointed. Sprint did not make an official announcement of the Xohm launch, which had been scheduled for April in Washington D.C. and Chicago, but will be missing its target.
  • Motorola announced a new common wireless broadband platform to be software configurable to support both WiMAX 802.16e access points and the Long Term Evolution (LTE) evolved Node-B (eNodeB).
  • Claims and counterclaims were flying after Garth Freeman, CEO of Australian ISP Buzz Broadband told a Bangkok WiMAX conference that the technology is a “miserable failure” that performs at unacceptably low levels on indoor and non-line of sight installations and low latency-reliant applications.
  • Intel has announced pricing on its combination Wi-Fi/WiMAX chips. DigiTimes reports that a wireless module supporting both 802.11 a/g/n and WiMAX will cost device manufacturers between $43 and $54 each. Similar chipsets without WiMAX are $19 to $30. ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

iTunes Beats Wal-Mart

Apple announced that the iTunes Store surpassed Wal-Mart to become the number one music retailer in the US, based on data from the NPD Group. iTunes has over 50 million customers, has sold over four billion songs and features a music catalog of over six million songs. ( )

Updated FTTH statistics for North America

Michael Render of market researcher RVA Associates recently presented updated fiber-to-the-home statistics for North America at a FTTH Council Webinar. As of March 2008, there were almost 3 million FTTH connected homes. These homes are unevenly distributed: areas covered by Verizon and Tier 3 ILECs are approaching 6% connected by fiber; areas covered by AT&T, Qwest, and Tier 2 ILECs have only about one tenth that penetration. Of the fiber connected homes, over half are subscribing to video services. ( )

US FCC changes broadband calculation rules

The Federal Communications Commission has finally adopted new data collection and reporting practices to more accurately determine broadband penetration in the U.S. Broadband speeds are now defined as beginning at 768 kbps rather than the old baseline of 200 kbps. Service providers must also organize data based on their different speed tiers and must calculate broadband penetration by census blocks, rather than zip code. ( )

UK Digital Transition Nears 90% of Main TV Sets

UK regulator Ofcom's Digital Television Progress Report indicates that the number of UK homes with digital TV on their main set reached 22.2 million, or 86.7 percent of homes, at the end of 2007. Full digital switchover is planned for 2012. Those digital subscribers are comprised of customers from Digital terrestrial TV service Freeview, digital satellite TV service BSkyB, and digital cable TV. ( )

South Africa has Exceeded One Million Broadband Subscribers

MoneyWeb South Africa reports broadband subscriber numbers in that country have passed the one million mark. The largest provider is Telkom, with 420,000 subscribers for its ADSL service, with Vodacom gaining ground at 370,000 registered HSDPA users. ADSL and HSDPA users account for over 90% of all South African broadband subscribers, with the other 10% accounted for by fixed wireless access. Broadband penetration of only 2%, compared to the OECD average of 18.8%, leaves lots of headroom for growth.

After Wireless Networks Can Wire-free Power Be Far Behind?

EE Times reports that Israeli startup Powermat and Denpeki Kaihatsu KK, a Japanese developer of construction products, have teamed to develop and install wireless energy capability in surfaces including walls, floors and ceilings. Powermat claims that its technology makes it possible for electronic devices to be used without the need for socket-based or battery-based power. Using principles of magnetic induction, Powermat's technology transmits electrical power via an ultra thin mat embedded in — or overlaid on — a work surface or wall, to portable electronic devices placed randomly anywhere on the surface. ( ) ( )

The Name Game

If Scrabble has become old hat for you, perhaps you'd like to join the new word game -- inventing names for new technology companies. Here are some of the more recent ones that have already been taken: Quanta, OoVoo, Hulu and TwonkyVision.