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TelkomONE to become South Africa’s first streaming platform

Inside Telecom Staff

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South Africa’s telecom mobile operator, Telkom, has teamed up with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to launch a new streaming platform called TelkomONE.

The unique partnership will stretch over a five-year period and is set to showcase the country’s most popular and on-demand TV programs as well as radio platforms all in one place.

“We are excited about the opportunity to provide all South African’s with free access to watch their favorite SABC content, online, when and wherever they want,” Sipho Maseko, Telkom’s Group Chief Executive Officer, said in statement. 

The mobile operator channel will house the public broadcaster’s free-to-air radio and TV channels. TelkomONE will stream live SABC television channels 1, 2, Sport and Education as well as all 19 SABC radio stations.

“TelkomONE will make it possible for subscribers to pause, go back into the programme guide (time-shift) and instantly watch a scheduled TV show they may have missed. Telkom is making digital TV functionality available to all,” Maseko added. 

Global mobile consumers spent 25 percent more time streaming shows and movies in 2020 than in 2019, mainly due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in a worldwide shutdown, according to a report from mobile data and analytics company App Annie.

In parallel, consumers spent 1.6 trillion hours on their mobile devices in the first half of 2020.

“Social apps blurred the lines with streaming providers as the percentage of Netflix’s iPhone users also using TikTok increased from 15 percent to 45 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in the previous year,” the report highlighted. 

To capitalize on the rising demand of online video content in South Africa, Maseko noted that the mobile-friendly TelkomONE will include a plethora of other content over and above the SABC channels, such as comedy, lifestyle content and music for youth on-the-go.

“Telkom was a natural partner with whom to build a new platform for developing and disseminating South African content,” Madoda Mxakwe, CEO SABC Group said. 

Mxakwe added that the partnership is significant in ensuring that their content, in all its formats, reaches consumers everywhere at any time.

Pre-pandemic, 20 percent of streaming video subscribers cancelled at least one service in the previous 12 months, according to a survey by Deloitte. 

“Since the pandemic began, 17 percent of subscribers said they have already cancelled at least one service. The top reasons for cancelling: high costs (36 percent) and expiring discounts or the end of free trials (35 percent),” the survey highlighted.

However, during the pandemic, 47 percent of consumers said they used at least one free ad-supported streaming video service. The survey showed that the majority of consumers said they want access to cheaper, ad-supported streaming video options, both before (62 percent) and since the COVID-19 pandemic (65 percent).

“Through the new streaming channel, we will further promote universal access to popular SABC content for audiences and customers, in an affordable manner and with ease of access on mobile,” the SABC Group CEO said.

Mxakwe stated that the broadcasting company will work to bolster the opportunities for their talented local producers to showcase more of their work on a platform on which content can live longer than on traditional media platforms.

The SABC will provide its content to Telkom on a non-exclusive basis. In exchange, the SABC will receive a carriage license fee as well as share in the advertising revenue generated on the TelkomONE platform.

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Telecoms

Digital Edge Doubles Down in North Asia with Two Data Centers

Karim Husami

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Singapore-based Digital Edge has added two data centers in Tokyo Japan, with the company signing agreements to acquire ComSpace I and ComSpace II, two data centers located in downtown Nihonbashi and Shinjuku, respectively, from Japan’s Arteria Networks.

While no financial details related to the transaction have been disclosed, Singapore’s Digital Edge will continue to use those centers to provide its own communications services.

Six data centers

The two sites – totaling 140,000 sq. ft. – are located in the downtown areas of Nihonbashi and Shinjuku and represent Digital Edge’s third project in Japan and fourth in North Asia since its inception in 2020.

The latest deal will boost the company’s regional footprint to a total of six data centers in four key metros. This footprint includes three data centers in Tokyo, one in Seoul and one in Busan, South Korea (both acquired from Sejong Telecom) and the development of a 12MW facility in Osaka that is scheduled to open in Q1 2022.

“Our goal is simple: to build an exceptional data center platform that enables customers to easily, efficiently and economically deploy their infrastructure to capture the business opportunities that Asia offers. We are thrilled to have achieved so much, in so short a time and in such strategic markets as Japan and Korea. I look forward to a long and successful partnership with ARTERIA, and to continuing to identify other opportunities to expand in line with market demands and better support our customers in their digital transformation journey,” said Samuel Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Edge.

Growth of public cloud services market

As such, analysts estimate Japan’s public cloud services market will grow by nearly 18.7 percent annually between 2019 and 2024 to approximately $26.4 billion, due to direct private and public investment in ICT infrastructure and the Japanese government’s commitment to cloud services.

Recognized as one of the world’s largest data center markets, with value of approximately US$12 billion in fiscal year 2019 and an estimated CAGR of 3.7 percent from 2021 to 2026, Japan is expected to see a growing need for cloud computing and digital transformation, further fueled by the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital Edge’s strategic partnership with ARTERIA to acquire ComSpace I and ComSpace II aims to enable the Company to better address the needs of customers in light of these market trends. The facilities are recognized as two of the most network-dense data centers in the Tokyo market. Digital Edge is actively evaluating several additional investments and potential partnerships to further expand its digital infrastructure platform in Japan.

Koji Kabumoto, president and CEO of ARTERIA Networks added: “Forming a partnership with Digital Edge makes perfect business sense for us. Transferring two of our data centres leaves ARTERIA free to focus on providing our customers with core communications services.”

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Telecoms

Emergency program to give people $50 off internet bill

Associated Press

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Emergency program

Americans can begin applying for $50 off their monthly internet bill on Wednesday as part of an emergency government program to keep people connected during the pandemic.

The $3.2 billion program is part of the $900 billion December pandemic-relief package. The government is increasing spending on broadband as the pandemic made stark that millions of Americans did not have access to, and could not afford, broadband at a time when jobs, school and health care was moving online.

It’s unclear how long the money will last but it’s expected to be several months. Tens of millions of people are eligible, although the Federal Communications Commission, which is administering the program, did not specify a number.

For example, your household is eligible if you receive food stamps, have a child in the free or reduced-price school lunch program, use Medicaid, or lost income during the pandemic and made $99,000 for single filers, or $198,000 for joint filers, or less.

There are other eligibility requirements, too — see https://getemergencybroadband.org to find out if you qualify.

You can get the discount even if you owe your phone or cable company money. That’s important because some people have been barred from low-cost plans offered by internet service providers when they owed their service provider money. More than 800 cellphone and home-internet companies are participating, including AT&T, Charter, Comcast, T-Mobile and Verizon.

People in tribal areas are eligible for up to $75 off their bill. There is also a $100 reimbursement for desktop computers, laptops or tablets — in that case, you must pay between $10 and $50 of the cost of the device yourself and buy it through your broadband provider.

The discount could apply to a household’s whole bill, or you can use it to trade up to a more expensive offering and your bill is partly covered.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a more robust, although temporary, program to help people afford internet than Lifeline, the FCC’s other affordability program, which subtracts only $9.25 a month from phone or internet bills. A household can use both the Lifeline and EBB programs.

The Biden administration has proposed $100 billion to get Americans connected, and even before that, billions of dollars are going to improve internet access.

The FCC on Tuesday approved a $7.2 billion program for schools and libraries to connect students in their homes. The Treasury Department is also setting up a $10 billion fund for improving internet connectivity. The money for both came from the $1.9 trillion March pandemic relief package.

There has also been hundreds of billions more in general funds sent to states that could be spent on broadband access.


By TALI ARBEL AP Technology Writer

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Telecoms

Telco revenues to witness slow recovery in 2021, IDC reports

Inside Telecom Staff

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Telco revenues

Telcos have evolved from merely supplying their customers with telephony or broadband services, but also look to provide a setlist of Internet-based services such Pay TV.

While this offering has brought providers with new sources of revenue, during 2020, these services slumped with telco revenues totaling $1.53 trillion in 2020, representing flat year-over-year growth, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Telecom Services Tracker.

Forecasts for the coming year by IDC suggest that worldwide spending will increase by 0.7 percent in 2021 to reach a total of $1.54 trillion; however, with YoY numbers witnessing a minimal hike, it indicates that telco revenues will go through a slow recovery process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was unquestionably the most important factor influencing the telco market in 2020. In the first six months of the year, the pandemic brought a notable decline to the market in the form of decreased subscriber numbers and lower services spending,” the IDC report highlighted.

This was caused by the strict lockdowns imposed by governments as well as the widespread pessimism and anxiety that forced people to cut spending on nonessential products and services.

In the second half of the year, the demand recovered, fueled by economic stimulus measures and the progress in vaccine development. The renewed optimism helped the global and regional markets to cover the losses recorded in the first half of the year and come close to equaling the prior year’s results, IDC experts noted.

Although the revenue outcome in 2020 was neutral, the pandemic drastically changed the trends that have shaped the global telco market for a long time.

Consumer fixed data services have suddenly become the most important type of connectivity, enabling home-bound people to work and entertain. Business fixed data services have temporarily lost momentum due to the migration of traffic to the consumer segment, but most of these connections were preserved as they were protected by long-term contracts.

In parallel, fixed voice services saw a slight increase in dropout rates because some companies within the small business segments went bankrupt and more residential clients gave up their connections for cost-cutting purposes.

 Mobile services spending also declined slightly due to slower renewal of contract agreements, reduction of out-of-bundle spending, and a sharp decrease in roaming revenues due to travel restrictions.

In the Pay TV segment, the migration from traditional Pay TV to Over the Top (OTT) services accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis, driven by increased consumption of video content and new OTT service launches.

IDC experts believe that connectivity will become an even more critical asset for households and businesses after the pandemic, as some of the habits adopted during the crisis (remote working, collaboration, online media consumption) are expected to become part of everyday life.

According to the report, the migration toward FttP access is expected to accelerate in most of the country markets, while the business fixed data market will recover in the longer term as the economic recovery drives increased investments in the cloudification of enterprise business activities.

Revenue growth in the mobile services space will be buoyed to a degree by 5G adoption, which will invite users to deploy more advanced data capabilities and uptake the content and services dependent on high-speed data connectivity, IDC expressed.

The global telco market was put to a serious test in 2020 and it successfully passed. IDC believes that the lessons learned last year will help the industry to secure stable growth in the coming period. “The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the resilience and value of the telecoms industry,” said Chris Barnard, vice president, European Infrastructure and Telecoms.

“New ways of working will persist beyond the pandemic, shaping future revenue opportunities, while the network-centricity of consumers will drive bandwidth requirements in that segment as well,” Barnard added.

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