ComCom: No regulation for NZ mobile – but 5G spectrum auctions need close attention

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has given a thumbs up for the Kiwi mobile market  – and a thumbs down to any regulatory intervention – saying it’s a competitive market, serving customers well.

The Mobile Market Study final report says New Zealand’s mobile consumers are benefiting from an increasingly competitive market environment with market share among the three national players – Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees – has become more evenly balanced, with 2degrees taking more market share.

The report shows Vodafone and Spark still hold the lion’s share of the market, with 40.5 percent and 37.9 percent of subscribers, with 2degrees, which entered the market in 2009, now holding 20.5 percent of the market.

“We haven’t identified any particular problems or structural issues that could be hampering competition,” says Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale of the report findings.

Unsurprisingly the findings were welcomed by Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees.

The study also shows an emerging market for ‘virtual’ operators selling mobile services without having to build their own mobile network.

The mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) holds just 1.1 percent market share, but has seen growth in recent months with companies including Vocus – which earlier this year slammed the preliminary Mobile Market report – Warehouse Mobile and Kogan entering the market. Trustpower also plans to enter the fray, bundling mobile offers with its existing broadband and energy services.

“Because of these developments, the Commission does not consider there is any need for regulation of wholesale access at this time,” the Commerce Commission says.

But Gale flagged the need for wholesale and retail competition matters to be at the forefront of decisions relating to the upcoming auction of radio spectrum for 5G services in order to ensure continued competition.

“With Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees each having a network of similar technology with similar geographic and population coverage metrics, looking forward we consider the allocation of spectrum to be particularly important for future competition,” Gale says.

The report, instigated back in 2017, comes as Vodafone and Spark jockey for 5G leadership. Vodafone has been testing 5G with plans to have a commercial service up and running in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown in December.

Meanwhile Spark – which had its original 5G plans shot down by the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau over Huawei network security concerns – has launched a limited, invitation only, 5G service in Alexandra. The service uses Nokia technology.

When is unlimited not unlimited?

When it come to the services Kiwis are receiving from their mobile telco providers, the report notes that New Zealand’s 4G performance is ranked eighth out of 88 countries in an OpenSignal report, though the availability of 4G at 57th out of 87 countries.

It notes that mobile plans offering higher volumes of data are increasingly popular. To highlight that, it noted the total number of residential subscribers purchasing voice, SMS and data bundles with allowances of 3G or more was up from 133,000 in 2016 to 497,000 in 2018.

Spark, in its cross submission on the reports preliminary findings paper, noted a shift towards unlimited data plans, including ones that can be shared across several users, as a predominant trend in the retail market.

However, Teligen, which does telco benchmarking, much of which the ComCom report relies on, no longer considers New Zealand’s ‘unlimited’ data plans to qualify as unlimited, because of telco’s throttling the speed once a threshold has been reached.

The average volume of data used by mobile consumers was 2GB per month in 2018 – a figure the report says is growing strongly.

Prices for mobile services in New Zealand have been falling and compare well with other OECD countries, the report notes – though not all fare so well compared with Australia, with mobile prices per GB for the highest data plans offered in New Zealand coming in around NZ$80-$85, versus NZ$56 from Vodafone Australia and NZ$103 for Telstra.

“For the 2G and 5G  baskets, the New Zealand price reported by Teligen is currently at or below the OECD average.”

For larger baskets, however, mobile pricing in New Zealand is relatively high when compared to Australia, but below the OECD average.

One area the report does note a need for change is in the low number of consumers moving telco plans. Sixty-eight percent say they rarely, if ever, compare plans and 54 percent saying they haven’t switched providers in the past five years.

“By shopping around more frequently consumers are likely to trigger more competition between mobile providers,” Gale says.

“We are keen to see more consumer activity and will be looking into ways we can help New Zealanders understand whether they are getting the best deal possible and, if not, consider switching.”

However, in response, Vodafone NZ says its data shows a high number of Vodafone customers change the make-up of their mobile plans each year – if not their provider.

Internet SD-WAN alone isn’t enough to power most organisations: Brennan IT

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Lyncoln de Mello, Head of Cloud, Networking & Infrastructure at Brennan IT

If you were to believe the news in the market lately, it would seem that pure Internet based Software Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) will be the solution to all of our problems, with some reports calling it ‘the most disruptive technology of 2019.’

In the same way, you’d also think that a 100 percent cloud-based organisation is the ideal model for most businesses.

The truth of the matter, however, is that whilst it might be in certain technology and service providers’ interests for you to believe that both of these things are true, the reality is likely to be quite different. IT is still very much hybrid and now the network is evolving to match.

Innovation and the performance gap

Traditional WANs haven’t been able to keep up with the pace of an increasingly Cloud SaaS and mobile workforce for some time; their cost vs. speed and centralised network architecture is not always ideal for the modern business IT environment and this can restrict innovation elsewhere in organisations.

Australian businesses will invest an average of AU$26 million in 2019 on transformational technologies, however, only 29 percent believe that they can cope with digital challenges. Not only that, just 20 percent of local organisations believe that they’re able to meet worker’s demand for constant connection to data and services, which is leading to more than AU$16.4 million in losses every year.

In the age of connectedness, your network up-time and performance can be the key to driving your organisation’s productivity. However, many businesses are still taking a piecemeal approach to networking, which is leading to difficulties with compatibility and causing performance issues which are directly impacting their workforces.

The most recent example of this is the rush to move to 100% cloud environments and adopt SD-WAN-only approaches to networking – the problem is, they’re not going to fix them and are causing other problems elsewhere.

Does SD-WAN live up to the hype?

The answer is both yes and no.

By 2020, the worldwide SD-WAN market for infrastructure and services will exceed AU$8.75 billion, with a 91 percent compound annual growth rate, according to IDC’s Worldwide SD-WAN Infrastructure Forecast for 2018–2022.

In reality, for all its benefits, SD-WAN only represents a fraction of the addressable issue. And as the complexity of applications and devices grows, and security becomes an increasing priority, SD-WAN over the Internet alone is simply not enough to power most organisations.

This is something organisations need to take into serious consideration, especially since SD-WAN expands a network’s attack surface, making it more vulnerable to cyber threats.

So what should organisations do?

A Hybrid Networking approach, utilising Secure Hybrid SD-WAN, is the elevated path that organisations should choose to not just improve where they are, but also to get the most out of their existing Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks and enhance security, control, performance, and value.

Hybrid Networking and Secure Hybrid SD-WAN

Hybrid Networking is a method of combining traditional MPLS infrastructure and internet connections with SD-WAN technology to create ‘Secure Hybrid SD-WAN’. This is an evolution of Hybrid WAN, which simply refers to using a mix of connections, such as public internet, private circuits, and cloud.

Too many people suffer from the misconception that the two are the same thing and that SD-WAN will replace MPLS – it won’t (or shouldn’t).

The difference is that SD-WAN is an overlay technology that uses software to create layers of network abstraction which can be used to run several independent, virtualised network layers over the underlying physical layer. MPLS, however, is an underlying technology that sits beneath the network infrastructure and provides connectivity.

When the two are combined, as in a Hybrid Networking model, they offer twice the benefit. MPLS allows organisations to implement affordable, high-speed connectivity into their network, combine it with multiple cost-effective internet connections, and then add SD-WAN to link them together and create one aggregate bandwidth.

john-schnobrich-yFbyvpEGHFQ-unsplashThrough SD-WAN technology, you can then direct individual application traffic to where it needs to go faster to increase performance, put in automated failover rules, enhance security, and get full visibility and control at each site of all network traffic. This can significantly reduce costs, cut complexity, and enhance speed across your entire network, not just the core.

Every business is different and so is their IT architecture and environment. Because of this, SD-WAN shouldn’t be applied as a blanket solution – it needs to be integrated with traditional network methods to receive its full benefit (and what it was actually designed for).

In taking a Hybrid Networking approach that utilises Secure Hybrid SD-WAN, organisations can maximise performance, minimise costs, and, in a connected world of business, help your workforce to achieve more.

NetEvents names Innovation Awards finalists for cloud /datacenter, IoT and cybersecurity

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San Jose, CA, USA. 24 September 2019:  Finalists have been announced for the prestigious NetEvents Innovation Awards 2019 – Cloud/Datacenter, IoT & CyberSecurity.

There are six categories: covering both start-up and established companies in three fields: Cloud/Datacenter, Internet of Things (IoT) and Cybersecurity. The awards will be presented at a prestigious gala dinner on Thursday 3rd October 2019 at the NetEvents Global IT Summit in California, USA. All award entry fees are being donated to three charities: Prostate Cancer Research, STEM and UNICEF. To date these awards have generated over $110,000 for charity.

For each of the Hot Start Up award categories, two finalists have been announced to go “head to head” as follows:

·       CyberSecurity: Avanan and Odo Security

·       Cloud/Datacentre: NetFoundry and Hammerspace

·       IoT: Everactive and SWIM.AI

These Hot Start-up finalists will give a short elevator-pitch presentation in true ‘Shark Tank’ style to a judging panel of tech industry Venture Capitalists, and in front of the Summit’s entire audience of international press and analysts, representing 35+ countries, plus tech and business industry leaders.

For each of the Innovation Leader award categories, three finalists have been announced as follows:

·       CyberSecurity: Cylus, Darktrace and Guardicore

·       Cloud/Datacentre: Apstra, Luminance Technologies and Mellanox

·       IoT: Darktrace, Marlabs Inc and SmartSens Technology

The three Innovation Leader categories will be judged by a panel of leading technology press and industry analysts from around the globe.

These awards spotlight outstanding innovation among today’s most critical technology challenges. The awards will be presented at a prestigious gala dinner on Thursday 3rd October 2019 during the NetEvents Global IT Summit which includes key Technology Press & Analysts representing more than 100 publications across 35+ countries worldwide – as well as tech industry leaders, VCs and technologists. This annual event provides an exceptionally effective opportunity for tech industry leaders and innovators to meet so many of the world’s key technology business press and analysts in a series of scheduled face-to-face sessions over two days – as well as a great way to be informed, to debate and discuss the latest hot topics and breaking tech news.

 

“Each year we provide this very special opportunity” says Mark Fox, NetEvents CEO. (Pictured above)  “Both for the top players in the industry as well as for ambitious, dynamic innovative start-ups – where else can one be seen and heard by so many key industry figures plus the world’s top IT press and analysts?

Add to that NetEvents’ worldwide media partners, and you end up with industry-wide recognition from a massive global audience of C-Level and senior executives, VCs and media gatekeepers”.

For details of the full NetEvents program of events visit: www.netevents.org

Nutanix, HPE eye APAC hyperconverged infrastructure opportunity with rollout of HPE ProLiant DX appliances

Nutanix and enterprise IT specialist HPE are stepping up joint efforts to capitalize on rising demand for cloud ready architecture in the Asia-Pacific markets, flagging the general availability of the new HPE ProLiant DX series appliances.

The firms – which struck a global partnership agreement in April to target enterprises with an integrated hybrid cloud as a Service (aaS) offering – said hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and hybrid cloud continued to gain momentum throughout APAC with businesses replacing their aging IT infrastructure faster to meet increasing competition.

A key part of the collaboration is the newly developed ProLiant DX appliance series, built with HPE servers and factory-installed Nutanix software, for on-premises operations.

0 (11)“The HPE ProLiant DX series puts Asia’s enterprises are in the driving seat,” said Matt Young, SVP and Head of Asia Pacific and Japan, Nutanix.

“As international competition intensifies and the threat of a global economic slowdown continues, Asia’s enterprises will rely more and more on a future-ready infrastructure to provide the efficiencies and productivity required to survive and thrive.”

0 (10)“We are already seeing high levels of excitement and interest from A/NZ customers and partners now that Nutanix is available on HPE ProLiant DX,” said Jamie Humphrey, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Nutanix.

“Businesses understand that their technology infrastructure is no longer fit for purpose and cannot simply be ‘patched’ or tinkered with. DX now provides them with the means to modernise their data centre on their terms; with the hardware and software platform of their choice.”

NBN service quality complaints on the rise

Complaints about service quality, connections and migrations involving Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) rose in the first six months of 2019, despite complaints relating to the country’s broader telecommunications services falling overall during the year ending June.

This is according to the latest figures by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO’s annual report for the financial year ending June 2019, released on 25 September, paints a picture of increasing complexity among the issues Australians are complaining about when it comes to their telecommunications services.

“Complaints about phone and internet services in Australia have continued their downward trend, and this is good news for consumers and the telecommunications industry, but this is only one part of the story,” said Ombudsman Judi Jones. “The volume of complaints coming back to us unresolved shows an emerging picture of complexity in technical and small business issues.

“Some measures we have taken to address this are the formation of specialist teams to handle these escalated complaints, and working closely with the phone and internet providers to better understand the barriers to resolving these issues,” she said.

According to the TIO, the 12 months from July 2018 to June 2019 saw 47 per cent of escalated complaints closed within 60 days, compared to 77 percent in FY2017-18.

The top five complaint issues about internet services were no action or delayed action by a service provider, with 13,976 complaints, service and equipment fees (13,509 complaints), slow data speed (8,668 complaints), intermittent service/dropouts (7,915) and delay establishing a service (7,431).

At the same time, the top five complaint issues about mobile services were service and equipment fees, with 12,905 complaints, no or delayed action by provider (11,675 complaints), resolution agreed but not met (4,263), misleading conduct when making a contract (3,656) and termination fees (2,975).

Altogether, the TIO received 132,387 complaints throughout the year, representing a year-on-year fall of 21 percent. However, for the first time, complaints relating to internet services exceeded those of mobile services, with 43,164 complaints – or 32.6 percent – and 40,103 complaints, respectively.

Complaints relating to services delivered via the NBN comprised a large portion of the total regarding internet services. According to the report, 23,362 complaints were recorded in FY2018-19 about service quality on the NBN. Complaints increased from 2.1 per 1,000 premises on the network in the first half of the year to 2.5 per 1,000 in the second half of the year.

Services delivered over the NBN were the subject of 48.2 percent of complaints about service quality during the 12-month period. By comparison, 40.4 percent of such complaints revolved around services delivered via other networks. Mobile networks accounted for 11.3 percent of complaints of this nature.

Meanwhile, 11,635 complaints were recorded in FY2018-19 about changing providers or establishing a connection to the NBN. Complaints increased from 6.7 per 1,000 premises added in the first half of the year, to 8.6 in the second half of the 12-month period.

Indeed, 56.4 percent of all complaints relating to connection and changing providers were about services delivered over the NBN. However, this comes as little surprise, given that, as the national broadband wholesaler draws closer to the completion of its rollout, more end consumers are being connected to the network.

“With transition to the NBN, providers offered a range of new products and services. As a result, we saw a new range of complaints and enquiries from consumers navigating the changed environment. The increase in complaints about internet services is one example of this,” the TIO report stated.

By comparison, such complaints involving services delivered via other networks accounted for 30.6 percent of the total, while mobile network services were at the centre of 13 percent of complaints about connection or changing providers.

Unsurprisingly, the country’s largest telecommunications player, Telstra, claimed the lion’s share of complaints, accounting for roughly 50.2 percent, although it should be noted that the company enjoyed a 19.5 percent fall in complaints from the previous year’s tally of 82,528.

Optus, as the country’s second largest telco, came in second, with 23.9 percent of the total. Like Telstra, Optus saw a fall in complaints against its name, enjoying a 22.2 decrease, year-on-year. Optus was followed by Vodafone, iiNet and TPG Internet, with 5.1 percent of the total, 4.3 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively. All experienced a year-on-year decrease.

“We are pleased to see that complaints decreased in every state, and for all of the providers listed in the report,” said John Stanton, CEO of telecommunications industry body, the Communications Alliance.

“There has been significant work over the past two years by Industry to improve the customer experience, including – but certainly not limited to – NBN Co and RSPs [retail service providers] achieving better communication and coordination for consumers and businesses as they migrate services to NBN-based networks,” he said.

Turbo charging collaboration in a cloud-first world

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By Graham Schultz, ANZ regional director for Silver Peak

Today, most enterprise CIOs are of in the midst of migrating more of their business applications and infrastructure to the cloud, including real-time voice calling, video conferencing and collaboration applications. 

In fact, Gartner predicts by 2021, 90 percent of IT leaders will not purchase new premises-hosted unified communications (UC) infrastructure because future cloud-hosted UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) offerings will be far ahead in terms of features, functions, analytics and dashboards.

Users now have access to tools to encourage collaboration and productivity across an organisation’s communications network from any device and any location, be that between branches or regional divisions, remote workers or offices on different sides of the world. 

While enterprises are increasingly adopting UCaaS to streamline voice, video and web conferencing, these services are particularly sensitive to packet loss, latency and jitter. Dropped calls, weak signals and degraded video connections with pixelated screens are relatively common occurrences. 

Most of these issues can be attributed to impairments in the underlying transport network, which is often the public internet. Voice and video quality problems can also be exacerbated when traffic must traverse multiple peering internet service providers, resulting in an unpredictable user experience, especially when accessing real-time services in distributed regions.

We regularly hear from organisations that employees often ignore expensive collaboration tools because the experience is too frustrating. Many are also using their personal mobile phones for work because the VoIP experience the company provides has become so unreliable.

Failed telephony and network connections are more than annoying. They result in negative user experiences, lost time and missed opportunities. Users often blame technical difficulties on conferencing technology or applications, the internet service or a “bad line.” In fact, it’s more than likely a network infrastructure problem the business must address. 

Solving frustrating performance challenges for voice, video and real-time collaboration tools is the crux of why the next big thing in UC is software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs). 

Deliver a turbo charged engine

An SD-WAN enables an organisation to avoid convoluted and inefficient network design because it gives users direct access to UCaaS services from any branch location. This is dramatically more efficient than having to traverse the corporate private WAN. 

According to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, more than half of Australian enterprises plan to implement SD-WAN this year or next, looking to deploy new branch sites faster, apply granular security policies and achieve superior WAN and application performance.

Most modern SD-WANs will provide basic path selection based on the performance needs of the application, to intelligently and dynamically direct traffic over the best available connection to realise improvements in application performance. 

However, to achieve specific, desired performance levels for cloud-based applications and services, improve the user experience and enhance collaboration opportunities, you must look for an advanced SD-WAN platform designed for these business requirements.

A business-driven SD-WAN platform is like a turbocharged engine in a car. It can accelerate performance and optimise the UCaaS user experience. So, what should you look for to turbocharge your UCaaS services offerings?

Dynamic path control for multiple connections to a site, which provides automatic seamless failover from a failed branch circuit for all voice calls, video calls and real-time collaboration.

Application visibility and control to enable better management of the underlying connectivity, eliminating the impact of possible UCaaS service packet loss/drop, WAN link congestion or failure.

Cloud hosted offering to give you the ability to do ruggedised/protected last mile with a cloud-based IaaS instance of the SD-WAN. This is one of the best ways to assure consistent UCaaS performance.

Local internet breakout to identify UCaaS applications on the first packet and automatically steers traffic to a local UCaaS service PoP without backhauling to a data centre, so users can always securely connect to their application from anywhere.

Business-driven application specific routing to automatically prioritise network resources to UC, steering traffic directly to the UCaaS service, thereby improving quality of service (QoS) and delivering the highest quality of experience to users.

Better performance means happy users

Don’t forget that you’ve given these UC tools to users to drive value for your business. By ensuring a superior experience, they can cut through silos and improve productivity. They can innovate and make better decisions together. 

Why ruin your chances for the best ROI possible, by not having the right network underneath your UCaaS? Support these tools with the right infrastructure and improve the user experience to help your employees get the job done. 

Graham Schultz is ANZ regional director for Silver Peak, responsible for accelerating growth and customer adoption of the company’s SD-WAN solutions. Schultz has over 20 years of industry experience, spanning cloud, virtualisation, networking, storage and business intelligence. For more information, visit: https://www.silver-peak.com

How fortunate the Editor ..

I consider myself extremely fortunate in terms of the hiring decisions I have made over the past three years. Every single person has been loyal, hardworking, professional and flexible.

From my very first hire, Aimee Chanthadavong, who hit the ground running and has delivered stellar work ever since, to the inimitable Ben Grubb and Heather Wright, my superb New Zealand based Assistant Editor, and from our fantastic inhouse transcription specialist Kim Wiesenberger to our Contributing Editor Leon Spencer who will be taking up a full time role elsewhere in Media land after this, his last week at TT – every one has been amazing. What a team…

We wish Leon all the best for his next venture and I personally want to thank him for his time with us. A consummate professional and an outstanding writer, Leon also happens to be a great guy whose editorial services I would recommend without hesitation.

But wait, there’s more.

profileI’m very pleased to announce the appointment of our new Senior Journalist, Lilia Guan. An award winning journalist with over 15 years’ technology business writing experience, Lilia has written for a host of publications including CRN Magazine, CIO, and ZDNet.

She was the editor for Government News and has also produced media products such as videos and e-guides as the Branded Content Producer for CBS Interactive.

Based in Sydney, Lilia will be taking up her role this week.

Finally, I’m very happy to note that following a brief sabbatical, Assistant Editor Heather Wright will be back on deck as well.