SNG in the News

Feedback from Michael Curri’s speech at the Norwegian fiber conference “Fiber 2020”

Why good troubleshooting technology is important for successful broadband investments

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fiber2020I participated at the Norwegian fiber conference “Fiber 2020”, arranged by the Norwegian “Fibersellskapet” in January 2013. There was a long list of interesting speakers lined up, for example Karin Ahl, president at the FTTH council, and Frode Støldal, the CTO of Telenor. There was however one speech in particular that caught my interest more than the others, the speech from Michael Curry, President at the Strategic Networks Group.

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Faster broadband not driving take-up: SNG

The promise of faster broadband is unlikely to drive consumers to take up new fibre-based services, according to a briefing paper from broadband economists Strategic Networks Group.

SNG has been collecting information about broadband utilisation in a number of regions around the world; it said that once the build phase of ult

ra-fast broadband network initiatives wind down, network operators are finding that businesses, organisations, and individuals are not adopting the services in the numbers they had planned.

The promise of faster broadband is unlikely to drive consumers to take up new fibre-based services, according to a briefing paper from broadband economists Strategic Networks Group.

SNG has been collecting information about broadband utilisation in a number of regions around the world; it said that once the build phase of ultra-fast broadband network initiatives wind down, network operators are finding that businesses, organisations, and individuals are not adopting the services in the numbers they had planned.

They said that one of the main problems is that “faster” is not a benefit, while promising “a new world of possibilities” was too vague to attract demand. “Benefits are what the pragmatist looks for when making a change or adopting a technology. So is it any wonder that “faster,” a feature, is not driving the network uptake desired?” argued the paper’s authors, Doug Adams and Michael Curri.

“Ultra-fast broadband networks are no different than the lifecycle of every technology service product since “high tech” was a wheel. It takes time – time that most networks just cannot afford.”

According to SNG data, users are typically slow to adopt applications such as teleworking, rich media and e-business services. However, it is these types of services that it said were key to the economics of fibre broadband.

“Getting past your network’s reliance on innovators and early adopters and across the chasm requires demonstrating value to the more pragmatic of technology adopters, the early and late majority,” it said.

“Unfortunately, the slow to adopt e-solutions are better served with ultra-fast broadband… so carriers are dealing with two challenges: 1) making the e-solutions relevant; and, 2) driving uptake so that individuals and organisations can realise these benefits.”

Geoff Long

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SNG Hard at Work in Canada’s Arctic

The Nunavut Broadband Development Corporation (NBDC) in Canada’s Arctic recently engaged SNG to measure the impacts-to-date of broadband investments and to forecast broadband needs and investment levels required to meet those needs.

NBDC is a not-for-profit, federally registered corporation with a membership representing community, private sector and citizen interests. This project is made possible with funding support from CanNor.

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Illinois and SNG Announce Partnership

Partnership for a Connected Illinois Announces Partnership with Strategic Networks Group to Drive Meaningful Broadband Use, Innovation, and Economic Development

SNG and the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs Engaged to help Maximize Broadband’s Potential

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, January 4, 2012 – The Partnership for a Connected Illinois , also known through its Broadband Illinois website, today announced further efforts to utilize broadband for driving better learning tools for school children, growing the Sta te’s job base, driving innovation and increasing economic prosperity, and improving health care.

PCI will work in a partnership with Strategic Networks Group (SNG) and the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs in order to maximize the benefit of public and private-sector investments in broadband deployment and use. These investments have the potential to be a transformative investment for Illinois’ 21st century competitiveness.

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Strategic Networks Group: Digital Divide increasingly based on age and income

by Joan Engebrets
September 14th, 2011

The Digital Divide increasingly is based on age and income, rather than broadband availability, according to new research from Strategic Networks Group.

ConnectedPlanet_Lo-ResThe research firm has developed what it calls a “Digital Economy Index” to summarize how households use 30 distinct Internet activities. The company uses the index to rank households on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing households that engage in 100% of activities.

Using this methodology, SNG found that Internet utilization is lowest among households with incomes below $30,000 and in which household members are over 55.

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10 Facts About Broadband and Jobs

Internet Innovation Alliance, 24 August 2011


Internet Innovation Alliance, 24 August 2011


Sources

1

— Source: Federal Communications Commission, www.broadband.gov, Accessed 6/24/11
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that jobs depending on broadband and information and communication technologies (ICT)—such as computer systems analysts, database administrators and media and communications workers—will grow by 25% from 2008–2018, 2.5 times faster than the average across all occupations and industries.”
2

— Source: Joelle Tessler, “Broadband Funding In Stimulus Plan Sparks Debate,” The Associated Press, 2/6/09
“These investments will create new jobs up and down the economic food chain, said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. His group estimates that a $10 billion investment in broadband would produce as many as 498,000 new jobs. Those include the construction workers and telecommunications technicians who must dig up streets, lay down fiber-optic lines and install wireless towers, as well as the engineers and factory workers at companies that make the fiber, electronics and computer equipment needed to build the networks. Much of that equipment is made overseas now, but Atkinson’s projections exclude jobs that would go abroad.”
3

— Source: Strategic Networks Group, “e-NC and SNG Release Broadband Findings for North Carolina,” 10/28/11 http://www.sngroup.com/e-nc-and-sng-release-broadband-findings-for-north-carolina/
“Nearly one in five (18%) of new jobs were created as a direct result of Broadband Internet.”
4

— Source: Twin Cities Daily Planet, “Building Broadband Infrastructure for Jobs in Greater Minnesota,” 5/24/11, http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2011/05/24/building-broadband-infrastructure-jobs-greater-minnesota
“…17% of retirees, nearly three out of five unemployed adults, and almost one-third of homemakers say they would likely join the workforce if empowered to do so by teleworking.”
5

— Source: Strategic Networks Group. “Measuring Broadband’s Impact,”  http://www.sngroup.com/broadband-lifecycle/measuring-the-impact-of-broadband/ Accessed 07/26/11
“We have demonstrated that the local economic growth and secondary investment enabled by broadband in 10 times the initial broadband investment and the contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 15 times the initial investment.”
6

— Source: Federal Communications Commission, www.broadband.gov, Accessed 6/24/11
“Broadband is becoming a prerequisite to economic opportunity for individuals, small businesses and communities. Those without broadband and the skills to use broadband-enabled technologies are becoming more isolated from the modern American economy. This is due in part to the rapidly changing nature of work in the digital age. Sixty-two percent of American workers rely on the Internet to perform their jobs.”

7

— Source: 2008 Robert Half International, http://www.teleworkresearchnetwork.com/telecommuting-statistics, Accessed 7/8/11
“72% of employees say flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another. 37% specifically cite telecommuting.”
8

— Source: 2009 National Technology Readiness Survey Telecommuting Report, http://www.technoreadymarketing.com/NTRS_2009_Telecommuting_Cost.php, Accessed 7/8/11
“…14 percent telecommute or work at home, of which half (7 percent) telecommute full-time and half (7 percent) do so part-time. Another 9 percent of workers have a job that does not require a commute.”

9

— Source: American Library Association, “New Library Study: Demand Up For Technology, Budget Cuts Limit Access,” Press Release, 6/21/11; http://classic.cnbc.com/id/43480125
“A new national report shows that U.S. public libraries continue to expand as technology centers for communities, providing essential resources for job-seekers and support for critical e-government services. In addition, as the demand for e-books increases, libraries are the starting place for free downloads. … More than 74 percent of libraries offer software and other resources to help patrons create resumes and employment materials, and 72 percent of libraries report that staff helped patrons complete online job applications.”
10

— Source:  Career Change Challenge With Jullien Gordon, “50+ Job Search Statistics You Need To Know,” Posted By Jullien Gordon, 8/10/10
A Recent Posting On Job Search Statistics Revealed:
– “Online Marketing (online resume posting) yields an 8 percent chance of success in uncovering the next opportunity. This rate matches those of 2003 when this strategy was still in its infancy.
– Referrals from within the organization (18 percent) and outside the organization (9 percent) are the most successful ways to land the opportunity.
– A blended strategy of using social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, helps identify referral opportunities.”

 

 

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Teleworking – Is policy flying blind?

by: John Deridder – SNG Group, Broadband Today

www.broadbandtoday.com.au/articles/teleworking-%E2%80%93-policy-flying-blind

18th August 2011

Key messages
• Digital Economy statistics
• If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it
• Telework is a good application of the NBN but needs to be benchmarked

To his credit, Senator Conroy set some hard quantitative targets to be reached by 2020 for the eight goals of the National Digital Economy Strategy. In the case of telework, the goal is to “double the level of teleworking so that at least 12% of Australian employees may work away from the traditional workplace”. That implies it is about 6% now – right?
Wrong. The latest figure we have is indeed 6% but it comes from an ABS Time Use Survey conducted in 2006 – the figure is 5 years old! Worse, the next survey will not be conducted until 2013. The hard 12% target may not be so hard to achieve given the changes in broadband availability over the last 5 years.
If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. This is not difficult to fix; although I should declare an interest in the proposed solution.
Last year, the Strategic Networks Group (SNG) found that 18.9% on average (25.6% in metro areas) teleworked in North Carolina; with about half of these reporting that they telework more than 3 days a week! SNG finds that collecting benchmarking data directly from organisations and households not only provides more current data of progress towards goals, but also maps drivers and barriers to utilisation
The case studies to be presented at the DBCDE-AIIA teleworking forum on the 3rd of August are fine. But there is no reason to expect things to change without an execution framework that engages end-users directly – in itself this promotes awareness and drives utilisation of broadband-enabled solutions.

________________________________________________________________________

About the Author:

Name:  John de Ridder
Title:  SNG Associate
Company: SNG http://www.sngroup.com/ or http://www.deridder.com.au/
John is a former Telstra chief economist who has been consulting to public and private organisations here and overseas. His main expertise is in broadband, pricing and regulation.

Contact details  tel: 0409 804 278   Email: jderidder@sngroup.com


SNG: Bigger Broadband, Bigger Productivity Gains

Broadband Communities (formerly Broadband properties)

Posted by BBC wire, 29 July 2011

OTTAWA, CANADA – Organizations are more efficient the greater the Internet speed they have available to them, according to new research from Strategic Networks Group. The message: Speed matters, regardless of how it is delivered.

For fiber users, the positive ROI on e-solutions for improving productivity is 8.9 percent higher than for cable users and 14.2 percent higher than for DSL users. The importance of broadband for adopting new operational processes is 8.1 percent higher than for cable users and 10.3 percent higher than for DSL users. And the importance of broadband for improving staff skills is 14.3 percent higher than for cable users and 14.8 percent higher than for DSL users.


Teleworking – An example of policy flying blind?

Economuse, 8 July 2011, by John de Ridder


 

The benefits of broadband are derived from how it is used; not just having access. While the supply plan is well-developed, there is no execution plan yet to ensure that faster broadband is fully exploited and that without an action plan that engages end-users directly, the expected benefits of broadband will not be realised.

At last, the focus on the NBN is shifting from supply -“When and what will we get?”-  to demand -“How  will we use it?”.  The benefits of broadband are derived from how it is used; not just having access. While the supply plan is well-developed, there is no execution plan yet to ensure that faster broadband is fully exploited. Without an action plan that engages end-users directly, the expected benefits of broadband will not be realised.

Let’s take telework as an example. It is an obvious application for fast broadband and we have known about that for a long time. To his credit, Senator Conroy has set some quantitative targets to be reached by 2020 for the eight goals of the National Digital Economy Strategy. In the case of telework, the goal is to “double the level of teleworking so that at least 12% of Australian employees may work away from the traditional workplace”. That implies it is about 6% now – right?

Wrong. The latest figure we have is indeed 6% but it comes from an ABS Time Use Survey conducted in 2006 – the figure is 5 years old! Worse, the next survey will not be conducted until 2013 with results not available until 2014. The hard 12% target may not be so hard to get – I suspect that with the changes in broadband availability over the last 5 years, we may already be at 12%.

My point is that if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. We have a strategy and goals but no framework for execution that provides better information on where we currently are. Furthermore, we do not have actionable intelligence on barriers to adoption and gaps that will need to be addressed.

It is not difficult to fix; although I should declare an interest in the proposed solution.

The Government’s 12% target for telework may have been inspired by the reference in the NDES document to 11% of US employees teleworking at least 1 day a month. That must be an old figure. Last year, the Strategic Networks Group (SNG) found that 18.9% on average (25.6% in metro areas) teleworked in North Carolina; with about half of these reporting that they telework more than 3 days a week!

What we need is e-solutions benchmarking data gathered directly from organisations and households that not only provides more current data of progress towards NDES goals, but also maps drivers and barriers to utilisation and captures the benefits. In the case of telework, for example, comparisons for the same type of organisation across different regions would point to where non-users could usefully be educated about the benefits. The framework that SNG uses also allows individual respondents to compare themselves with their peers.

Case studies like those to be presented at the DBCDE-AIIA teleworking forum on the 3rd of August are fine. But there is no reason to expect that preaching the virtues will be any more successful than it has been to-date. We need an execution framework that engages end-users directly, which in itself promotes awareness and drives utilisation of broadband-enabled solutions.

 

John de Ridder represents the Strategic Networks Group (SNG; www.sngroup.com ) in Australia.

 

Note: The 6% figure is used in the ABS Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 2007-08, Cat No 8146.0, 18 December 2008


Build it and they will come – right?

by Paul Budde
www.budde.com

Wrong. The field of dreams only happens in films. In the real world it takes a lot of effort. A telling example with lessons for Australia is Cornwall.

Late last year, British Telecom announced plans to install 150,000 kilometres of fibre cable in Cornwall. BT is providing £78.5m and there will be up to £53.5m from the European Regional Development Fund. The European Commissioner for regional policy, Johannes Hahn, said it was the largest investment of its kind supported by EU funds.Sally Davis, the chief executive of BT’s Wholesale division, called the venture an “absolute landmark” for the company and said “This is the most ambitious rural fibre project in the world.”

Why Cornwall?

It is because Cornwall has proved itknows how to promote broadband.Back in April 2002, Cornwall invested € 20 million (from various sources including € 4.5 million from British Telecom and € 7.5 from the EU) in project actnow to bring ADSL to the region. It had stretching objectives. Within the first three years, actnow was supposed to achieve a coverage rate of 50% and a broadband penetration of 3300 businesses (equivalent to about 18% of all businesses). BT was sceptical because an earlier development of the DSL infrastructure in a rural region in Wales had only reached 3% broadband penetration among businesses 1.5 years after its launch.However, actnowachieved a coverage rate of 99% within the first four years and the challenging target of 3300 businesses using broadband connections was reached a year ahead of time.

Actnow has changed the image of Cornwall, from a rural laggard to a region where it is worth living and working. It became more attractive for investors, for innovative businesses and for young people who are returning to the region. According to actnow, about 4300 broadband-related jobs have been created between 2002 and 2007 (including through start-ups) and the contribution to the annual GDP of Cornwall has been about € 140 m. This is a seven-fold return on the initial investment.

What can we learn from actnow?

In 2002, businesses and especially small business lacked an awareness of the potential of broadband. One of the themes emerging from the many submissions to the House of Reps Inquiry into the Role and Potential of the NBN is that prospective end-users do not know much about the NBN beyond the hype.

To overcome such obstacles to the adoption and utilisation of the NBN, we need to focus on measurements such as: 

  • Broadband’s impacts on specific industries – who is using broadband most effectively and who is missing out on opportunities?
  • Identifying specific e-solutions utilization among industries, regions, etc. and their economic impact.
  • Exploring the differences between rural and urban areas within a region, or between regions – and how e-Solutions help each overcome challenges.
  • Going to the next level of mapping – a map of not only availability – but also demand.
  • The factors (other than availability) that drive utilization – and how to “bottle that” and bring it to areas where utilization is below average.
  • The revenue driven and the cost savings resulting from broadband.
  • How broadband impacts job creation.
  • Barriers to using broadband and the needs to overcome them.
  • How different sizes of organizations best utilize e-solutions.

This is exactly the kind of work that the Strategic Networks Group (SNG) has been engaged in for many years. SNG goes to the heart of a region’s broadband challenges and success by going straight to a region’s businesses, organizations, and households to collect information on how they use and benefit from broadband.

For its 30th anniversary this year, ATUG has invited the founder of SNG, Michael Curri, to run a workshop on regional planning for broadband on 30th March in Sydney.


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