HbbTV on the path to become a global standard

HbbTV is slowly taking ground outside France and Germany its two promoters. Many countries in Europe have adopted the new standard for interactive TV: from Spain to Denmark around 10 countries are now in. .

Even the UK is considering joining the fray as the Digital TV Group has submitted a document for inclusion in HbbTV 2.0 specifications.

Here is as of today the picture of the HbbTV penetration across Europe.

But HbbTV is also considered outside Europe with trials going on in the US, Australia, Japan and China.

It reminds me of the early stage of GSM in the 90s when a group of countries created a world standard that enabled a whole industry to take off. But it didn’t happen over night.

GSM dusk

With the launch of the first LTE networks the end of 2G GSM networks is on the table. Operators will not be able to maintain 3 networks at the same time. OPEX will be too high with no additional revenue.

It’s already the case in the US : AT&T in the US is urging its customers to upgrade to 3G.

But the question is, will the 3G / 4G networks be able to offer the same coverage and quality of service ? When one looks at the Europe 3G coverage map one can seriously doubt it in some countries like Britrain or France. Just have a look at the O2 networks in the UK :

O2 coverage comparison

O2 coverage comparison (source: GSMA)

The real issues there are geography and population. When the population is not spread regularly on the territory there are holes in the coverage.

So the launch of LTE and the switch over from 2G will be tricky in some countries.

W. Europe 3G coverage

Europe has invented the GSM and standardized most of the mobile technologies, but it seems to have lost its leadership. There is only one European phone manufacturer remaining, Nokia and 2 if you consider Sony-Ericsson. There are still 3 infrastructure manufacturers: Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia-Siemens Networks, and Ericsson.

Many LTE networks have been launched outside Europe, in Asia and in the US. 2G is now pervasive in every part of the world and has reached a plateau. But where stand Western Europe in terms of 3G coverage? I’ve browsed the Web to find a Western Europe 3G coverage but couldn’t find any so I did one myself with data coming from one of the GSM Association website.

I’ve picked the following operator 3G network coverage in the 2100 band :

Country Operator
Belgium Movistar
France Orange
Germany DT
Ireland O2
Italy TIM
Netherlands KPN
Portugal TMN
Spain Vodafone
Switzerland Swisscom
UK O2

Here is the result which isn’t so bad:

Western Europe 3G coverage

Western Europe 3G coverage (2100)

One must be cautious in reading this map as the data is coming from the operators themselves and they may have different coverage measurement procedures: some may be more optimistic than others. And in some countries, other bands may be in use like the 900MHz to cover lower density area. Given the coverage ‘holes’ in this map, 2G seems to have still a long time ahead as the most spread technology.

Corporate WiFi is back

WiFi in enterprise is back. It has long been considered as a convenience that is more comfortable than an Ethernet link. If the WiFi network doesn’t work where you want to connect, just go a few steps away or plug that dawn RJ45. So nobody was really in charge and nobody complained for this comfort feature.

It is dramatically changing with the appearance of tablets within enterprises. Tablets usually don’t have an RJ45, the only ways to connect them are through 3G network or WiFi.

Connecting a tablet on the company campus with 3G will prove a waste of money as mobile operators price their data dearly. The only reasonable way to connect a tablet is with WiFi. But what CIO will realize very soon is that their WiFi networks are poor in both terms of security and coverage.

WiFi networks are usually protected by a WEP key which a software like aircrackNG can break in less than 15 minutes. IT Departments will have to rethink their security so their WiFi networks aren’t the weakest link. (You’re out!)

WiFi the weakest link?

WiFi the weakest link?

The other hard discovery for IT Departments will be the coverage quality. They usually have taken a map of the site, drawn a few circles and positioned the WiFi Access Points at the center of the circles. Hence the Quality of Service of their network is poor as it doesn’t take into account any interferences coming from the outside or from the building structures. CIO will have to re think their WiFi networks in terms of usage, application, device and Quality of Service.

The wakeup call might come from the CEO’s office, where the unboxed new tablet won’t be able to connect.

Vodafone UK last posters: sending the wrong message

I love advertisement and especially the posters you cross in the public transports.

I really enjoyed the current campaign of Vodafone UK :

Vodafone Ad

Vodafone : We make sure your calls get through

and this one

Vodafone: Sure signal helps you get a great signal at home

So did you get the message? I DIDN’T!

Vodafone guarantees it works (ad #1) but Vodafone has a service that helps make it work at home (ad #2) (because it doesn’t). So what do you assume? You assume Vodafone service just DOESN’T WORK or at least they cannot guarantee it does!

The only sure thing is they should change quickly their agency and the communication team that drives them.